This story is part of a series looking at Oregon's gubernatorial candidates
SALEM, Ore - Bill Sizemore has made a lot of enemies over the years and he says they are enemies he is proud to have earned.
Sizemore, who is running for Governor of Oregon in the Republican primary in May, has authored a string of anti-tax ballot measures in Oregon and has been in an on-going battle with the state's public employee unions for years.
I asked him if he thought he might be the most vilified political figure in Oregon history. Sizemore said, "Maybe not in Oregon history. My memory doesn't go back to the beginning but I have made lots of enemies."
The man who many love to hate says there are groups in Oregon that he believes are ruining the state.
"The PERS system for example. If we were to bring PERS current right now, to pay that bill, we would have to shut down all the schools and universities for 2 years, close down state prisons, fire all the state patrol, close all the state parks for 2 years, just to bring PERS back to even," he said.
Sizemore insists he is not anti-teacher.
"I really do get painted as the anti-teacher. Who would be anti-teacher? I put 5 kids through the public school system and they had great teachers and they had some not so great teachers. I'd like to get of the not so great ones and reward the ones that are good teachers," he said.
He said he has always believed in school funding. "We can debate how much that should be but one of the problems schools have right now is the PERS system is literally taking hundreds of millions of dollars out of school budgets. That's a lot of teachers that are going to have to be laid off if we don't address PERS."
Sizemore is running is campaign for Governor on a platform of reigning in public employees, lowering taxes, slowing the growth of state spending and protecting private property rights.
"What we need today is bold action. We need somebody who has the courage and a plan to turn this state around. We can't handle another 4 years or 8 years of a John Kitzhaber or a Bill Bradbury," he said. Sizemore said both Democrats want to keep the same old policies that got Oregon into the mess it's in.
When I asked him what he would do as Governor to try to get Oregon's economy turned around, Sizemore said he would encourage the business environment in the state by trying to lower the tax burden on those who would invest and create jobs. He said, "The reality is government doesn't really create jobs."
Last year, the State of Oregon indicted Sizemore and his wife on tax evasion charges for not filing state income tax returns for 2006-2008. Sizemore said those charges are "politically inspired".
He said he paid $50,000 in estimated taxes for '06 and '07. The trial is expected to be this summer. Sizemore said he expects to win the case.