Oregon Bus Project targets electing Democrats to the State Legislature

Democratic elected representatives at all levels of state government came out for the May 17 kickoff party of the Oregon Bus Project.

Using a recently purchased 1978 touring coach and volunteer labor from union bus drivers, the project will take volunteers out for a dozen day-long blitzes of canvassing and community service in "swing" legislative districts.

The brainchild of 28-year-old Portland lawyer Jefferson Smith, the project is intended to help the Democrats take back the Oregon House and Senate by focusing on candidates in districts that expect close races.

"Life is like a bus," Governor John Kitzhaber told a crowd of 200 at the kickoff. "It's going somewhere, and we've got to choose where it goes. But you can't choose unless you show up."

Project organizers have recruited over 600 riders to take part, most of them young people. Also among the riders will be former Governor Barbara Roberts, Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Secretary of State Bill Bradbury and numerous other elected leaders.

The first trip will take place Saturday, June 15, with volunteers bused to Washington County to help Charlie Ringo in his campaign for the Oregon Senate and Brad Avakian in his run for the State House. Five other trips will be planned in the summer, and six in the fall.

In each trip, volunteers will spend the morning meeting people from the districts, learning about local issues and working on a service project, like a school cleanup. Then the afternoon will be spent going door-to-door talking to voters on behalf of the candidate. Each day will conclude with a social event or rally in the evening.

Trips will start and end in Portland. Oregon Bus Project spokesperson John Wykoff said part of the goal is to break down the state's urban-rural cultural divide.

Buses will be driven by drivers from Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 and other volunteers.

June 7, 2002 issue

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