Google+ Badge

Monday, March 31, 2008

Oregon's campaigns begin--crucial picks are lower on ballots

Portland, Oregon-- The Sunday, March 30 Oregonian editorial stated “…a strong case can be made that the truly momentous decisions facing this state's voters will be lower on the ballot, embodied in the men and women who end up nominated to run next fall for the Legislature…. Legislative elections are always important in the state, but possibly never more so than this year. “

The editorial noted the broad question of attitude and intent in the context of the sagging economy and the legislature’s immediate partisan history, and then posed several questions “voters all across the state should be asking:”

Here’s the link:

These are good questions, but they are not all of the good questions voters should be thinking about as the May 20 primary nears.

Here are some more:

Which candidate will focus more strongly on resolving hunger and food insecurity, low food bank stocks and the threats rising food prices bring to our communities?

Which candidate will serve on a legislative committee that works directly on access to affordable health care, preventative care, prescription anxiety, mental health, replacement of the Oregon State Hospital and the development of a statewide community of care?

With Oregon’s aging population, a critical shortage of nurses and nurse-training classes, with service-related disabilities skyrocketing from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which candidate will be better positioned to make the right choices in determining state policy to serve seniors and people with disabilities?

Which candidate is better equipped to deal with issues related to the occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan as they impact Oregonians and the state’s economy? Who will stand for Oregon’s 300,000 veterans?

Which candidate is likely to be more effective in moving the state through the mortgage crisis and addressing affordable housing and homelessness?

Which candidate is likely to be more effective in moving the state forward as our population diversifies and new immigration policies must be developed? Who is better equipped to guide the state through divisive issues such as access to drivers licenses, day labor sites and the recent Interstate-renaming fiasco?

Small businesses, emerging, women-owned and minority-owned small businesses are the backbone of the Oregon economy. Which candidate is better suited to work hands-on in supporting these vital sectors?

Which candidate can bring significant structural and policy change to the legislature and how it conducts the people’s business from the first day in office?

The candidates will exert their greatest public policy influence through the legislative committees on which they serve and, given the likely continued democratic control of both chambers and the Governor’s office, not with their votes on the House or Senate floor. Thinking strategically, how will the candidates’ committee choices make the most significant difference for Oregonians?

The answers to all of these questions should differentiate between what issues the candidate will work directly on and where the candidate’s participation will consist of voting to support the work of others.

These critical issues are all in play in the race for Senate District 23, the only Senate primary contest where voters have more than one candidate to “choose” from.

Senate District 23 features a choice between two well-qualified but vastly differently qualified candidates.

The choice can be boiled down to either electing a fresh voice well-prepared to grapple with these issues, or moving the status quo 500 feet to the east.

The Establishment’s comfort zone lies in the latter, cemented into an entirely predictable four-year term.

The challenger to the status quo faces long odds to be sure. Across the path to victory lie the barriers of privilege, power and position.

The challenger, however, is fueled by “the fierce urgency of now”, that the issues he cares about are questions of life and death for many, and the belief that voters in this election cycle are ready to move the state into the 21st century, departing from the foregone conclusions and inevitability so often characterized as a public process.

The Oregonian’s editorial provides a valuable public service, elevating the discussion regarding legislative races largely absent so far as May 20 draws near.

How broadly and incisively the public discourse on these important electoral questions are fleshed out remains to be seen, but I hope that the Oregonian and other media will take this task on. There is much riding on the outcome.

--Sean Cruz

Friday, March 28, 2008

Oregon's iconic independent thinkers stand together

Portland, Oregon--Sean Cruz, candidate for Senate District 23, stands with Oregon’s most iconic independent thinkers: Senator Avel Gordly and Senator Ben Westlund.

Where? At the rally for Barack Obama at Portland’s Veterans Memorial Stadium, where else?

Standing for change. Doing what they do best.

As Senator Gordly transitions to take on new challenges, encouraging new voices to become involved in public service through her work in the Portland State University Department of Black Studies, and Senator Westlund moves to the office of State Treasurer, where he will play a leading role in steering Oregon through the recession and modernizing the state’s fiscal systems, a clearer picture of the 2009 Oregon Senate is taking shape.

Across the nation, voters are standing for change, clamoring for new voices in public office.

But in most races, candidates representing fresh ideas are fresh-frozen out of the process, and voters will be soon looking at ballots with only one candidate box to mark.


“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”, the Who famously sang.

Voters in Senate District 23 have an actual choice in the May 20 Democratic primary, a lone opportunity to send an independent-thinking fresh voice to the Oregon Senate, to fill part of the void that will be left with the departure of Senator Gordly and Senator Westlund.

It’s that guy in the middle, Sean Cruz, declaring victory with the sign made famous by Winston Churchill and FDR (damaged somewhat by Richard Nixon’s double V, but still serviceable, and all too germane for a nation at war).

Voters will soon learn where all of the special interests and their PAC monies are lined up in the race for Senate District 23, another dimension to the already-stark contrasts between the candidates.

Fresh voice or not.

Grass roots or special interest.

Choice of Senate committtee assignments: good or better, better or best.

