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Carolina Malmedal: 'Frankly, if Oregon was working, I wouldn't be running for state Senate.'

COURTESY PHOTO - Carolina MalmedalIn this election, voters have made it clear that their key priorities for Washington County elections will be to select candidates who will address crime, homelessness, and rising inflation.

What's important for voters to understand is that these issues are intertwined, and they're absolutely driven by local-level policy choices.

Our crime and homelessness problems start in Salem.

In 2017, the Legislature, including my opponent Janeen Sollman, voted yes on House Bill 2355 to disconnect drug sentencing from drug treatment. The following year, The Oregonian reported the state estimated 2,500 people annually wouldn't receive felony drug sentences as a result of that vote.

What they also wouldn't get was state-funded drug treatment. House Bill 2355 resulted in thousands of drug-addicted Oregonians not getting drug treatment.

The spike in drug addiction has fueled our homeless crisis. And it has fueled crime.

On the same day our Legislature voted to reduce sentences for drug crimes, the Legislature, including Sollman, supported a bill to reduce voter-approved sentencing for property crimes and ID theft (House Bill 3078).

Having personally been a victim of property crimes, when I dug down into why we're seeing crime spike in our community, it was shocking to see legislators voted for these laws and the real-world impacts they caused for the rest of us.

Frankly, if Oregon was working, I wouldn't be running for state Senate.

As a small business owner, I work to make sure the basic needs of my employees are met. A family-wage job with benefits is a cure for many of the issues that drive crime. When people can afford to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads, and when they have health care and mental health access, they don't feel compelled to make desperate choices.

But when people are living on the margins, and when our government is in part responsible for the high cost of rent, food, gas and groceries, it drives people to do desperate things, or drives them into despair.

I spoke with a voter this past weekend who is facing a rent increase. The high cost of gas is making it harder to work to provide for the beautiful daughter he's raising. Oregon's not working for him either, and he fears he'll lose his apartment and fall into homelessness.

The rent increase, the higher cost of fuel, the higher cost of health care — are all votes supported by Janeen Sollman.

Something has to change, and voters have a powerful tool in front of them this week to make a change: a ballot.

This November, I'm hoping to be a voice for my neighbors in Salem. I will prioritize the concerns of thousands of voters I've spoken with who are ready for a representative who puts community before political party and solutions before soundbites. My plans to address crime and homelessness are endorsed by the front-line public safety community, and I'll be focused on reducing localized inflationary costs so we can keep Washington County safe and affordable.

If those are your values for Washington County, I would appreciate your vote.

Carolina Malmedal is the Republican candidate for Senate District 15, which includes Hillsboro, Cornelius and Forest Grove.

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