This article was updated from its original version
State Rep. Courtney Neron, D-Wilsonville, has many ideas flowing through her head for how to improve the lives of her constituents. And she is hoping that House District 26 voters will allow her to pursue these policies by voting to reelect her this November.
"I do hope that voters will support me to serve again in our Legislature so I can take the knowledge and experience I gained in my first two-year term to another two-year term," she said.
Neron is running against Republican Peggy Stevens in the race to represent the district, which includes Wilsonville, Sherwood, King City and other areas.
One of the successes of her first two years of public office, Neron said, was the concussion bill she wrote that passed through the Legislature this year, which standardized protocols for teachers to use when a student has recently been concussed.
"Sometimes the little things are the big things and I think this is one that I think is going to help a lot of people," Neron said.
She said the first term in office is generally about learning the ropes and supporting the work of fellow legislators, and that she plans to be more aggressive in pursuing her own legislation in her second term. One bill Neron, a former high school Spanish teacher, strongly championed was the Student Success Act, which used a corporate activity tax for businesses with revenues over $1 million to provide more funding for schools. Stevens is against the use of the tax while Neron felt it was necessary to make way for sorely needed investments.
"Having worked in classrooms that were underfunded, where the class size was too large, where the curriculum was outdated, where students lacked health care and nutrition needs and needed counseling … We have a crisis in Oregon and across the nation (with) young people facing anxiety and depression … I saw a need for investments that were not made in my adult life and wanted to do something about that," Neron said.
Neron plans to advocate for reducing toxins in the environment, for every foster care child to have access to a court-appointed special advocate, and to address childcare deserts locally, including finding ways to increase wages for childcare workers. She said she is now a member of a newly-formed childcare caucus.
"I want to continue to be in these conversations, collaborating and forming solutions," she said.
More broadly, she is passionate about addressing climate change, racism, housing and health care affordability and standing up for working families, among other things.
"I know people are reaching out and telling me the values I'm standing up for are the values they care about," she said.
Neron finds herself in a new position in this election cycle. In 2018, she was the underdog going against incumbent Richard Vial. This time, she's defending her seat against Stevens. She felt that while Vial ran a clean campaign focused on policy, Stevens' campaign has spread false information about her. Some falsehoods she mentioned included framing her as a puppet of Portland politicians and as an opportunist who moved to the area to run for public office.
"I'm doing my best to rise above the smear campaigns," Neron said.
Neron said she tries to represent the district, not her own party. For instance, she said she has asked Gov. Kate Brown to allow certain larger facilities like Bullwinkle's Wilsonville to be able to open as long as they have a safe plan for doing so. The facility was forced to close due to restrictions to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Bullwinkle's has submitted a plan to the governor's office but received no response, according to General Manager Darren Harmon.
Neron said Bullwinkle's plan for reopening was "great."
"I've been advocating for us to nuance phase requirements so when businesses or sectors prove they have measures in place to keep people safe, to contact trace effectively, to be reasonable … then we can potentially open more businesses healthily and safely," she said.
And while Stevens claimed to Pamplin Media Group that Neron was against the development of a mental health facility in Wilsonville, which is currently in the state's certificate of need process, Neron said she supports the project while adding that it requires further conversations.
"I'm really working with the groups to convene a conversation so we can get to a yes. I want to see Oregon acknowledge that it's 50th out of 51 (states including Puerto Rico) in response to mental health care. I find that frankly unacceptable," she said.
Overall, Neron said she's enjoyed representing her district and, if reelected, that she will continue to listen before she legislates.
"It's been an honor and really meaningful to serve our community in this way and I will continue to be a listener and to be really thoughtful in the ways I represent our community," she said.
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