Some think this race was already decided last summer, with all of the advantages a sitting legislator has against a staff member, including the luxury of running a campaign for a year and the easy access to PAC funds and endorsements.

But the voters want change in the broadest sense, and the Oregon legislature has only a 30% approval rating among Oregonians.

Good news for the underdog.

Arf! Says Rex, the Airedale companero to the candidate. Arf!, he says.


Contribute online: Think grass roots! This means you!


“The Underdog” feature:

March issue is still available: contact Portland Monthly Magazine at 503-222-5144.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Oregon Senate District 23 race featured: See "The Underdog" in Portland Monthly Magazine

“The Underdog”, on sale in Portland Monthly Magazine, March issue, features the race for Senate District 23. Get your copy while they are still on the newsstands. Feature article starts on Page 92.



Portland Monthly Magazine:

It's not about me, it's about you!

Portland, Oregon--

Senate District 23 reflects the future of the state of Oregon more than any other.

Senate District 23 is the most diverse senate district in Oregon by every measure of income, race and ethnicity, with its new China Town emerging along the 82nd Avenue of Roses corridor, and its International District along NE Sandy extending out to Argay Terrace, with its high-income, its middle class and it’s low-income neighborhoods side by side.

Oregon is changing

More and more, the rest of Oregon will look like us, and we should take this opportunity in this Senate race to harness the strengths, the riches, the strong currents of change that our many cultures working together can bring forth.

I am uniquely suited to carry our Senate District and our state forward as we adjust to who we are becoming.

Small business and job training

Nearly every business located in Senate District 23 is a small business, and small businesses and the employment they offer are the backbone of the Oregon economy.

We need to see more investment in supporting small businesses and job training for family-wage jobs right here in our community.

Education: Pre-k through graduate school

I see Portland Community College’s Southeast campus as the key to the long-term vitality of east Portland, providing training opportunities that lead to family wage jobs and serving as a critical civic hub that benefits the entire city and county.

But there are long waiting lists for these classes. I was present on the day the SE campus opened, and it was already at capacity. The ESL, nursing, welding , First Responder (EMT) and other classes are long full, with only 1 in 8 nursing students able to get in.

The state faces the challenges of a nursing shortage and an aging population.

I fully support the bond measure that PCC will put before the voters in November, and I will champion investment in the entire pre-k through higher ed education continuum.

I will work to strengthen the links between PCC and its Marshall, Madison and Parkrose High feeder schools, using the guidance and resources made available with the passage of Senate Bill 300, Senator Gordly’s landmark Expanded Options bill, that provides opportunities for high school students to get on a college track by taking vocational or other academic courses not available in the high school.

I cannot speak about education without noting that the students at Jefferson High and other area schools have no band and no advanced placement classes, and that is a responsibility that this entire city shares.

Nor can I speak without noting that in Parkrose School District alone, more than 198 students strive to gain an education with the added burden of homelessness.

Affordable housing and access to credit

I walk my dog daily through my Parkrose neighborhood, and as a Realtor, I am struck by the increasing number of homes for sale that lie vacant, each with its own story.

These vacant homes are to me the clearest signal that Oregon will not escape harm as the mortgage crisis destroys access to credit for our middle class and low-income households. I will work hard for you to increase state investments in affordable housing.

Oregon Health Plan and the uninsured

Cuts to the Oregon Health Plan hurt more residents of Senate District 23 than in any other senate district in the state, and I was among them.

My personal experience of homelessness, hunger, uninsured illness, and clinical depression, my experience as my elderly and fragile mother’s sole caregiver make me uniquely suited to address these issues in our community, and from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, I will work hard to expand access to the Oregon Health Plan to cover the uninsured among us.

Veterans, military families, Iraq and Afghanistan

As the father of two Army National Guard soldiers first ordered deployed to Iraq more than five years ago, I am fully aware of the damage to our nation, our state and our community and the costs military families are paying in this longest and most mistaken war our nation has ever endured, a war that has cost me both of my sons.

The Oregon Senate has no counterpart to the House Veterans Affairs Committee, and this results in the stranding of important veterans and war-related bills at the same time that we require open-ended sacrifice from the families of the troops we send into combat on the other side of the world.

I am calling for the establishment of a new Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to work jointly with the House, and I will serve there, ensuring that we are responding as a state to support these families in crisis.

Senate District 23’s environmental issues

Senate District 23 has its own unique environmental challenges. There is noise and pollution from airport operations. Air quality is a serious concern for those of us who live near freeways and rail lines, which intersect the district in many places.

There is much older housing contaminated with lead paint. There are hundreds of homes where former meth labs operated that have not been properly decontaminated, and families are living in them not knowing that they are at risk.

On the legacy of Avel Gordly

I have had the great good fortune to work for and learn from one of Oregon’s greatest public servants, one of the great ladies of our state and of our time, Avel Louise Gordly.

With Senator Gordly’s retirement, Oregon loses its most tireless and effective champion for underserved populations, for seniors and people with disabilities, for those living with mental illness, for access to health care, for children and families who have fallen through the cracks in the system, for justice for every person, and for taking principled, straightforward stands simply because it is the right thing to do.

