Rep. Keny-Guyer Will Cap Legislative Career At Decade

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Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer, an advocate for human services and health care in the Legislature, has announced she is not running for re-election in November.

Her decision, announced late Thursday, will give the state lawmaker one final session to push for policies to help foster youth and homeless youth, provide affordable housing and address substance abuse.  Keny-Guyer, chair of the House Committee on Human Services and Housing has also prioritized legislation that would start a family treatment court program in five counties, which is aimed at getting people treatment for substance abuse and keeping families together.

She has been in House District 46, which includes parts of Northeast and Southeast Portland, since 2011. Her career also includes advocating for legislation to provide health care for undocumented Oregon children. Oregon became the seventh state to provide health care for all children regardless, regardless of residency status, in 2017.

“It has been heartbreaking to hear of the challenges many face,” Keny-Guyer said in a statement. “I am proud of the significant investments we have put into affordable housing over the last few years, as well as the first-in-the-country statewide tenant protections and land use policies to allow for more housing choices. But I also know we have a long way to go.”

Keny-Guyer also wants the state to study a statewide rental voucher program so Oregonians can eventually have more options for affordable housing. In an interview with The Lund Report, Keny-Guyer said the link between housing and good health is a critical one. 

“It’s very hard to have good physical and mental health if you’re out on the street or if you’re paying rent in a place where the rent is so astronomically high, you’re stressed out and you don't have enough money to pay for your medications,” she said.

Keny-Guyer will be in office during the short session, which starts Feb. 3. Her term expires in January 2021.

“Over the next year, I will work to ensure that the many issues I care about have a committed champion going forward,” she said. “Though my legislative term will end early next year, my lifelong commitment to serving others will not. I am excited for the next chapter.” 

Keny-Guyer said it’s time for a change, noting she beat a bout of cancer in the last year.  

“Knowing how great the need is among vulnerable populations has made the decision to not seek re-election so difficult,” Keny-Guyer said. “After challenges of the past year including beating cancer, this is a transition time to explore new ways of expressing my values in the world and spend more time with my family.”

Rep. Tawna Sanchez, D-Portland, and vice chair of the House Committee on Human Services and Housing, said Keny-Guyer’s work has helped vulnerable populations.

“Alissa has fought passionately for the most vulnerable Oregonians, including foster kids, seniors, communities of color, people with disabilities, and people with mental health and addictions,” Rep. Sanchez said. “She led the fights to protect kids from toxic chemicals and to ensure health care for all kids. I’ve enjoyed working with her to support vulnerable families with culturally appropriate wraparound care.”

 House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner, D-Portland, said Keny-Guyer has kept her fellow lawmakers “focused on equity and diversity in the Legislature.”

“Alissa is my friend, legislative district neighbor and frequent carpool companion,” Smith Warner said in a statement. “I will miss her passion and commitment to building a more just Oregon for all.”

You can reach Ben Botkin at [email protected] or via Twitter @BenBotkin1.


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