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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Statement of Candidacy for Oregon State Senate District 23: Sean Cruz

I, Sean Cruz, declare my candidacy for election to the office of Oregon State Senator, representing Senate District 23.

I have served the constituents of Senate District 23 as Senator Avel Gordly’s Legislative Aide and Chief of Staff since January 2003, through the past three legislative sessions, and will continue to serve in that capacity through the remainder of Senator Gordly’s current term.

I am prepared to stand on the record of our legislative accomplishments and constituent service during that period.

Among those achievements was the creation and development of Senator Gordly’s listserve, which now reaches more than 8,500 Oregon voters directly, electronically and at no cost to taxpayers.

As a member of Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), and as the father of two sons in the Utah Army National Guard, I have publicly and vocally opposed the stumblebum Bush Administration’s catastrophe in Iraq from its inception.

Both of my sons were ordered to Iraq in November 2003, and neither has come home safe and sound. I feel the cost of this needless war in personal terms, every long day and every sleepless night.

And I understand first-hand the failure of the Bush Administration to meet the needs of our troops and their families, and of the veterans who preceded them in earlier service to our nation. It is a legacy of shame and disgrace.

Politically, I am a lifelong Democrat, as were my parents before me.

I am the son and grandson of immigrants (Mexico and Ireland). My father served as a patrol officer with the Solano County Sheriff’s Office in California for fifteen years, until he suffered a career-ending injury in an on-duty collision. My mother worked as a secretary for Solano County Superior Court Judge K.I. Jones before health issues forced her retirement.

I am the first member of my family to attend and graduate from college.

I am not a career politician, not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with that. This Senate race is my first experience as a candidate for any office.

I earned a B.A. in Political Science from California State University, Sonoma, where my ambition was to become a political writer. My principal political activity was opposition to the war in Viet Nam and some volunteering for Democratic candidates.

I was a Democratic PC in Clark County and walked my precinct in support of Bill Clinton’s first campaign for President.

My first experience in Oregon politics was with the Portland Observer in 1996, where I created the Election Edition and a multicultural section called the Portland Observador, expanding the reach of this African-American oriented newspaper.

I have first-hand experience with issues affecting the elderly and the disabled, having been my mother’s sole caregiver for a year, before she needed full time skilled care.

I have first-hand experience with homelessness and hunger, having experienced both following the disappearance of my four children in a criminal abduction in 1996. I am the survivor of the trauma of the kidnapping of my children, and the death of my eldest son Aaron in 2005 at the age of 23.

In 2003, following my testimony on parent-involved and family-involved child abductions before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate President Peter Courtney appointed the Interim Task Force on Parental and Family Abductions, co-chaired by Senator Gordly and Senator Frank Morse.

This work led to the passage of Senate Bill 1041 in 2005, known as “Aaron’s Law” after my late son, first-in-the-Nation legislation addressing child abductions.

I have a first-hand understanding of how precariously close to the edge many Oregonians live, without health care, without food security, and I understand personally how quickly circumstances beyond your control can cost you your home, your job (I was fired five times in 1996, in the months following my children's disappearance), and your health.

My mother passed away four years later without having seen or heard from her grandchildren again. Believe me, I begged for help. There was none, not anywhere. The kids were hidden away in the mountains of Utah in various places.

In 1996 and 1997, the Oregon Health Plan and the care I received at OHSU saved my life, and I was among the many thousands of Oregonians who lost access to health care when OHP was gutted in 2002.

I began working for Senator Gordly in January 2003 without health insurance or access to health care, and did not have health insurance until January 2005.

Victory Outreach Church in NE Portland took me into their Men’s Re-Entry Home in my darkest hour in early 1997, where I lived for five years, struggling with clinical depression and fighting through four jurisdictions in three states to locate and recover my children. Without the support of the Victory Outreach ministry, I doubt that I would have survived.

While I was living at Victory Outreach, I was appointed by the U.S. Attorney to the Albina Weed and Seed Steering Committee (after having been nominated by then-State Representative JoAnn Bowman), and later became a Founding Board Member of the National Organization of Weed and Seed (NOWS).

Weed and Seed is a federal strategy that targets areas of high crime, weeding out violent criminals and seeding in community development through multiple partnerships. During my term on the NOWS Board, I chaired the NOWS Faith Community Committee. There are now three Weed and Seed sites in the Portland Metro area: Albina, Lents and Rockwood.

While living at Victory Outreach Church, I also served as a volunteer member of the Alberta Streetscape Committee, a citizen’s group that worked with the City of Portland to develop the concepts that were later built out to support what is now known as the Alberta Arts District.

I have served the community as a volunteer member of the Portland Police Bureau’s Crisis Response Team (CRT) since 1998, responding to traumatic events such as homicides and accidental deaths, and providing assistance to victims and their families.

I have served as the Co-Chair of the Portland Police Bureau Latino Advisory Council, along with Ron Macias of Youth Gangs, and as a member of the Portland Police Chief’s Forum, appointed by the Chief of Police.

I have served on the Board of Desarollo Integral de Familia (DIF), for several years. DIF is a non-profit serving Spanish-speaking women and families escaping domestic violence that offices at Augustana Lutheran Church.

Prior Board experience includes two years serving on the KBOO 90.7 FM Board of Directors and Programming Committee.

I was recently elected to the Board of Oregon Habitat for Humanity.

As a licensed real estate broker with Georgetown Realty since 2000, I maintain memberships in the East Metro Association of Realtors (EMAR), the Oregon Association of Realtors (OAR), and the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

I am a member of the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs (OAME), and of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI).

I write and maintain the following blogs: BlogoliticalSean, PhotoliticalSean, and JimPepperHouse.

I look forward to the coming campaign and further opportunities to work on those issues that matter most to Oregonians and the constituents of Senate District 23.

Sean Cruz
August 22, 2007

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