Oct 21, 2018      News      

Guest column: I’m ‘blue,’ but voting ‘red’ in District 54

By Talena Barker

As a lifelong registered Democrat, I am voting for Cheri Helt, Republican candidate for House District 54.

Having worked in the Oregon State Elections Division, and as a lobbyist at our State Capitol, the biggest successes I’ve seen have been brought about by moderate, consensus- building legislators — regardless of party affiliation. Central Oregon has sent some of the best of these community and legislative leaders to the House and Senate over the years, including Lynn Lundquist, Neil Bryant, Ben Westlund and many others. Their ability to reach across the aisle to find real, workable solutions for Oregon’s challenges has served us well.

Cheri Helt is a leader in the same mold, and should receive your vote in November. Endorsed by the Independent Party of Oregon, she is an inclusive and moderate candidate who believes that the best solutions come through consensus and collaboration.

Cheri also has the endorsements of the Bend Bulletin and The Source Weekly — two very different publications with diverse readership. Both editorial boards were able to review the positions and leadership qualities of candidates for this office and found Cheri to be the clear choice for Bend.

I’ve personally had the opportunity to work with Cheri through her involvement in supporting nonprofit organizations. On any project, she comes to the table well- informed, asks the difficult questions and listens thoughtfully to help uncover the best road forward. Her heart for our community comes through in every conversation — whether it’s about education, housing, growth or how we take care of the most vulnerable in our community.

Cheri has a proven track record of investing in public service. Coming off of eight years on the Bend-LaPine School Board, Cheri is uniquely positioned to tackle the many challenges related to adequately funding our education system. She has supported getting more funding into the classroom, and is a strong advocate for career and technical training in our schools.

As a fellow working mom, and small business owner, Cheri understands the need to make sure that we create an environment where small businesses can grow and thrive to support their families, community and employees. She also has been able to extend health care and retirement plans to those who work for her businesses — an excellent example of her ability to balance keeping costs in line while providing important benefits and opportunities for her employees. This kind of thinking will serve Central Oregon well in the Legislature.

The only other active candidate in the House District 54 race is Nathan Boddie. Due to his shameful handling of allegations of sexual assault, and subsequent disappearance from the important work of City Council, he has neither my trust nor my vote. The Working Families Party candidate Amanda La Bell dropped out of the race following questions surrounding the veracity of her Voters’ Pamphlet statement and questions about past legal issues. While she withdrew her candidacy, her name will remain on the ballot due to print deadlines.

It could be assumed that Cheri would easily obtain the votes needed to represent our district, given the disappointment and controversy surrounding her opponent. That’s absolutely not the case. I urge caring Democrats to learn more about Cheri’s platform, and cast their vote for her this November. She is the moderate, balanced voice and cooperation-builder we need in our Legislature.

Read the original article in The Bend Bulletin here.