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House District 37 (West Linn and Tualatin) rep also addresses messages from opponent's campaign

Rachel Prusak knows that tough times are ahead. But the incumbent Democrat of House District 37 knows that Oregonians can overcome the challenges by working together.

COURTESY PHOTO - PRUSAKPrusak said she's spent the past two years doing just that.

"I led on some bipartisan issues. I built relationships with my colleagues across the aisle, within my caucus and with advocates, and really built relationships with local elected officials in West Linn, Tualatin, King City, Durham, River Grove," Prusak said. "And from those relationships, I really built trust that I was going to listen to all sides of an issue. And now I'm ready to really take all of the relationships that I've built and pass really strong, bipartisan policy."

In serving as a nurse practitioner over the past 20 years, she said, she cared the same for every patient she had, regardless of their beliefs or where they fell on the political spectrum.

Heading into November's election, Prusak is focused on that bipartisan collaboration, and the concerns she's heard from constituents

District 37 residents have made clear to Prusak they want to ensure every Oregonian has access to quality education, while also addressing climate change and implementing community investment projects, but not in the manner ODOT has proposed for I-205.

Those issues are still on the table, Prusak said, in addition to the ones that have arisen this year: the pandemic, wildfires, racial inequality and civil unrest.

Coming together to tackle these issues is made even harder by COVID-19. But Prusak said she's continued to meet with constituents and colleagues over the phone and through virtual meetings.

"I'm having conversations regularly with (Department of Human Services) and (Oregon Health Authority), about how we can keep our community safe, but also start to have some resemblance of normalcy, whether it's how we support our students and families for back to school, or how we support our seniors and those with disabilities and their families with visitation," Prusak said.

The representative also mentioned she's again working to pass bills regarding safe storage of firearms and telehealth, both of which failed to pass during the 2020 short session, when Republicans walked out of the Capitol.

While not being able to meet face to face with constituents has posed its challenges, Prusak said residents are still happy to hear from her when she calls.

Addressing messages shared by the campaign of her opponent, Republican Kelly Sloop, Prusak said she's had an opportunity to to correct the record when people come to her with concerns about what they've seen or heard.

Despite this opportunity to share her thoughts on the matter, Prusak said the attacks are still hurtful. She said that while visiting patients, she'll suddenly receive dozens of calls or messages about the texts, emails or surveys they've seen from the Sloop campaign.

"It also lifts me up when people see through it and reach out," she added. "I think that maybe the opposition forgets that I go into the homes of the most vulnerable in our communities and take care of them when they're sick and dying. And yeah, I haven't lived in the community as long as Kelly Sloop, but I've been serving the community every day for the last several years. And that goes far."

In regard to the assertions made by the Sloop campaign, Prusak said that she does not want to abolish local police, and noted endorsements from local law enforcement.

She also addressed a message from the Sloop campaign that said she "voted to reduce sentences for murderers like Jeremy Christian, who stabbed three people on a MAX train in 2017."

Prusak clarified that in 2019 she voted for a bill that would narrow the definition of aggravated murder, which would allow for life in prison with no possibility of parole in place of the death penalty in certain cases.

"Christiansen has been sentenced to two life sentences without parole and will never see a day outside of prison. His crime was horrific," Prusak said. "And I think the opposition using that to instill fear into our community is outrageous."

Prusak said that it has been an honor to serve House District 37, and that she looks forward to continuing to do so if she is reelected.

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