I will commit myself to living up to her legacy and do my very best to honor her confidence in me in my service to you.

Thank you.

Sean Cruz

I delivered an abbreviated version of this speech at the Rose City Park Neighborhood Association Candidate Forum on March 25, 2008.



Sunday, March 23, 2008

Voter-Owned Democracy, part 2 (Interviews and Endorsements)

Portland, Oregon-- In this series of posts, I will review several of the special interest and PAC interview and endorsement encounters and processes that have taken place in order to provide voters with a better understanding of what they mean in this vitally important race for Senate District 23.

First up, the Oregon Nurses Association, which is recorded in its entirety in this string of emails:

-------------- Original message --------------
From: "Amy Ferguson"

January 28, 2008
Sean Cruz
PO Box 30093
Portland, OR 97230

Dear Sean:

Monday, February 11, 2008, the Oregon Nurse Political Action Committee (ON-PAC) will be holding endorsement interviews for the 2008 elections. Interviews will be twenty minutes long and start at 4:40 p.m.

These interviews will be held at the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) building located at 18765 SW Boones Ferry Road, Tualatin, OR 97062 in the 3rd Floor ONA Conference Center. If you have difficulty finding or entering the building, contact Amy Ferguson at 503-701-7132.

Representatives of Oregon Nurses Association will be meeting at 4:30 p.m. for a pre-interview briefing.

These times are not based on confirmations from candidates and are subject to change. We will work with the utmost flexibility to accommodate the schedules of the invited interviewees. The tentative agenda is as follows:

4:30 - 4:40 p.m. ONA pre-interview briefing
4:40 - 5:00 p.m. Jefferson Smith (D) HD 47, Outer East Portland
5:00 - 5:20 p.m. Ed Glad (R) HD 24, Yamhill County
5:20 – 5:40 p.m. Sean Cruz (D) SD 23, SE Portland
5:40 – 6:00 p.m. Rep. Jackie Dingfelder (D) SD 23, SE Portland

Candidates have been asked to bring 12 copies of their completed questionnaires to the interview to be reviewed by the interviewers.

Please feel free to call Martin Taylor (503) 804-7395 if you have any logistical questions or by e-mail at:


Chris O’Neill, RN
ON-PAC President

Please confirm attendance with Martin Taylor 503-804-7395.

Thank you,
Amy Ferguson
Government Relations Program Assistant
Oregon Nurses Association
18765 SW Boones Ferry Road, Suite 200
Tualatin, OR 97062
503-293-0011 ext. 306800-634-3552 (OR only)503-293-0013 (fax)
Register Now for ONA’s 2008 Convention, “New Directions: Nursing’s Future in Oregon.” April 9 – 11, 2008 at The Riverhouse Hotel and Convention Center in Bend

From: []
Sent: Tuesday, January 29, 2008 5:53 PM
To: Amy Ferguson
Subject: Re: Monday, February 11 Candidate Interviews


I will be working in the Capitol in February in my capacity as Senator Avel Gordly's Chief of Staff.

I can't predict what time I'll be able to get away from work, and it's about an hour's drive. How flexible are you for interviewing sitting legislators during session?


-------------- Original message --------------
From: "Amy Ferguson"

Message sent on behalf of Martin Taylor:

Sean, both you and Rep. Dingfelder have expressed a similar caution about your ability to predict your schedules that day.

Our group is meeting from 4:30 – 6:00 for candidate interviews and from 6:00 – 8:00 for ON-PAC business.

Please try to make the interview time of 5:20 – 5:40 pm.

If you need to be late contact us (503-701-7132) so we know you are running late and we will find a way adjust our schedule.

It takes 35-45 minutes to go from the front door of the capitol building to the ONA elevator depending on traffic and your driving style (assuming you know where you are going so you may need to plan a few more minutes of “where the heck is this time”).

Rep. Dingfelder is a sitting legislator and we presented her the same response we just presented you. I hope I answered to your question.

We will not be contributing money to any candidates… sitting legislators or others… until after the Supplemental Session and after the March Filing Deadline.


From: []
Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 11:08 AM
To: Amy Ferguson
Cc: Martin Taylor
Subject: Re: FW: Monday, February 11 Candidate Interviews


Thanks for your reply. Senator Gordly serves on JWM, which is scheduled 3:30 to 5:30 Mon-Thurs.

There is no way to predict what time the hearing will actually end until it does. We have been alerted to be prepared to meet into the evenings. I will not be leaving the Capitol before our work is done for the day.

In five years of legislative service, that has never happened. The public business comes first.

This is the only interview for legislative races that I am aware of that takes place during the legislative session. My availability during the session is completely subject to Senator Gordly's schedule. My priority during the session is the session itself, not campaigning.

I hope the ONA's flexibility takes these circumstances into account. Since my intention is to serve on the Senate Health and Human Services Committee upon Senator Gordly's retirement, and access to quality health care is the core of my legislative agenda, I hope we can resolve the scheduling conflict so I can meet with your organization.


