State Representative, House District 37

Julie Parrish: www.facebook.com/julie4oregon

Paul Carlos Southwick: www.paulsouthwick.com

1. What racial/cultural/ethnic identities do you claim?

ParrishMy father immigrated to the United States from the Middle East before I was born.  I’m half Lebanese.  I was also raised with my brother’s dad for a time who came here from Mexico.  I’ve been blessed to grow up in an environment rich with two diverse cultural heritages.   

Southwick – Caucasian, Latino

2. There are over 800,000 People of Color in Oregon, and growing.  Generations of racial exclusion, exploitation and divestment have historically marginalized communities of color from the political process.  What steps will you take to engage communities of color?

Southwick – I am a candidate who comes from a multi-ethnic family. I will elevate the concerns of communities of color and work alongside organizations like APANO, Latino Network, Communities of Color for a Just Oregon and PCUN to advance racial equity.

ParrishFor nearly six years in the Legislature, I’ve worked to engage communities of colors by working on and supporting key pieces of legislation like ending racial profiling and increasing use of police body cameras. I have a strong open-door policy about meeting with constituents on issues, and I’ve worked to attend many events and forums across the state to stay current on issues that affect communities of color.

3. What are the root causes of racial inequities in Oregon?

ParrishRacial inequities start in our K-12 education system.  When students of color are graduating at a rate of 20% less than the statewide average, it sets a foundation where those children have a higher likelihood of winding up in our justice system, on social service programs, in foster care or with disparate health impacts – all disproportionately higher than their Caucasian counterparts.  When we fix racial inequities in K-12, the net effect is we’ll begin to see positive movement in other areas.

Southwick – There are a number of root causes of racial inequities in Oregon, some of which are specific to different racial, cultural and ethnic identities. Political and economic exclusion, at different times and in different parts of Oregon, laid the foundations for racial inequity.

4. What is your response to comments that target and stereotype specific populations, such as immigrants and refugees to this country?

Southwick – Candidates and politicians should not use stereotypes to divide communities for political gain. These types of comments have harmful ramifications on communities of color, including the creation of social, legal, and employment biases.

Parrish –  As the child of an immigrant, I have concerns about anti-immigration sentiments that are rooted in racism.  There are compelling reasons about the need to fix a broken immigration system which cannot be ignored.  But the debate should not be about race.  As a mother, I believe it’s important that we teach dignity and respect for others to our children.  Only from that place can we have an honest and productive conversation about immigration that aims to solve the issues.

5. What solutions will you champion in response to the OHEA Mend the Gap Report highlighting the 383,000 uninsured Oregonians?  This includes COFA, immigrant, women and low-wage workers who face exclusions and barriers to healthcare.

ParrishAs a legislator, I have voted to expand healthcare access, including the recent bills to serve the COFA population.  I’ve also supported the study of expanding healthcare to the uninsured population of our state.  
It’s important to note however that we’re facing a significant healthcare budget crisis which makes further expansion difficult without additional healthcare reforms to bring existing costs down.  I don’t think we’ll be able to achieve expansion without cost reform.  
The Legislature should not make promises that it will be unable to keep, or enact such an expansion only to have to unfairly make cuts in a subsequent session.  In the interim until this issue is resolved, we must make more funds available for preventative care for ALL Oregonians.

Southwick – The legislature took a great first step in creating a stakeholder group to provide recommendations to create a basic healthcare plan to cover Oregonians who, despite recent state and federal reform efforts, lack access to basic healthcare. I am particularly interested in working towards the adoption of a basic health program for Oregon and extending health insurance to children in Oregon who are undocumented.

6. What are your solutions to the Housing Crisis facing Oregonians?

Southwick – Ending the ban on inclusionary zoning was an important first step in dealing with our affordable housing crisis. The state should also provide incentives to developers to encourage them to build more affordable housing. We also need stronger tenant protection laws dealing with rent increases and no-cause evictions. The bills that were passed this session are helpful but do not go far enough.

ParrishAs a co-chair of the ABC Housing work group, we have a variety of solutions that can impact housing costs. Housing solutions aren’t one-size-fits-all. We must address the housing crisis with solutions that fit the needs of the demographics we’re trying to serve.  I support initiatives that rethink zoning, taxation, and land use.  Three concepts I’ve proposed include:

* Allowing churches and non-profits exemptions to build temporary affordable housing units on their property.
* Allowing counties to locally adjust the disabled veteran property tax deduction to prevent veteran homelessness.
* Freezing annual property tax increase for low-income seniors being priced out of their homes by tax bills that rise faster than their incomes.

Several housing initiatives I’ve sponsored and passed are making an impact now. I will continue to engage in this issue in a way that doesn’t disrupt the balance between landlords and tenants which has existed for nearly two decades in Oregon.

7. What ideas do you have for improving curriculum to prepare our K-12 students to be business, political and social leaders in a racially and culturally diverse state?

ParrishI don’t believe a child’s zip code should dictate their chance for educational success.  To have successful K-12 students, families need choices.  Improving curriculum isn’t the challenge.  Kids need to be in programs that engage and inspire.  
As a school choice supporter, I want to see a child’s K-12 dollars follow them to the school opportunity that will best connect with them as student learners.  This could be an online or charter school. It could be a public school that’s higher-performing than their neighborhood school. It could also be allowing a child who is academically ready for college to use K-12 funding to pay their college tuition.  
Letting families make an informed decision that meets their needs will increase outcomes for students. Outcomes improve when we increase flexibility and provide children with a customized learning environment that meets them where they are and gives them their best chance for success.

Southwick – To improve the curriculum in our k-12 schools we need to start by recruiting and retaining more teachers of color to increase the diversity of our education staff in the state. We also need to insure our educators are receiving the proper training and tools needed to teach students about cultural diversity in both homogeneous and heterogeneous schools.

For more information on these candidates, please visit their website:

Julie Parrish: www.facebook.com/julie4oregon

Paul Carlos Southwick: www.paulsouthwick.com

To get involved in APANO’s civic engagement work, please contact Kathy@apano.org or call 971-340-4861.