Alisa Blum – Long-time Community Advocate Seeks HD-28 Legislative Seat
By Adam Gretzinger, House District Leader HD-27
Alisa wants to be House District 28’s next representative because she has the ideas, passion and experience to help her community thrive. Alisa grew up in Maryland. Her family had a small furniture and appliance business in the Washington D.C. area. She experienced first hand both the opportunities and challenges facing small businesses as the family business thrived in the 1960s and 1970s and was forced to close in the mid 1980s due to stiff competition from big box stores. Her strong desire to better her community by helping those in need led her to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Masters Degree in Social Work.
Alisa moved to Oregon 22 years ago with her husband Marc and their young family. They were drawn to Oregon because of its natural beauty and welcoming atmosphere. As a multiracial family, Alisa and Marc chose to raise their children in Beaverton since it is one of the more diverse cities in Oregon.
For 12 years Alisa worked with the most vulnerable in the community. She worked with the families of children experiencing mental health crises, helped develop permanency plans for children who had been removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect, and ran a training program for social work students. In 1996, she founded Alisa Blum & Associates, providing training and coaching to improve the work environment. Alisa has provided management training, harassment prevention, conflict management, stress management, has assisted in diversity, equity and inclusion projects and has provided pro bono work to small non-profit organizations.
Alisa is concerned about costs in housing, health care and higher education. In recent years, our community has been impacted by gun violence and hate crimes, our state has challenges adequately funding services for those most in need, and we have been unable to raise our school achievement levels. Small businesses face increased challenges to stay competitive, we have been slow to meet our transportation needs and are not transitioning to a green economy fast enough.
As a parent of two children who graduated high school from Beaverton public schools, Alisa became alarmed at school funding issues impacting Beaverton. The district had shortfalls in revenue that led to teacher layoffs. Subsequently leading to a cycle of temporary local option levies to keep the district from laying off teachers every few years. One of her main on-going concerns is the lack of guidance counselors and their caseload, which for her daughter was 500+ students to 1 counselor. In serving the district she is hopeful to find a more stable funding model for education in our state. Alisa is passionate about providing college bound and non-college bound students avenues for success through local schools. She is concerned about our current generation of young adults being saddled with life-long debt from college loans and believes it is imperative to create solutions for student debt relief.
One of the more exciting ideas Alisa has for education is to look at what programs for graduation and academic performance are working throughout the state and understanding how to export those good ideas to other districts and locations. One such program is a high graduation/success rate found in McMinnville’s schools and what lessons it can help drive up performance in other districts. The recently passed Oregon Student Success Act isn’t the end of the line for school improvements but it is an accelerator in fixing the damage from constant underfunding of K-12 systems. A revision to the personal kicker, which is a tax benefit returned to mostly higher income earners, is a lost opportunity to fund groundbreaking educational funding stability.
Climate Change is a huge problem for Oregon, and Alisa is a strong supporter of the Cap & Invest program. Through her own experience offsetting her family’s personal energy use with solar, Alisa is passionate about expanding the use of local energy production from solar systems to include low income residents and homeowners. Also, educating the workforce for the green economy needs to be a priority. Alisa is most interested in fact and evidence based solutions to our climate change problems and eager to see more momentum on these items.
One of the biggest obstacles to small business success is the rising costs of healthcare. Being a small business owner herself, and having to get an individual insurance market plan, Alisa is all too familiar with the cost of health insurance and high prescription drug costs. She’s been forced to import some of her medications from Canada along with other family and friends who had to do this to save money. Currently the biggest driver of healthcare costs is not labor or hospitals but prescription drug prices. Eager to find a state-wide or multi-state solution to our prescription drug pricing problems, we can be sure Alisa will be an advocate for getting control of prescription costs. She will advocate for better insurance coverage for all so everyone can get their healthcare needs met and the costs aren’t such a burden on small businesses.
Opiate-based drug issues are a large problem for our state, but not something that is unsolvable. Eager to see a reduction in the prescription rate of opiate drugs especially for routine events like root canals and back pain, Alisa wants to reduce the number of people unnecessarily getting their hands on opiates so that we can prevent people from becoming new addicts every time they have a trip to the emergency room or a car accident. Use of non-addictive prescriptions for pain and tighter controls on the addictive substances can help. One parallel to the opiate crisis is the meth crisis, where the government over time pulled the ingredients from the over-the-counter marketplace to fight the problem.
Carrying a coveted endorsement from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), Alisa hopes to be an advocate for social workers who face high education costs, and low pay which in these times often means a lifetime of student loan debt for new social workers. As demand for social services has increased due to the high costs created by the modern economy, social workers are in even more demand — yet their pay has never been worse. Many social workers have high caseloads and are at risk of burnout, causing high turnover. She is also committed to working with her partners at NASW to create strategies for reducing barriers to accessing mental health and substance abuse treatment programs.
Alarmed by the current housing crisis, Alisa is a strong advocate for preventing homelessness, which per dollar spent can be some of the most effective money spent to address the problem. Emergency housing assistance dollars for families who have insecure housing can slow evictions and prevent higher costs by pushing people back into stability when they need some help. All too often, families in Washington county are spending more than 30% of their income on housing. Over 60% of the students at Mountain View Middle School and Aloha High school qualify for free or reduced lunch. Their parents are often working two jobs just to make ends meet, can’t afford childcare, and these vulnerable families are one or two paychecks from being homeless. She will be a strong advocate for food, childcare and housing assistance programs.
Through her participation in Moms Demand Action, Alisa is an advocate for enacting gun safety policies. This includes safe storage requirements, training requirements when obtaining a gun license and keeping military style assault rifles off our streets.
Alisa believes we can make better use taxpayer dollars and care for the most vulnerable more effectively with robust prevention programs in healthcare, in-home services for the elderly, and mental health and substance abuse prevention and education. Through robust child abuse prevention and intervention programs, we can reduce the number of children in our overburdened foster care system.
Alisa is an advocate for reducing incarceration through crime prevention programs and alternative sentencing for non-violent offenders. She supports reducing inequities and strengthening our criminal justice system with anti-bias training and increasing the salaries of probation officers, caseworkers, and public defenders.
During this campaign, Alisa has been having enlightening conversations with community leaders and residents in her district about ways to solve our most pressing problems. As a legislator she will be committed to robust communication with the community. Alisa has strong skills in bringing people together to solve complex problems. These skills will help her get essential legislation passed that will better the lives of her fellow Oregonians. See more about Alisa at her campaign website.
Endorsement Note: prior to the May 2020 Democratic party primary the Washington County Democratic Party does not endorse candidates in partisan elections. This article is provided for informational purposes and should not be read as an endorsement. Other candidates in this race have been contacted for similar coverage.