From: "Martin Taylor"
CC: "Chris O'Neill"
Subject: RE: FW: Monday, February 11 Candidate Interviews
Date: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 12:19:00 PM

I will forward your reply to our PAC chair.

From: "Martin Taylor"
To: , "Amy Ferguson"
CC: "Chris O'Neill"
Subject: RE: FW: Monday, February 11 Candidate Interviews
Date: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 3:08:17 PM

-We are canceling the candidate interviews for SD 23 on Feb. 11’th.

So Sean, you don’t need to worry about coming late or not at all… we will not be interviewing either yourself or Rep. Dingfelder that night. Martin


I never heard from them again.

Apparently, the Oregon Nurses Association decided that they didn’t need to invest the twenty minutes in determining their endorsement for Senate District 23 after all.

I learned yesterday that they had endorsed my opponent, and I did not learn this from them.

How this “process” is a benefit to the constituents of Senate District 23 or to the state of Oregon is a mystery to me.

Things are not always what they appear to be.

--Sean Cruz

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Save the Date, Portland: Sean Cruz meets the public at Tupelo Joe's Saturday, March 22

SAVE THE DATE! In Beautiful Parkrose!

Sean Cruz meets the public!!

Come in! Let’s talk!

Saturday, March 22

2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Tupelo Joe’s
Family BBQ Restaurant and Blues Cafe
10721 NE Sandy Blvd

Tupelo Joe’s is smoke-free

Donate online here at Act Blue:

Voter-Owned Elections and Candidate-Suppression Endorsements

Portland, Oregon--In a previous post, I stated that the early endorsements of Portland City and County leaders, many months before the deadline for filing for office, were responsible for discouraging community members from stepping up as candidates.

Proving my point exactly, reported in today’s Portland Tribune, the following:

Council’s kingmaker gets his due

”Jefferson Smith, the first-time candidate who apparently will win District 47 of the Oregon House of Representatives, already is learning how to get along with other officeholders.

”Last week Smith appeared before the City Council to support funding for a new elementary school in the David Douglas district. Before he could speak, Commissioner Randy Leonard pointed out that no other candidates had filed in the race, meaning that Smith is a shoo-in.

I want to take credit for that, because I endorsed you early on,” Leonard said, modestly.

”Although Smith could have pointed out his years of political organizing, activism and networking, he instead replied, “I agree.” (The Tribune)

Here’s the link:

So much for democracy and inclusion, and that commitment to diversity that one often hears from City Hall and the County Commission.

One side of the mouth bespeaks grass roots, the other bald cronyism.

Voters actually have a choice in the Senate District 23 primary, no thanks to the City and County Commissioners.

They have one-candidate races in other nations too, but we don’t call that democracy.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Voter-Owned Democracy, part 1 (Portland-style)

Portland, Oregon--

Now that the deadline for candidate filings has passed, voters have the opportunity to size up the field and see what their options are, both in specific races and in terms of how the larger pictures shape up, policy-wise.

Most legislative primary races are uncontested.

“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. “ ("Won't Get Fooled Again," the Who)

Yet the voters want change, fresh voices, new perspectives, access to power for real citizens, not just the same career politicians again and again.

The voters want legislators that reflect the changing demographics of our state, so that no citizen is left behind.

That may have to wait until the next go-round.

There is only one House and one Senate race in the May 20 election that would bring the legislature a step closer in reaching these strategic goals.

The marvelously-gifted Cyreena Boston will likely be successful in her bid to re-integrate the House. May other community members have the courage in the future to step up and serve beside her there.

That level of courage among Portland’s racial and ethnic minority communities is hard to find. Lots of talkers, few takers (of the opportunity).

My race in the Oregon Senate is far more difficult, and I am going to take some time to write about how this effort has unfolded, and the barriers to democracy and authentic citizen participation that I’ve encountered along the way.

In Part I (Portland-Style), I want to offer a different perspective on Portland’s Voter Owned Elections (VOE) in a larger sense of access to democracy, and the contrast between the City Council’s commitment to democracy in city races and the overt cronyism that has appeared in the race for Senate District 23.

When Senator Gordly announced her intention to retire last summer, her Senate seat became open in the election cycle, and any citizen could step into the ring and compete.

In the last election cycle, there were five candidates for retiring Representative Steve March’s seat, and I had assumed that there would be several competitors for Senator Gordly’s position. I looked forward to the opportunity to discuss competing views and perspectives.

This is perhaps the most important contested seat in the Senate in this election cycle, as with Senator Gordly’s retirement the legislature loses its most unique voice, its most independent spirit, its most tireless champion for the underserved in every respect. Seniors and people living with disabilities, people living with mental illness, and racial and ethnic minorities would be first to feel the pain, the least likely to gain another champion.

The Senate also stands to lose ground as a mirror of its Oregon citizenry.

As Oregon experiences the pressures of its growing diversity, the Senate stands on the brink of moving in the opposite direction.

I waited for some months after Senator Gordly’s announcement, to see if any regular citizens would step up and enter the race. I focused instead on doing my job as Senator Gordly’s Chief of Staff. In any case, I had decided, out of respect for Senator Gordly, that I would not be the first to file for her seat.

