Oregon Congressional District 5 2022 Primary Election: Democrats

Kurt Schrader

Kurt Schrader, 70, the incumbent, is a resident of Canby who has represented the 5th District since 2009. A graduate of Cornell University with a degree in government, and of the University of Illinois, where he earned a doctoral degree in veterinary medicine, Schrader has lived in the district for 45 years, where he has farmed and operated a veterinary medicine practice. He has previously served on the Canby Planning Commission (1981-96), as a state representative (1997-2003), state senator (2003-2008).
Contact: (503) 723-6174 / [email protected] / www.kurtschrader.com.

Jamie McLeod-Skinner

Challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner, 54, is a resident of Terrebonne, in central Oregon, with her wife. She is a stepmother to four. McLeod-Skinner lives just over the boundary in the newly drawn district, in a landlocked area only accessible through the part of Deschutes County which is in Congressional District 5.
McLeod-Skinner earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a master’s in regional planning from Cornell University, and a law degree (JD) from the University of Oregon. She has managed the reconstruction of schools and hospitals in postwar Bosnia and Kosovo, managed nonprofits and small cities, including wildfire recovery in a city where a third of the homes and businesses burned down.
“I’m an emergency response coordinator, attorney, and small business owner. I understand the on-the-ground challenges that families are facing in trying to recover from the COVID economy.”
She has been a two-term city councilor and served on “numerous” city and regional committees, currently on the Jefferson County Education Service District Board and on the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, helping farmers on drought relief. She also says she is facilitating development of an affordable housing project.
Contact: (971) 808-0130 / [email protected] / jamiefororegon.com

Describe your view of the proper role of government under the U.S. and Oregon constitutions and how you, as a U.S. representative, would carry out your responsibilities as a member of Congress, accordingly.
McLeod-Skinner: I believe government needs to know when to help out and when to get out of the way. When people are hurting – working people recovering from the COVID economy, our homes and farms being destroyed, and our democracy under attack – it’s time to help. A representative should understand kitchen table issues and work to provide real solutions. And democracy should not be for sale. Oregonians are funding my campaign, not corporate PACs. I’m up against someone paid for by the corporate PACs causing our problems. How many glossy flyers have you received? Follow the money and fact-check the claims.
Schrader: The proper role of government is to create equal opportunity, inspire a sense of personal and mutual responsibility and shared prosperity. It should help folks that have trouble helping themselves and provide for the national defense. As a Congressman it is my responsibility to represent the people in my district, not an ideology, and bring our country together.

