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Work hard, play by the rules and do the right thing

Candidate for 1st Congressional District's Democratic nomination outlines views

I'm Suzanne Bonamici, and I'm running for Congress in Oregon's 1st District.

I wish my grandparents were alive to read those words. As immigrants, they believed in the American dream and risked a lot to come to this country.

They had strong, simple values: work hard, play by the rules, never be afraid to do the right thing.

Today, Americans still have those values. But right now, middle-class families are facing struggles as daunting as those my grandparents faced when they stepped off the boat at Ellis Island.

I'm running for Congress because I still believe that those who work hard and play by the rules should have the opportunity to reach for and achieve the American dream.

I've spent my adult life working on behalf of middle-class families, small business owners, seniors and others struggling to get ahead. During college and law school, I worked at Legal Aid, assisting people in financial distress because they'd lost a job, or a spouse, or because they had medical bills they could not pay.

As a consumer protection attorney at the Federal Trade Commission, I successfully fought a mortgage company whose fraud was costing people their homes. I'm proud they were held accountable for their illegal actions.

Back home in Oregon, I represented small business owners who were misled by large corporations. For example, I helped a small business owner prevail over a big oil company, safeguarding his life savings.

As an Oregon legislator, I'm proud my work and my values have been recognized.

The Oregon League of Conservation Voters gave me the 'Protector of Children's Health' award for my legislation to reduce pesticide use in and around schools.

In endorsing my campaign for Congress, the Oregon Nurses Association said I was 'an effective leader, not just as a legislator, but as somebody who has stood up for families her entire career.'

And earlier this year, I appreciated that the Willamette Week newspaper's survey of area legislators gave me the highest score for integrity. That matters to me, a lot.

Now I want to take my fight for opportunity and a fair playing field to Congress - to be the voice of Oregonians who are deeply concerned about the direction of Congress and the direction of our nation.

People are saying that life for middle-class families and those struggling to make ends meet is getting more difficult, not easier. They're worried about the economy, layoffs, foreclosed homes and schools damaged by decades of cuts. They see our roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure falling into disrepair while our competitors around the world are investing in theirs.

The people who talk to me are upset that Congress seems more focused on tax breaks for corporate interests like big oil companies and continuing tax breaks for the wealthiest instead of keeping the promises we have made to our seniors, the vulnerable and our military families and veterans.

Most of all, Oregonians are telling me that Congress needs problem-solvers, not finger-pointers. They're tired of the partisanship that has poisoned politics and blocked progress when we need it most.

My record and my reputation are based on my ability to get things done without being divisive or offensive. And that's exactly what Congress needs right now.

I'm running for Congress so I can help restore basic values and priorities to a Congress that seems to have forgotten them. To focus on creating jobs and putting people back to work by helping small businesses and rebuilding our communities. To keep our promises to seniors on the Social Security and Medicare they've earned through a lifetime of hard work. And to strengthen our public schools, pre-k through college.

In Congress, I will fight for this simple principle: opportunity for those who work hard and play by the rules - and accountability for those who break the rules, no matter how powerful they are.

And as always, I will never forget, even as I wade through the complicated legislative process, that at the end of the day, I am affecting people's lives.

My grandparents may have been immigrants, but they had all-American values, and I've never lost sight of them. This election is about Oregonians who are struggling just to get by, to provide for themselves and their families, in these difficult economic times.

At this time in history, I have something to offer. And that's why I'm running for Congress, and that's why I am asking for your vote.