PERHAPS THE RACE that best epitomizes Tuesday night's election results was the victory of Ryan Deckert, a young Democrat from the politically cautious suburbs of Beaverton. His victory helped to break a near decade-long stranglehold on Oregon' Senate by the Republican Party.

By securing a majority of seats in the state senate, the Democrats will sweep Kate Brown into the position of President of the Senate--a catbird's seat from which the socially liberal Brown will hold sway over the agenda and pace of next term's session. The change in political power is a fresh opportunity for Democrats like Deckert to push forward issues that have been blocked by the Republican majority for the past decade.

With seventeen out of the thirty seats in the Senate, the Republicans had control over state politics last session. The Democrats spent much of their time trying to fight against tough-on-crime bills, while routinely being blocked as they tried to push for funding for schools.

"It is going to be a complete change," said Deckert, referring to the session that begins in January. "We will start with prioritizing higher education instead of doubling the budget for incarceration."

Deckert also emphasized that campaign reform and environmental clean-up will be on the top of the agenda. With the Democrats out of power since the early Nineties, the agenda of environmental protections--an issue that traditionally had been a trademark for the Oregon legislature--fell to the side.

"We will aggressively be going after the clean-up of the Willamette," claimed Deckert. The new senator added that even his own constituents contribute to river and stream pollution through pesticide run-off from lawns. Any legislation protecting the state's rivers and streams introduced this upcoming session, Deckert indicated, should spread responsibility between industry, farmers and home-owners.