As the May 15 primary nears, we asked several candidates to respond to a few questions of interest to Clackamas County voters. Below is a Q&A with Rachel Prusak of West Linn, who is running for House District 37 representative.
Question: If elected as state representative, what are the three main priorities that you would hope to accomplish while in office?
Prusak: There are many issues to be addressed, but my top three issues are health care, education, and the environment. They are all related, and access is at the center of them all. Though Oregon has made great strides in recent years to provide access to quality, affordable health care, there are still too many Oregonians who lack access.
We must ensure that we provide access based on patients’ needs rather than on profits. The quality of a community’s education reverberates through all other facets of society and serves as the foundation for our future, the strength of our communities, and the bedrock of our economy. We need to work toward reforming our education system and ensuring there is strong, stable funding. And just as investing in education secures a bright future, so too does preserving clean air and clean water. These natural resources face constant threats and must be conserved, not exploited.
Q: What potential solutions to the challenging problem of easing traffic congestion on I-205 are you investigating?
Prusak: I am currently listening to the concerns and opinions of the people in my community. It is vitally important, as the state makes investments in transportation infrastructure, that our community receives the resources it deserves. Congestion in this corridor slows down economic growth for our entire region and impacts the quality of life in our community.
I will continue to talk to Oregon Department of Transportation, the Portland Bureau of Transportation, and the cities within House District 37, asking the hard questions and demanding the very best. Our community needs a strong advocate fighting for funding and holding officials accountable as they make decisions about how to invest and keep Oregon moving.
Q: If elected, how would you maintain communication with your constituents in HD 37 and Clackamas County?
Prusak: As the State Representative for House District 37, I intend to use a broad array of tools to communicate with the community. Being accessible to fellow community members is a top priority for me. That means utilizing social media and email communications, as well as more traditional community events like public forums and monthly listening sessions. The people in our community should be able to easily communicate to their representative what their concerns are and what their top priorities are. I look forwarding to expanding opportunities and being a true representative for the community.
Q: Julie Parrish has been elected four different times in a district that has a 7 percent Democratic edge; why do you think that keeps happening?
Prusak: My focus in this campaign is on the people of House District 37 and moving our community forward together. I plan to engage every voter in House District 37 to ensure everyone knows that they have a choice this November to choose better for our communities.
I know that when given the choice, our community will vote to protect our precious resources, the most vulnerable members of our community, and the hard working people that care for our community like teachers, nurses, and union members.
Q: What do you offer to the district that you believe is better than what Parrish offers?
Prusak: Health care professionals are sought out for their ability to command and act with precision in high-pressure, time-sensitive situations that require patience, expertise, communication, and compassion. Who better to run for office than those trained, proven, and willing to make the right decisions in tough situations? Nurses are the single most trusted profession in America. We need to bring that kind of trust to our legislature.
I have seen and experienced some of the challenges that face folks across the country, and I am eager to work on addressing them through legislation. As a nurse, I am proud to be a strong advocate for my patients, and I will take on the challenges of Salem just as I have throughout my nursing career.
Q: What in particular inspired you to run for office?
Prusak: For more than 20 years, I have worked as a nurse in communities across America. I decided to run for state representative when the current representative of my district aggressively tried to take health care away from hundreds of thousands of Oregonians. As a nurse who believes health care is a human right, I knew I needed to run — but it is about so much more.
We deserve representatives who are committed to building healthy communities, ensuring we have the best public schools, fostering a strong climate for our small businesses, protecting working Oregonians, and who understand that we are stronger when we work together.