Aelea Christofferson is a successful business owner and community leader. Her father was a minister who taught her that when something is wrong, you roll up your sleeves and fix it. Her mother was one of the first women to work for the Department of Labor. She served as a strong role model for Aelea.
Aelea earned her MBA from Golden Gate University and founded her company – ATL Communications – after working with AT&T and as a county social worker. Aelea has served as President of the National Association of Women Business Owners, President of the Sunriver Chamber of Commerce, a Finance Committee member of the Oregon Health Fund Board, and a member of the Cover Oregon board, where she advocated for increased oversight.
Aelea lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband Tom where they are active in the First Presbyterian Church. They have five children, three of whom are adopted.
To see video of Aelea's recent debate with her opponent Rep. Greg Walden, CLICK HERE.
Why She's Running
Aelea says it is time to put partisanship aside and put country first.
Aelea believes that we must continue to put in the hard work to fix health care, so that those who need care, get care. It’s time for our leaders think first about how to help middle class families instead of what will help politicians in the next election.
As a business owner, Aelea understands when government can help and when government should get out of the way. She knows that we can work together to create good jobs that allow us to support our families and our way of life. Aelea also understands the value of a good education and of job training so that we have a workforce in place to support businesses who want to locate to the area.
The 2nd Congressional District deserves to have a representative that’s listening to them and working for them, rather than for the next election.
Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District comprises roughly ⅔ of the state’s area, but only ⅕ of the population. It is the seventh largest district in the nation whose main population centers include Bend, Ashland, Medford, Hood River, and the Pendleton area. For comparison, Oregon's 2nd district is larger than the entire state of Florida in surface area. Aelea has been traveling across the district in her RV to meet voters in every area.
Aelea strongly supports the Affordable Care Act. She served on the state board that delivered quality, affordable health insurance to over 300,000 Oregonians, including those with pre-existing conditions. Insurance protections – like ending lifetime limits on coverage and discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions – improve care for millions more.
Aelea also asked the tough questions about the Cover Oregon website, working to hold the program accountable for the technical problems and expenses.
Ultimately, the Affordable Care Act goes a long way toward making health care more affordable and accessible. In Congress, Aelea will work to improve health care reform so that families who need care, get care.
Aelea became passionate about immigration reform when the Dream Act was first being debated. Her introduction to this issue was a young high school senior she tried to hire; a great student and athlete who wanted to be a special education teacher. The young woman wouldn’t take the job because she had come here when she was 2 years-old and was undocumented and didn’t want to cause trouble.
When the Dream Act didn’t pass Aelea was shocked. “We are a nation built on moral decisions and not helping these young people go to college or enter the military is a waste of their talents and the investment of our tax dollars.”
Aelea supports finding a long term plan for everyone who is working and law abiding. We can no longer leave families with an uncertain future.
Aelea views tax reform through the lens of a businesswoman and mother. As a business owner for 23 years, she understands limited budgets. As a mother, Aelea knows our legacy to the next generation should not be a mountain of debt.
"Taxes should be less complex and should have fewer loopholes," Aelea notes.
Along with other local business owners, she knows significant time and resources are spent complying with many confusing tax regulations. Aelea will work to simplify and reform our tax code to free up critical resources so businesses can expand and create more jobs here in Central, Eastern, and Southern Oregon.
Aelea believes we should protect small businesses and middle-class families from tax hikes, both are vital to a healthy economy.
Aelea supports more local control of our public lands- from forests to grazing lands. In many parts of Oregon, there is a patchwork of ownership that makes it extremely difficult to responsibly and comprehensively manage the land. Aelea supports land swaps and shared management, when feasible. She also believes we need strong voices in Washington speaking up for the interests of Oregon.
Trade is deeply beneficial to Oregon. Aelea believes that trade agreements should include environmental and labor protections so that we don’t end up in a race to the bottom or undermining our homegrown industries.
Aelea is also aware that the lack of good roads can prevent local businesses from getting their goods to market efficiently. She supports commonsense transportation projects that put our residents and roads back to work.
Fundamental changes need to be made in order to put retirement and senior health care programs on firm financial footing. Aelea understands that coordinated care and results-based payments will do a lot to reduce Medicare costs while actually improving the care our seniors receive. Reforms intended to slow the growth of health care costs were included in the Affordable Care Act and she believes that we should carefully evaluate their success moving forward.
She will protect Social Security and ensure our investment is there for seniors today, seniors tomorrow, and seniors a generation from now. Considering more and more Oregon retirees rely on Social Security as their sole or main source of income, Aelea will strongly protect Social Security recipients from benefit cuts. Raising Social Security taxes on struggling young families who are trying to make ends meet isn’t a good plan either.
Privatization is also a poor option. When Wall Street had the chance to gamble with people’s retirement savings, they failed. Aelea stands with Senators Merkley and Warren: She'll hold Wall Street accountable and she won’t gamble with your Social Security investment.
Aelea was raised by a minister who was a conscientious objector in WWII. He served, but was not required to carry a weapon. When the draft lottery occurred, there were four draft age boys in her home. Aelea remembers her family watching all day to see if any of her siblings would be drafted. One brother, Tom, did go to Vietnam. He had been adopted by Aelea’s family at 12. He was Chinese and spoke fluent Cantonese; a perfect candidate for intelligence and interrogation.
Tom returned and was never the same. He died in his early 50’s.
Aelea’s husband attended the Naval Academy and is a retired military officer. Her father-in-law also served; he was a skipper on a landing craft in the Pacific.
These experiences have molded Aelea’s views on military conflict.
"We owe a deep debt of gratitude to our servicemen and women," Alea remarks. "And we must honor their commitment to our country. People like my brother shouldn’t lack the treatment needed to recover from war. We need to make a stronger promise to prevent war in the first place and make the necessary investments to protect our troops here at home."
Most of all, Aelea believes Congress should do everything possible to avoid war and move the world to an understanding of how to live in peace.