LA GRANDE — One of the last Oregon Republican gubernatorial candidates has filed his paperwork for the soon-to-be open seat, and in doing so became the first Black GOP candidate in the state’s history to run for governor.
Tim McCloud, who grew up in Tucson, Arizona, and now lives in Linn County, is a former Eastern Oregon University student who works for an aerospace and defense manufacturer as a business analyst. While he was studying at EOU, he was homeless and supporting his family, which includes his wife and three daughters — an experience he said gave him a unique perspective into Oregon’s approach to addressing homelessness.
“I’ve listened to people offer solutions to homelessness that wouldn’t have worked for my situation during a time when I was running a small business, going to school online at Eastern Oregon University for public administration, and raising three children from a campground in Sunriver,” he said. “Those solutions wouldn’t have worked for me.”
While challenging, McCloud said his experience supporting his family while homeless made him stronger and cemented his relationship with his wife. He said one of the factors that led him to homelessness was the lack of affordable housing in Oregon.
Sunriver, in Deschutes County, has experienced an unprecedented increase in housing demand, which has sent prices skyrocketing. The median home value for Deschutes County is $693,000, according to Redfin real estate reports. Meanwhile, Multnomah County’s median home value is approximately $493,000, according to Redfin.
“An issue that pushed me into homelessness was, you know, having not enough opportunities for affordable housing,” McCloud said. “We have to be looking at how we can increase access to affordable housing for all kinds of Oregonians, but especially those that don’t prefer to be homeless, because I think there’s a distinction to be made.”
McCloud said one of his priorities as governor would be to focus on developing affordable housing — including multi-family and single-family homes — by tapping into Oregon’s massive timber industry and building new communities in Oregon in order to address the housing crisis.
“It must be a priority. We, right away, need to be working with the timber industry to end homelessness in Oregon,” he said. “We have the renewable resources to do that, and so, with the localized resource that’s renewable, within our borders, we should be working with the developers to set up new communities of all types, from multi-unit housing to single-family housing and in between.”
According to the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, Oregon leads the nation in producing softwoods and plywood products, with more than 28% of U.S. plywood products being made in the state.
McCloud decided to join the race after being disappointed with the current lineup of gubernatorial candidates.
“Before I was a candidate, I was an Oregon voter who looked across the spectrum of candidates to see the one that I felt would represent not just me and my values, but who was the one that had the ability to unify the state of Oregon,” he said. “And after some time observing and listening, I felt that it was important for me to attempt to take matters into my own hands, rather than sit back and complain about what another candidate is or is not doing, or what they can or cannot do.”
McCloud said he could be the candidate to unify Oregon’s growing political divide between rural Oregonians and those living in the Portland-metro areas. He wants to help heal the rift between Eastern Oregonians who may feel like they have been left out of Oregon’s political process by the Democratic majority in Portland.
“They’ve been neglected. They have not been viewed as important, and, at the same time, we’re finding that our rural communities are subjected to harmful stereotypes,” he said. “So I think it’s important, as somebody who is going around traveling, talking to people, meeting with them, listening to their stories, that I have an opportunity to stand in the gap and really help clarify and repair some of the perceptions that Oregonians have developed about each other.”
McCloud also levied his status as the first Black Republican gubernatorial candidate in Oregon as a way to help bridge those political divides.
“I have some separation from the other candidates. In that typical language that’s generally used when we talk about extremist policies, it will not apply to me,” he said. “I think that’s an advantage I have.”
While McCloud has no previous government experience, the decision to run for governor was not taken lightly, he said.
“I was with my 13-year-old daughter, and I had finished typing out the filing paperwork,” he said. “And I said to her, ‘Should I do this?’ And she is actually the one that pressed the submit button, and let me know that my family was behind me 100%.”
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