Why did you decide to run for the 5th District seat?
Schrader: I am running in the 5th District because I care a lot about my community, my state, and my country. I have lived in this district for 45 years, raised five children on my farm in Canby, and built my veterinary practice from scratch. Oregon’s 5th is a diverse district, politically, and I have always focused on representing the district, not an ideology. I did that with COVID relief and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and want to finish the job of reducing drug prices, promoting affordable housing and getting universal Pre-K and child care across the finish line.
McLeod-Skinner: I’m running because people are hurting, our environment is being destroyed, and our democracy is under attack. The guy who served the old district, who assumes he’s entitled to this seat, comes from privilege and has lost touch with regular people. I come from a working-class background, worked my way through school, and understand the struggles Oregonians are facing.  We need more people in Congress who understand kitchen table issues and have on-the-ground experience. I still believe we can have different ideas on how to do something while still agreeing that we need to help each other out.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing Oregon and what solutions would you propose to address those if you are elected as a U.S. Representative?
McLeod-Skinner: There are several: people are struggling to rebound from the COVID economy, our homes are at risk of burning down, and people don’t trust government to responsibly work to solve our problems. We need to be investing in working people, protecting our environment, and restoring trust in government. We need to reduce the influence of money in politics by making sure government is accountable and works for the people. Unlike my opponent, I’ve never taken corporate PAC money because I believe in accountability to voters.
Schrader: Climate Change & Wildfire: The wildfire disaster law I helped enact with Senator Wyden to shore up Forest Service’s budget so they can get into the woods and manage our forests, vegetation management law I got enacted to help clear dangerous trees in power line rights of way, and my bipartisan bill reduce power plant emissions by 95% by 2050.
Affordable Housing & Childcare: The $150 billion in BBB to invest in rent relief, mortgage assistance, housing vouchers, partnership with locals and Section 8 housing.
The Economy: Jobs for children and grandchildren like we created with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Crime and law enforcement have raised concerns for Oregonians in recent years. What do you see as the big issues in this area and how would you address those?
Schrader: Every American needs confidence in the criminal justice system. That does not mean defunding the police. It means hiring the right people, giving them the training, skills and the support they need to do their job. And partnering with mental health care professionals and social workers where appropriate.
McLeod-Skinner: As a city manager, I worked closely with law enforcement to focus U.S. on our shared commitment to creating safer and healthier communities. We need to provide the resources and build the partnerships necessary to provide safer communities, including investments in mental health services as law enforcement is sometimes asked to handle situations that are not simply law enforcement. And it goes without saying that all Oregonians should receive equal and fair treatment from law enforcement.
Oregonians are rightly concerned about public safety, and we need to examine how to best use our limited resources to keep our communities safe.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing Oregon and the nation in terms of budget/state finances and what solutions would you propose to address those?
McLeod-Skinner: I don’t believe in spending public money, I believe in investing it. We need to invest in the people and programs that will help U.S. rebound from the COVID economy and develop energy independence so we are not vulnerable to political dictators like Putin. We control inflation by investing in the working people that drive our economy, on issues such as affordable housing, healthcare, and child care. By investing in the social and physical infrastructure that families need, we can get people back to work and provide the stability to boost our economy.
Schrader: Our nation faces a mountain of debt that only got worse as we utilized emergency spending to save our country from the worst ravages of COVID. We need to target our spending like I did in the American Rescue Plan, make sure the wealthy pay their fair share, pay for any new federal programs, and enact my drug price reduction legislation that saves close to $300 billion for the American taxpayer.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing Oregon in the area of transportation and what solutions would you propose to address those?
Schrader: Our roads and bridges are in terrible shape. So I led the charge to ensure that we passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the biggest transportation investment in our nation’s history. This bill will bring billions of dollars to Oregon to improve those roads and bridges, improve our railways, ports and airports. It will help fight climate change with the biggest investments ever in public transit and electric vehicles too.
McLeod-Skinner: We need to make sure our roadways are safe – for children, pedestrians, and people with disabilities – and people have access to affordable transportation options. The solutions for transportation are different for urban and rural areas. In urban areas, investments in mass transit make sense as it is a viable option for large numbers of people.
In rural areas, we are dependent on personal vehicles. We also need to be transitioning our transportation to cleaner fuels and more efficient engines. Decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels is a matter of national security, from both a geopolitical and environmental perspective.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing Oregon in the area of environmental protection or lack thereof and what solutions would you propose to address those?
McLeod-Skinner: Our climate challenges are destroying our homes, our crops, and the air we breathe, and intensifying natural disasters. I will use my policy and practical experience to shift tax incentives to build a renewable energy infrastructure and promote energy independence, while protecting workers and ensuring we have family-wage jobs.
Unlike my opponent, I will vote to protect our public lands. In my work in wildfire recovery and emergency preparedness, I focus on what people need to protect themselves and their families. Natural disasters do not check party affiliation as they destroy our communities, and those who flee with moments to spare need more responsive government.
Schrader: Climate change is real. We’ve seen its impact on our district most recently with the wildfires, ice storms, and heat dome. I led in Congress to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law with the biggest investments ever in clean energy transmission and resilience.
I wrote and passed legislation to improve forest management to help prevent wildfires, supported Build Back Better which contained the largest investments in addressing climate change ever, and have the only bipartisan climate bill in Congress that would reduce power plant emissions to near zero by 2050.

