Jason Kropf for State House District 54
Candidate: Jason Kropf
Office: State House District 54
Opponent: Cheri Helt (R)
Oregon League of Conservation Voters
Basic Rights Oregon
Moms Demand Action
Planned Parenthood Act
Oregon Nurses Association
Q & A with Indivisible Bend
If you align with a particular political party, or abstain from choosing a political party, why do you make that choice?
I am a proud Democrat. The issues that are most important to me--investing in education so all children have real opportunities to learn and be successful, standing up for working families, making health care more affordable and accessible, dismantling systemic racism, and combating climate change to protect our planet for future generations--Democrats are working to advance. I choose to be a Democrat because I believe Democrats are moving the country towards a fairer, more equitable democracy for all Oregonians and Americans. As Donald Trump and the Republican Party incite hatred, division, and racism, fail to act on slowing the spread of COVID-19, and strip away health care from Americans, I know Democrats will be on the right side of history.
If elected to represent Central Oregon, what are your top three priorities?
My priority will be addressing the long-standing inequities that have existed in our community and state for far too long. In the state legislature, I will champion investments in education, fight for working families, and take transformative action to combat climate change.
Top of mind for me is improving our public schools so that all our kids receive a high quality education and better opportunities. I’ve worked as a Deputy District Attorney and a public defender here in Bend for the past 18 years, and much of my work has involved children and young adults - either juveniles who have entered into the criminal justice system or children in foster care. I would much rather invest money into our education system on the front end from preschool through high school to prevent spending funds later on in our justice system. I have an eight-year-old daughter, and I want her and all kids to have the resources they need to learn and grow. I support the Student Success Act because our state has underfunded its public schools for decades, and we owe it to our children to make real investments in their future.
I’ll fight for working families by increasing affordable access to physical and mental health care, protecting and improving wages, championing paid family leave and paid sick leave, and ensuring safer working conditions, especially for our frontline workers. I’ll make sure we don’t leave families behind during this pandemic and champion unemployment benefits for those who have lost their jobs and protections for homeowners and renters struggling to make payments. We need to create an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy and corporations.
Finally, I also believe we need to take immediate, transformative action to combat climate change and preserve this beautiful place we call home. Drought and wildfire are all too common in Central Oregon and increasing in frequency and intensity because of climate change. Oregon should be a leader in the transition to clean energy and we should hold polluters financially accountable for their actions. We owe it to our children to protect the one planet we’ve got.
How can government affect equitable outcomes for marginalized communities? You can choose a particular issue like hiring practices, or legislation, or policy changes, etc.
We all have a responsibility to advance equitable outcomes for historically marginalized communities and end systemic racism, and legislators especially have an ability to use policy and the targeting of resources to increase equity.
First, government must work to ensure that BIPOC families have real access to educational and economic opportunities. As state representative, I will reach out to historically marginalized communities, work with those most impacted to identify barriers to equity, dismantle racist systems, and put real resources behind solutions. Government should invest in programs that we know work and that have the support of those most directly impacted; these programs include police accountability measures, criminal justice reforms, and social services that expand the Oregon Health Plan, make child care more affordable, and implement universal pre-K. Most importantly, we need to center the voices of communities of color in these decisions so that they have significant input in the policies that affect them.
Hindsight is 20/20, what’s important is that we learn from our experiences. What lessons have you learned from the government’s COVID-19 response?
For me, the biggest lesson learned during this pandemic is that little else matters if we and our neighbors are not healthy. COVID-19 is exacerbating many of the inequities that have existed in our community for a long time, and the sad reality is that historically marginalized communities are bearing the brunt of this crisis. The pandemic, George Floyd’s murder, and the subsequent protests have illustrated that the ways things were just wasn’t good enough. We need to dismantle systemic racism in our country and make real investments in policies that increase equity and opportunity for all Oregonians.
The absence of leadership at the federal level has demonstrated the real need for a coordinated response to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our most vulnerable community members. Our government decisions should be based in science and data and follow the advice of medical professionals and public health experts. Practices that work, like social distancing and wearing masks, should be common practice throughout the country.
What do you think should be done in response to the recent event with ICE and Customs & Border Patrol creating terror amongst our immigrant community?
Like so many others in our community, I attended the peaceful protests in Bend to try to ensure that the fundamental rights of people in our community were protected. I was dismayed by the actions of federal agents and the frightening lack of transparency. Unfortunately, these events happen more than we realize in our own community and don’t always get the attention they deserve. Everyone should have the freedom to walk down the street without the fear they could be arrested and torn from their families. Every government agency, especially those with the ability to impact a person’s liberty, must be transparent in their actions; informing the public of what they are doing, why they are doing it, and what is their legal justification for acting. ICE continues to operate contrary to these basic principles and causes chaos in communities. That can no longer continue.
As of today, which individuals or groups are your three biggest donors?
My three largest donors at this point are FuturePAC, the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association, and SEIU.
What brought you to Central Oregon? What do you like best about this place we call home?
I’ve called Bend home since 2003, when I moved here from Portland to continue my work as a public defender. Before that, I graduated from high school in Molalla, Oregon, received my undergraduate degree from Oregon State University, and my law degree from the University of Oregon. I’ve lived in many parts of Oregon throughout my life, but Bend is truly a special place. My wife and I feel very fortunate to be raising our daughter here. We love the community, easy access to open spaces, and proximity to Oregon’s wilderness.