Oregon's congressional delegation currently has just one Republican—the representative from Oregon's second district, which covers the eastern two-thirds of the state. Aelea Christofferson, a Bend business owner and member of the Cover Oregon board, believes she can turn the state entirely blue—or at least indigo. Christofferson is a Democrat, but she prefers Ayn Rand to Howard Zinn, and says she voted for her opponent, four-term incumbent Rep. Greg Walden, early in his congressional career. Despite her moderate stance, Christofferson says she will represent the needs of this Republican-leaning district better than Walden.
We had hoped to offer a side-by-side comparison of the candidates, however, Rep. Walden's staff did not respond to repeated interview requests by press time. To read our growing collection of candidate Q&As, visit the Election 2014 tab on the Source website.
Source Weekly: Why did you decide to get into politics? What are your long-term political aspirations?
Aelea Christofferson: I saw that Congress was broken. I was taught that if something is broken, you do your best to fix it. My long-term political aspirations are on the back burner while I focus on healing Congress during my first term.
SW: What three things do you most hope to accomplish if elected?
AC: 1) Change the House into a body that functions for the good of the people. 2) Ensure that our work in healthcare reform continues until everyone in this country has access to quality healthcare. 3) Through policy changes, enable every young person to achieve their aspirations.
SW: What are you doing right now in service of the issues you're most passionate about?
AC: Well first of all, I am running for Congress! I spent seven years on the Cover Oregon board and now more than 500,000 Oregonians have healthcare as a result of Cover Oregon. I am very proud of that work. Going forward, I am listening to people's concerns, which is giving me an expanded group of interests in forestry, environment, and jobs in rural areas. I am working to be very accessible to people in my district so their concerns will be heard.
SW: How will you balance the diverse needs of the expansive Second District?
AC: This is perhaps the most challenging part of running in this district. For too long there has been a West vs. East mentality. We must work to ensure that everyone in the district has a good paying job, the environment is protected and that we are providing tools for future generations so they can thrive.
SW: Why should Central Oregonians trust you to represent their interests?
AC: Their interests are my interests. I have raised my family and grown my business in Central Oregon because I love the area and I care about the people here. I have proven time and again that I am willing to take on hard fights that result in families having a better future. I have proven that I can bring powerful people of dissenting opinions together for the common good.
SW: On what issue are you most conservative? On which are you most liberal?
AC: I am probably most conservative financially. As a successful business owner I understand how important it is to spend within a budget, and how to prioritize spending in order to do so. I believe that we need to work harder to have peace in the world and assume less often that military is the answer.
SW: If elected, Oregon's congressional delegation would be all Democrats. How will you represent the district's Republican voters?
AC: I am a pragmatic person, approaching every issue with a critical eye. Republican voters will appreciate my business sense and my more moderate views on spending. I understand the importance of jobs, and the need to balance that so people can take care of their families. Congressman Walden and I do agree on some issues. I actually voted for him early in his congressional career.
SW: What is the single most significant difference between you and your opponent.
AC: I feel my opponent makes a lot of decisions without regard for what is good for our district. Many residents of CD2 are now covered as a direct result of healthcare reform, which he's voted against 54 times.
SW: What is your opponent's best quality?
AC: I think his best quality is that he understands the district, and after 16 years in Congress he has great understanding of governmental policies and operating procedures.
SW: What's your take on immigration reform?
AC: It's a tough issue that's been the subject of too much political posturing. We must find a solution and work together to make it happen. We can't continue to have millions of people in our nation who are living in the shadows.
SW: Favorite politician—real and fictional?
AC: Elizabeth Warren, Dave Kovic (Dave)
SW: PBR or IPA?
SW: Favorite mode of transportation?
AC: Fishing boat
SW: Ayn Rand or Howard Zinn?
SW: Rolling Stones or Beatles?
House Bill 2320 would require adults to wear lifejackets, even on non-motorized watercraft