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Sosa was appointed to his position at the start of this year, while Everton vies for the seat in a newly redrawn district.

The race for Oregon House District 30, which represents northern Hillsboro and parts of unincorporated Washington County, will feature Democrat Nathan Sosa facing Republican Joe Everton.

Both come to politics through the area of local education. Sosa was the president of the Hillsboro Schools Foundation, and Everton ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Hillsboro School District's board of directors last year.

Sosa, a Hillsboro attorney and former chairman of the Oregon Government Ethics Commission, was appointed to the Oregon House seat vacated by Janeen Sollman earlier this year. Sollman was likewise appointed to the legislative seat she currently holds representing Senate District 18 at the start of 2022.

Everton is a software engineer and systems analyst at Intel who has spent five years on the Hillsboro School District's Community Curriculum Advisory Committee.

Sosa described it as quite the introduction to the Legislature to be appointed on the day before the session started, but he feels that he's acclimated quickly to the flurry of policymaking that came with this year's short session.

Everton said he looks forward to hitting the ground running as a new member of the Legislature, if elected.

Both candidates have been canvassing the district and hearing from voters about concerns that boil down to three key issues: the housing crisis, rising crime, and education.

Sosa

Sosa said the biggest issue he hears about from voters is the housing crisis. While he sees the value in the Legislature investing in programs to help get homeless individuals off the street and that help to build more housing, he feels that more needs to be done to get people to buy homes. COURTESY PHOTO: NATHAN SOSA - Representative Nathan Sosa was appointed to represent Oregon House District 30 in January of this year. The Hillsboro attorney is now running for an election to a full two-year term representing the district's new boundaries that take effect next year.

"We need to focus more of our resources toward getting people to own the homes that they live in," Sosa said. "I think that's the most important step for generating intergenerational wealth, particularly for folks from minority communities."

Sosa said one component of Oregon's low share of home ownership, and part of why new home construction has lagged despite the investments in the housing market, is due to labor shortages.

He says there has been a focus in Salem on investing in more apprenticeship programs to get more skilled laborers into the workforce. He wants to see more of that, but also more efforts to address the issue of college affordability.

Sosa sits on the legislative workgroup led by Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, that has been tasked with finding solutions for driving down the cost of college.

He said that while rising tuitions are a component of this, he hears from Oregonians in college that it's the ancillary costs that are making college less affordable — things like child care, transportation and even rent.

"I hope the Legislature can look more holistically at solving these issues of affordability than we have in the past," he said. "I hope we can realize that all of these other issues are tied into the problem of affordability."

Sosa wants to see more money for state grants offered to students from low-income families to afford college, as well as an expansion of work-study programs that provide money and financial incentives for college students who work on campus. For those who don't want to go to a university, he wants to see the state continue its expansion of apprenticeship programs offered through high schools and trade colleges.

As for crime, Sosa said he hears from voters that they worry about gun violence, especially in the wake of a deadly shooting in Bend on Aug. 28 in which a gunman killed two people and injured another two at a grocery store.

Sosa is in favor of closing the so-called Charleston loophole, which allows gun sales to go through without a background check if the background check doesn't come back within three business days.

He also said that he generally thinks that if Oregon did a better job inspiring hope for people's economic future, it might curb gun violence.

"I'm hoping that if we as a state are able to show these predominantly young men that there is hope for their future — that they can get a good job, that they can have a prosperous life and that there are things they can do — I'm hoping that would also prevent some of them from descending into that horrible place where they feel that there's just no hope, and they pick up that firearm and do horrible things," Sosa said.

Everton

Everton is also focusing on housing affordability and how to tackle the issue of rising cost of living for Oregonians.

"I talked to a guy the other day who said he was homeless for a period, not because of drugs or mental illness, but because his family was struggling to afford the cost of rent," he said. "That tells you we have a problem right there." COURTESY PHOTO: JOE EVERTON - Joe Everton is running against Sosa for the HD 30 seat, previously running for an opening on the Hillbsoro School Board last year.

Everton says state and local governments have placed too many limits on where builders can construct new housing developments, which has driven up the cost of the housing once it makes it to the market.

He said he would prioritize lowering permitting costs and removing red tape for developers. He is opposed to rent control policies or those that try to force the market into certain kinds of developments.

Everton sees demand in the market for all types of housing — low-income, multifamily and single family homes — and developers will fill that need if the policies let them.

"All rent control does, as we've seen, is just drive rents up by the maximum amount every time," Everton said. "And I've seen people priced out of neighborhoods they would otherwise be able to afford just because the price of homes has gone up more than it needed to. I think the way we address that is by driving down the cost of doing it and expanding where we can build."

As for the homelessness component, he said he wants to see more accountability baked into the services offered to combat the crisis. He thinks the "housing first" mentality isn't enough, and that services need to address drug abuse and mental illness, too.

"We can't afford to just put people into housing with these problems, because we'd still have all the ill in society that come from those," Everton said. "Usually, when I hear Democrats talking about their solutions, it's really just to provide housing. But I think as a society, we need to have more compassion for these people in that we don't accept the places that they've found themselves in. Nobody would choose this, but sometimes it's very hard to leave behind once you get there."

Whereas Sosa focused his remarks on higher education and apprenticeship programs to train youth later in their academic careers, Everton said he focuses more on the issues at the local school board level.

"I ran for school board last year because I, as a parent, have been seeing the sliding of our schools," Everton said. "We have so many great teachers, but overall, the system, and I would say the administration, has been sliding."

As a software engineer himself, Everton says he believes there should be more STEM opportunities for students to explore, but he also worries about the overall quality of children's' education.

Last year's race was really about reopening schools, which returned to in-person instruction just weeks before the May 2021 election.

Everton was on the side of parents who called for schools to reopen sooner, citing the lost learning that resulted from remote instruction as a result of the pandemic.

He criticized the Hillsboro school board for, in his view, prioritizing a new contract from teachers at a time when teachers unions broadly opposed ending comprehensive distance learning.

"We're now reaping the rewards of all this, I would call it, negligence," Everton said. "Now that we see the test results, and those parents were absolutely right — the state wants to pretend that we had no choice. But we had a choice, and we can't pretend that this didn't happen."

To solve this, Everton says, he would prioritize more parental input in board decisions and more local control over public education.

"Frankly, I think we need more local control," Everton said. "I think the school board here felt that they couldn't break with the (Oregon Department of Education), but others did. … Other states achieved much less learning loss because they were active for the kids."

Election time

Both candidates will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot. Voters will begin receiving their ballots in the mail in mid-October. They must be returned to a ballot box or post-marked by election day to be valid.

Candidates are running this year for the newly drawn legislative districts, which were enacted last year following a redistricting process.

As a result of redistricting, HD 30 is becoming somewhat more compact. It will still cover most of Hillsboro, but it will no longer include North Plains.

Editor's Note: This article has been corrected to include Joe Everton's experience on the curriculum advisory committee.


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