IN SPITE OF THE DEMOCRATS hope for taking control of the State Senate, on Tuesday night they only managed to gain one seat. Though another two years of a Republican controlled senate is enough to make the most patient liberal shudder, one shouldn't overlook some of this election's silver linings.

Out of place in Tuesday night's results was the underdog victory of Ryan Deckert, a young Democrat from the political cautious suburbs of Beaverton. By picking up this significant seat in Oregon's Senate, Democrats now hold fourteen out of the thirty seats. While this gain fails to give Democrats a majority of power in the senate, it's still a step forward and dramatically increases their sway over the agenda for the next two years.

With Democrats out of power since the early '90s, the agenda of environmental protections--an issue that traditionally had been a trademark for the Oregon legislature--has fallen to the side. But Deckert pledges to change that.

Deckert explains that had Democrats taken control of the State Senate, it would have been a fresh opportunity to push forward issues--like the clean-up of the state's rivers--that have been blocked by the Republican majority for the past decade. But, even without the backing of a majority, Deckert still plans to bring those issues to the Senate floor. With almost an evenly split state congress, Deckert's chances to successfully move these ideas are probably better than any time in ten years.

"We will aggressively be going after the clean up of the Willamette," claims Deckert. Planning to take a more conciliatory tone, Deckert says that responsibility for river clean-up should be spread between industry, farmers and his home-owning constituents, who contribute to river pollution through pesticide run-off from lawns.