Secretary of State: Shemia Fagan

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We were thrilled when Shemia Fagan, a civil rights lawyer and former member of the Oregon House, joined the Oregon Senate in 2018 as a no-bullshit advocate for tenants’ rights representing East Portland. She’s accomplished a considerable amount in her brief tenure: In the 2019 Oregon Legislative session, Fagan championed Oregon’s first statewide rent control bill, spoke out against longtime Senate President Peter Courtney for allegedly threatening a staffer, and made an admirable push to lower Oregon’s voting age to 16. Her straightforward, passionate approach to progressive policy-making has invigorated the Senate’s Democratic caucus.

Fagan has now set her sights on the Secretary of State’s office. We’re here for it.

As both a state legislator and a lawyer, Fagan has illustrated a fierce commitment to equity. As the state's head elections official, the Secretary of State has a responsibility to remove barriers to voting for Oregonians across the economic and social spectrum. This responsibility will become even more critical if, after the 2020 Census, the Oregon Legislature cannot agree on mapping legislative districts that fairly represent the state’s population—a standstill that will force the Secretary of State to make the call. Fagan is the candidate we’d want making that critical decision.

The Secretary of State’s office is also charged with auditing publicly-funded programs, a task that aligns with Fagan’s commitment to transparency inside the state capitol. Fagan’s joined in the race by fellow Oregon Senator Mark Hass, who represents Beaverton and is known for championing the 2019 legislative session’s sweeping public school finance bill, and Jamie McLeod-Skinner, an environmental advocate and former Democratic challenger to US Rep. Greg Walden in 2018. All three share strong values about election integrity and good government.

But, during a global crisis that’s shaken our country’s democracy, Oregon needs a tireless advocate for civil rights, and government accountability in its Secretary of State’s office. We believe Fagan will uphold that responsibility.

State Representative, District 33: Serin Bussell

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Longtime District 33 Rep. Mitch Greenlick is retiring, and four candidates are now vying to represent this district, which covers parts of Southwest Portland and Washington County. All four have commendable resumes: Maxine Dexter is a medical doctor making universal healthcare a key plank in her platform; Christina Stephenson is a civil rights attorney who’s worked to pass paid family leave in Oregon; and Andy Saultz is a teacher with strong Washington County roots.

But Serin Bussell is the candidate with the most first-hand experience to represent our region’s progressive values in the legislature. A former Oregon Department of Transportation and Metro employee, Bussell now chairs Portland’s Open and Accountable Elections Commission, and worked on campaign finance reform and wildfire prevention legislation while serving as Sen. Jeff Golden’s chief of staff in 2019. She was also active in her employee union during her time at Metro.

The Oregon Legislature will have its work cut out for it responding to the continuing impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, and we need experienced, progressive leadership now more than ever. That’s why we’re endorsing Bussell.

State Representative, District 36: Rob Fullmer

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Jennifer Williamson vacated her seat representing District 36 to mount a campaign for Secretary of State (for which she later dropped out) last year. A slate of newcomers are now running to replace her, and they all bring something to the table. But longtime union leader Rob Fullmer has a wealth of experience with some of the issues Oregon most urgently needs help with right now.

Fullmer was a community budget advisor for the City of Portland for six years, and has now set his sights on reforming Oregon’s plagued state budget by eliminating the Oregon kicker and re-hauling state property taxes. He was also a member of the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Council, which oversees state college budgets; served on the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) executive board; and worked on earthquake resiliency plans for the Portland City Club.

Experience like that easily positions him to lead on school funding, public employee retirement benefits, and preparing for the coming Big One—all Oregon issues that are in dire need of solutions. Residents of District 36, which covers downtown Portland, and swaths of Northwest and Southwest Portland, should cast their votes for Fullmer.

State Representative, District 42: Rob Nosse

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Rob Nosse shows up. It’s something that politicians, especially those in rarely contested districts, quickly forget about as soon as they win an election. But Nosse, a gay labor representative who was elected to serve the Southeast Portland district in 2014, has remained a consistent advocate for his constituents. From speaking candidly at tenants’ rights rallies, to spearheading consumer protection bills that attract lawsuits from Big Pharma, to earnestly responding to constituents’ emails and calls—Nosse doesn’t take his position for granted. And neither do we.

Nosse recently lost his trusted union support after voting in 2019 to cut public retirement benefits to protect public schools from equally drastic cuts. Labor groups are instead backing Nosse’s challenger, Paige Kriesman, a trangender army veteran who’s running to the left of Nosse as a democratic socialist.

This endorsement wasn’t an easy decision for us. Kriesman—a strong, detail-oriented advocate of tenants’ rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and an Oregon New Green Deal—would serve Oregon’s legislature well. In any other race, we’d throw our support behind her. But we don’t want to risk losing Nosse as one of Portland’s most accessible and committed progressives in the state legislature. Vote for Nosse.

State Representative, District 46: Khanh Pham

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Rep. Alyssa Keny-Guyer is retiring from her District 46 seat, which covers a big chunk of Southeast Portland. That opens the door for someone new—and Khanh Pham is the candidate who’s best-suited to represent the district.

Pham’s resume reads like a list of issues that are important for Portlanders, and particularly important for residents along Southeast 82nd Avenue in District 46. A Jade District resident, Pham worked on housing, health, and climate justice initiatives for the Asian Pacific Network of Oregon (APANO). In 2016, she turned her attention to passing the Portland Clean Energy Initiative, a first-of-its-kind clean energy tax that was backed by the Coalition of Communities of Color. If elected, Pham hopes to make the Oregon Green New Deal—a plan that blends aggressive environmental policy with clean energy job training and a focus on empowering communities most impacted by climate change—one of her signature issues.

The other candidates in this race each carry their own amount of valuable experience. But given her consistent advocacy and strong ties to the district, Pham is the natural choice for this seat.

State Senator, District 18: Ginny Burdick

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Ginny Burdick has represented Southwest Portland (and a sliver of Southeast Portland) for 24 years—and has served as Oregon Senate Majority Leader since 2015. While a fairly moderate Democrat, Burdick has consistently been the Oregon Senate’s loudest advocate for gun reform. During her time in Salem, Burdick’s passed legislation requiring background checks for purchases made at gun shows, limiting access to firearms to people in a mental health crisis, and keeping firearms away from domestic abusers.

Burdick’s sole challenger in her race comes from Ben Bowman, a Tigard-Tualatin School Board member with experience working for Democratic legislators. Bowman certainly has a future in politics, but we believe Burdick remains the strongest candidate in this race.