Two Democrats facing off for redrawn Oregon House District 34
One of the few Oregon House District races that will be decided in the May primary election is for House District 34, which is a newly redrawn district that represents the Washington County areas of Bethany and Tanasbourne.
The race is between two Democrats, current Oregon House Rep. Lisa Reynolds and challenger Jennifer Kinzey. There is no Republican challenger in this race, meaning the May primary will likely decide who will move uncontested to the November ballot.
While Reynolds was first elected in 2020, she has served her first term as the representative of House District 36 in Northwest Portland.
Following the redistricting process triggered by the 2020 Census, the Legislature approved a new district map Sept. 21, 2021. The 2022 elections will be held under those new lines.
The current House District 34 stretches from central Beaverton up into Tanasbourne and is currently represented by Ken Helm, who will instead run for House District 27.
Reynolds, who moved from Portland to Oak Hills to establish residency in the new district she hopes to represent, is a pediatrician who practices in Washington County.
She says that, while she is a relative newcomer to the Oregon Legislature, she has both a long session and short session under her belt now that the 2022 Legislative Session concluded on March 4.
"I really have only been in the Legislature for a little more than a year," Reynolds said. "I'm just kind of starting to figure it out, and I do think there's some value to having that experience … for whoever represents House District 34 in 2023. But I really believe my most important piece of experience is that pediatrician role."
Because of her background in child healthcare, she says she focuses on issues that related to that topic.
"I've practiced in Washington County for over 20 years, and was kind of seeing what was working and not working for families in the exam room," Reynolds said. "That motivated me to run for office."
Her challenger also believes in bolstering access to childcare resources and supporting working families. Kinzey is a public defense attorney who says she is running to champion cultural issues and to improve childcare resources in her district. As a new mother of a biracial child, she says it can be difficult being a working mother.
"My son is biracial, and so trying to find care that would accommodate some of those cultural things is beyond difficult," Kinzey said, specifically referencing her husband's Bangladeshi heritage and her household's Muslim faith.
Kinzey said it can be hard to find childcare and healthcare that accommodates a vegetarian diet, prayer practices and other cultural considerations of raising a child.
She also said that, as an attorney, she sees instances where poor wording of a law leads to issues with enforcement and access — something that inspired her to run in the first place.
"I have faced a lot of issues in my profession, where there are laws for things that they try their best to address the issues, but because of clumsy wording or having to make too many compromises, they end up with unintended consequences or are really hard to enforce in practice," Kinzey said.
Both candidates said they're excited at the prospect of representing a newly constituted district.
"My patients sometimes joke that there are more people who know me in this new House district, which will be House District 34, than know me and my current one," Reynolds said. "So, I'm kind of running for 're-election' with little air quotes around it."
Kinzey said that she feels the newly drawn district will better represent the constituency in her neighborhood.
"I think the reason that I'm excited to represent a new district is partially because the redistricting means that we should have a better representation of the voters, rather than dealing with a lot of gerrymandered districts," she said. "So, I'm excited to be a part of that and representing a new district."
With both candidates filing to run as Democrats, they will appear on the May primary ballot. Whomever wins will move uncontested to the November general election.
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