Oregonians in the 1st Congressional District (CD 1) have received their ballots in the Oregon special election, which the whole country is watching. This is the first congressional election of 2012, and the pundits have already claimed that the results will set the tone for the year.
I hope that they’re correct. Here’s why:
First, Oregonians vote in higher numbers than average. If we want a pro-worker Congress who will stand up to corporations and help us create more jobs, working people must vote. I know I can count on union members in CD 1 to vote. But it’s up to all of us to talk to our friends and family in Northwest Oregon and make sure they turn their ballots in before Jan. 31.
Second, the two major-party candidates in our election give us a clear choice between an irresponsible business owner, and a consumer-advocate who has stood up for workers’ rights and working people for her entire career.
There’s still a lot of work to be done and ballots to be cast before we’ll know the winner. But I hope that every election this year focuses on the important economic issues that we’ve seen the candidates talk about in CD 1.
When you pay attention to those issues, there’s a clear winner for union members in Oregon.
Suzanne Bonamici started her career standing up to predatory lenders’ illegal practices — and she won. She first got involved in Oregon politics as a citizen activist, calling for better investment in our schools. And in her three terms in the Oregon Legislature she has been a tireless advocate for workers’ rights, a strong education system for our kids, and for keeping in line the same predatory lenders and financial institutions who she took to court at the start of her career.
Most importantly, though, Suzanne is committed to a job creation plan that puts working people and small business owners first.
Rob Cornilles, her main opponent, says his primary qualification is his time as a business owner in Oregon. But if he plans to run Congress like he ran his business, we’re all in for hard times. Rob claims he’s created 60 jobs in Oregon. That’s true, in that he’s employed a total of 60 people over 16 years. Currently, his company doesn’t even own building space. And during those 16 years Cornilles has had to pay a settlement to past trainees who claimed they’d been treated as employees, working hundreds of hours without ever being paid; he has had staff forget to pay the company’s share of payroll taxes for employees; and he recently let his business registration lapse for over a year.
Let’s prove the pundits right. This month, let’s show the country that in Oregon we vote — all of us. And that in Oregon a commitment to middle class families and working people matters. Let’s elect Suzanne Bonamici with an overwhelming victory, and tell the rest of the state — and the country — that in November it’ll be their turn to send pro-worker representatives to Congress.
Suzanne Bonamici has been on our side her whole career. Let’s send her to Washington, D.C., and see what it’s like to have a strong congresswoman on our side.
Tom Chamberlain is president of the Oregon AFL-CIO.