Representatively Speaking September 2020

By State Representative Rob Nosse

I have been your Representative in the State Legislature for almost six years and am heading into my fourth term. Rather than reflect on something going on in politics either federally or locally, I would like to share a little bit about who I am personally.

The personality of a politician matters quite a bit, as President Trump demonstrates daily. In fact, most other politicians spend a fair amount of their time trying to understand their peers if they want to know how to befriend them and find ways to persuade them.

Here is why. We deal with a lot of topics and a lot of complexity in our state legislature. I vote on agricultural and forestry practices as well as education and healthcare policy and even bills about what judges should be paid.

When a politician does not know what they think about a topic and are struggling to figure something out, their core values and experiences will inform their priorities and ultimately their vote. Here are a few things about me you might not know about that make me tick.

I was born in 1967 to Bob and Gloria Nosse. I am the oldest of four children. I grew up with two younger brothers and then my sister came along when I was 16. My parents were not part of the counterculture movement in the 1960s.

We lived in a small town in northeast Ohio where my dad worked for a utility company. It provided him a good salary that allowed my mom to stay home and raise us kids. Life was good. I grew up on a country road with lots of other kids our age. My brothers and I loved Star Wars and playing outside.

I went to Catholic grade school and high school. To this day, I still regularly attend Sunday services at my local parish in SE Portland. This despite my profound disagreements with the Catholic Church on its positions on abortion, the role of women in the church, and same sex marriage.

I am strongly pro-choice and the marriage I share with my husband, Jim Laden, is the most important relationship of my life. Jim and I met in August of 1992, three months after I moved to Oregon. We now have two grown children whom we adopted in 2000, one three-year old grandson and a granddaughter on the way.

At some point in my youth, I realized that not possessing any athletic ability set me apart from some of my friends. In many ways I was an awkward teenager in high school, but I still have fond memories of good friends and fun experiences. One of the best parts of my teen years was working at the local pizza parlor in town; a job I held for years.

I graduated from St. Vincent/St. Mary in Akron, OH, where LeBron James is an alumnus. After that, I headed off to Miami University in Oxford, OH because it was the best state school I got into. I majored in liberal arts and began to find my tribe.

The university not only gave me a good education, but also fostered a campus culture where I gained the confidence to run for student government and win.

I was student body president my senior year in college. One of my tasks in that role was to monitor the Ohio Legislature for changes to tuition and financial aid, something I could not easily do being three hours away from Columbus, the State Capitol, with no car.

I spent three years in Ohio starting a student association to advocate for student interests. That is what got me here to Oregon – to run the Oregon Student Association for four years in the early 1990s; an experience that started me on the path that has led me to serving as a member of our legislature.

It was during my first year out of college working in Columbus and then here in Oregon that I figured out I was gay. There was still a great deal of stigma against gay people in rural Ohio in the early 90s and Oregon was not much better when I moved here. It was rough, at first, but I got over it and came to accept myself.

When it came time to stop being a professional student activist, I went to work for the labor movement. I have worked for three different unions since the 1990s, most recently the Oregon Nurses Association.

Helping to foster solidarity at work and in the community is one of the things I am most passionate about. The student movement, the gay rights movement and the civil rights movement all take many cues and tactics from the labor movement in terms of organizing and building power.

In 2000, Jim and I adopted two kids through the Department of Child Welfare. After committing to Jim, it was the second-best decision I have ever made. I cannot imagine my life without our two kids, our grandson and now a granddaughter on the way.

My desire to create a better life for them and other young people is strong motivation to be involved in politics, along with my time in the student and labor movements and the LGBTQ movement.

So, that’s a little about what makes me tick, my family, my faith, my sexuality, my career and my education. Probably all the things that make anyone else tick, for that matter.

Many of my legislative priorities have focused on those areas as well, whether it was banning conversion therapy, standing up for healthcare workers or a tax system that raises enough money for schools.

I am proud to serve this district and its residents and I look forward to lifting up your priorities as best as I can in the coming months.

Representatively Speaking September 2020

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