By Representative Rob Nosse
I will always remember where I was when I heard that Donald Trump won the 2016 election for President.
I had just left the Convention Center where Democrats and liberals and progressive activists had been gathering to watch election returns and celebrate. Then Hillary Clinton lost Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, the state of my birth. I started to get worried. I left the Convention Center around 11 pm trying to be hopeful as my friends were growing more concerned. I kept saying “it will be better in the morning — some states are still too close to call.”
My car’s radio is on the fritz. It works when it wants to. I had to drive home in silence. My son is away at college and my daughter and her other dad were away touring a potential college she wants to attend next year. I came home worried to an empty house.
Something made me turn on the radio. To my shock Donald Trump was announcing that he had just gotten a call from Hilary Clinton and that she had conceded and congratulated him on running a tough race. Somehow I fell asleep after that, only to bolt awake at 5 am again listening to the radio and learning that the Republicans had retained control of the US Congress and the US Senate. My party was completely out of power at the national level.
As freaked out and worried as I might be, I cannot live in constant despair. We will have to soldier on. Life is struggle. We must rejoice in the struggle and organize if we are going to resist the negative consequences of this election and either make changes here locally or in our state and ideally set a stage to make change in 2018.
In my first term as a legislator, I’ve learned that there is no such thing as an easy bill. With that said, when you work toward a good cause, the hard work is always worth it. In the months to come, I will be taking on some pretty ambitious legislative goals.
A big priority for me, one that I’ve been passionate about even before I thought of running for office, is paid family leave. New parents should be able to tend to a newborn baby with pay or tend to a loved one without worrying about whether or not they will have a job to return to and the income they need.
I want to strengthen laws that protect the LGBTQ community. We need to make it easier for transgender Oregonians to update their names and gender on government forms and paperwork, including driver’s licenses and birth certificates.
Oregon lags behind the rest of the west coast when it comes to controlling diesel emissions, and it’s time we caught up. I will definitely be working with other legislators to clean this problem up.
I have said it many times that what happened with Bullseye Glass was a real wake-up call for me. To that end, I am spearheading a toxics “right to know” bill, so Oregonians can see what’s in the air we breathe. Hopefully, making that information public and easily accessible will put pressure on polluters to use better practices.
Over half of the residents in our city rent a place to live, and their costs are skyrocketing. We need to repeal the statewide ban on rent control so that we can talk about some form of rent stabilization in our community, even if it is only temporary.
I have been leading a legislative work group for over a year trying to figure out how to make prescription drugs more affordable. I really want to figure that out as well.
This election has also made clear that many voters feel left out economically and disenfranchised politically. That means we need to create more jobs, and ensure people with jobs are paid adequate wages, and that workers’ rights are protected.
I fully expect to see bills, probably somewhat in response to what might come from our Federal Government, to strengthen laws we have here in our state with regard to protections against discrimination, protections for immigrants, and reproductive health for women. I will absolutely support those bills, and work to ensure their passage.
Despite the failure of Measure 97, we still need more revenue to pay for schools and health care. I will be actively working to find ways to have big corporations pay more in taxes in order to make that happen.
I wanted to make a point of highlighting these legislative endeavors to let those of you who have been discouraged by this election know that there is still good work being done, and there are still causes worth fighting for.
The only thing that has ever changed anything is solidarity. Groups of people in community coming together united to make changes. I would strongly encourage anyone reading this column to get involved in a community organization that works on an issue that you feel passionately about. That’s how we keep moving forward. That’s how we make change.