I am the Oregon State Representative-elect for House District 30. I have lived in Hillsboro for about 20 years, having moved here from Portland when my daughter was ready to enter kindergarten.

My wife, Sheila, had just completed her master’s degree in education and she had done serious research to find the best school district in the metro area.

We settled in Hillsboro because of the good schools. Our daughter, Amelia, graduated from college last year and is now living on her own while Sheila and I remain in our home with her cat, Potato, and my dog, Maya. Even my in-laws have joined us here in Hillsboro.

I truly believe that our purpose in being here is to look out for each other and that our personal interests are entwined with the interests of others. I have come to this view, perhaps, from the strong sense of family that is inherent in my Latino heritage or, perhaps, from working in the fields of Washington County as a youth when all members of my family contributed to its support.

The notion of teamwork and reliance on others was certainly reinforced as a young man, serving my country in the U.S. Air Force and then the Oregon Air National Guard while supporting my disabled parents and working my way through college.

People helped each other and people relied on each other. I spent 10 years working at Gunderson Brothers shipyards where again I learned the value of working with others. Often there, one’s safety depended upon the support and watchfulness of fellow workers. Finally, as a professor, I again realized the value of community, of peer review and of friendly competition that generated productivity in a collegial way.

As I developed expertise as a gerontologist, teaching and conducting research on issues of aging, and as a social work professor, teaching courses on social policy, community practice and development, I found myself increasingly in leadership roles. I learned to give back to the community in various ways, and to use my leadership roles for advocacy through teaching, research and community service on a variety of boards of directors, and as a consultant to numerous local and national government agencies and organizations.

I ran for office because I have seen a constant, if gradual, erosion of the American middle class over the past 40 years. I have seen the demise of local planning and community civic engagement, which are the bedrock of a healthy democracy. 

I have seen apathy and mistrust of government grow to unhealthy proportions. I have seen the return of levels of poverty in America that prompted the War on Poverty in the 1960s. I have seen the gap between the rich and poor grow to be the greatest in modern times. 

I ran because I could tolerate these conditions no longer without taking personal action. I ran because “we” are the government, and “we” must stand up together to counter these devastating trends. A person cannot tackle these social reversals alone, so I hope you will stand with me as I collaborate with my fellow legislators and as I represent the interests of all citizens in District 30 and in the state of Oregon.

Now, as your representative, I look forward to continuing to work on your behalf to grapple with the difficult challenges ahead — help Oregon on the road to economic recovery, get teachers back in the classroom and ensure that we’re standing up for middle-class Oregon families.

I intend to work hard to create jobs by giving preference to local companies rather than out-of-state corporations so our hard-earned tax dollars can stay here and create jobs for our friends and neighbors. I will always focus on protecting the middle class, especially when we are under attack from special interest groups.

I will reach out to the business sector and to community groups and will listen to individual concerns as well. Thank you for your vote of confidence in me to work hard to represent your best interests.

Democrat Joe Gallegos will be sworn in

on Jan. 14.

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