Knowing a little science doesn’t hurt when you’re going into politics, says Julie Fahey, a human resources consultant who is running for Oregon state representative in House District 14, a position currently held by Val Hoyle. Fahey has a degree in chemistry, and she says having a background in math and science provides a good framework for politics.
“I think problem solving and an analytical approach to life is useful,” she says. “In politics and in science, you have a problem, you have a hypothesis about what the problem is and then you come up with a solution to the problem.”
House District 14 represents West Eugene, Bethel and Junction City. Hoyle is running for Oregon secretary of state next year. She stepped down from her position as House majority leader in July and is currently serving her last term as representative.
Though Fahey gives a number of reasons for why she’s running for state representative, she says first and foremost, she wants to make sure that working families and the middle class in Oregon have ample opportunity to succeed, regardless of background or circumstance.
Fahey grew up in a small town in Illinois, and she says the manufacturing jobs that bolstered the previous generation were no longer available when she graduated. “I knew if I wanted to pursue a professional career, I couldn’t stay in this town that I loved,” she says. “So I’d like to see more focus on career and technical education, higher minimum wage and the understanding that not everyone should have to go to college to have a living wage job.”
Fahey says one of her top issues is Oregon’s minimum wage, currently $9.25 an hour. A single person living in Eugene needs $10 an hour to cover basic living expenses, she says, and for a family of four, that number rises to $15 an hour.
“It’s just a basic failing of our system,” Fahey says. “I firmly believe that no one who works full time should be living in poverty.”
Another pressure on working families, she says, is that Oregon has extremely expensive child care costs compared to other states, and childcare can take up a high percentage of income. She says she’d like to see tax credits so that families don’t spend so much of the money they earn on childcare.
Though Fahey says that she admires Hoyle and that they agree in many political areas, including universal background checks for gun safety, she distinguishes herself from Hoyle by pointing to her 15 years of experience in the private sector working with businesses to implement progressive workplace environments.
From dealing with policies such as sick leave, she says, her business experience allows her understand matters from the business perspective as well as that of the worker.
In 2010, Fahey graduated from Emerge Oregon, a program that trains and encourages Democratic women to run for office. It’s a cause that’s near to her heart, she says. Hoyle is also an Emerge graduate.
“The statistic is that women need to be asked four or five times to run before they will actually do it, and I have been one of those people asking women to run,” she says. “Another key motivator as to why I’m running is that I think there needs to be more women in office.”
As for women’s reproductive rights, Fahey says that in Oregon, “we’re really fortunate to be the only state in the country where there is no limit on access to abortion. I would like to keep it that way.”