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Democrat to compete for District 37 spot after Rachel Prusak decides not to seek reelection.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - West Linn Mayor Jules Walters is running for House District 37. West Linn Mayor Jules Walters said she began to consider running for state representative because she feared Rachel Prusak, who has represented House District 37 for the past two terms, might not run again.

Walters announced her campaign for District 37 — which covers West Linn, Tualatin, Stafford, Durham and Rivergrove — shortly after Prusak stated last week she would not seek reelection.

Walters said she wanted to make sure there was someone in Salem to continue Prusak's work for the district. She also said she and other regional mayors have discussed the importance of having leaders with municipal government experience working in Salem.

Walters, a Democrat, was elected mayor of West Linn in 2020. Prior to that, she served two years on the City Council.

If elected, Walters said she'd like to focus on transportation, and, in particular, how to address the effects of tolling on I-205 and I-5, as well as housing access and equity in education and child care.

According to Walters, House District 37 and other areas like Mikwuakie, Gladstone and Canby will bear the brunt of the adverse effects from tolling on I-205 and I-5 as proposed by the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Residents in West Linn, she pointed out, have to get on the freeway just to take kids to school or go grocery shopping.

"To have to pay $4 to do that seems like an unfair impact on our community," she said.

Regarding the lack of available child care in Oregon, Walters said COVID-19 has helped reveal the need for transformation of the system.

"If we're going to become a vibrant economy again, we need to make sure our workers can work — and a big piece of that is child care," she said.

Walters also expressed a desire to help the state's crisis with homelessness. To do this, the state must provide supportive housing services and build more houses, she said.

"There are people who work in West Linn, who'd like to have their kids attend the West Linn-Wilsonville School District, and there's not the broad range of housing options right now nor enough of those units," Walters said.

Walters felt shifting her focus from West Linn to the entire state may take some adjusting, but noted she's already working with other mayors across the state as well as the League of Oregon Cities. This has given her a good understanding of the assets and needs of other communities, she said.

Though Walteres lives in West Linn, she said she'd make sure to represent the interests of the other communities in the district as well. Walters mentioned she has relationships with the mayor and city councilors of Tualatin. Her mother lives in Tualatin, she added.

"HD37 is made up of beautiful communities with great schools and great businesses," Walters said. "I feel very lucky and privileged to live here. I would be really proud to represent this district in the Legislature."

Acknowledging the current partisanship of state and national politics, Walters said she has good relationships with people in the community across the political spectrum.

"I won't sacrifice my core values, but I will take the time to have the hard conversations and to listen and find if we can come to a place that works," she said.

Walters also said that working on a divided City Council for two years taught her a lot about working with people with different views. She said it's important to remain civil and listen to one another when disagreements arise.

Walters also noted her values of social justice, women's reproductive rights, eliminating food insecurity and making sure every child has access to a good education.

Walters is the only Democrat running in May's primary for the District 37 seat. She will face Republican Aeric Estep in the November general election.

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