By Representative Rob Nosse
Greetings from your State Representative! This is my inaugural column, and I hope to do this every couple of months. I just got done serving for the first time as your Representative in the 2015 Legislative Session, and it was an honor to represent SE & NE Portland.
This being my first term, I am frequently asked “What did you learn?” The answer is quite a bit, but here are the most important things:
1. Listening is more valuable than talking – Many of the issues our Legislature makes decisions about are difficult and complex. Everyone you meet with, whether you agree or disagree, has reasons for believing what they do. I was always better off when I kept my ears open and listened rather than thinking I knew everything already.
2. Preparation is critical to success – Passing legislation is not easy. The Legislative Session starts in February, and if you start working on your bills in January, you are already behind. If you want to pass a bill, especially one that is controversial, you need to begin organizing support months in advance.
3. Keeping an open mind is a way to show respect – One thing I tried to do was meet with people on all sides of an issue, even when I had a sense of which side I agreed with. I learned things that broadened my perspective. Taking the time to meet with someone and listen shows respect for them and their work. This allows you to partner with them in the future when you agree on a different issue.
4. The best way to make friends is to be friendly – As a freshman Legislator, you have 89 other legislators to get to know, and many of them have been in office for years. I often asked for advice from long-time legislators from both parties. It was an easy way to learn and pick up valuable pointers.
5. The only way to succeed is to do the work – If you want someone to vote for your bill, you have ask them, and the best way to persuade someone to change their mind is to talk to them. You might not succeed, but you will learn more about why they disagree and how you can make your bill better. If you aren’t willing to do the work of gathering support for your bills, you will have a hard time passing your legislation.
These are among the most important things I learned. I look forward to putting these lessons into action heading into the 2016 short Legislative Session.
By the way, if you want to reach me about a bill or you want to talk to me about an idea or a concern you have, contact me at 503.986.1442 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am always happy to talk with my constituents.