Eugene, Oregon , United States
|| 00, 1952
Dec 15, 2016 01:05pm
Swedish - Very Liberal - Government Reform - Jobs/Industrial Growth - Pro Environment - Pro-Labor -
|Info||My life has been a good one, and education has played a significant part in it. When I sought to better myself, my state and my community stood behind me with the one opportunity that matters more than any other: a great education. |
I was born in Washoe County, Nevada, and moved to Oregon when I started fourth grade in 1959. I attended grade school in Myrtle Point and junior and senior high school in North Bend. These schools were among the poorest in the state. I started my formal education at Southwestern Oregon Community College. Working my way through community college in Coos Bay, I learned that education is a powerful tool that requires hard work and sacrifice to earn all that it has to give. I received my B.A. from the University of Oregon in 1973, and my M.A. in 1979.
I had the fortune to be raised in a loving two-parent family. My dad was a teacher and my mom was a secretary. Raising my own two children in Eugene, I learned how much love and effort from parents—and from others—it takes for children to grow strong and healthy. I’ve been a Sunday school teacher and a youth soccer coach, and I have seen first hand how caring adults can transform children’s lives—and vice-versa.
I have been working to protect the natural beauty of Oregon since my years as a college student in Coos Bay. As a student, I helped in successfully protecting the French Pete (no relation) wilderness, which is part of the Three Sisters wilderness area. I assisted in the formation of OSPIRG as well, and had a fine time doing it.
When I was 23, I ran Jim Weaver's (D-Oregon) successful Congressional campaign. After he was elected, substantially on environmental issues, I went with him to Washington DC as his Legislative Assistant. We banned mining in national parks, expanded the wilderness system, and helped pass the Endangered American Wilderness Act of 1976. I helped stop the Elk Creek dam in southern Oregon.
From my years as a legislative assistant in Rep. Weaver’s office in Washington DC, 1974-77, I learned that there is a price to be paid for doing the right thing. To fight for the interests of ordinary people, a leader must always work harder, think faster and be more determined than those on the side of entrenched power and the status quo.
As an official in the Agriculture Department in the Carter Administration, I learned valuable lessons about how Oregon fits into a diverse nation. I saw the extremes of poverty and wealth in many states, and I learned that the task of government is to bring divergent interests together.
After 5 years in Washington DC, I came home and went to our state law school. Graduating from law school in 1982, I hung out my shingle in the depths of the biggest recession since the Great Depression. I represented people whose business growing tree seedlings was damaged by railroad right of way spraying. I represented people trying to protect Portland’s Bull Run Reserve and the drinking water for a million people. I represented people who successfully forced the Environmental Protection Agency to limit the amount of lead in our nation's drinking water. I made a living, and I learned to make a difference. Eventually, I received the "Award for Vision" from the Oregon Natural Resources Council.
During those early years, I volunteered to serve on the budget committee of Lane Community College, and then was elected to the LCC board, my first elected office. We managed a budget of almost $60 million and we had hundreds of dedicated employees. I learned the importance of Oregon’s open meeting laws, and I learned about the difficult choices elected officials face. I also led the effort to get the voters of Lane County to authorize bonds so that LCC would be able to help others pull themselves up as I had done.
In 1993, I was appointed to the State Senate, and I won election in 1994. The next year was a turning point for Oregon: the Newt Gingrich faction of the Republican Party had captured both houses in Salem. As Assistant Minority Leader during the 1995 session, I worked with Governor Kitzhaber to blunt their attacks on Oregon’s historic legacy of sound, compassionate government.
If you want to understand me, look at my record in Salem: pro-environment, pro-education, pro-senior, pro-regular taxpayer, pro-child, pro-civil rights, pro-civil liberties, and pro-people. I also learned that the legislature seems to be only for the rich and for people whose employers will pay them. When I was in the Senate, I had the lowest income of any senator of either party.
In 1996, when my daughter Jennifer was 13 and my son Erik 10, I ran for Lane County commissioner. It's a full time job and full time salary. I’ve been working at the county level for eight years, dealing with matters of land use, criminal justice, education and social justice as they affect Lane County’s 330,000 people, who live in cities, in suburbs and in rural areas from the Cascades to the coast.
Throughout the past four years, I have come to realize that our political system is failing the people of Lane County, as it is failing the people of Portland and Bend and Medford. The current political leadership seems paralyzed by distrust and self-doubt. Powerful voices tell us that there is no hope and that good schools, jobs and a clean environment are impossible. We are told that these things do not matter, are not worth fighting for and, most definitely, not worth paying for. If you and I tolerate this inaction, we are in danger of consigning our children to a bleak future—to life in a state that will be Oregon in name only.
I have met with hundreds of thousands of people across this great state. I encourage all of you who wish to restore the ideals and values of our home to join me in my journey toward a brighter future for the people of Oregon.