I was surprised when I received the call from [WW reporter] Corey [Pein] asking about my residency ["Home Away From Home," WW, Jan. 4, 2012]. I never considered it would be a news story that my husband and I failed to sell our Happy Valley house when we moved to Northwest Portland. I guess this is why people don't run for office.

After our children grew and left for college, we wanted to downsize. We started getting our house ready at the height of the market and placed it on the market only to see [the market] collapse in 2008. We didn't get even one potential buyer and, rather than take a huge loss on our biggest investment, we pulled it off the market.

In 2010, as I was retiring from a 30-year career in education, we felt an even greater need to move out of the "big house" and, in March 2010, we purchased and moved into a condo in NW Portland. I became a voter in the district in April 2010.

It wasn't until July 2011 that I began thinking of running for the Metro [Council] seat after sitting Councilor Rex Burkholder told me he was ineligible to run again.

Why did we choose District 5?

First, my daughter Melanie was down the hall (a great benefit). Second, we had connections to this community. I started my education career in the district at Madison High School in 1979 and worked much of my career in this community.

In my 14 years working in the district, I saw that too many children and families living here are left behind—lacking healthy food, safe routes to get to school, and vibrant neighborhoods. I want to run for this Metro district so people here have the same amenities and services as [in] other parts of the region.

My husband and I also have a strong connection to Old Town/Chinatown...and have been working to preserve and revitalize this historically important area.

Recently, I became involved with the 1882 Project asking Congress to express regret for passing the Chinese Exclusionary laws that separated families by limiting Chinese who could come into this country. It separated our family. When my grandfather first came to the United States in the late 1800s, he experienced intense discrimination and hardship...most of his family could not come over to be with him. My father was not allowed to bring his family to this country until 1968, [when] I was 11.

Our family moved to Portland when I was 13.... My dad worked in a kitchen and my mother was a seamstress. They made minimum wage, under $2 an hour, and yet they saved enough to buy a house in SE Portland. My parents taught us the values of hard work and determination.

Now, it is because of my grandfather, and my parents, that I feel I must work hard and help make a better future, not only for my children, but all in our community. 

I'm a principled person who believes integrity is all a person has to stand on, and so, I apologize to the voters of my district for any confusion.

Helen Ying
Northwest Portland

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