BEND, Ore. -

Bend small business owner Aelea Christofferson announced Monday that she will run in the May Democratic primary for a chance to challenge Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., in the November election.

Christofferson told NewsChannel 21 Monday she stepped down from the Cover Oregon board to run for Walden's seat because she wants to make health care more affordable and available for all Oregonians -- and wants to fix what she calls a broken Congress.

"I was brought up on the saying, 'If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.' And when I see something like that, I need to go be a part of the solution," Christofferson said.

Tuesday is the candidate filing deadline for the May primary. Christofferson is one of two Democrats who have filed, the other being Charles "Frank" Vulliet Sr. of Sunriver. Walden also has drawn a May GOP primary challenger -- Klamath County Commissioner Dennis Linthicum.

Here's the rest of Christofferson's news release announcing her candidacy:

Christofferson has spent years fighting to improve health care for Oregonians as a member of the Cover Oregon Board and previously on the Oregon Health Fund Board advisory committee. She’s entering the race today to continue the fight to make health care more affordable and available for all Oregonians.

"I fought for the last several years to give small businesses and consumers more affordable and better quality health care. Through that process, I heard from so many individuals who couldn’t afford insurance, worried that they’d lose their insurance if they lost their jobs, or couldn’t get insurance at all because of a pre-existing condition,” said Christofferson.

"Cover Oregon and the Affordable Care Act are not perfect – far from it – but they take real steps to expand access to care for all Oregonians. We need to focus now on making the programs work better. So when I saw Representative Walden and others in Congress push to completely undo reform and turn their backs on Oregonians who need help, I knew I had to do something,” said Christofferson.

“We need elected leaders in Washington who will do what is best for Oregon every time – whether it’s about health care or creating jobs – not leaders who will put short-term political gain first.”

Christofferson is the president and founder of ATL Communications, a telecommunications company specializing in toll-free routing options. She has previously worked at AT&T and Pacific Bell, as an insurance adjuster and a social worker. She is the former president of the Sunriver Chamber of Commerce.

She also announced today that she would be resigning from the Cover Oregon Board to focus on this congressional race, stating, “I’ve fought for better health care for years and today the biggest threat to better care is coming from politicians in Washington, DC. The fight to protect the health of Oregonians is going to be won or lost in Washington, where partisans like Greg Walden are saying no to sensible proposals that lower costs and improve coverage.”

Aelea lives in Bend with her husband, Tom Hall. They have five children and two grandchildren.

You can learn more about Aelea's campaign at