SEASIDE - If you have an opinion about government, plan to attend the 40th annual Dorchester Conference, organized by Republican leaders, March 5 through 7 at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center.
The event was founded in 1965 by former Sen. Bob Packwood. The meeting has become a forum for Oregon citizens to discuss the political issues, meet elected officials from Oregon and around the nation and learn about politics.
Each year, the agenda includes political debates on top political issues. Organizers expect this year's hot topics to be Oregon's tax and budget issues, the war in Iraq and the upcoming election.
Over the years, the conference has heard from an array of speakers including five presidential candidates: George Romney (1968), Nelson Rockefeller (1974), Jack Kemp (1981), George Herbert Walker Bush (1978) and Ronald Reagan (1979). Organizers have not yet announced this year's speakers.
There is also a Saturday night tent show, in which Oregon political and business leaders perform politically-themed satire, jokes, skits and music.
"We will not ask participants to check their philosophies at our door," said 2004 Dorchester President Annette Price. "Instead, we encourage all to bring their opinions and ideas and help bring thoughtful, spirited debate on the issues before the conference."
Advance registration by Feb. 20, including meals, is $90 for adults and $50 for students.
After Feb. 20, registration is $95 for adults and $55 for students. For more information about registration, call Gail Wilhelms at 503-533-8966 or go to