In the six years since coming to Oregon with my husband, Kevin, we’ve been blessed with many wonderful opportunities. We were drawn by Oregon’s spectacular beauty and a chance to start a new chapter in our lives.

During the Great Recession, we found we could no longer make a living in Arizona; like many, the housing market crash wiped out the equity in our home and the house we owned where we operated our business. It forced us into a personal bankruptcy. I thought we’d never make it past that dark time in our lives, but we showed our pioneering spirit and persevered, just as many families in my community have had to do.

But personal setbacks can open new doors. Every day, I get to speak with the lifeblood of Oregon; the small businesses, contractors, trade-union members and manufacturers that serve as the backbone for our economy. As the membership director of a nonprofit, the Building a Better America Council (BBAC), I am dedicated to encouraging and promoting American manufactured products in the construction and housing industries. The implementation of these practices and policies will increase economic, social and environmental benefits for everyone.

The contractors and business owners I’ve spoken with have expressed their frustrations in a struggling economy. The maze of rules and regulations that government imposes and of a lack of level playing field in regards to taxes. As a previous business owner, I understand these sentiments. Manufacturers who are hiring, are frustrated with their inability to fill open positions and that the education system fails to produce enough technically proficient people who can benefit from a decent family-wage income.

As the mother of three children in our public schools, I worry they might not be ready for today’s work force. Will the education they are receiving translate into success? A look at a variety of educational rankings shows Oregon consistently ranked near the bottom across numerous categories like on-time graduation and class size. As a parent and taxpayer, this is unacceptable to me.

The place to fix these issues is at the legislature. Together we can facilitate small businesses and American manufacturing to help draw us out of one of the worst recessions in American history. Together we can prepare our kids for a successful future. Together we can prepare our community to help our veterans returning home from their service to our country.

So my journey begins. Let’s get our economy going again! Let’s level the playing field for our community businesses. Let’s make it easier for manufacturing to thrive in Oregon. Let’s allow our veterans to be successful when we welcome them home. We must acknowledge that not all kids are the same and that we should try new things to get them interested in school again. Let’s offer our kids choices, be that through vocational or tech schools, science-based programs or the traditional methods.

My name is Jodi Bailey and I am running for Oregon House District 51. I want to be your voice. The voice for small businesses, for manufacturing, for veterans and for parents who want a better education for their children. Everyone matters! I am asking for your support as we take this journey together.

Jodi Bailey is a Republican resident of Happy Valley running against Rep. Shemia Fagan (D-Clackamas/East Portland).

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