I had no idea that the City Council had already made their commitments in the race.

State Representative Jackie Dingfelder began her campaign to replace Senator Gordly in late summer of 2007, opening with the endorsements of four Portland City Council members in her pocket.

While these endorsements were not a discouragement to me, as residents of East Portland rarely see them out here anyway, I felt that they would dampen the enthusiasm of other potential candidates and act as a deterrent to real citizen access to this process.

Endorsements like these also deter contributions and other support for grass-roots campaigns.

These City Council endorsements were announced some seven months before the deadline for candidate filings arrived, which brings us to the point of Voter Owned Elections, currently a death-rattle away from an ugly demise.

The race for Senate District 23 is, to the best of my knowledge, the only race that has drawn the Council members early interest.

There was no discussion, no opportunity to debate, no nothing prior to the endorsements, not even a competing candidate, just POW! Massive full-scale endorsements, many months prior to the filing deadline.

So much for democracy and inclusion, and that commitment to diversity that one often hears from City Hall and the County Commission.

One side of the mouth bespeaks grass roots, the other bald cronyism.

Later, in early fall, when the Carpenters Union and the American Federation of Teachers invited me in for candidate interviews even though I wasn’t in the race yet, I asked them why they were conducting these interviews so far in advance of the filing deadline. There is only one candidate in the race, I noted.

Neither group had an answer to the question.

How can you decide on a candidate now, when you don’t know who will be in the race?

Shrugs in response. The point, obviously, is that they don’t need to know who else might be in the race.

How does this process, and these early endorsements, benefit the constituents of Senate District 23?

I mulled this question over as the months passed by, but can think of no way in which this is a benefit to the senate district, to the community or to the state.

The special interest groups embody self-interest. No surprise there. It’s not about you, it’s about them, pure and simple. It says so right on the door.

Voter Owned Elections, however, speaks of a level of commitment to keep the doors to elected office open wide enough for more citizens to enter.

The people of the City of Portland are spending a lot of money on encouraging regular citizens to step up, a ton of enabling money flowing out of the Council.

But all of that VOE money pouring into local races swamps the limited funds available to citizen candidates in other races. Never level in the first place, the spillover into other races tilts the playing field further, inhibiting new voices.

The Council members early endorsements hinder fund raising for grass roots candidates and then the spending begins, and the grass roots campaigns cannot compete with the avalanche of media that the VOE money buys. You are screwed both ways.

The Council is a major factor promoting diversity and broadening citizen civic participation in Portland, but the old boy/girl factor is hard to beat, and the essential clubbiness of insiders a reminder that once a candidate crosses to the other side, they are different from you and me.

Now the field is closed. We have what we have. The early endorsements did their work, the candidates are few.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Coming soon:

Part 2: The inside story on special-interest group interviews and endorsements, and what this means for voters in Senate District 23 and beyond.

Part 3: Race and culture in Portland politics

Part 4. The impact of presidential campaigns on local democracy

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Blogolitical Sean supports Portland day labor site vote!

To Mayor Tom Potter and the four city council members who voted for the Voz day labor site contract: Bravo!

I also want to applaud your choice of Voz to administer the project. They are the key to a successful public partnership, and they will do a fine job for the city.

Your support for people who are willing to stand out on a sidewalk in all kinds of weather for an opportunity to do hard labor bespeaks also your good intentions in seeking a way to honor the great Mexican American hero, Cesar Chavez.

I did not support renaming either Interstate or Fourth Avenues, but I did recognize that you were sincere and that you suffered greatly.

May this day labor site prove salve to heal some wounds in the city, and know that they can never take the good that you do away from you.

--Sean Cruz

Voters must remember the wars

In its recent editorial titled “Voters must remember the wars”, The Oregonian reminded its readers of the ongoing loss of life, the human suffering and the multi--trillion–dollar expense of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and called for Senators McClain, Obama and Clinton to discuss Iraq at every campaign stop.

In what previous American war did the people and politicians need reminding?

In previous wars, even the noncombatants pulled at the oars, saving every reusable scrap of metal, paper, cardboard and glass for the war effort. People planted victory gardens, and they bought war bonds to help pay for the cost of the war.

At home, Americans lived behind blackout curtains and rationed fuel. They saved bits of wire and string, and volunteered their service in countless ways.

But that was a different America.

In today’s America, less than 1% of the nation carries the entire load of the war, and much of the debt will be paid by future generations. People cannot be bothered to save anything, nor to reduce their consumption of fuel, not even on Memorial Day, an opportunity to at least symbolize shared sacrifice.

In today’s America, consumerism reigns, and we call it freedom.

In Oregon, we unashamedly underfund our schools, relying on the sale of lottery tickets instead of enacting revenue reform, and we use a lottery to offer health care to the poor.

The nation is stressed over the economy and the coming recession, and yet none describe it as a war economy.

The sad fact is that the nation mostly accepts the current rate of loss in Iraq and Afghanistan, so long as it’s the same people that make the sacrifices, over and over, to the nth deployment. The nation will not consider expanding the pool, even if it would lead to an end to the war.

