Another voice: Integrity needed in the electoral process

As a working mom, social worker, educator and, now, your candidate for State Representative, I have loved meeting my neighbors across this district. I have loved hearing about their cares and worries. When I decided to ask voters for the opportunity to represent them in the legislature, I knew it would be challenging and rewarding. I knew it was possible that outside forces would try to make this race about something other than the issues.

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Anna Williams

I’m sad to have been proven right.

A couple of weeks ago, many people throughout House District 52 received a negative, misleading mailer claiming I did not show up for service on the Community Advisory Council (CAC), which serves as the citizen voice for health care transformation in Oregon. The mailer claimed I “did not care about the little things.”

Any person in this community will tell you that the little things are exactly what I care about. And showing up for service is how I live my life. That’s why I’m running for state representative.

The truth is, I was an extended member of our local CAC by request of my supervisor at the time. Together, we reviewed the agenda for each month’s meetings, and jointly decided if I would attend. I only attended the meetings which covered aging, transportation or housing — topics that make sense for my expertise. Of those, I missed one due to illness.

When I changed jobs, the CAC meetings were no longer my responsibility. Yet, I actually attended on several occasions as a volunteer on behalf of the Aging in the Gorge Alliance (AGA). AGA is an organization that I helped build after I saw seniors in my community struggling with isolation and transportation. I saw a need that was not being met, and I helped create a solution. I advocated for affordable, suitable housing for elders, people with disabilities, caregivers and low-wage workers in the Hood River Valley.

I would certainly call that showing up for your community.

Three more mailers with similarly misleading attacks have since come out. Each one can be combated with facts, but I would rather spend my energy connecting with voters in the district and building solutions to their problems.

I am proud of the work I have done in our community, and proud of my service on the CAC. As a social worker, I show up every day for the Oregonians who need it most. As an educator, I mentor and train students to do the same. As a parent, I show up every day for my sons, helping to raise thoughtful and kind people. Showing up and caring for my neighbors is my job, and I am good at my job.

Jeff Helfrich is my neighbor — just a few doors away — and he claims he knew nothing about these attack ads. Quietly avoiding responsibility, however, is not enough. I call on Jeff to publicly denounce these attacks and demand that they stop. The Republican Party of Oregon funded these ads. They have also donated over $79,000 to Jeff’s campaign. He is running as their nominee. There comes a time in our political careers when we need to accept accountability for actions, and this is one of those times in Jeff Helfrich’s career. I invite him to stand with me, to stand for honesty, integrity, and transparency in our elections.

In these tough political times, HOW we win matters. I hope Jeff will join me in running a clean race, based on our differing viewpoints on policy. That is what we owe to our neighbors who we are running to represent.

When it comes to the needs of our community, there are no “little things,” and there is so much work to be done. I intend to spend the next two months focused on the issues, and I hope Jeff Helfrich and his supporters will do the same.

Anna Williams, a Hood River Democrat, is running for State House Dist. 52.



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