The lack of affordable housing and homelessness have become big issues in Oregon. What do you see as necessary steps to address these issues?
Schrader: The lack of affordable housing is a major problem across the district.
We need to pass the $150 billion investment in the BBB for renter and mortgage assistance, expanded vouchers, and more section 8 housing to partner with our local communities initiatives.
We also need to invest heavily in mental health and opioid addiction strategies like I have done in my energy and commerce committee.
McLeod-Skinner: My experience as a city planner, city manager, and consultant will be put to use because an understanding of local government is important to target funding to address the problem and help develop locally appropriate solutions. I am currently facilitating planning on an affordable home ownership project to increase the housing stock and enable people to build equity in their homes.
Congress can help by allocating infrastructure funding to increase the housing stock and offset construction costs. The challenges faced by the unhoused also require social infrastructure solutions, including physical and behavioral healthcare, childcare, and investments in education.

What are top issues you see in the area of healthcare in Oregon? How would you address those, if elected?
McLeod-Skinner: One of the most pressing issues for Oregonians is the high cost of prescription drugs. Unlike my opponent who has taken over $650,000 from the pharmaceutical industry and voted against allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, I believe Medicare should be able to negotiate drug prices and will fight to lower drug prices. While access to affordable health care is an issue for all Oregonians, not all Oregonians have easy access to services. We need to ensure that Oregonians can access the full range of physical and mental health care and make investments in access in rural areas.
Schrader: Healthcare is a right, not a privilege. I voted for the Affordable Care Act as the basis for universal access to affordable health care. We need to continue the subsidies for middle class Americans that we incorporated in the American Recovery Plan. And enact my prescription drug price reduction plan that allows medicare to negotiate drug prices, limits price increase on existing drugs to inflation, limits seniors out-of-pocket costs to $2,000/year and caps insulin at $35/month.

In addition to the above, what are the biggest issues you see facing rural Oregon and, particularly, the residents of the Fifth District?
Schrader: Wildfire threats are the biggest issue for all of us, especially rural Oregon, and I have led as outlined above on solutions.
Water is a very critical issue for farmers. I have been a leader in the Willamette Valley in convening workgroups on this issue. I am also working on supply chain issues that hit rural Oregon especially hard.
And climate change issues have devastated our berries and trees in particular. So effective bipartisan climate legislation and the next farm bill are critical.
McLeod-Skinner: As a rural Democrat with experience in urban areas, I understand the challenges Oregonians are facing. In the last five years, I traveled over 60,000 miles across Oregon to show up and listen to people from all different backgrounds.
The bottom line is: we all want to put a roof over our heads and food on our tables, we want opportunities for our kids and healthcare for our family, and we don’t want our homes to burn down. We just have to work together to get those things done. That’s what I want to work on in Congress.

In the field of candidates in this year’s primary election, what sets you apart from the other individuals running for this office?
McLeod-Skinner: I come from working class roots and understand sitting around a kitchen table to discuss tough choices with limited resources. My campaign is funded by people, not corporate PACs, because our democracy should not be for sale. I’ve spent my career rebuilding communities, protecting our environment, and bringing excluded communities into the political process.
I practice the politics of decency and am known for showing up, bringing people together, and getting things done. I’ve got on-the-ground wildfire recovery experience. I won’t vote against Medicare negotiating prescription drug prices. And I’ll be honest about how I voted.
Schrader: I am the only candidate with a record of getting things done for this district. I have been successful in securing federal funding for Oregon’s 5th including funding for a nursing program, repairs to the dangerous Tillamook Jetty, 100% FEMA reimbursement for cleanup of the devastating wildfires we had recently and more. I am the only candidate that can bridge the rural urban divide.
I am the only candidate in the race that can win this diverse district in the general election and has a proven track record of winning in politically balanced swing districts like this.