Oct 2, 2020      News      

The Bend Bulletin: Vote Helt for state representative

We like what we see in the race for the state House of Representatives seat that represents Bend: two strong candidates.

Incumbent state Rep. Cheri Helt, a Republican, faces challenger Deschutes County Deputy District Attorney Jason Kropf, a Democrat.

A competitive race like this gives voters a real choice. Bend will get strong representation, either way. We urge you to support Helt.

Helt, 50, owns two restaurants in Bend — Zydeco Kitchen and Bistro 28. She was on the board of Bend-La Pine Schools for eight years. She was first elected to the Oregon House in 2018.

Helt is a Republican. Stop before you neatly put her in that box. She doesn’t fit. She is not particularly partisan. The Republican walkout? Helt did not walk out. In fact, she was the only Republican member of the House not to walk out. President Donald Trump? She called him unfit to serve as president.

Helt led on vaccine legislation, aiming to end nonmedical exemptions for kids in school. She voted to support closing a gun safety loophole. She supported Oregon continuing to adhere to stricter environmental standards. She supported an expansion of paid family leave. She put pressure on the state Land Board to move on property that will make more land for housing available in Bend. Both Helt and Kropf are pro-choice.

Kropf has made a point of highlighting Helt’s vote against the Student Success Act, a school funding bill. He said he was shocked she voted against it and it led him to run.

Helt does and will continue to support more funding for schools. She has voted to increase education funding. She worked to pass a bond for Bend schools.

She did not like the funding mechanism of the bill, what is now Oregon’s corporate activity tax. It is a hidden tax, meaning you don’t see it on any receipt when you pay it. Taxes like this can pyramid on different steps in the supply chain, meaning Oregonians can end up paying a tax on a tax. It is also a tax on business receipts and not on profit. That means business could be losing money and still have to pay the tax.

Of course, you can disagree with Helt on that vote. It is not fair to say, though, Helt does not support schools or opposes increasing school funding.

Make no mistake. Kropf, 49, has much to recommend him. His time as a deputy district attorney, public defender, member of the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Central Oregon board, and as a member of the board of the Bend Park & Recreation District would make him a valuable asset for Bend in the Legislature.

He would have voted for the Student Success Act. We asked him about some of the concerns about the taxing mechanism. He did not express any reservations about them, saying his primary concern was getting more school funding. As he pointed out, that’s important beyond the direct benefits. It is an investment in economic development. Better education also helps ensure more families can thrive and children don’t end up in the state’s juvenile system.

On climate change, gun safety, criminal justice reform and other issues Kropf didn’t offer any surprises. After his support of education, he spoke most powerfully about the need to put a limit on carbon emissions, improve the way we manage our forests and move Oregon toward clean energy jobs.

Who is the best person in this race to represent Bend? We won’t be disappointed no matter who wins. But we do believe because of Helt’s proven record of accomplishment in working across the partisan divide, she will be better for Bend, the Legislature and the state.

Read more here.