West Linn-Wilsonville School Board chair running for state Senate
After serving on the West Linn-Wilsonville School Board for the last six years, and most recently as board chair, Chelsea King has her sights set on the Oregon Capitol.
The Wilsonville resident plans to announce Wednesday, Oct. 13, that she will run for Senate District 13, which is currently occupied by state Sen. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer.
That seat will soon be open, as redistricting means Thatcher will move to another district while the SD 13 boundaries will shift toward Tigard and away from Keizer.
The primary will take place next May and the general election will be held in November. King is running as a Democrat.
"I have over 12 years of experience in education policy and budgeting and community advocacy, and I'm a mom of three high schoolers and am ready to take that lived experience and work experience to the Capitol to advocate for young people and K-12 schools," King said in an interview. "I have the values of belonging and fairness and community, and I want to make policy decisions with those values at the core."
King was first elected in 2015, took up the role as board chair this year and said she will complete her term, which expires in 2023, whether or not she is elected to the Senate.
She believes her unique vantage point as an education leader and single mom could be a useful asset in Salem, and that her working-class roots lend themselves toward community advocacy.
"When I went to school, public school was a place that provided opportunity and safety. I've been passionate about continuing to carry that legacy for young people," King said. "That's the area I really bring with me when I go to the Capitol, the lived experience of being a young person in our schools, raising three kiddos in our schools and making policy and budget decisions on behalf of our students."
King was a member of the school board budget committee prior to obtaining her role on the board. For her day job, she runs Heart Centered Work, which focuses on workplace wellness and conflict mediation.
She said she decided to run after hearing that House District 26 Rep. Courtney Neron, D-Wilsonville, wanted to keep her current seat. She added that facing contentious disputes over social justice, vaccinations and institutional distrust has inspired her to serve at a higher level.
"I have wanted to go to Salem to work on the issues that are important to me for many years, and I always wanted to be thoughtful about the timing and make sure it was the right time in my personal life and the community commitments I have. I reflected on this and (realized) that this is the right time to offer what I have to give," King said.
King added that she's been a longtime organizer for the Democratic Party, including serving as a precinct leader. She said she has also obtained endorsements from House District 37 Rep. Rachel Prusak, D-West Linn, as well as WL-WV Board member Kirsten Wyatt, North Clackamas School Board Chair Libra Forde and other educational leaders.
If elected, the board chair said some of her areas of focus would include finding ways to reverse cycles of poverty and addiction, bolstering mental health services, expanding career and technical education in schools and finding ways to help families outside of the school system.
"We saw with this pandemic that when schools closed for physical attendance, our families suffered. Something like a million women left the workforce to stay home with their kids. We know the mental health toll on our young people was incredible. I lived it in our house and read probably thousands of emails from parents and students who talked about it," King said. "We ask so much of our schools. What else do we have in our community and our state that is going to support working women, children, families with working parents? We need to figure out ways to help our families that (are) not just our K-12 schools."
King reiterated that the move will not impact her role on the board during her current term and expressed gratitude to the district for preparing her for this moment.
"I gave free labor to this district because I love it and believe in it, and in return, these communities grew me. I became stronger, more confident and capable," she said.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.