US Congresswoman and incumbent nominee Suzanne Bonamici. Photo via US Congress.

As the fall of 2018 draws closer, so do the municipal elections, and Democrats around the country are waiting anxiously for the elections in hopes that many more Democrats will be elected and take over the House and the Senate. The primaries for these elections took place on May 15, 2018. Although these candidates are no longer all in the running, it can be informative for citizens of the districts to become familiar with the candidates who ran, as the issues they stood for will surely be revisited throughout the next few years. For the U.S House, district one in Oregon, the candidates were Ricky Barajas, Michael Stansfield, and of course incumbent Suzanne Bonamici. Although only one candidate won the primary—Suzanne Bonamici—each candidate’s platform can reveal something about the issues up for debate during this election cycle.

Ricky Barajas was born and raised in East Los Angeles. He lived with his siblings and his mother, who was a single parent. He didn’t grow up wealthy, but states, “I was blessed to have a mother and siblings that supported my endeavors.” Although he has never run for office before, Barajas has done a substantial amount of volunteering in and around his community, and believes that “Oregon needs someone who can relate to the everyday Joe or Jane, not another career politician.” As a Democrat, he disagrees with the way that Congress is currently running, the cuts they are making and the deceitful way that they are changing things without constituents’ input. “I cannot stand on the sideline and watch the American dream be destroyed by a handful. I cannot stand on the sideline and witness everyday Americans work hard and sacrifice for their family to be taxed to pay for the rich,” says Barajas. He believes Oregon deserves new leadership that will be for the people and not large corporations. When asked what three top priorities he would cover if elected, Barajas says education, infrastructure and middle class tax reform/health care. “Education is a big part of my platform. We need more resources into education and our teachers deserve a pay raise. A real tax cut for everyday Americans, not the wealthy. Improve Obamacare and expand coverage for more individuals,” says Barajas.

Michael Stansfield grew up in an evangelical conservative home. Stansfield got into security after 9/11 to do what he believed was helping America. After getting into this field, Stansfield realized it wasn’t exactly what he thought it was going to be. “[I saw] the reality behind my conservative myth of the corporate world [and it] was a real wake-up call,” he says. After this, he started to question his evangelical religion and realized just how biased some were about the Middle East and the people of Middle Eastern descent, and decided to pursue a different path. He quit his job and moved to the Middle East, where he became an English teacher and met his wife. They eventually moved back to the United States and had two boys. Stansfield has never worked in the public sector but has volunteered in his community. When asked why he is choosing to run for office, Stansfield explained that there is “a lack of courage” when it comes to speaking your opinion and challenging the status quo. “We talk about freedom in America, but I don’t know what that really means anymore. I want to give the dream back to its rightful heir—the people—and watch them fly,” says Stansfield. If elected, Stansfield hopes to change the way curriculum around religion is taught in schools and focus on other religions besides Christianity, as well as teach about the Middle East in a positive light. “If we are ever going to call ourselves a tolerant society we need to learn to embrace the diversity of our world with love,” says Stansfield.

These two candidates ran against incumbent Suzanne Bonamici who has represented the first congressional district of Oregon since 2012. Bonamici went to Lane Community College and then went on to attend University of Oregon. She practiced law for Lane County Legal Aid Service. She first got into the political sphere when she was elected to the Oregon Houses of Representatives where she served from 2007 to 2008. From there Bonamici went on to serve in the Oregon state Senate from 2008 to her election in 2012. Throughout her time in office Bonamici has focused on strengthening public education and standing up for students of color. She knows how expensive higher education is and finds it very important to work to lower the cost for students. “I’ve consistently opposed efforts to cut financial aid for low-income students, and I support robust funding for Pell Grants and legislation to prevent the doubling of Stafford loan interest rates,” says Bonamici.

Suzanne Bonamici was voted in as the Democratic nominee. She will stay in office until November, when she will run against the Repulican nominee, John Verbeek.

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