There's a better approach to public safety
I've worked for over twenty years as a nurse caring for the most vulnerable in our society. I follow the American Nurses Code of Ethics, which states that "nursing is committed to the welfare of the sick, injured and vulnerable in society." That is why I first ran for office in 2018 and why I am running for re-election.
My opponent, Kelly Sloop, wrote an opinion piece in which she claimed authorship of a plan that she may believe serves her personal political needs, but is deeply irresponsible. In a time of crisis and uncertainty, she proposes ripping important state funds from communities under the slogan "Defund Portlandia," punishing working Oregonians by taking away support families need during a healthcare and economic crisis. This is not how we keep each other safe and support our communities in a crisis.
Let me be clear: I support people's right to peaceful protest, especially in the cause of addressing systemic racism. I believe Black Lives Matter, and am honestly stunned that people would object to that simple statement of values. But I have also been clear that I oppose the violence we have seen on the streets of Portland. You may hear that I want to "defund our police." This is simply not true, just ask local law enforcement officials who have endorsed my campaign like former Tualatin Police Chief, Steve Winegar, Former Multnomah County Deputy Robert Ward, and Clackamas County District Attorney Elect John Wentworth. I want police departments in our communities to have what they need to serve and protect. It's why I supported a bill that requires law enforcement agencies to establish mental health wellness for officers and why I will fight to invest in mental health crisis intervention programs to ensure public safety for all.
As a state representative, Oregonian's health and safety is my top priority. As we look around us and see smoke covering the state, and fires forcing thousands of people to evacuate their homes, it is clear the fight to protect the environment is more important than ever, and we must pass legislation to mitigate our climate crisis, protect Oregon from wildfires, and fight for clean air and water. My voting history around this issue is why the firefighters and environmental groups support my re-election. We don't know the scope of the losses from the fires yet, but I do know it is our duty as leaders to support the families impacted.
Our families are safer when we support each other. It's why I'm fighting to make sure every family and small business is supported as we recover from this pandemic, so no one gets left behind, especially frontline workers, families, seniors, and small businesses. It's why I fought for residents and workers at long term care facilities to have access to COVID-19 testing. It's why I voted to protect families from eviction and foreclosure during the crisis and why I am working tirelessly to get every person the unemployment benefits they are owed.
We can't discuss safety without highlighting the dehumanization of black and brown communities that has caused more pain and suffering than we can fully quantify. I have seen in my career as a nurse the slow motion violence of systemic racism that eats away at the health of individuals and families. That is why I have supported policies that require healthcare providers to have training in cultural competency, strengthen hate crime laws, and pass police accountability legislation. There is so much more left to do. Taking away state support from our cities, as my opponent proposes, would obstruct the urgent work needed.
Oregonians are facing multiple public health threats; wildfires, a global pandemic, and racial inequities. We need leaders in Salem who will bring us together to solve these problems, not endanger our public's safety or their health by denying public services to those in need.
Rachel Prusak represents District 37 at the Oregon Legislature.
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