ENDORSEMENT: Elect Rep. Jeff Helfrich to his first full term
For the first time in at least two election cycles, the Democrats of House District 52 have wisely fielded an electable candidate — someone who isn't standing so far out in left field that she isn't even in the game.
To the contrary, Democrat Anna Williams of Hood River is smart and she's moderate, two qualities that are essential for any candidate to even hope for a chance at winning in the district. HD 52 swings a little toward the progressive side of life with 15,424 registered Democratic voters, to the 13,036 registered Republicans. But with this mostly even split, the successful candidate needs to be able to embrace the entire district, not just those who share party affiliation.
While we appreciate the common sense and approachability of Williams, we don't see any reason to throw incumbent Rep. Jeff Helfrich out of office.
Voters who are paying attention will recall that Helfrich was unanimously chosen by the commissioners of three counties to complete the term of incumbent Rep. Mark Johnson, R-Hood River, who resigned midterm to pursue other opportunities. While in office, Johnson had distinguished himself as a moderate with one of the best bipartisan records in the Oregon House. Since taking over, Rep. Helfrich has followed in Johnson's footsteps, with a 73 percent record of voting with his party. That may sound like a big number, but in the partisan world of Oregon politics, it's not uncommon to see representatives with a 95 percent or greater voting record favoring their caucus.
In the short time that Helfrich has been in the Legislature, he has already had a hand in passing meaningful legislation:
• Helfrich and Sen. Chuck Thomsen, R-Hood River, were chief sponsors of HB 4152, the Eagle Creek Fire recovery bill, which required the state fire marshal to issue grants to sheriff's offices in Multnomah and Hood River counties for expenses related to wildlife recovery, mitigation and preparedness. The bill required a few tweaks to make it palletable to some Portland-based lawmakers, but it eventually passed and was signed by Gov. Kate Brown.
• Helfrich and Thomsen also were chief sponsors of HB 4044, which passed the bipartisan test and directed the education office to conduct study on recruitment, retention, mentoring and professional development of educators who serve students who may be at risk for experiencing an achievement gap or dropping out. The idea behind this legislation is to find ways to recruit and retain highly qualified educators.
Helfrich comes from a pragmatic point of view as a retired police officer, who is comfortable walking into any difficult situation and working with people to finding short- and long-term solutions.
He's also a former member of the Cascade Locks City Council, and is a distinguished military veteran who served in the Air Force during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.
Helfrich simply is a highly qualified candidate who is already hard at work representing the best interests of House District 52. Like his opponent, Helfrich is smart and he's a moderate.
There's one more reason to elect Helfrich to his first full term. Democrats are already in the majority in the House and Senate. The November 2018 election can help reduce that imbalance. The best possible outcome of this election would be for the Legislature to move closer to a 50/50 split of Republicans and Democrats.
That was the case after the 2010 election, when the Senate was fairly well balanced at 16-14, and the House was evenly divided at 30-30. To get anything passed, lawmakers couldn't rely on a majority, but had to make concessions and search for compromise, which always produces the best results for the majority of Oregonians.
Elect Rep. Jeff Helfrich to a full term in House District 52.