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Victory is sweet, but now the work begins

I am honored to be given the responsibility and opportunity to represent Forest Grove, Cornelius and Hillsboro in the Oregon Legislature. I was blessed to have the opportunity to run; I am even more blessed to be given the opportunity to lead.

I learned more in the last year than any other time in my life. It was a great and humbling experience — I learned something from every door and every community meeting. As I start the process of improving our community as your state legislator, there are a couple of realizations from throughout the campaign that I wanted to share with all of you:

n I couldn’t have accomplished anything without the help of hundreds of people along the way. Campaigns tend to focus on candidates, but I believe that our success was built with a team — of volunteers, voters, small donors, local leaders — all of you. Thanks to everyone who voted, participated, talked to me or a volunteer at the door, emailed, wrote or gave input along the way.

n The hardest part is yet to come. Campaigns are a lot of work — a lot of knocking, a lot of listening, a lot of talking — but it’s straightforward work. It’s kind of like farming — when you have irrigation pipe to change, change it. You go out, you do the work, it gets done. Legislating is a different challenge, more like a puzzle. The work is still hard but the solution isn’t straightforward. And unlike campaigning, you can’t just do it yourself. Instead of being just one person, you’re one of 60.

That means for me to be successful, the team of people that I’ve met over the last year during the campaign need to be willing to help me legislate. They need to keep giving input and advice and working hard in our community so that we can create something better — better schools, affordable health care, a stronger economy. People win elections every two years — that happens no matter what. Progress on the issues that matter rarely comes that frequently. We can make progress, but it takes work.

n Our community is at a crossroads, our problems are real and we can’t wait to change. I talked to thousands of people that worried their kids weren’t getting the basics they needed to succeed at our schools. I talked to hundreds of families that were unemployed, uninsured and uncertain about where their next paycheck would come from. I talked to scores of small business owners who wondered when we could finally reduce the red tape and the bureaucratic burden that gets in the way of our local economic growth. If the answer isn’t that we start changing now, we’ll never make it.

That means there’s real pressure for this legislature to be far more productive than we’ve been in years. Our kids need a full school year, the legislature needs to fight to fund it. Our kids need smaller class sizes, the legislature needs to fight to fund them. Our community needs strong schools, and it’s up to us to make sure we have them.

For me, this election was Step 1 in making Forest Grove, Cornelius and Hillsboro greater than they already are. By working together, and building a community of people that cared about schools, farms and small businesses, I now have a chance to lead us to Step 2.

I will need your help, your input, your advice, and your reassurance. Don’t hesitate to email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call at 503-683-3042. We’ll have our official digs soon enough, but we’re ready for your input now.

Funding schools and helping small businesses will take the same ingredients that led us to win on Nov. 6 — a united community, teachers, parents and small businesses working together. If you are there with me, I’ll aim to be a legislator that’s willing to work hard, listen well and act on behalf of every person in our community.

Democrat Ben Unger will be sworn in on Jan. 14.




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Forest Grove

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