POLITICS

Q&A: Democratic candidate for 6th Congressional District

Rep. Andrea Salinas is the first-term representative of Oregon’s 6th Congressional District, the state’s newest, which was created two years ago based on the latest Census.

A Democrat, she won by just 2.5% against Republican Mike Erickson, and now she’s running for reelection in the district, which includes Polk and Yamhill counties, as well as parts of Marion, Clackamas and Washington counties. 

In the primary, she has one opponent: Cody Reynolds. According to his Secretary of State filing, he is an entrepreneur and investor with a background in finance and the military. His website says he is a U.S. Army veteran who ran for Congress in 2012 and again in 2014. After losing, he said he focused on earning money to be able pursue a political career.

He lives in Troutdale, which is not in the district, though that’s not required. 

We sent him and Salinas – and the four Republicans running in their primary – five questions. Reynolds did not respond, but Salinas did, and we’re publishing her answers. In a separate story, we’ll publish the answers from the Republican candidates.

Whoever wins the primaries will face off in November. Salinas could end up battling Erickson again: He’s among the Republicans who’ve filed for the district. 

Here are Salinas’ answers.

Q. Why are you running to represent Congressional District 6? 

Salinas:

I have spent my adult life in public service, working to represent the interests of Oregonians and working families from the Oregon state House to the halls of Congress. The people in this district are working hard to make ends meet and deserve a representative who understands the struggles they are facing. Cost of living has gone up, health care isn’t accessible, people don’t feel safe in their communities and our fundamental rights are under attack. 

I am running for Congress because I believe in the American dream, that change can happen in a single generation; the idea that if you work hard, you can create opportunities and achieve a good life for you and your family. 

I am running for Congress because my 19-year-old daughter, Amelia, and her generation deserve better. I’ve dedicated my adult life to building a better future for all Oregonians – no matter your race, faith, ethnicity, ZIP code, gender identity or sexual orientation.

Q. What in your background makes you the best candidate for this job?

Salinas:

My parents showed me what can be accomplished with grit and determination. With that mindset, I paid my own way through school by serving cups of coffee and painting fences and became the first person in my family to graduate from college. 

I have taken that drive to Congress, where I have hit the ground running. I’ve helped Oregonians navigate federal agencies and cut through red tape. I’ve held town halls and meetings with countless community leaders. And I’ve been honored to serve on two important committees, where I have worked across the aisle to bring good-paying jobs to Oregon and level the playing field for our rural communities. 

In 2023, one of my bills was one of only 27 bills to become law. Despite the chaos in Congress, I’ve gotten right to work, reaching across the aisle to get things done for Oregonians. I secured $14 million in funding for community projects across CD6 from funding care facilities, to expanding broadband internet access and improving safety in our communities. As a member of the Science, Space and Technology Committee, I have ensured funding for research on wildfire threats to energy infrastructure and biological pest control, as well as STEM funding for students in underrepresented communities. 

I have spent the last year meeting with constituents from across this district and listening to what matters most to them. I am getting things done, and I am going to continue to work hard for all Oregon families. 

Q. What are the top three issues you plan to focus on and why?

Salinas:

Mental health and health care: As co-chair of the bipartisan Mental Health Caucus, I am working across the aisle to expand access to care and help combat the mental health and substance use crisis in Oregon. 

Every Oregonian deserves quality, affordable health care. We saw some progress with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. Because of that law, thousands of Oregonians will now see the cost of insulin and other prescription drugs go down. Millions of Americans depend on Medicare and Medicaid for their care, and we need to protect – not cut – these programs. 

I also understand that health care can only be as good as it is available. Too many areas, particularly our rural communities, have little to no access to quality, comprehensive care. I am committed to finding solutions to these care shortages. 

Cost of living: I have co-sponsored dozens of bills to reduce homelessness and bring down the cost of living for working families. I also secured federal funding for 15 local projects that will expand access to things like affordable public transit and rural broadband, saving our communities money in the long-term. 

Reproductive health: Reproductive freedom is under attack, from the criminalization of abortions, IVF and miscarriages to the restriction of life saving health care procedures. It is vital that we protect access to abortion and other reproductive health services.

Q. You are likely to serve in a divided House. How do you plan to approach that?

Salinas:

When I was sworn into Congress last year, I got right to work by introducing several pieces of bipartisan legislation, one of which was one of just 27 bills that passed the House this year: the Grand Ronde Reservation Act Amendment which restored land rights to the Grand Ronde Tribe in my district.

I’ve also co-sponsored dozens of bipartisan bills to help tackle the fentanyl crisis, combat homelessness and expand access to affordable housing, and bring down the cost of living for working families. More than half of the bills I have introduced are bipartisan. 

I believe good ideas are ideas, regardless of which party they come from. I am not afraid to vote with my Republican colleagues and I have done so several times already.

Q. What are three goals you would like to accomplish by the end of your term?

Salinas:

Lower cost of living: Hard-working Oregon families are the backbone of this state. We need to expand paid family medical leave so parents can care for their families without being penalized at work and fund child care so children are getting access to early childhood learning that is imperative to their education. Finally, we need to pass the PRO Act and protect the rights of all workers. A strong middle class is critical to the long-term future of Oregon and our country. 

Health care and reproductive care: Health care is a human right, yet quality, affordable care continues to be out of reach for so many working families. We need to improve access to care for rural Americans, seniors and communities of color. We need to codify Roe v. Wade into law. We need to lower prescription drug prices and make our health care systems more affordable across the board. 

Climate: We are experiencing a climate crisis that requires urgent action to protect our planet and our future. As a member of the Agriculture Committee, I am working with my colleagues on the farm bill to ensure we support our agricultural communities. I worked with Sens. (Jeff) Merkley and (Ron) Wyden to introduce legislation to invest in regenerative agriculture education to provide local farmers and producers with the skills they need to adapt to the changing climate. I have voted against Republican efforts that roll back climate change initiatives. I am proud to be endorsed by the Oregon League of Conservation Voters.

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