When Oregon State Senator Avel Gordly offered me the opportunity to serve on her staff prior to the 2003 legislative session, I only had one concern at the time: would we be working to improve the living and working conditions of Oregon’s farm workers?
Note that this conversation took place before the invasion of Iraq, before the Bush/Cheney administration’s gross misuse of the National Guard, before stop-loss and the many other breaches of faith with the nation’s military personnel and with our veterans and their families.
Back in 2002, I wanted to know whether we would serve as the voice for the voiceless.
Her affirmative response brought me on board, and one of the first bills she sponsored in the 2003 session addressed the discriminatory language in ORS statutes that specifically denied farm workers—and farm workers alone—the right to meal and restroom breaks during the workday.
That bill did not get a hearing, underscoring the fact that Oregon’s farmworkers (and Oregon’s Hispanic and Latino communities) have no real voice in the legislature and—with Senator Gordly’s retirement—no reliable friends there either.
Working with Bureau of Labor and Industries Commissioner Dan Gardner, we worked around the legislature to extend these basic rights to agricultural workers by administrative action, which became effective February 1, 2004.
Now I’ve been offered an opportunity to work with the Oregon Human Development Corporation (OHDC) out of the Gresham office, located in the Rockwood neighborhood, and I am transitioning to this next stage in my career.
My job will be to help our mostly Spanish-speaking clients transition successfully to new jobs that offer more stability and opportunity than farm work.
Here’s the link to OHDC: http://www.ohdc.org/
Our mission statement is “To promote economic and social advancement of farm workers, Hispanics and disadvantaged individuals through the provision of education, training, advocacy and services that enhance self-sufficiency.”
The most significant new challenge for me in this opportunity is to gain fluency in Spanish, and now I have the opportunity to speak, read and write every day.
I have been meeting with many of the array of partners that OHDC works with, mostly in East Multnomah County, and I look forward to contributing to the community in this new capacity.
Veterans and military family issues remain at the center of my agenda should the voters decide to send me to represent Senate District 23 in the November general election.
There is no need to look further than the record itself to see that veterans and military families have no champion in the Oregon Senate.
Sending my opponent to the Senate will not change that fact at all. Jackie
Dingfelder is only dimly aware that the nation is at war, and she believes that it is someone else’s responsibility in Washington D.C. to deal with it.
For me, veterans and military families have top priority.
I look forward to the coming fall campaign; meanwhile, andale!
The Oregonian Editorial Board on Senate District 23:
“(Sean) 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. “