Well, we made it through 2020 and spring is officially here.

Oregonians are getting vaccinated against COVID-19, and we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (and we’re really hoping it isn’t a train bringing highly contagious variants towards us).

This is a time when all Oregonians should be closely watching the Oregon legislature and local governments as they navigate through two issues that will have enormous consequences.

The first is the distribution of American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 dollars to local governments. This infusion of funding from the federal government will challenge counties, cities, school districts and other entities to invest in their citizens’ priorities, whether that be extending broadband infrastructure, access to health care, supporting small businesses and nonprofits, creating affordable housing, water and sewer improvements, expanding child care, or supporting K-12 education to help children catch up academically after this disruptive year. This influx of funding should put the entire state on a path to recovery and prosperity.

The other issue is redistricting. The pandemic-induced census delay has thrown this once-a-decade process into turmoil. While we would have preferred to see a citizen commission redraw boundaries based on population — especially since Oregon will be adding a sixth U.S. congressional district — the process remains in the legislature’s hands when census numbers become available Sept. 30.

We feel inspired by Kevin Frazier’s column about reviving the Oregon Way — that hard-to-define yet real way of doing things that make Oregon a state we love and can all be proud of. Doing things the Oregon Way means discarding us-versus-them thinking and breaking away from partisan and geographical divides. Our focus must be on priorities that help improve life for everyone, in all parts of the state, for we are stronger together.

— Kathryn Brown

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