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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Across Oregon, the People are hurting

Portland, Oregon--

In Multnomah County, in Senate District 23, the People are hurting.

In House District 45 and House District 46, the People are hurting.

In Multnomah County, more than 92,000 people are receiving food stamps, many in allotments that last for one trip to the grocery store. The People are hurting.

Nearly 6,000 Multnomah County “households” receiving food stamps report they are homeless. On the average, their monthly food stamp allotment (for 1.1 persons) is $155. The People are hurting.

More than 15,000 Multnomah County households receiving food stamps report zero income. The average allotment is $214 for 1.5 persons. The People are hurting.

Food pantries and the Oregon Food Bank warehouse cannot keep pace.

Rising prices for fuel and food are creating a worldwide hunger crisis.

The People are hurting, and the work is hard.

Many thousands of our constituents lack access to affordable health care. Many thousands more lack access to dental care.

Oregon has a dual lottery system now, one so a few thousand can gain access to the Oregon Health Plan, a fraction of those in need, and one that concentrates millions of dollars into the hands of one lucky winner.

Is there no limit to the shame?

The People are hurting, and the work is hard.

And it is the poor children, the poorest of the poor, left out of Head Start and early education programs.

In the last recession, Oregon legislators cut services to seniors and people living with disabilities. Our most vulnerable populations lost housing, lost employment, lost services, took unconscionable cuts to Oregon Project Independence, and the death rate among the elderly soared.

The cuts fell with particular cruelty on the frailest, the most fragile elderly, who were mostly women. There was testimony in 2003 before the Senate Health Committee that these ladies had outlived their husbands, their children, their entire families. When they were of working age, these women were full time homemakers, staying home and raising the kids.

If they worked, they were generally paid less than men for equivalent work.

So here they were, in 2003, and the state was cutting off their housing, and the stress alone caused many to die.

You had to be in the committee room to hear this testimony and see the ladies in their wheelchairs and walkers, some asleep during the hearing.

The People are hurting, the work is hard, and there is much more work to do.

You cannot do this work from the Senate Environmental and Natural Resources Committee.

You have to be in the room, working directly on the issues, working directly on finding solutions, easing pain and suffering, coming in close contact with pain and suffering.

Not every legislator is up to that task. You have to be cut from a very special bolt of cloth to serve on a legislative health policy committee.

Avel Gordly devoted 16 years of her life to standing in the gap for Oregon’s underserved populations in a stellar, historic legislative career. The Senate is losing its “conscience,” its champion for the people at the bottom, for the People who are hurting the most.

Senator Gordly’s departure leaves a vacancy on the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, and that is where I will serve, working where the People are hurting the most.

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

With Senator Avel 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.

Sean Cruz, May 15, 2008


Send me to Salem!!!

Here are the links to my sites:

Blogolitical Sean:

Sean Cruz for Senate District 23:

Senate District 23:


The Oregonian Editorial Board on Senate District 23:

“Cruz…knows the issues well…”

“Sean Cruz, who has served as (Senator) Gordly's legislative aide and chief of staff for the past five years…is qualified for the job. He knows the issues that are important in the district, and he certainly knows how things get done in the Legislature. Most notably, he persuaded Gordly to push legislation, called ‘Aaron's Law,’ that gives families tools to punish parents for the crime of child abduction. “


Ridenbaugh Press on Senate District 23:

As in many of these primary districts, issues here aren’t distinctly philosophical: The 23rd is a solidly liberal Democratic district, and both contenders fit well within that framework.

But they are insiders of two distinctly different stripes.

Dingfelder, a four-term state representative from this area, would have to be considered the establishment choice, getting the larger share of endorsements and contributions.

But Cruz is not an outsider, either; he is retiring Senator Gordly’s Chief of Staff, is well informed, has her support and the support of her backers.

His campaign has hit rough patches but may also be more interesting to some of the primary voters.

Cruz is edgier; Dingfelder more easy-going. You have to figure the edge is with Dingfelder, but bear in mind that central Portland doesn’t always go the conventional route.

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