by Karen Hery
Have You Met This Man?
For half a year, he knocked on doors in the inner SE; lots of doors. Over 9,000 doors. If you opened your door to one of those knocks, he was introducing himself as one of six candidates running for Oregon State Representative.
The irony isn’t lost on Rob Nosse that more than $250,000 was spent in campaign funds, a great deal of it from the Oregon Nurse’s Association where he works as a labor organizer, so he can now look forward to earning $21,000 a year representing the Brooklyn, Buckman, Hawthorne, Sunnsyide, Ladds and Kerns neighborhoods, otherwise known as District 42.
With no Republican or independent candidate slated to run in the November elections, Nosse’s appointment as State Representative was finalized in late June and he will be sworn in Salem in early July.
Nosse has 2,694 registered Democrats to thank for voting him into office. That’s 740 more votes than for the second runner up, Teddy Keizer. Nosse walks in to Salem with 49% of the collected votes in the most crowded district primary race in Oregon this year.
There is a state initiative started by Portland businessman, James Kelly, collecting enough signatures to force a November vote to decide if we should change the general election nomination process.
A yes vote on the initiative would provide a single primary ballot listing all candidates to be voted on by all registered voters, regardless of their party affiliation, with the top two candidates advancing to the general elections.
In a district so blue that there are nine times as many Democrats as Republicans (25,072 registered democrats at the time of the primary elections in May to only 2,715 Republicans) and over 15,000 non party affiliated voters, a change in the nomination process might just have meant Nosse needed to knock on more doors for another 6 months and spend even more to get to the same place.
Jules Bailey, now an elected County Commissioner, leaves behind the District 42 office he first won in 2008 when Diane Rosenbaum moved on to run for State Senate.
Nosse will have to carve out his own highs and lows like the “Innovator of the Year” award Bailey received from Oregon League of Conservation Voters (OLCV) for promoting the renewables industry during the 2009 legislative session.
That was followed by the “Cars Rejuvenating Carbon”; a mock environmental award he received at an OLCV meeting for voting in favor of the Columbia River Crossing mega highway project in 2013.
He ran on campaign promises to bring more funding to public schools, to strive for universal healthcare and for equal rights.
Sitting in a coffee shop on Belmont with the nomination at hand (and no more doors to knock on), Nosse can enjoy looking at both the big picture and the simpler things he believes he can affect most.
“Of course, I very much want to be known as a representative doing significant things to affect climate change.” says Nosse. “I also know there are more manageable, mundane things that need doing like putting in the changes needed in state legal language now that we have gay marriage in Oregon.”
Nosse went to Canada in 2003 to marry his partner, Jim, who coordinates Americorps volunteers in school-based food and nutrition programs. Their son and daughter both attend Franklin High School near their home in the Richmond neighborhood at 47th and Hawthorne Blvd.
Their son Helzao spent his spring break helping with Nosse’s campaign. Their daughter, Elisia, saw first-hand how stressful working and running a campaign was for Nosse.
Nosse has been taking vacation time from the Oregon Nurses Association to meet his first set of political obligations and will take a leave of absence during state sessions.
He has mixed feelings about which is best: the full time legislative roles in states like California or part-time roles set up in Oregon and Washington.
Full time or part time, he has his eye on the work being done in Seattle to raise the minimum wage and hopes to help spread the paid sick leave legislation now in place in Portland to all of Oregon.
In case you are wondering what kinds of issues constitute a connection with our State Representative, you might be surprised what falls under state jurisdiction.
For example, Powell Blvd. is also Oregon State Highway 26 and where it shares space with a railroad crossing, there will be more than the city of Portland involved.
That house being built next door to you that fills the whole lot? Nosse may share the same feelings about set-backs and demolition practices that you do, but he’ll be sending his emails to the City of Portland just like the rest of us.
Until Nosse’s office in Salem and satellite office in the district get set up, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.