Candidates for State Representative District 51

A questionnaire was sent to candidates in the Portland-metro region, and below are the responses in regard to issues that are important to the Alliance and the business community.

* indicates Alliance endorsed candidate.

 
1. The Allianceís primary focus for the 2016 election cycle will be to support those candidates and ballot measure proponents who clearly and publicly join us in opposing Measure 97, the gross receipts tax measure, which will be so detrimental to Oregonís economy. What is your position on M97?
Janelle Bynum* I have received a wealth of information regarding IP 28 and am currently in the process of reviewing it all. From the standpoint of workforce development and the health of our community, the bottom line is that funding for our schools and our students is an immediate priority and a long-term investment that benefits everyone. Education is important to me both as a parent and a business owner and I believe it is time to stabilize education funding. In addition, some data suggests that the burden can be shared more equitably.

Going forward, I am still learning and processing information from the different sides, but I know this measure will ultimately be decided by the voters of Oregon. As a legislator, I will work towards moving Oregon forward in a way that prioritizes education funding as well as job creation and economic growth, regardless of what the voters decide. Should the measure pass, I am committed to ensuring the money is spent to fund our local schools, protect seniors, and increase access to health care.
Lori Chavez-DeRemer* I have been a vocal, public opponent of this dangerous proposal.
2. The 2015 Economic Impacts of Congestion shows that Portland-metro and the state of Oregon's competitiveness is largely dependent on efficient transportation. Failure to adequately invest in the system could cost the Portland-metro region $822 million annually by 2040 and close to 6,000 jobs. Do you support increased funding for a state transportation package? Would you work on a state transportation package in the 2017 legislative session that supports freight movement and removes bottlenecks through multimodal investments, including in roads and bridges?
Janelle Bynum* Absolutely. Oregon's current infrastructure is severely lacking and without adequate infrastructure, our entire state suffers. Inadequate infrastructure hurts our economy, our environment, and most importantly the livelihoods of Oregonians. My district suffers from a multitude of issues related to transportation, including the glaring lack of sidewalks and lack of updates on Powell Blvd. I hear these concerns echoed when I knock on the doors of voters in our community, that the roads need to be repaired and children in the area need safe streets. A transportation package is a top priority for my district and the entire state, and I will be a strong, committed advocate for getting it done. Passing a transportation package will also create jobs for skilled workers, make it easier for people to get to and from work, as well as for imports and exports to come through Oregon.
Lori Chavez-DeRemer* Absolutely. A transportation package is one of my top priorities. As Mayor of Oregonís fastest growing city, I helped to implement a 2Ę gas tax even though we donít yet have a gas station Ė but one is being built right now. Salem needs proactive planning for transportation funding - before it becomes an emergency. But now that transportation in Oregon has become an emergency, we need to make a serious investment to get things back on track.
3. The Portland metro region functions as one labor and employment market. Workplace rules that impact business operations and costs, such as paid sick leave, minimum wage and others, can distort that market if local jurisdictions are able to adopt their own rules in an inconsistent manner. What do you believe is the role of the state versus local jurisdictions in setting workplace rules?
Janelle Bynum* As a business owner in both Multnomah County and Clackamas County, one of the most difficult parts of my job is complying with the multitude of city, county, state, and federal regulations. I appreciate when the rules are fair, uniform, and equitable because I can focus on serving my customers and running a profitable enterprise- which benefits our local economy. Minimizing the guesswork and reducing paperwork related to compliance is a value I will take with me to the legislature.

There may be times that we need to act locally if the legislature does not have all the tools at its disposal to react quickly and fairly to a situation. In those cases, I would consider creative ways to ensure we stand up for working Oregonians and pass laws that meet votersí priorities. As a state legislator, I will always make it a priority to host in-district meetings with small business owners, and those hoping to become small business owners, to ensure that they have the resources they need to follow the law, be successful, and continue creating jobs and contributing to our community.
Lori Chavez-DeRemer* Iím aware of the sentiment that rural Ė and some metro area Ė lawmakers think Portland should be allowed to pass whatever destructive, anti-business legislation they want. I think rural Oregon needs Portland to be healthy, and vice-versa. A healthy economy is a stable one, and statewide pre-emption for worker scheduling, minimum wage, paid sick leave and other burdens on businesses is an important key to that. Our businesses wonít survive if we allow cities to pass their own anti-business legislation in the name of seeing who can be the most progressive.
4. The Portland Business Alliance and its members have a long history of supporting education including career and technical education (CTE) and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs. Last legislative session, we supported the legislatureís funding increase for these programs. How would you improve our stateís public education system and CTE and STEM programs?
Janelle Bynum* Funding for education is absolutely crucial to the success of our state and our country as a whole. As a legislator, I will make fully funding our schools my top priority, because I know that education leads to economic opportunity. The recent funding increase in the stateís 2015-16 budget was a step in the right direction and I want to see that trend continue. In the legislature, I will be a strong advocate for getting our schools the funding they deserve and need in the biennial budget and stabilizing school funding so we donít have to continue struggling to make the education budget a priority. I intend to work closely with our schools and economic stakeholders to hear their expert opinions and ensure that we are able to secure the funding that is necessary.

