Why do you think an organization like the League of Minority Voters (LMV) is important?
Change comes from people-powered organization, and in a white supremacist society, it is vital for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) to organize politically and participate collectively in the political process in order to build the movement for racial justice. Organizations like LMV have the power to shape candidates’ platforms, to influence other voters, and to determine the outcome of elections – in ways that will directly benefit communities of color. Your work is instrumental to achieving the goals of racial justice and equity in our community and country, and your mission is absolutely vital.
Racism and bigotry still lives on globally. How would you approach dealing with this ongoing issue if elected?
Racism, and specifically white supremacy, is structural, cultural, and individual. In order to overcome it, all three of these dimensions must be addressed. My approach as a lawmaker will always be to tackle structural racism directly and at its roots. This means identifying and amplifying the ways that a policy will impact BIPOC, or developing strategies tailor a policy that can remedy historic harms (for example, prioritizing Environmental Justice communities for clean energy investments, making sure Black-owned businesses are not shut out of COVID relief because of modern day redlining, or ensuring rural development grants to farmers of color who often lease land rather than own it.) Fundamentally, my mission will be to address the harms of racial capitalism and create a more fair, just, and compassionate society. To address the cultural aspects of white supremacy, my approach as a political figure will always be to use my platform and influence to uplift racial justice messages and voices, and to exert cultural influence where I can. I believe that it is particularly important for white people to be strong racial justice champions when speaking to white communities, and to work to change the dominant white culture and challenge racist language, ideas, and attitudes among whites. On the individual level, I will do all I can to continue to be humble in facing the ways that white supremacy has shaped my own experience as a white person, and lead with integrity and accountability. To do all of this will require strong working relationships with communities of color, and I will work every day to earn the trust of my constituents of color, and to be accessible and accountable. My office will be committed to serving a multi-cultrual Oregon and will strive to build an anti-racist culture in how we legislate, serve constituents, run our operations, and lead our movement.
Our criminal justice system disproportionately affects communities of color. What kind of reforms would you advocate for?
We must dismantle the Prison Industrial Complex. Any nation that incarcerates more people than it sends to college is morally bankrupt, and when 1 in 3 Black men in our country have been incarcerated, it is abjectly racist. It is time to transform our criminal justice system and take down the prison industry that has ballooned since the passage of the 1994 Crime Bill. This begins with a ban on private prisons and detention centers; profiteering from incarceration is immoral. But much of the mass incarceration in our country is public, and ending it requires undoing criminalization policies like cash bail, three strikes laws, mandatory minimums, and providing increased support for education, mental health, addiction services, and job training. Programs like Eugene’s “Re-entry court” can be a model for ensuring that those who are incarcerated have the support to transition successfully upon release. Over-criminalization is a policy choice, and one that is driven by anti-Black racism. I also support decriminalizing marijuana nationwide, expunging records, and restoring justice to individuals and communities that have been devastated by the war on drugs by ensuring that communities that were over-policed and over-incarcerated are first in line for cannabis investment, jobs, and opportunities. Police and vigilante violence against Black people is an epidemic and we must restore and increase federal oversight by the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ of local law enforcement involved in police brutality or police murder, as well as mandate training in implicit bias and de escalation for every officer nationwide. Programs like Eugene’s CAHOOTS can offer a model of intervention that is based in health and social welfare, rather than law enforcement that can also provide a new framework.
Similarly, environmental injustice impacts low-income communities and communities of color. What are some examples you have come across in Oregon? How would you address these negative impacts?
The Jordan Cove project plan requires a gas compressor station in Malin, Oregon, adjacent to the Klamath Tribal communities of Southeastern Oregon. This facility would increase air pollution that would directly harm nearby residents, who are mostly Native American, causing spikes in respiratory illnesses like asthma, particularly among children. This is the environmental racism that is inherent in our current polluting fossil fuel energy system, which more often than not poisons the air and water of communities of color, resulting in poorer health, and shorter lifespans than in white communities. The Jordan Cove project also threatens the cultural resources of the Klamath and other Tribal communities, such as salmon and sucker fish, and sacred sites. The construction of the pipeline will require the use of “man camps,” which have been linked to increased violence against Native American women and girls, and the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. That is why I join the Klamath Tribe, and thousands of others, opposed to the Jordan Cove project and will do everything I can to stop it.
