COOS BAY — Coos Bay resident Teri Antkowiak Grier, a business and political consultant and local Republican Party leader, has started a write-in campaign to represent Oregon House District 9.
"When I got the ballot and that line was blank, it just kind of resonated with what the citizens have been saying at our candidate forums, that a good portion of our population has been overlooked as new initiatives have been put in place in the legislature," Grier said. "I just felt that they should have a voice and have a choice."
If she gets more write-in votes on Republican or Independent ballots than anyone else, she'll be the only challenger to incumbent Caddy McKeown in November.
Grier is an Arizona native with long experience in Republican politics, legislative activities and business development. Although she's been active in the local Republican Party since moving to Coos Bay, and had a career in legislative affairs and economic development in Arizona, this is her first run for office.
Grier said she's been planning to run for office for several years, but "I had a health issue and I had to make sure I was fully recovered." She moved to Coos Bay for the health of her lungs, which were damaged by valley fever, a disease caused by a soil fungus found in the Southwest.
Jobs and the economy are important issues to Grier, and she'd like to see the state remove barriers that she says it's imposed on businesses, including the recent minimum wage hike.
"We'll be able to see over the next couple of months if our unemployment rate goes up," she said. "It's not only a barrier to our existing businesses, but other businesses who want to relocate and come into the state. They look at tax rates, wage rates, education, health care."
Grier said she thinks the current Democratic majority in the Oregon legislature was swept in by high voter turnout among voters interested in marijuana legalization. "I think we'll see the pendulum swing back," she said.
Grier served as a campaign aide, district director and D.C. office manager for Rick Renzi, a Republican congressman from Arizona. Renzi's tenure was marked by corruption allegations, and Renzi was sentenced to three years in prison for using his office for gain, having received a kickback from a party to a public land swap.
Grier said his indictment came after she was no longer working for him, and she found it surprising, as she'd been impressed by Renzi's insistence on adherence to both the spirit and the letter of ethics laws.
After working for Renzi, she was director of war room services at DCI Group, a Washington, D.C. lobbying firm. A "war room" is a team that works on a public relations campaign.
Grier served for five years on the research staff at the Arizona State Legislature, including serving as "lead counsel" for the Economic Development International Trade and Tourism Committee. She worked on issues such as deregulation of the telecommunications industry, electric retail wheeling, implementation of the NAFTA Free Trade Corridor and other economic development issues. After leaving the legislature, Ms. Grier served two years as the legislative liaison for Maricopa County, Ariz., and focused on issues such as environmental regulations, rights-of-way, education and healthcare. Governors appointed her the state's telecommunications policy consultant and a member of the Arizona Commerce Authority's Rural Business Development Advisory Council.
Grier has a bachelor's degree in speech communication, a master's of public administration and a certificate in public management from Northern Arizona University. She's also a graduate of Georgetown University's Leadership Coaching Certificate Program. She's put that certification to work as the founder and CEO of Dynamic Coaching and Consulting, where she advises executives, managers and teams and manages political campaigns. She also works at Southwestern Oregon Community College as a career coach.
House District 9 extends along the coast from Coos Bay to Waldport. To oppose McKeown in November, Grier needs only to get more write-in votes on Republican or Independent Party primary ballots than anyone else gets. Voters of any party, or unaffiliated, who wish to write in Grier as a candidate must fill in the oval next to the write-in line for House District 9, then write "Teri Grier" on the line. Spelling counts.