As a trained electrical engineer and a small business owner, I have a particular fondness for CTE (Career/Technical Education) and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs. These programs must be included in our budget because they produce sustainable middle-class jobs and attract investment dollars to the state. They are also programs that produce graduates who are less likely to be saddled with a debt burden so heavy that it prevents them from launching their life successfully. As an employer myself, I know that these programs create a skilled workforce here in our communities.
Lori Chavez-DeRemer* Owning and building an anesthesia management practice, we recognize our employees come from a strong educational environment that focused on science and math. Iím a huge supporter of prioritizing funding for STEM as well as Professional/ Technical education. Clackamas Community College recently received a terrific opportunity to build a development program for the Microsoft Holo Lens Ė and all that was needed was matching funds that didnít appear. Itís a huge missed opportunity to develop a workforce in a high-demand tech sector. STEM and CTE are funding priorities so future opportunities aren't missed.
5. Oregon funding for higher education continues to trail other states despite the significant increase in funding approved in the last legislative session. This puts a burden on students who face higher tuition costs and increased student debt. What is your position on funding for higher education and scholarship programs for students to improve access and completion?
Janelle Bynum* I am the daughter of two teachers and I grew up in a household where the value of an education was stressed every single day. Itís a value I hope to pass along to my four children. In my own business, I provide scholarships for employees who are students, as well as a flexible work scheduling that makes access to and completion of a college degree more likely. It is my way of supporting them and sending the message that education is important. I was the beneficiary of scholarships from businesses (Boeing and General Motors) and recognize that their support of my education has made all the difference in my success and motivates me to pay that generosity forward.

