Cascade Locks resident and long-time educator Aurora del Val officially filed her candidacy last week to be the State Representative of District 52, which includes Hood River County and parts of both Clackamas and East Multnomah counties.
Hood River Republican Jeff Helfrich currently holds the seat; he was appointed in November after Mark Johnson resigned from the Legislature to lead an Oregon business group.
In a press release, del Val stated she believes that “now is not the time for sitting on the sidelines. I am running for Oregon’s 52nd Legislative District to stand up and take the most active part I can in our Democracy. I value justice for all. I value decency. I trust that Oregon voters do as well.”
Del Val has never run for office, but in addition to working as an educator for over two decades, she has been active in a range of community causes.
Del Val made headlines in 2016 as the leader of the bi-partisan campaign that passed a Hood River County ballot measure that protected local water supplies from Nestlé’s plans to export hundreds of millions of gallons a year of bottled water from the Columbia River Gorge where she lives, states a press release.
Despite being overwhelmingly outspent by Nestlé, del Val led a grassroots campaign that brought together local farmers, conservationists and Native Americans, and which won a 69 percent nonpartisan victory.
“What that campaign taught me is that even if we are outspent, we can take on special interests and win as long as we’re willing to talk to our neighbors and stay focused on the public good,” said del Val. “I am running for the Oregon House because I want to do whatever I can to make things like healthcare, a good education, affordable housing and a sustainable regional economy a reality, and Oregon deserves someone who is willing to fight for what really matters.”
Born to a working-class immigrant family, del Val was raised in a farming community to a father who served in two wars and a mother that processed vegetables in the packing industry. In her last 10 years as a college educator, she taught English and was department chair at Portland Community College’s Southeast Campus.
She also volunteered for Mt. Hood Community College in the effort to secure needed capital improvements. Del Val is president of Hood River’s Rockford Grange and has a respect and appreciation for the role farms and orchards in District 52 play in Oregon’s agricultural economy and local communities alike.