We Oregonians are about to send another 3,200 soldiers off to the war, some to die, some to survive with ruined lives, many to suffer the manifold consequences of sacrifice, even to the mental health of their own children, and yet we need reminding that there is a war.

The Oregonian editorial does not go far enough. Every political candidate for every political office must speak to the issue of the war in Afghanistan and the occupation of Iraq, and at every campaign stop.

It’s not simply the economy, stupid. It’s the war economy.

--Sean Cruz

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Why I am running for Oregon Senate District 23, pt 4 (for the veterans)

I have previously described my qualifications to succeed Senator Avel Gordly in the Oregon Senate in terms of my life experience in Parts 1 and 2, and in terms of my five years-plus of Senate legislative experience, as Senator Gordly’s Chief of Staff, in Part 3.

In Part 4, the focus is on our veterans and their families:

I am running to correct the under-representation of Oregon veterans and military families in the structure of the legislature itself, and to serve on a new Senate or Joint Veterans Affairs Committee in support of our veterans, our Guard members and their families.

My plan cuts straight to the heart of the problem, to the lack of a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee:

Unlike the other policy committees, where the Senate and House each have equivalent committees, the Oregon Senate has no counterpart to the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

In the Oregon House, all veterans-related legislation is heard and worked on in its Veterans Affairs Committee.

However, on the Senate side of the legislative process, veterans-related bills may be assigned to one or more of several committees, fracturing the discussion.

This means that no single senator hears all of the veterans bills, and that no panel of senators is responsible for the veterans agenda.

This fact results in far fewer veterans-related bills introduced and sponsored on the Senate side.

The absence of a Senate standing committee also overloads the work of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, resulting in the stranding of important legislation due to the lack of time and a Senate focal point.

This institutional problem is easily demonstrated by the results of the 2007 session:

During the 2007 session, 55 bills were heard in the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

Only three of these bills originated in the Senate, where there is no equivalent to the House committee.

Of the twenty-three veterans-related bills, resolutions and memorials that were passed during the 2007 session, twenty originated in the House.

The Senate produced only one veterans-related bill and two veterans-related resolutions in the 2007 session.

Twenty veterans-related bills were left stranded in House committees at the end of the 2007 session, all of them having originated in the House.

Had any of these bills passed their House committee and the House floor, they still would have had to find a Senate committee assignment and undergo the Senate process before reaching the Governor’s desk.

Two veterans-related bills passed the House but died in Senate committees.

More than five years into the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is well past time for the legislature to get on a war footing and work to meet the needs of those we send into battle.

I ask for your support, to send me to the Oregon Senate, for the veterans and their families, to serve on a new Senate or Joint Veterans Affairs Committee.

--Sean Cruz

These are the veterans-related bills that were stranded in the 2007 session:

Veterans bills stranded in committee at the end of the 2007 session

18 House bills
4 House resolutions
0 Senate bills
0 Senate resolutions
22 bills stranded at end of session

HB 2013 Oregon Military Family Relief Program; appropriating money;
5-1 (H) Recommendation: Do pass, be referred to Revenue, and then referred to Ways and Means by prior reference.6-28 (H) In committee upon adjournment.

HB 2400A Physician tax incentives.
4-13 (H) Referred to Revenue by prior reference.5-17 (H) Public Hearing held.6-28 (H) In committee upon adjournment.

HB 2522 Veterans' health benefits.
1-31 (H) Referred to Veterans Affairs.6-28 (H) In committee upon adjournment.

HB 2547 Disabled war veteran benefits.
2-12 (H) Referred to Veterans Affairs with subsequent referral to Revenue.2-27 (H) Public Hearing held.6-28 (H) In committee upon adjournment.

HB 2577 Oregon Troops to Teachers program.
2-21 (H) Recommendation: Do pass and be referred to Ways and Means by prior reference.2-21 (H) Referred to Ways and Means by prior reference.6-28 (H) In committee upon adjournment.

HB 2631 State Parks and Recreation Commission.
2-14 (H) Referred to Veterans Affairs.6-28 (H) In committee upon adjournment.

HB 2771 Licenses issued by the State Fish and Wildlife Commission.
2-26 (H) Referred to Veterans Affairs with subsequent referral to Ways and Means.3-22 (H) Public Hearing held.6-28 (H) In committee upon adjournment.

HB 3196A Eligibility of disabled veterans for Oregon Health Plan benefits.
5-4 (H) Recommendation: Do pass with amendments, and be referred to Ways and Means by prior reference.5-4 (H) Referred to Ways and Means by prior reference.6-28 (H) In committee upon adjournment.

HB 3197A TRICARE program
5-4 (H) Referred to Revenue by prior reference.5-17 (H) Public Hearing held.6-28 (H) In committee upon adjournment

HB 3198 Oregon military emergency financial assistance; appropriating money; declaring an emergency.
6-28 (H) Third reading. Carried by Richardson. Passed.6-28 (S) First reading. Referred to Rules Committee.6-28 (S) In committee upon adjournment.

