PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Oregon Representative-Elect Andrea Salinas has spent her life in politics. 

Previously an aide to U.S. Senator Harry Reid and U.S. Representative Darlene Hooley, she was also elected to represent Oregon’s 38th District in 2017. Now, Salinas takes the political stage as the first person to lead Oregon’s newly-created 6th congressional district.

The new district encompasses parts of Yamhill, Polk, Clackamas, Washington and Marion counties — all offering a variety of interests from rural areas to economically diverse communities.

“Really, it’s about getting out into the communities and talking to constituents,” Salinas said of her approach to representing the district. “I did that on the campaign trail and I’ve heard from folks all across the district that the cost of living has been a real hardship for families, working families… but also hearing about the homelessness crisis… we’re seeing that in all the counties.”

The representative-elect said she’s also met with non-partisan elected officials from Polk, Yamhill and Marion counties who are particularly interested in working in the district, especially on community projects, like infrastructure.

“I feel like I should be representing my voters, and our values — I believe — match. Being a Latina and representing the largest Latino district in our state at 20%, you know, I feel like I’ve been part of this community for a number of years, working on the issues they’ve been working on, working side by side with a lot of union workers — especially those from AFSCME and SCIU, so a lot around the Salem area — and really working on agriculture issues with farm workers as well as the growers,” Salinas explained.

The first order of business Salinas said she wants to take on, after the 118th Congress convenes on Jan. 3, is the Farm Bill reauthorization.

“Starting off, I think the Farm Bill reauthorization is going to be critical to our district, you know, with the Willamette Valley comprising so many family farms as well as specialty crops, we need to make sure that we have a voice at the table,” Salinas said, adding that she is seeking a position on the Agricultural Committee.

In addition to the Farm Bill, Salinas said she wants to work on issues surrounding child care in the state — saying she’s excited to work with Rep. Bonamici on the issue.

“I’ve been hearing a lot from parents who really are finding it hard to place their kids in child care, and if they can find a place for child care so they can get back to work is really expensive. So, we’re really trying to bring down the cost of child care and making sure that those in Oregon’s sixth congressional district have a place for their kids when they go to work,” Salinas said.

As far as solutions, Salinas said in addition to vouchers at the state level, she wants to ensure that the federal government helps “prop up” child care workers by “making sure that those child care providers are being paid and reimbursed adequately, especially from the government because the government does pay for some providers for employment-related daycare.”

She also highlighted the need to make sure businesses have adequate reimbursement levels to maintain their businesses as some daycares shuddered during the pandemic after reducing the number of kids they could enroll.

Wanting to continue to support workers, Salinas said she also asked for a seat on the Education and Labor Committee.

“I do think working families need additional opportunities and we need to make sure that — first of all, our education system is providing everything that kids and folks in this district need — but also getting into the labor sector that folks are able to unionize and really negotiate and bargain the way the National Labor Relations Board was set up to do,” Salinas explained.

The representative-elect also reflected on female representation in Congress — noting an increase among her freshman colleagues.

“It’s interesting because the last couple of weeks, I clearly have been hanging out with a lot of the freshman members and there’s a large representation of freshman members on both sides of the aisle, of women,” Salinas said. However, in Congress as a whole, she says it is definitely noticeable.

“Men outnumber women, but I think those women and female voices are definitely strong and heard.”