Photo courtesy of John Vandenberg
Watch Courtney run!
Former Tigard High School teacher Courtney Neron is running for State Representative.
Courtney Neron, a former foreign language teacher at Tigard High, is running to be a representative of House District 26, which encompasses Wilsonville, Hillsboro, Sherwood, and some parts of Bull Mountain.
Neron taught for nine years and resigned at the end of last year to pursue her candidacy. After previous Democratic nominee Ryan Spiker dropped out of the race for health reasons, the Washington and Clackamas County Democrats elected her to replace Spiker at their meeting in July. After being nominated, Neron withdrew her English Language Learner application at Tualatin High to focus more on her campaign. Currently, Neron is running against Republican Representative Richard Vial, who has held the seat since 2016. Terms as a representative last two years, but there is no limit on how many terms you can serve.
Former student of Hazhar Kadir says he’s excited to see Neron running for Representative. “She made her students feel comfortable, let us express our thoughts and listened to what we had to say,” Kadir says. “Oregon would be unbelievably lucky to have her as a representative, and as a [former] student, I have witnessed how truly compassionate and caring she truly is.”
Claire Minor also took Spanish from Neron. “She was always so happy and helpful, you could tell she truly cared about her students,” Minor said. “She was always eager to help us and teach us about the world… she would make an amazing state representative.”
Neron knew from the beginning that her path to the legislature would not be easy. District 26 is set to flip this year for the first time, so whoever took Spiker’s spot in the race would be fighting an uphill battle. Currently, the district is purple, meaning it’s equally divided between red and blue voters. But that still didn’t deter Neron...
Neron’s major campaign issues include investing in public education, fighting for paid family medical leave and affordable child care, championing affordable health care, and protecting the environment. Other campaign focuses include equal pay for equal work, social justice and human rights issues, addressing the growing college debt in our nation, how the housing prices and healthcare prices impact our homeless population, workplace and union protections, and tenant rights. Locally, Neron wants to talk about the fact that there are developers who want to make the Aurora airport the largest corporate jet airport in the state at the expense of the richest farmland Oregon has.
Neron was inspired to run ‘unknowingly’ by her students and staff. After the shooting in Parkland, Neron had a hard time staying politically neutral at school. It was around that time she knew she wanted to do something to help make decisions to impact classrooms. Her run was motivated by her love of teaching and belief in the power of a good education, and a will to do better for her students and other Oregon schools. Neron believes that students and educators deserve stable and increased funding, but the only way Oregonians can get that is with legislators who understand the importance of funding education first.
“Without a sales tax, which Oregonians have voted down eight times, we have to get creative and draw the line somewhere,” Neron said in an email. “We currently have a two-legged tax stool relying almost completely on property taxes and income taxes.”
If elected, Neron would help swing the house to a three-fifths democratic majority. The majority would help pass measures to help increase school funding. “With a three-fifths majority we can improve school funding by addressing the fact that we have one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the nation, and increase taxes on our largest corporate income earners,” Neron stated. Zeroing in on the corporate taxes would allow legislators to focus on fixing the current education model or providing smaller class sizes. Students can expect to see her subbing sometime at Tigard in November however. Neron isn’t making any long-term plans until after the election, as nobody knows how her campaign will go.
Neron has also found a new insight into campaigns during her run. Specifically, Neron noted the importance of campaign finance reform. She sees the fact that those running for office have to spend half their time seeking out finances to do so as a waste. In the future, Neron would like to see publicly funded campaigns or contribution limits. “We need to make a run for office accessible to all kinds of people so that we are not only being governed by independently wealthy individuals, but that people of all backgrounds can consider representing their communities in Salem,” Neron said. Oregon currently has a political tax credit as an initial response to campaign finance reform, but Neron believes contribution limits and full campaign finance transparency are needed as well. “‘Dark money’ should not be allowed in Oregon politics, and we need to be wary of democracy turning into corporatocracy,” Neron said. Dark money is a term used to describe money given to non-profit and tax exempt organizations that are allowed to receive unlimited funds from individuals, unions or corporations.“We deserve to know who is backing each candidate.” she added. This money is used in this context to fund campaigns, and organizations are not required to disclose their donors.
“I couldn’t stand the idea of my views not being represented on the ballot,” Neron said. “My opponent and I have very different views about many topics–gun safety legislation, access to health care, for example, but knowing that if I flip this seat, then we could fund education, I was motivated to try.”
Although she had some self doubt early on in her run, in the end, she ultimately decided it was the right choice. “Basically, I realized I would regret it more if I try and lose than if I don’t try and never know,” Neron says. “Even if I don’t win, I want to try to have a seat at the table.”
This story was originally published on on November 6, 2018.