HB 3199 Oregon National Guard Youth Challenge Program; declaring an emergency.
3-29 (H) Without recommendation as to passage, be referred to Education, and then to Revenue by prior reference.3-29 (H) Referred to Education by order of Speaker.6-28 (H) In committee upon adjournment.

HB 3200 Oregon National Guard Youth Challenge Program; appropriating money; declaring an emergency.
3-29 (H) Without recommendation as to passage, be referred to Education, and then to Ways and Means by prior reference.3-29 (H) Referred to Education by order of Speaker.6-28 (H) In committee upon adjournment.

HB 3202A Modifications of federal taxable income.
5-7 (H) Referred to Revenue by prior reference.5-17 (H) Public Hearing held.6-28 (H) In committee upon adjournment.

HB 3205A Tax credits for veterans.
5-4 (H) Referred to Revenue by prior reference.5-17 (H) Public Hearing held.6-28 (H) In committee upon adjournment.

HB 3294A Veterans' services.
6-18 (S) Referred to Rules.6-28 (S) In committee upon adjournment.

HB 3237 Veterans' preferences; declaring an emergency.
3-19 (H) Referred to Veterans Affairs.6-28 (H) In committee upon adjournment.

HB 3305 taxation.
3-14 (H) Referred to Veterans Affairs with subsequent referral to Revenue.3-27 (H) Public Hearing held.6-28 (H) In committee upon adjournment.

HB 3308A Education benefits for members of Oregon National Guard.
5-11 (H) Recommendation: Do pass with amendments, be printed A-Engrossed, and be referred to Ways and Means by prior reference.5-11 (H) Referred to Ways and Means by prior reference.6-28 (H) In committee upon adjournment.

Resolutions stranded in Committee

HJR 52 Proposing amendment to Oregon Constitution” Protests at funerals.
3-9 (H) Referred to Veterans Affairs.4-12 (H) Public Hearing held.6-28 (H) In committee upon adjournment.

HJR 38 Proposing amendment to Oregon Constitution: State Lottery.
5-11 (H) Recommendation: Be adopted and be referred to Elections, Ethics and Rules by prior reference.5-11 (H) Referred to Elections, Ethics and Rules by prior reference.6-28 (H) In committee upon adjournment.

HJR 39 Proposing amendment to Oregon Constitution: Eligibility for farm and home loans from Oregon War Veterans' Fund.
3-9 (H) Referred to Veterans Affairs.6-28 (H) In committee upon adjournment.

HJR 23 Proposing amendment to Oregon Constitution: State Lottery.
3-5 (H) Referred to Veterans Affairs with subsequent referral to Elections, Ethics and Rules.4-10 (H) Public Hearing held.6-28 (H) In committee upon adjournment.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Portland Monthly Magazine feature scores support for "The Underdog" Sean Cruz, candidate for Senate District 23

Portland, Oregon --“The Underdog” feature in Portland Monthly Magazine drew this comment by email today from reader Nan W.: “I've long admired Avel Gordly, and agree that you should take her place. I wish you the very best of luck with your campaign!”

Here is Nan’s comment in full:

Mr. Cruz,

My name is (Nan W.), and I've lived in P-town for all but the first couple of my 53 years. I grew up in NW Portland, where I moved back to, from the industrial ghetto of close-in SE in 2001, while earning my BA at PSU. (Back when I was a Lincoln High student, I used to love to walk through the historical warehouse district I now occasionally refer to as the "hurl" district....And while I'm appalled at both the rate and degree of development here--as well as the rest of the city, for that matter--and saddened at the loss of our collective history, aka cobblestone streets, I'd still rather be a renter here than over there.)

Unfortunately, my (combination of two) spinal problems, worsening for a decade, finally rendered me unemployable two years ago, and I'm now well-into a long, hard slog to get help from Social Security, so that I'll again be at least semi-employable; able to walk fast; make art and maybe even dance again! This month's copy of Portland Monthly came from the dentist's office, which I thought you should know, for while I'm certainly smart and (bien sur!) sophisticated enough to fit their demographic, I do not have the money to buy a copy of my own!

I'll try to keep this brief, as I'm not one of your constituents, but after reading the article I felt compelled to respond--though now that I'm typing this, am wondering what, if anything, I have to say that won't just sound like fan-mail! (Quelle horreur!) I was impressed by your honesty and openness about your life-path, and read nothing in that article (or on your blog,) that would prevent me from voting for you. Quite the opposite, in fact.

As a lifelong progressive (and independent thinker) I've long been fed-up with the status quo, and wish more "real" folks cared enough to get involved as you have.

Like you, I struggle with depression--made worse by the situation I now find myself in--so don't write as many letters/emails as I should to commissioners, legislators, etc. I'm a fighter by nature though, so sooner or later I will find a way to get more involved in my city and/or state that doesn't care what happens to citizens like me! (The average wait for Social Security is now 2-3 years, and the Oregon legislature de-funded general assistance in '03, which I find absolutely unconscionable.)

My daily struggle is to keep from becoming homeless AND to get treatment through OHP. Luckily, I'm now on OHP Plus, so there is hope! I still have much to be grateful for.