The largest source of air pollution in Eugene is the Seneca biomass plant in West Eugene. Beyond Toxics and the NAACP of Springfield/Eugene have documented the poorer air quality in this part of town, where more lower income people and BIPOC reside, and the health effects such as respiratory illness. This is a plant that was built with the support of our Congressman, who lobbied to have burning trees classified as “renewable energy” as part of the Biomass Caucus in Congress, as this was backed by the timber industry. I would fight to reverse this classification, and champion truly clean energy that does not poison and weaken the lungs of our West Eugene children, such as solar and wind energy, or threaten increased deforestation.
In my work with OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, I supported their efforts to bring public transit to underserved neighborhoods of East Portland, to fight back against Trimet fare increases and over-policing of fare enforcement, and to win a “youth pass,” providing free transit for young people across Oregon. I support Universal Public Transit as part of any transportation policy, and do not support building freeways that increase air pollution in communities of color.
What are you already doing and what will you do for undocumented immigrants and families who are torn apart in our community/nation if you are elected?
I have spent over a decade working to support grassroots organizations fighting for workplace dignity and full citizenship for the low-wage, largely immigrant workers in the National Day Laborers Organizing Network, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Families Belong Together, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, and other organizations. In my campaign I am working closely with undocumented and mixed status supporters who attended our Latinx rountable to shape our platform on immigrant rights, and I have been outspoken about the urgency of closing the camps at the southern border, reuniting families (including reparations for these families), and prosecuting kidnappers and abusers. While I have been unrelenting in my criticism of Trump for these atrocities, I have also been calling out the anti-immigrant record of the Democrats who supported creating ICE and the deportation machine, and I have been vocal about the the incumbent’s record, making it clear that Democrats cannot support Trump’s immigration policies and expect not to be challenged in their reelections. If elected, I will be a strong champion for the migrant justice platform, a comprehensive vision developed by immigrant rights leaders to address immediate relief like restoring TPS protections and passing the DREAM Act, and longer term changes that would bring justice, compassion, and fairness to our immigration system. (migrantjusticeplatform.org)
Civil Rights are the rights of citizens to political and social freedom and equality. However, access to these rights are not always equitable. What do you think of Affirmative Action policies and protections? If you’re a supporter, please explain why.
I am a supporter and will defend Affirmative Action strongly in Congress. I believe that the United States has been giving affirmative action to white people (and white men in particular) since its inception, and that unfair conference of advantage must be corrected. If we want to achieve the fundamental vision of a multiracial and multicultural democracy, we must ensure that our educational systems, workplaces, and government is actively committed to being diverse, equitable, and inclusive for Black, Indigenous, and people of color, women, non-bianary and GNC people, GLBTQ+ people, people with disabilities, and other marginalized peoples.
If elected, what would you advocate for to increase access to education in our communities?
Yes. I support aggressive investments in public education at the federal level that seek to remedy the disparities in school funding that track racial lines. I will work to undo the damage that Secretary DeVos is doing to the civil rights of our children of color. I will champion multicultural curriculum, hiring and supporting teachers, principals and administrators of color with fair pay. I also support 100% student debt cancellation, and tuition free public college and trade school and universal early childhood education for every community.
Similarly, if elected, what would you advocate for to increase access to workforce training in our communities?
Yes. I support tuition free public college and trade school. There are several areas where we must invest in job training and create the quality, family wage jobs of the future: cannabis and hemp, renewable energy, healthcare, regenerative agriculture, and building trades related to green technologies and energy-saving retrofits. These are all areas I will focus on for a Green New Deal program that includes investment in the job training that our country needs to quickly scale the transformation to a post fossil fuel economy.
LMV would like to see an increase of minority leaders engaged in our political processes. How would you encourage Leadership Development and Civic Engagement in our communities?
I will actively seek to partner with LMV and other BIPOC organizations to amplify and support leaders, ideas, and proposals coming from our BIPOC communities. I will work to provide truly community-based constituent services, so that your Congresswoman’s office is available and accessible in neighborhoods like West Eugene and Springfield, as well as in rural and Tribal areas. I will work to hold events in the community, partnering with local grassroots organizations, and featuring cultural programs as well as political content, in the relevant languages, to connect the community with the political process in a way that is empowering and engaging. I will seek to back candidates who share my political priorities and do whatever I can to help them win. I will prioritize local youth for internships and other opportunities, and pay them a fair wage for their work.
What do you think of the following voting initiatives: (1) Same-Day Voters Registration; and (2) National Vote By Mail?
I fully support making it as easy as possible for every citizen to register to vote at any time, including on election day. Vote by mail should also be embraced nationwide and is even more important for this November election in the midst of COVID 19. I am a strong supporter of taking the system we have in Oregon to all 50 states.