Midterms 2018: An Interview with Courtney Neron
By Patrick Maguire
Washington County Democrats Communication Committee Secretary
Tell us a bit about your background and why you got involved politically.
This spring, after my ninth year of teaching, I resigned hoping to find a different avenue for supporting staff and students in public education. I see securing a seat in the House of Representatives as an ideal place to impact smaller class sizes and better funding. I will work hard to fund the education that students and teachers deserve. I also want to work toward safer communities, logical transportation solutions and necessary environmental protections. I want to support working families by championing equal pay for equal work and affordable childcare.
As a teacher and a mother, I am focused on the future. I know firsthand the importance of a strong public education, affordable housing, accessible health care, and environmental stewardship. I am ready to fight for a better future for all Oregonians, and I represent a change and a choice for the voters of House District 26.
I’d like to focus on an issue of particular concern to a lot of our readers. What will you do to address homelessness and housing affordability?
First and foremost, I will vote “YES” on Measure 102 and Metro Bond Measure 26-199. We must try creative solutions wherever possible, as affordable housing is in crisis in the Portland area. I have spoken with many voters who are concerned about the homelessness they see, but others I have spoken with are worried that they themselves will become homeless. We have a housing crisis when people are being priced out of their community. This is an increasing reality for many. I am committed to searching for solutions for people who are one medical crisis or one rent raise away from housing insecurity.
We have substantial middle-income and luxury housing in our HD-26 communities, but we also need to focus on creating housing options that are truly affordable for those who work minimum wage jobs in our community. I believe we need standards for new neighborhood developments that include housing at a variety of income levels. I would have supported the ban on no-cause evictions, unlike my opponent who voted against it. I support incentives and requirements for developers to build housing that will be affordable for minimum wage earners. I will support legislation that caps rent increases at a reasonable rate, on par with wage increases. I will support legislation that supports those on fixed incomes from having to move from subsidized housing when their rent increases.
On another topic, this has been a tough couple of years for Democrats. What keeps you going? What would you say to your potential constituents about keeping focused and positive about the future?
It’s true, it has been a tough time for our democracy. The silver lining in all of this is that people are waking up, getting involved, and working hard to make a change in their communities. What keeps me going is the idea that I am someone who can do something. I have something to offer. We cannot give up. We must stay focused on doing the best we can with the information and tools we have. Young people are watching and learning from our example. Future generations are directly impacted by the actions we take, the modeling and the shaping of the world they will inherit.
I regularly ask myself: “What can I impact in this situation?” We must try to make positive waves in our immediate surroundings and communities. We can each make a difference if we commit to getting involved and speaking out. I have a sense of responsibility to do the right thing and I hope others will join me in taking the necessary steps to steer this ship in a different direction.
OK, moving to a point of concern for all Oregonians, we hear the Pacific Northwest is due for a major earthquake. What are your plans for Oregon for disaster preparedness and infrastructure improvements?
As the saying goes, we need to “plan for the worst and hope for the best.” Investing in our infrastructure now, prior to a natural disaster, will help us be more resilient in the face of challenging times. Oregon needs to prepare now for the Cascadia earthquake by seismically upgrading older bridges, homes, unreinforced masonry buildings, removing brick chimneys from old school buildings and taking other known precautions to shore up vulnerable places.
In House District 26, we need the state to prioritize improvements to the I-5 Boone Bridge, which will need seismic upgrades when it is widened. We also need to make sure that Kinder Morgan’s high-pressure petroleum pipeline crossing under the Willamette River is upgraded with an effective safety shut-off mechanism to protect our water supply in the event of a disaster. The best way to have a quick response to potential threats is to have plans in place to respond ahead of time. When successful infrastructure has been prioritized and is in place, prevention and recovery will be accessible and more quickly attainable in the face of disaster.