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She's taken the right positions on guns, reproductive rights and early childhood education.

I am many things. I am a mom of two daughters, an early learning educator and an engaged voter.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought my life to a screeching halt in March 2020. My kids' school and the school I taught at closed seemingly overnight — the responsibility of my daughters' education and the weight of navigating my family through the unknowns of a pandemic landed squarely on my shoulders. The COVID-19 pandemic is an experience acutely felt by moms all over Oregon, who are still feeling its lingering effects in more ways than one.

Nearly three years later, school has just started to feel "normal" to my daughters. But, like many moms everywhere, our new normal is a life still rife with worry about the education and safety of our kids, getting our careers back on track, and worrying about our individual rights as women. As I consider who will get my vote for governor, it's easy. The candidate who is looking out for moms and children — It's Tina Kotek.

There are three issues that a candidate indicates their support for moms and children: gun violence prevention, protecting a woman's right to choose, and access to quality and affordable early learning/day care. When we support moms, we know our community thrives. When we invest in children's early education, their future and our future thrive. Tina Kotek has demonstrated her unwavering leadership on these issues and more — and is a leader we know Oregon moms can count on.

I'm a mom, an early learning educator, and a voter. Tina Kotek is the governor that our moms and children need. As a legislator, she has fought for gun violence prevention laws. Our children must be safe at school. Johnson & Drazen — they'll vote to protect your neighbors' guns instead of your kids.

Tina has not floundered on the question if she will continue to protect our right to choose. Drazen's lackluster stance on the right to choose is too big a risk to take. In a post-Roe America, we cannot afford to have a governor who can't even say out right that Oregonians will continue to have this protected right. And while Johnson's promises to keep Oregon a pro-choice state, her disappointing track record of appeasing conservative lawmakers to front a phony attempt at "bipartisanship" only opens the door to the certainty that Oregon's right to choose will be on shaky ground. My two daughters, and yours, deserve a governor who lets this choice stay between them and their doctors.

In July, our state will launch a new agency: the Department of Early Learning and Care, tasked with focusing on children from birth through the age of 5. The importance of early learning infrastructure has been downplayed this campaign season. Tina pledges to invest in early learning and expand access for families to pre-K for families. It's a start. And, more importantly, it's not turning a blind eye. Drazen said flat out there would be no investment in a Universal Pre-K plan for the state, citing a desire to keep taxes lower. Betsy has only said what she would not do (use the current Multnomah County Preschool For All model for the entire state). It's clear to me, children and families are not a priority for either Drazen or Johnson.

Jess O'Donnell is a mother and a former educator. She lives with her family in the Cedar Mill area of unincorporated Washington County.

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