Meet shemia fagan

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Why I’m Running

My beloved Oregon,

On a freezing November day in 2014 I was at a little cemetery in Echo, Oregon, a little town by Hermiston. It was my mom’s funeral. The minister who gave the eulogy, captured mom’s journey perfectly. She said, “Trish reached the place of an ordinary life. Just an ordinary life. A job, and a house, and a dog. But it didn’t just happen to her. She fought for it with everything she had in her.”

Growing up, mom was in and out of my life.  Dad raised my two older brothers and me as a single parent in eastern Oregon, The Dalles and Dufur. Mom battled meth and opioid addiction for most of my life. 

Once when I was in high school, my brother drove us to Portland to see mom after she had been homeless for a few years.  We pulled up to this huge Victorian style house, with big wrap around porch. Mom walked us around to the front steps, but instead of walking up the steps she dropped to all fours and crawled under the porch. Then she invited us into her home, with a sleeping bag covering the dirt.

About 10 years later, mom overdosed and ended up in the ICU at the Portland Adventist Hospital. It was my last week of winter break in law school. I spent the week by her side as the doctors predicted she would have severe brain damage if she lived.  She lived, and fully recovered. Finally, my brothers and I were able to convince her to leave everything behind and to move to Pendleton. And she did. 

On that day underneath the porch, one of mom’s few possessions was a box of pictures of brothers and me. Those pictures showed her, even on her toughest days, that an ordinary life was within reach… and so she fought for it.

And when she passed away in October of 2014, mom had been clean for almost six years and was living in the first house she had ever owned.  So now you know why, on that cold November day at the Echo cemetery, the minister eulogized “Trish reached the place of an ordinary life, but it didn’t just happen to her, she had to fight for it with everything she had in her.”

Many of us understand immediately what the minister’s words mean, because we have had to fight—or are still fighting—against poverty or injustice, to reach the place of an ordinary life. Those fighting against racism and sexism need to see equality within reach. The fight to save our planet will only succeed if climate action is within reach. Whatever your fight: whether to end gun violence or for universal health care; for LGBTQIA equality or a just immigration system; for reproductive justice or workers rights; for income inequality or any other challenge facing your family –all require progress to be within reach. 

That’s what draws me into to race for Secretary of State—the job that puts progress within reach because of our faith in democracy. To make sure that every Oregonian knows that their voice, their actions, their ballot, CAN make a difference because, when democracy works, progress … is always within reach. 

Oregon’s next Secretary of State is going to face challenges unlike anything we have ever seen. Free and democratic elections are the cornerstone of our society.  Yet, we have not even seen the lengths to which hostile foreign governments will go to undermine our democracy. Donald Trump has shown that he isn’t concerned about these threats, as long as they benefit him. That’s why Oregon’s Secretary of State has to be prepared to fight these threats to our democracy today and have the vision to see the threats facing the next generation. I have been in public service in Oregon since I served on the school board in 2011, and today I serve as a Democrat in the Oregon Senate.

Everybody who has served with me, whether Republicans, Democrats, on every side of every issue, whether they like me or not, can agree on one thing: I take on tough fights, and win them.

I am running in the Democratic primary to be Oregon’s Secretary of State because normal won’t just happen, ordinary won’t just happen, our democracy won’t just happen, we have to fight for it.  And like my momma, I will fight for it with everything I have in me.

See you on the campaign trail, Oregon.

Sincerely,

Shemia

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