OK, I'm going to stop rambling now! For whatever it's worth, I was both moved and inspired by the Portland Monthly article, and will be checking your blog to see how things progress. I've long admired Avel Gordly, and agree that you should take her place. I wish you the very best of luck with your campaign!

Nan W.


Many, many thanks to you, Nan W. Access to health care is one of Avel Gordly’s core issues, and I am committed to carry on her work serving on the Senate Health and Human Services Committee upon her retirement.




Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Notes from the Underdog, Part 1

Portland Monthly Magazine’s current (March) feature on the Sean Cruz for Senate campaign, titled “The Underdog” has inspired me to share a page from the Sean Cruz for Senate campaign manual:

“Campaigning for public office is like swimming in the ocean. Paddle hard, keep your head above water, but be aware that the ocean will go its own way.”

Facts to consider:

1. The Oregon legislature has no better than a 30% approval rating among voters, a serious problem for any incumbent or career politician in the presence of a qualified challenger (Ahem!)

2. An incumbent or career politician enjoys large advantages, such as easy access to PAC money and endorsements and the support of lobbying organizations and special interest groups, but Oregon voters have the luxury of weeks to become independently informed and make their decisions final and the opportunity to cast secret ballots in the privacy of their own homes (Hurray for the secret ballot!).

3. Voters everywhere are frustrated at the lack of meaningful campaign finance reform and the sense that the next election will bring more of the same. They are open to new ideas that free campaign financing from special interests. This is the essential dilemma for candidates that rely on PAC money (see point #1 and #2).

4. The Oregon 2008 primary will feature vigorously-fought presidential and U.S Senate races that are attracting many new voters. These voters want to see change happen, and they are aching for new voices in politics at all levels (see point #1).

5. The several publicly-funded races for Portland Mayor and City Commissioner have primary budgets much larger than those in local legislative races, insuring a flood of campaign advertising that will try patience and produce heaps of recycling. The retention rate will be low, and bulk mailing is costly.

6. In my race, Senate District 23, voters will not have to struggle with nuances between candidates. The differences are significant and easy to distinguish.

7. All roads lead to the Voters Pamphlet (I’ll see you there!).


Monday, March 03, 2008

Oregon Senate District 23 Candidate Sean Cruz featured in Portland Monthly Magazine!

The March issue of Portland Monthly Magazine is on the newsstands and in the hands of its subscribers with a feature article titled “The Underdog,” referring to yours truly.

The article underscores in its own way that this race for the May 20 Democratic primary is about issues, ideas, and the best fit to succeed the retiring Senator Avel Gordly.

Actually, I’m not that big an underdog. My full-time job for the past five years has been--and is—serving the constituents of Senate District 23, and I am running on that record. There is campaigning, and then there is providing the service.

Much of my work is reflected on Senator Gordly’s website at

My web-based campaign is also my contribution to campaign finance reform, and I am completely confident that if I can reach you electronically, I can reach you effectively the same way, and at little or no cost.

I have not actively sought special-interest endorsements or funding, and many of the endorsements the article refers to have little connection to the constituents of Senate District 23, or to the issues that really matter. More on this later.

The magazine’s website hasn’t been updated yet, still has the February issue posted, but here’s the link anyway:

Here is the demographic and circulation info for Portland Monthly, FYI:

Portland Monthly has a Circulation Verification Council-audited readership of more than 165,200 readers per issue, and a circulation of 56,000, of which more than 21,000 are subscribers. The magazine’s circulation strategy utilizes three major distribution channels:

NEWSSTAND: Portland Monthly is available at more than 450 newsstands, specialty grocery stores and local retailers across metropolitan Portland, nearly all of which give the magazine prominent check-out aisle placement. Retailers include: Fred Meyer, Safeway, Albertson’s, QFC, Whole Foods, Zupan’s, New Seasons, Wild Oats (i.e., Nature’s), Powell’s, Borders and Barnes & Noble, as well as key airport locations and many more.

SUBSCRIPTION & LOBBY COPIES: In addition to the magazine’s ever-growing paid home and office subscriber base, over 6,000 copies of Portland Monthly are placed in intensely high readership and pass-along venues, such as prominent hotels, hospitals, physicians’ and attorneys’ offices.

Portland Monthly is unlike any other city magazine ever launched in metropolitan Portland. Since debuting in October, 2003, the publication has become the best-selling magazine in Portland over any local or national title, by a nearly two-to-one ratio. After only a year in print, it has established itself as the city’s premier print media vehicle for advertisers seeking to reach affluent, active residents of the Portland metro area and beyond.

Portland Monthly magazine readers are cosmopolitan Metro Portlanders who enjoy the sophisticated life. They define themselves by their life experiences, their accomplishments and interests. Willing to spend time, energy and money on any number of consumer passions, the Portland Monthly reader is an active individual who enjoys travel, fitness, dining, spas, entertainment and antiquing.

Portland Monthly readers are culturally minded people who enjoy movies, concerts, museums and theater. For these individuals, Portland Monthly is their primary guide.