The little Oregon timber community I grew up in, living on my family’s farm, was more like an ongoing family reunion than it was a town. No matter what was going on in my life, there was someone ready to support me. No matter what I faced, I didn’t face it alone.

I was raised to know that nothing mattered more than being true to my word–in a tight-knit community, you have to be able to trust each other and count on each other.

Unfortunately, Republican Cheri Helt doesn’t share that commitment to keeping her word to her community. When she ran for office, she claimed that she’d protect and support Oregon’s school kids, and that she’d support efforts to keep our state sustainable. As soon as she got to Salem, those promises flew right out the window, replaced with the Trump-Republican agenda of leaving the most vulnerable on their own. Rather than giving Bend-La Pine students the resources they need, Helt took her marching orders from Republican leaders and the corporate lobby, voting against millions of dollars in support for our students.

Helt even voted against tax relief for low- and middle-income families and many small businesses, all to protect the balance sheets of some of the most profitable corporations. Talk about being completely out of touch with the needs of Bend families. For these reasons, I was motivated to step up and run for State Representative, to start serving my community in a new way, and give us the representation in Salem that we deserve.

As a Deputy District Attorney, our justice system has brought me face-to-face with the inequities in our community and the disconnect between our values, and the ways our systems and laws operate. As a parent, an advocate for kids in crisis, a Bend Park and Recreation board member, and a volunteer for 18 years in our local schools, I’ve seen how these inequities shape our kids and their futures.

As a graduate of Oregon’s public schools, I benefited from Oregon investing in my future. That’s why I’ve looked for ways to say thank you and to make sure that investment is made available for today’s kids – and I’ll never apologize for stepping up to fight for a safer, more equitable, and more just Oregon. And I’ll never turn my back on my promises to support and protect Bend’s youth.

No matter what Republican Cheri Helt tries to tell you now, these are the facts:

Helt voted against the Student Success Act, the biggest school funding package in over three decades. Her vote could have cost Bend-La Pine School District $14 million in additional investments.

Helt voted against reducing greenhouse gasses and against creating a green economy for Oregon’s future. The consequences of not taking real action on climate change will cost our state in so many ways.

And then she voted against improved rural broadband access and affordable housing construction for our most vulnerable community members. Bend’s families deserve better.

When I go to Salem next year, I’ll keep my promises to Bend. I’ll fight for educational opportunities for all, no matter what neighborhood you live in. I’ll fight for better access to affordable physical and mental health care and badly needed investments in affordable housing. And, as our state grapples with the tragic loss caused by recent wildfires, I’ll fight for real action on climate change.

Bend is a remarkable place. And it can be better still if we work together and hold our leaders in Salem accountable. We deserve promises kept and elected officials who stand up for all of our community, all of the time. I hope to earn your vote this November to do just that.

Jason Kropf is a candidate for state representative for House District 54.

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