BEND, OR -- The three-way race for Bend’s state House Seat has become one of the most unique in Oregon. Three names appear on the ballot for District 54, but only one is taking part in public campaign events. Democrat Nathan Boddie faces allegations he inappropriately touched a woman several years ago, and has so far not responded to invitations for public forums nor media interviews. Working Families candidate Amanda La Bell suspended her campaign after she was accused of lying in the voters’ pamphlet about earning a college degree.
But, Republican Cheri Helt says she’s not focused on her opponents' controversies, "This race has taken a lot of unique twists and turns that I didn’t expect when I signed up to run for House District 54. But, with that being said, this race has never been about my opponents, for me. Nor will it ever be. It’s really about what I want to accomplish in Salem." She tells KBND News she's not taking anything for granted, "I’m very excited to be campaigning and hopefully I will be chosen to go to Salem, and accomplish what I want to accomplish." She and her husband are local business owners and she says that gives her a unique private sector perspective that's needed in Salem.
Helt says her eight years on the Bend-La Pine School Board have prepared her for the job of State Representative. She believes education reform is the biggest issue facing the state, "I really want to focus on schools and change what education means in the state of Oregon for all of our students. We owe them a much better education system than we’re delivering right now. We’re 48th in the nation for graduation rates." Helt says most of Oregon's problems could be addressed with fixing K-12 education, "As we talk about cost of living for housing, one of the things that drives cost of living up, that we don’t really talk about, is the fact that we need trades and we need people working in our trades. And, one of the ways that we do that is to invest in Career and Technical Education options, and really engage kids early on and get them involved in trades. These are really living wage jobs."
Bend's House District 54 seat is currently held by Republican Knute Buehler, who is running for Governor.