College students shouldnít be graduating with insurmountable debt. Higher education funding lags in Oregon and that is an issue that I absolutely will work to rectify. Improving this situation would provide Oregonís students the opportunity they need to get a quality education without having to leave our state and their local support system.
Lori Chavez-DeRemer* Ideas for scholarship programs or loan forgiveness in exchange for time served in Oregon after the fact are in need of more discussion, but having a student loan interest tax deduction in Oregon may also encourage students who are educated here to stay. University of Oregon successfully pushes the boundaries of funding by admitting a much larger number of out-of-state students than others Ė making tuition lower for Oregonians. I would like to learn more about this and see if itís applicable at other institutions.
6. The Value of Jobs Coalition's 2015 Middle-Income Jobs Report found that Portland- metro, like most of the nation, has seen low- and high-income jobs account for increasingly larger shares of the regionís overall employment base, while middle-income jobs, as a share of the regionís total employment, have dropped from 69 percent in 1980 to 57 percent in 2013. What would you do to increase the number of middle-income jobs in both urban and rural parts of our state?
Janelle Bynum* A shrinking middle class is a problem that is affecting our entire country and needs to be addressed aggressively. The cost of living across Oregon continues to rise, but wages havenít grown at the same rate. We are seeing more adults and minorities in entry level jobs and this is also having an impact on the market participation rate of our youth. As a small business owner, I am able to provide a valuable voice in our legislature to help our state promote small business and create more middle-income jobs throughout Oregon. Some places we should look first include: valuing education and investing in K-12 and higher education, making sure our tax structure promotes long-term growth, creating and maintaining access to capital, and passing a comprehensive transportation package that will create jobs and make Oregon a more efficient place to do business.
Lori Chavez-DeRemer* Economic stability doesnít happen without legislative stability. Constantly changing the rules for business owners and employees creates an environment where the working class have to devote more of their resources to complying with new, burdensome laws and rules. The wealthy look for ways to game the system to mitigate tax burdens and the gap gets bigger. When small businesses get some kind of regulatory and tax stability, they can plan and grow, supporting those middle-class incomes.
7. The same Middle Income Jobs Report found that Portland-metroís housing prices are becoming increasingly out of reach not only for low-income households, but also for middle- income households. The Alliance supported the inclusionary zoning legislation that was passed and signed into law in the 2016 session. What would you do to address housing affordability challenges and do you think this is a state issue or a local issue?
Janelle Bynum* At my own business, Iíve had employees struggle to find housing within a reasonable proximity to work and made direct efforts to help them. Honing the recent legislation that lifted the inclusionary zoning ban to ensure it fits all Oregon communities is a priority. Our continued efforts need to be focused on bringing stakeholders from local jurisdictions together at the state level so that we can create policies that provide the best fit for everyone, while still being flexible enough to allow localities to take immediate action as they see fit.
Lori Chavez-DeRemer* The issue is of statewide importance, even if itís being felt largely in certain communities. Home ownership is on the decline, and educating people on the economics of renting vs owning homes should be part of the solution.
8. Cities throughout the state are experiencing increases in the numbers of people experiencing homelessness. This issue is particularly acute in the city of Portland and the metro region, with thousands of individuals unsheltered on any given night. What is your view of the role of the state in addressing homelessness, as well as mental illness and drug addiction services, which are a contributing cause for some individuals?
Janelle Bynum* This is an issue Oregonís legislature absolutely needs to step forward and be a leader on. When talking with voters, I hear multiple times a day that homelessness has reached a critical level. This problem of course is not unique to Oregon. I am interested in pulling from efforts that have found success in other parts of the country, and then tailor those solutions to Oregon. I am strongly in favor of expanding healthcare access and investing in mental health services.
Lori Chavez-DeRemer* I think we need to have an honest conversation about homelessness out of desperation vs. the outdoor living culture in Portland. The latter is fueled by the things you mention Ė drugs and mental illness, but weíve accommodated that in making homeless encampments tolerated. Organizations like the Salvation Army or New Avenues for Youth have housing and programs for the homeless, but the person receiving the housing is held accountable to get clean and treat their mental illness. Without accountability, you get whatís happening on the Springwater Trail Ė which has become an enormous public health hazard.
9. The Portland-metro regionís geographic location on the Pacific Rim, deep-water and inland port system, international air connections and extensive road and rail infrastructure play a significant role in the growth of Oregon businesses and jobs. Many small, medium, and large businesses throughout the state rely on efficient connections to domestic and international markets. What is your view on the role of trade to our stateís economy and what can the state do to promote traded-sector opportunities?
Janelle Bynum* Efficient connections and pathways for businesses to import and export goods are vital part of our stateís economy. This only further promotes the need for our state to pass a comprehensive transportation package and as mentioned previously that is a goal I am absolutely committed to. A large part of our shrinking middle class is the struggle of keeping manufacturing in our state and country. By making it easier to transport goods, we give a competitive advantage to businesses and can bring back manufacturing in growing industries, like the technology sector.
Lori Chavez-DeRemer* Terminal Six needs to re-open. It was a need that really shouldn't have been allowed to dry up. I sit and listen to the briefs of the negotiations that went on and cannot believe this extreme measure of shutting down a viable means of waterway commerce was allowed between the contractor and the longshoremen. We are a traded sector state and our economy depends on it.
10. The Alliance is committed to ensuring an adequate supply of shovel ready industrial lands to support job retention and growth. Manufacturing, in particular, requires industrial land and provides higher wages and better benefits than non-manufacturing jobs, particularly for non- whites and non-English-speaking workers. In a previous session, the Alliance supported a bill that would have allowed the state to provide loans and grants to jurisdictions to make industrial land market ready; the policy passed, but no associated funding was approved. What do you believe is the role of the state in helping local jurisdictions promote adequate industrial lands that are shovel ready for development?
Janelle Bynum* The state absolutely should work towards making sure we have an adequate amount of industrial land to promote growth. However, in these efforts, we need to be plan very carefully to make sure we maintain a proper balance between residential, commercial, and industrial land as well as preserving our stateís incredible natural heritage. This is an issue that I am eager to learn more about in an effort to find the best solution for our state, and look forward to collaborating with my colleagues at the Portland Business Alliance on what we can do moving forward.
Lori Chavez-DeRemer* I would consider allowing Local Improvement Districts and other site improvements to be funded through grants within enterprise zones or strategic investment zones. I would have to look at the specific proposals. Our more rural areas like Canby and Estacada are sitting on lots of shovel ready industrial land Ö but businesses have to consider the cost of rolling trucks that far. We need to start thinking in packages as opposed to silo's. Another example is Gresham, where acres of industrial parks were slated and no infrastructure dollars to align with the need.