Why I'm Running

My beloved Oregon,

On a freezing November day in 2014 I was at a little cemetery in Echo, Oregon, near 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 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 a big wrap around porch. Mom walked us around to the front steps. But instead of walking up the steps to the door,  she dropped to all fours and crawled under the porch. She then invited us into her home, with a sleeping bag covering the dirt.

About ten years later, mom overdosed and ended up in the ICU at Portland Adventist Hospital. I was on winter break from law school. I spent a week by her side as the doctors predicted she would have severe brain damage if she lived. She lived, and fully recovered.

On that day underneath the porch, one of mom’s few possessions was a box of pictures of my 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.

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, sexism and income equality need to see progress within reach. The fight to save our planet will only succeed if climate action is within reach. No matter your fight: progress must be within reach.

That’s why I’m in this race for Secretary of State—the job that puts progress within reach because of our faith in democracy. I want every Oregonian to know 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 tremendous challenges. Free and democratic elections that have long been a cornerstone of our society, are under threat. Hostile foreign governments have already tried 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 and have the vision to see what the next generation faces. 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 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.