Hood River educator, advocate files for House 52 seat
Another candidate has thrown her hat in the ring to oppose House 52 Rep. Jeff Helfrich (R-Hood River) in the November election.
Anna K. Williams (D-Hood River) officially filed on Jan. 30.
"I've been working in community development since I moved to Oregon 10 years ago," Williams told The Post. Williams is a full-time academic adviser at Simmons College and has worked with several interest groups to advocate for elderly rights, health care and climate change awareness.
"I feel now is a great time to take those issues up to the state level," she added. "Making sure needs are met is going to be my top priority."
Most of Williams' political experience has been advocating for communities along the Columbia River Gorge with groups like Aging in the Gorge Alliance, a regional grassroots organization that campaigns for elderly rights including housing, food, transportation and caregiving. Williams said these amenities are highly lacking in the Gorge area and the alliance has worked to address those needs.
"That issue is one that needs to be addressed at the state level," Williams said. "I feel like we're facing this aging boom in communities, and we need to figure out how we are going to provide care, housing for these people."
Besides advocating for the aging communities of her region, Williams said there are three other areas of legislation she plans to focus on: environmental issues, education and the state and local economies.
On the environmental front, Williams participates in the Climate Reality Leadership Corps, a global network of environmental activists.
As an educator, Williams also hopes to "make sure that the teachers unions are supported," and to improve learning environments across the district. One educational issue Williams plans to address is class sizes.
"That makes a difference, having 21 students versus 24 students," she noted. "It can be the difference between somebody learning algebra and somebody not learning algebra."
If in the Legislature today, Williams said she would stand for the cap-and-trade bill, and that as an active voter, she voted 'yes' on Measure 97, the 2016 bill to implement a gross receipts tax. "In general, I am a fan of cap and reinvest," Williams said. "I think the time has come to put the costs of carbon on the companies creating it ... We're paying the cost today, but it's coming out of the state budget and the health care budget when it should be coming out of the profits of those polluters."
She added that she didn't "believe that rhetoric that (a gross receipts tax) would be essentially a sales tax," and that if elected she would work to combat "scare tactics" used to halt progressive environmental legislation.
"I feel like these are large companies who have benefited from the infrastructure we have built," Williams explained. "They need to do their part to be good citizens of our state."
If elected, Williams said she will work to speak for her constituents and collaborate across the aisle.
"I think that there are times when a super majority is a really effective way to get things done," she admitted. "Personally, I will always air on the side of fairness. I'm not going there to be a totally blue line on the ballot sheet, but to get things done. ... I consider myself open-minded. I really look to policy research more than political ideology. I'm interested in outcomes. There's an Oregon way of doing things and we need to be genuine to ourselves."
Williams noted that she was partially spurred to run by a dissatisfaction with the current presidential administration, but it wasn't the main reason she filed.
"I want my sons to see me as a leader in the same way they might see their dad as a leader," she said.
Williams met with the Hood River Democrats on Monday, Feb. 12, and will meet with the Clackamas County Democrats on Thursday, Feb. 15, and the Oregon Trail Democrats at their Tuesday, Feb. 27, meeting.