Although health care is a top priority for Portland physician Maxine Dexter if she is elected to the open District 33 seat in the Oregon House, she said another matter propelled her to enter the political arena.
Dexter said she did so after she listened to the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, who alleged in 2018 that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they were in high school. The U.S. Senate confirmed Kavanaugh for a lifetime appointment as a justice.
"I was angry and tired of feeling helpless about the direction our country's politics had taken," Dexter said in a statement. "Running for office has been something I was interested in doing for a long time and this was the time for me to take action."
She was accepted by the 2019 Emerge Oregon program, which advises Democratic women on how to seek public office. She might have run for office anyway, but she said the retirement of Democrat Mitch Greenlick of Portland from the House after 18 years — and her interest in changing health care — prompted her to do so now.
"A state legislative position in Oregon is an impactful place to make a difference in this regard," she said.
Dexter, 47, is a physician with Kaiser Permanente Northwest in Portland. She was on its board of directors from the start of 2012 to the end of 2019, and was board chairwoman two years.
Her husband, Robert, is also a physician. They live in Portland with a daughter and son.
She is one of four candidates for the Democratic nomination in the May 19 primary in District 33, which extends west from Northwest Portland to the unincorporated communities of Bethany and Cedar Mill.
After she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in 1997 from the University of Washington, she got a medical degree there in 2001. Before she came to Oregon in 2008, she did her residency, internship and a fellowship at the University of Colorado, which operates its medical campus in the Denver suburb of Aurora.
Though she favors a health-care system in which government is the sole payer, Dexter said she has interim goals.
"The universal program would offer affordability, quality and reliability, combined with concurrently regulating and incentivizing the right care at the right time across all insurance plans," she said.
A state plan to reduce greenhouse gases and combat climate change, she said, also has health benefits.
"I am a lung and critical care doctor who sees the impact of climate change and poor air quality on people's health every day," she said.
She also seeks expansion of family planning, pre-kindergarten, worker protections, renter assistance, research into gun violence and tighter regulations on firearms. She also favors elimination of the state mortgage-interest deduction for the top 5% of earners to raise money for subsidized housing.
Campaign contacts: MaxineforOregon.com; (503) 308-3848.
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