Cheri Helt is a working mom, small business owner and former eight-year member of the Bend-La Pine School Board. In 2018, she was elected to serve the people of Bend in the Oregon House of Representatives (HD 54), earning both the Republican and Independent Party of Oregon nominations.
Cheri is a moderate, pro-choice Republican who is willing to break with her Party to find bipartisan solutions. She is fiscally responsible, socially inclusive, environmentally conscious and politically independent. Her priorities are improving education opportunities for every Oregon child, supporting working families with greater access to paid family leave and affordable housing, promoting small businesses and jobs through restrained taxes and reasonable regulation and protecting the health of kids and communities by limiting access to vaping products and ending non-medical exemptions for vaccinations of school children.
Serving on the school board for eight years, Cheri helped boost local graduation rates by 10%, secure voter approval of 4 new schools to relieve overcrowding, fast-track the installation of new safety entrances for 22 schools and transition diesel-engine school buses to more environmentally friendly fuels. In the Oregon House, Cheri voted to increase K-12 school funding by 10% – the largest education budget in state history.
Cheri and her husband Steve are the co-owners of two successful Bend restaurants – Zydeco Kitchen and Bistro 28. Cheri and Steve met when she asked him to a high school dance and they’ve been in love ever since – married 26 years. Cheri grew up in a working class family in Michigan where she earned her degree in psychology from Michigan State 1992. Not new to restaurant work, her first job was at a Wendy’s when she was 15 years old.
As a small business owner, Cheri takes an active interest in her co-workers, customers and community. She and Steve offer health insurance to their full-time employees, match 50% of premiums and offer a 401K savings program. Cheri and Steve are active in numerous community events and organizations and whenever possible purchase locally-sourced, organic and sustainable products
When it comes to leadership and policy, Cheri considers herself a public servant, not an active partisan. She rejects the rigid left-right extremes that too often define politics today and believes the best solutions are found when people come the middle to find common ground.
16 years ago Cheri and Steve were drawn to Bend, like so many others, by the opportunity to start their own business, raise a family and enjoy the incredible outdoor lifestyle. They invested their life savings and today employ 90 to 100 people; they’re raising three kids – Harrison 20, Madeline 18 and Faye 9; and together as a family, no matter the season, they love to enjoy and explore the mountains, rivers, lakes and trails of Central Oregon.