Lake Oswego-area residents vie for United States Congress seat
Whether a Democrat or Republican represents Oregon's new 6th Congressional District come January, they will call the Lake Oswego area home.
Democrat Andrea Salinas and Republican Mike Erickson both have a Lake Oswego mailing address, won primaries in April and are competing in what looks to be a tight race to represent a new district that will include Polk County, Yamhill County and parts of Marion County, Clackamas County and Washington County.
Salinas — a University of California, Berkeley graduate who served under former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and as a lobbyist for environmental and health care organizations — moved to Lake Oswego from West Linn in 2006 with her then 17-month-old daughter.
She said her time here has involved volunteering at local schools, making friends with neighbors and helping organize a rally and then start the group LO for LOve after hearing of racism and anti-Semitism in schools.
"It's about diversity, equity, inclusion and kindness, and making sure we have the welcoming community we want to build here," Salinas said, also noting that her daughter is a senior at Lake Oswego High School.
In 2017, Salinas was appointed to the legislature and subsequently won her first election to represent House District 38 in 2018. Some accomplishments she mentioned in that role included helping to pass paid family medical leave — Salinas served on the House Committee on Health Care — providing more transparency for prescription drug pricing, supporting reproductive health and investing in local schools. She also noted that she served on the House Committee on Energy and Environment and hopes to continue to advance policies that address climate change if she is elected to Congress.
Salinas said a key distinction between herself and Erickson is that she has experience working to solve problems facing Oregonians.
"The biggest differentiator is I've addressed the needs of the community in a large way and accomplished things at the state level and even locally," she said.
Erickson, for his part, has been a businessman in the Tigard area for 30 years and started the AFMS supply chain logistics company. For the last 18 years, he's lived just outside of city limits but has a Lake Oswego postal address, he said.
Erickson has heard from residents of Lake Oswego, as well as Tualatin and Tigard, who are worried about inflation — particularly the cost of gasoline and of living in general.
"I'm going to do everything I can to get inflation under control, supply chain costs, rent and housing costs back under control," he said, adding that he also wants to make sure police are properly funded and that there are easier avenues for legal immigration to address worker shortages.
This isn't Erickson's first electoral rodeo. He ran for two Oregon House of Representatives seats (once losing to Gov. Kate Brown) and lost U.S. Congress races in both 2006 and 2008. Erickson described his loss to Congressman Kurt Schrader in 2008 — the same year Democrat Barack Obama was elected president — as partially the result of a nationwide blue wave. However, he believes he could be part of an Oregon red wave this November. Polls show Republican Christine Drazan to have a strong shot at winning the governor's race, and a recent Politico article cited internal GOP polling indicating Erickson has a 7-point lead over Salinas.
"Voters are disgruntled and frustrated with (U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy) Pelosi and (President Joe) Biden's economic policies and want to get back to common sense leadership, which is something I offer," Erickson said.
On that note, he said one thing that differentiates himself from Salinas is that, according to him, Salinas is a career politician. He noted that his opponent had previously served under Reid as well as U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
Salinas, on the other hand, said recent polling indicated that the race would be tight, but she felt that the issues she supports and has worked to address — bolstering reproductive health and bringing down health care and prescription drug costs — are popular.
Erickson was also asked about a couple more controversial elements of his past. Erickson was alleged to have paid his then-girlfriend for an abortion in 2000 despite being pro-life, a story that emerged during his 2008 campaign. Erickson had previously said he had paid the girlfriend $300 and dropped her off at a doctor's appointment, but did not know that she was using the money to get an abortion. He did not comment on the allegation but reiterated his pro-life stance — adding that there should be exceptions that warrant abortions in certain scenarios, and he preferred that states rather than the federal government decide abortion laws.
Erickson was also cited with driving under the influence of intoxicants in Hood River County in 2016, and a charge of possession of a controlled substance was dismissed. Erickson clarified that he was carrying his wife's pain medications at the time and noted that he completed a class that included a victim's impact panel.
Finally, the Republican said he hoped to reach across the aisle to solve America's problems, noting that in his professional life he's worked with people of all political leanings.
"I'm looking forward to working across party lines," he said.
Salinas, meanwhile, said her approach if elected would be to find the people who don't agree with her, try to establish common ground and, in turn, deliver results for her constituents.
"I will find the path to work with other people to make sure we deliver for working families who struggle now. I'm tenacious and when I run up against a wall or barrier, I figure out how to get through it or around it," she said.
Salinas also said she has ties on both sides of the aisle locally and that "it would benefit the Lake Oswego community to have me as the next member of Congress."
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