Christine Drazan wants to help improve Oregon's graduation rate and reform state spending and budgeting

(Image is Clickable Link) PHOTO COURTESY OF OLIVE PHOTOGRAPHY - Republican Christine Drazan is running for the Oregon House of Representatives District 39.The race to fill the Oregon House District 39 seat being vacated by Rep. Bill Kennemer (R-Canby) just got more interesting as rural Canby resident and Republican Christine Drazan announced her candidacy with hopes of improving graduation rates and reforming the state's spending and budgeting process.

"I really am running so that I can go to Salem and represent the voices of the folks that live in this district," Drazan said. "I want to work for you and your family. I want to represent the concerns and the needs of folks that live here. I think, for me personally, that is my motivation to do this: is really service. I want to participate in my community in this way and I want to serve."

Prior to announcing her candidacy, Drazan and her husband Dan spent an evening with Kennemer, who has served HD39 since 2009, and his wife Cherie.

"We had a really lovely evening with them talking about what it was like to serve this community, and how they approached it, how they felt they were effective and the things they hoped to do," Drazan said. "And it was really, really helpful to talk to them and get their insights and get their encouragement."

(Image is Clickable Link) PHOTO COURTESY OF OLIVE PHOTOGRAPHY - Christine Drazan, left, spends time at Gwynn's Coffeehouse on Feb. 13.

Other candidates could still pop up as the filing deadline is March 6, but so far Drazan is running against retired U.S. Army Capt. Ken Kraft of Redland in the primary.

Republicans outnumber Democrats in HD39, which covers the greater Barlow, Barton, Beavercreek, Boring, Canby, Carus, Charbonneau, portions of Damascus and Happy Valley, as well as Eagle Creek, Estacada, Fisher Mill, Mulino, Redland, and rural Oregon City areas. But currently, in the house, Democrats hold 35 seats and Republicans hold 25. Drazan said that she understands some of the challenges she may face in a Democrat-dominated house.

"I think the biggest challenge for Republicans generally right now is access to decision-making…Right now Salem is not working in a way that is bipartisan at all," Drazan said. "It is up to legislators to build relationships across party lines, to be able to inject themselves into the process in a way that improves legislation. But I do think that's a challenge because of the level of majorities that they have right now on the Democrat side of things."

Drazan, who has participated as closely as she could with the work of setting policy for the state, considers running for house a natural next step.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, Drazan was a top staffer to Republican leaders in the legislature and has since been serving in the local schools and working with small businesses and non-profits. She was appointed to serve on the Canby School District Budget Committee and is currently serving on the Clackamas County Planning Commission. Professionally, she is the executive director of a statewide nonprofit that supports the preservation of Oregon's History and culture.

HERALD PHOTO: KRISTEN WOHLERS - Christine Drazan, left, headed up the Oregon's Kid Governor program at Carus Elementary earlier in the school year. After Kid Governor elections were over, former Governor of Oregon Ted Kulongoski visited the school to present certificates to the children who ran, including Drazan's daughter.

Drazan lives in the country with her husband and three children, who attend Canby's public schools. As a mother of students and an avid volunteer in their schools, Drazan is dedicated to improving education, particularly Oregon's poor high school graduation rate.

"The American Dream starts with a high school diploma and, today nearly one in four Oregon students don't graduate," Drazan said. "Dropout rates aren't just statistics, they are fortunetellers, warning us of the troubled road ahead for far too many of our young adults and their families who are not prepared with the tools they need to succeed."

She believes reforming PERS is one of the best ways to free up resources for schools.

"Schools are paying 13 cents to PERS for every dollar they have to educate our kids," Drazan said. "This number is expected to jump to 20 cents next year. You bring that liability down and you are putting some serious money back into classrooms to push graduation rates up."

Along with her passion for education, Drazan is also concerned with state budgeting. If she is elected, she plans to fight to protect tax cuts for Oregonians.

"We're already seeing politicians in Salem who are trying to eliminate the progress made at the federal level by raising taxes here at home, and trying to roll back the benefits for local taxpayers," she said. "We need to protect those tax cuts and find ways to create pathways to economic prosperity for middle class families."

A closed primary election will take place May 15, 2018. If Drazan is successful in the primary, she will likely face Democratic candidate Elizabeth Graser-Lindsey in the general election Nov. 6, 2018.

Kristen Wohlers
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