On November 4th, Oregonians will vote to elect a Congressperson in Congressional District #1. The race features Democrat Susan Bonamici and Republican Jason Yates. Each candidate was given equal opportunity to respond to APANO’s questionnaire, to engage more directly with Oregon’s 220,000 Asian and Pacific Islanders. Their responses to 3 questions crafted by APANO members have been unedited and printed in full. APANO makes no candidate endorsements, this information is solely for the purpose of voter education.
1. Oregon currently graduates half of it’s English Language Learners, who make up 10% of the state’s K-12 student population. What policies will you support to ensure that students–including ones who identify as English Language Learner, have access to quality education and career-readiness programs after graduation?
Bonamici (D): Writing, speaking, and understanding English proficiently is an essential part of public education and important for building a successful career in the United States. Our public education system must support all students, including English language learners. As a member of the Education & Workforce Committee in Congress, I support policies that place greater emphasis on helping English learners achieve proficiency.
Specifically, I voted in favor of a bill to establish English language learning proficiency standards, assessments, and targets. The legislation also would have required states with at least 10,000 English language learners to establish native language assessments for each group of ELL students that comprise at least 25% of the state’s ELL population. The bill I supported also included dedicated funding for English language learners.
I have also supported strong career-readiness programs both during and after high school, including career and technical education. I am the co-author of a bill to establish grants that would help states implement counseling programs to provide postsecondary education planning and career guidance services. All students should have the support they need to build successful careers.
Yates (R): No Response
2. Access to quality, affordable, and culturally competent health care ensures Oregonians are able to thrive and contribute. Please explain the policies you will support to increase access to care, and address health disparities, specifically for immigrants and refugees.
Bonamici (D): The Affordable Care Act is one of our greatest achievements in cultural competency in health care. Although I was not in Congress when the ACA passed, I have repeatedly resisted efforts to repeal it. The ACA established several offices throughout the government dedicated to minority health, and established data collection requirements to ease analysis and reporting on minority health disparities.
Perhaps most importantly, the ACA has enabled community health centers to vastly increase their capacity to serve the frequently underserved. I have seen firsthand how health centers, like the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Centers across the First District are changing lives through quality, culturally responsive care, made possible by the ACA.
Additionally, the provision of culturally competent and responsive care, particularly for seniors, is the centerpiece of legislation I authored to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA). My bill would prioritize cultural competency in care, ensuring that professionals who provide care understand the language and cultural of their clients and patients.
Yates (R): No Response
3. What policies do you support to strengthen economic opportunity and jobs for all communities in Oregon?
Bonamici (D): Government has some tools to create jobs, but for large scale and long-term economic growth, the best thing legislators can do is create an environment where job creators can grow and thrive. We need to rebuild America and put Oregonians back to work rebuilding our roads, bridges, water systems, and electrical grids. We must also increase access to capital for small businesses, a critical engine of job growth. I support the Small Business Administration’s efforts to provide support to women and minority-owned businesses and have worked with the SBA to help ensure local businesses know about the available resources.
A strong public education system is also key to our economic recovery and is the heart of our democracy. We must stop seeing education as a budget item that can be cut when times are tough; that’s when it’s most critical to improve education as a long-term solution to secure our economic future.
Finally, by supporting women in the workplace, we can build a stronger workforce. I support bills to prohibit wage discrimination, expand family and medical leave so that women can take maternity leave, and making childcare more affordable so that women don’t have to choose between working and parenting.
Yates (R): No Response