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Editorial Board: Why We Will Vote DeFazio

In an era when students are beset by rapidly rising tuition and fees, escalating student debt and grim prospects for employment after college, it is more important than ever to have knowledgeable and effective representation in Congress. After conducting interviews with both candidates in the 4th Congressional District, the Emerald has decided that Congressman Peter DeFazio best fits the bill.

Though DeFazio advocates for issues ranging from a balanced budget to veterans affairs, what impresses us most is his familiarity with student concerns. He has fought to stabilize rapidly escalating rates on student loans, supported funding for low income students to attend college, backed college readiness programs and worked to protect Pell grants, federal work study and student loan forgiveness. In addition, DeFazio has called for greater investment in higher education and in research as a way of stimulating job growth and positive economic development.

DeFazio’s opponent, Art Robinson, is passionate about getting big money out of politics, believes in small business owners and seems to genuinely care about Oregonians. We appreciated his willingness to make himself available and to openly discuss the issues. However, his lack of experience in the political realm and his propensity to engage in ideas that frequently seem more political than plausible would unfortunately make him less than effective. DeFazio has been in the House of Representatives representing Oregon’s 4th congressional district since 1986. He is the longest serving House Member in Oregon’s history, a University of Oregon alumni, a ranking member of the House Natural Resources and sits on the Transportation and Infrastructure committee.

Here are the key reasons he’s got our vote:

He doesn’t accept legislative pay raises – instead he puts that money toward a series of scholarships for Oregon community college students. He understands the importance of working with the Oregon state government to make college more affordable and he backs it up with his own paycheck. He was also very vocal in supporting Senator Elizabeth Warren’s student loan refinancing bill that would have let existing student load holders to refinance their debt at lower interest rates (the bill was defeated in the senate).

He advocates increasing the national minimum wage to over $10 per hour– an issue that is vitally important to students who in many cases use that wage to support themselves in school.

He isn’t shy about standing up for his beliefs - He has a history of being true to his opinion, even if that means voting against his party. Instead of playing it safe, during our interview, DeFazio asserted that the University of Oregon’s administration “stuck their heads in the sand” about recent sexual assault allegations that involved student athletes. He’s also stressed the importance of educating people at a young age to teach them how to properly treat women.

He’s got a plan for putting Oregonians back to work – DeFazio underscores the need for public investment in infrastructure to fuel the Oregon economy and more jobs. “If we rebuild America’s infrastructure and bring it up to the 21st century, we can put probably a million people to work. You’re talking construction, manufacturing, engineering,” he told Emerald opinion editor Bayley Sandy. He went on to say that by promoting fuel efficiency, working to reduce congestion and improve air quality and by promoting public transportation, we will become more competitive in the world economy and put people back to work.

We believe that DeFazio is the right choice in the upcoming election because he is in step with the issues and problems facing every day Oregonians and students. Moreover, he offers real, tangible solutions. DeFazio is a problem solver, and a leader who wants to move Oregon forward. This is going to be a critically important election. Students need to take their own destinies in hand and turn out to vote. There are no excuses. We encourage everyone to research the issues and the candidates and to exercise your Constitutional right to participate in the election. Regardless of whether you agree with us or are dead set on proving us wrong – please, VOTE!

As Independent as Oregon.

Peter DeFazio's common-sense proposals aim to create good-paying jobs, expand access to affordable health care and develop options outside of the for-profit marketplace, restore economic and educational opportunities, hold government accountable and tip the scales of inequality back in favor of hard-working Oregonians.

Meet Peter