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Dream of the Statue of Liberty still alive

(Soapboxes are guest opinions from our readers, and anyone is welcome to write one. Lupita Maurer is chairman of the Washington County Democrats.)

The image in my mind is one of the movies: a ship full of anxious and eager im-migrants pointing toward the Statue of Liberty.

'Look,' they call out, 'there she is, the statue who invites us to come to America, where opportunity is boundless.'

Of course, the image is never quite like the reality. I'm an immigrant from Mexico, where most of our immigrants come from today, and I'm a lucky one. I came to America in 1987 as a software engineer to work in the high tech industry, met my husband here, and began a family.

The reason I delve into this recent history is to point out that the dream of the Statue of Liberty is still alive and well.

In November I was re-elected chair of the Washington County Democrats for another two-year term. I got involved in politics in 2000, was elected secretary of the county central committee and ran for chair. Where else can an immigrant from Mexico be elected to a political office in another country? America is wonderful, and as a citizen of the United States today I am blessed.

Many of my fellow citizens who emigrated from Mexico and other Latin countries, from Asia, India, Pakistan and elsewhere have not yet been able to fully realize the dream of the Statue of Liberty, and it was clear in the last election that even though we began reaching out to them in the past two years, we still have more ground to cover.

On other fronts, I must say I'm very pleased at the results of the work of all of us in the months leading up to the election in November.

When I became chair, the Washington County Democrats had only 47 official precinct committee people, those who go into their communities to rally their neighbors. We made getting more PCPs a major effort, and today we have 107. We will do more.

When I became chair, we had fewer than 500 names in our database of those who wanted to be involved. Today, the number has grown many times over.

Two years ago, we had only enough funds in our account to cover the basics; today the number is more than double that, plus we have a special fund that raises money to pay for our new, permanent office at 12250 S.W. Broadway, in Beaverton, which opened last May, the first such permanent office for our party in Washington County.

We had a dozen phones operating from there during the election, and hundreds of volunteers made more than 20,000 calls to potential voters in the few weeks before Nov. 7. Our volunteers also knocked on several thousand doors, rallying potential voters. This was a far cry from four years ago when little canvassing was done as an organized county Democratic effort.

And our budget today is such that we were able to give more than $7,200 to Democratic candidates in Washington County during the last election.

Democrats were successful in our county in the last election, returning our office-holders and even adding one additional state house seat. Four years ago, Gov. Ted Kulongoski lost in Washington County; on Nov. 7 he won the county handily.

I am honored to be the county Democratic chair for the next two years. I envision the Statue of Liberty, a symbol for us all, and know the dream is alive.