Democrat Athena Goldberg hopes to be the first woman to win the highly competitive race for state Senate District 3.

The 48-year-old Medford resident, a director of behavioral health for AllCare Health, is the fourth Democrat to file for the primary, including Medford resident Kevin Stine and Ashland residents Julian Bell and Jeff Golden.

Senator Alan DeBoer, a Republican, said he would announce in January whether he will run again.

"It is time, as a female, to stand up and not wait for other people to lead or to expect other people to have my interests in mind," Goldberg said.

She has a master's degree in social work from Arizona State University and a bachelor’s from Southern Oregon University. She and her husband, Tim, have three grown sons who live in Medford.

Goldberg grew up in Bandon and trained to become a clinical social worker and opened a small business as an independent practitioner before joining AllCare in 2016. 

As a therapist, Goldberg said she's in a unique position to tackle some of what she feels are the state's biggest issues: education, fighting climate change, and ensuring everyone has access to health care. She said all three issues are intertwined because they play an important role in most people's lives.

The issues are similar to those mentioned by other candidates on the ticket, but Goldberg said she's interested in the thoughts of locals on these topics.

"I think there is an inherent need to listen to everyone's story and not be the teller of the story," she said. "It's important to hear what what your constituencies' concerns are and translate them at a state level."

Because she is in the health care industry, Goldberg said one of the goals has been to deliver the most effective medical or mental treatment for the most efficient cost.

She said the switch this year from Jackson County Mental Health services to Options was a boon to the mentally ill.

Goldberg said health care providers constantly need to assess whether a lower level of care can be delivered and be provided for less money.

Early intervention is often extremely useful in curbing costs for patients, Goldberg said.

Three big issues affecting someone's medical and mental care needs are housing, food and domestic violence, she said.

Part of the effort to regroup and provide effective treatment at a lower cost is to take into account all of a patient's needs, Goldberg said.

"This is a paradigm shift for many," she said.

To help Jackson County take a more positive step on climate change, Goldberg said she'd like to see more local mass transit options offered.

"Transportation in our area is a huge problem," she said.

In announcing her candidacy, Goldberg said she wanted Democrats to take a leadership role to keep the country from falling into the "darker times" because of President Donald Trump and the GOP.

“I’m running because we need to elect bold, progressive leaders who will stand up for people who are getting left behind, especially working families, women and seniors,” she stated.

Goldberg also wants the state to do more to support a strong educational system.

She said she is attempting to follow in the footsteps of former Sen. Alan Bates, who died in 2016.

"It feels right to do Alan Bates justice and continue what he has done," she said. "He worked hard for all of our community."

— Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or Follow him on