Even with cancellations left, right and all around amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Oregon's May 19 primary election is still on as the state has been holding vote-by-mail elections for 20 years.
In the Democratic primary, voters will find two Canby women running to become the Democratic nominee for Oregon House District 39, a seat held by Republican Christine Drazan since 2019 and held by Republicans since 2002. After her first year as representative, Drazan became the Republican caucus leader for 2020.
The two candidates vying for the opportunity to unseat Drazan are Tessah Danel and Julia Hill.
Danel holds a bachelor's degree from Warner Pacific University in business administration and human development. She is a mother of three and works as a liquidity officer at Bank of the West.
Her experience includes serving as a Clackamas River Water commissioner and serving on several boards, including the Youth Progress Association, Clackamas County Historical Society, Clackamas Repertory Theatre and the Parrot Creek Ranch advisory committee.
"These experiences, paired with my 20-plus years as a successful woman in business and finance, I understand the needs of rural and urban Oregonians," Danel said, "and believe I can be a bridge between cities and rural areas."
Her platform is as a pro-women's health candidate. She also supports protecting Oregon's natural resources, is a firm supporter of cross-laminated timber and bringing environmentally friendly, living-wage jobs to the manufacturing sector. Danel also wants to ensure all children in Oregon have access to nutritious meals and career-focused technical education. She said she also stands up for farmers and local businesses.
"My record in the business sector verifies that I support farms and local businesses, and I vow to bring farmers and rural interests to Salem," she said.
When asked why people should vote for her, Danel said: "People should vote for me because I get things done. I show up for my job, and I listen. I'm a mover and a shaker.
"I surround myself by the experts. If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room," she continued. "I seek advice and listen to the concerns of people around me. I want to best represent my constituents and collaborate with members of my district to propose meaningful legislation.
"As a Salem outsider, I will rise above the politics that too often result in inaction from local government. The government is here to work on behalf of the people who elected them, and as your representative I will be in Salem, advocating for you."
Hill is a fifth-generation Oregonian and a 2001 graduate of Canby High School. She holds a bachelor's degree in international studies from the University of Oregon and a master's in public administration and health policy from Princeton. She is a nursing student at Oregon Health & Science University.
Hill worked for Doctors Without Borders in South Africa and Nigeria, as well as other humanitarian organizations. She also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco and interned with the U.S. State Department at the embassy in Athens, Greece.
The experience Hill is most proud of, she said, was when she worked for Doctors Without Borders in South Africa to secure more affordable medicine for patients suffering from drug-resistant tuberculosis.
"We were able to save costs and expand access within our own project, but also were able to catalyze some change for the government so that they could get access to a more affordable product and expand access across the country," Hill said. "I think that kind of policymaking experience that I have where I've been in the room, I've had to negotiate … that's just one example of policy change that I've been able to enact in my overseas work, and I would like to apply that here in Oregon as well."
Hill's campaign is focused on working for a healthy Oregon. She said that not only involves expanding access to health care services and making health care more affordable, but it also involves helping Oregonians to: achieve financial security, access education and training to secure the jobs they want and have a level of faith in the government that their representatives are going to support them in realizing those goals.
When asked why people should vote for her, Hill said: "I really relate to the challenges that Oregonians are facing right now. It's where I'm from and these are my roots; this is my place.
"But I also have the advantage of all my previous advocacy work," she continued, "and I think that gives me a unique perspective and allows me to bring some creative solutions to the table, which are going to help the district and Oregon get through all of these challenging times."
House District 39 includes Estacada, Eagle Creek, Barton, Beavercreek, Boring, Canby, Carus, Charbonneau, Fisher Mill, Mulino, Redland, rural areas of Oregon City and portions of Damascus and Happy Valley.
Ballots will be mailed starting April 29.
The winner among these two women will become the Democratic nominee for House District 39 and will move on to compete against Drazan, the sole Republican candidate, in November.
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