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    Jennifer Williamson Says She Won’t Run for Portland Mayor

    Rep. Jennifer Williamson (D-Portland), the Oregon House majority leader, is not running for Portland mayor, she tells WW.

    “It’s timing,” she says. “I was just elected majority leader and there are a lot of opportunities for us in Salem.”

    Williamson says she seriously considered running and had discussions with supporters about entering the race.

    “In the end, staying in Salem was the right choice.”

    Williamson’s quick turn as a potential mayoral candidate—speculation she may run hit the gossip mill only last week—is a response to Mayor Charlie Hales’ abrupt announcement on Monday, Oct. 26 that he would bow out of the 2016 election.

    In the days after Hales’ announcement, the names of other potential candidates have surfaced, including Multnomah County Chief Operating Officer Marissa Madrigal, whom Hales has nudged to run.

    Meanwhile, Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler, who announced Sept. 9 that he would seek the office, has raised more than $125,000.


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    On election night as I was making my victory speech at Cha Taqueria, I realized just how honored I was.

    *  Honored to have incredible, committed friends like you.

    *  Honored to live in such an amazing city and such a wonderful state.

    *  Honored to have a supportive, loving husband and a wonderful family.

    *  Honored to have the support and hard work of hundreds of teachers, nurses, firefighters, business owners and college students.

    *  Honored to have earned the trust and votes of thousands of my neighbors.

    *  And honored to accept my Party’s nomination to be the next State Representative from District 36.

    As I was finishing my thank yous, I saw someone slip into the back of the room— a good friend who wanted to share the excitement.

    Jen and Governor Roberts

    I was honored when Barbara Roberts stepped forward to endorse me in this race.  I was deeply touched last night when she stood with dozens of my family members and friends to listen to my plans for our state’s future.

    This election was about fighting for what’s best about Oregon.

    I am honored and grateful that the Democratic voters of HD 36 chose me to be their voice in Salem on the issues that matter most– universal healthcare, ending mandatory minimum sentences, more money for our schools and a renewed focus on helping small businesses grow.

    Paul and I will never forget what you have done in this campaign. I will work every day to be worthy of your trust.

    In friendship,


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    Progressive Majority endorses Jennifer

    Dear Ms. Williamson:

    I am delighted to inform you that the members of Progressive Majority’s National Board of Directors have voted to endorse your campaign for State Representative, District 36 for the 2012 election cycle. Your strong support of progressive values, ideas and policies makes it a great pleasure to support your candidacy.

    Progressive Majority was formed with a simple and bold purpose: To elect progressive champions. Through our work, we are building a nationwide farm team of progressive candidates who will fight for change today while filling the political pipeline for decades to come. We are proud to count you among our endorsed candidates for the 2012 cycle.

    Thank you for leadership.
    Gloria Totten President

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    Calling for a Clean Campaign for HD 36

    Dear Friends:


    The voters of House District 36 are some of the most engaged, informed and active people in our state.  I’ve talked to thousands of them at their doors and in coffee shops and community meetings over the last six months.


    I believe they deserve better than insurance-funded smear campaigns and simplistic appeals to nasty stereotypes. Even worse, what form a candidate’s family takes should not be part of the equation in any political campaign.


    The reality is that my husband and stepdaughter didn’t choose to run for the State House–I did.


    We live in a diverse district with many different types of families and many different relationships that shape our lives.


    In Portland, we don’t judge people for how they built their families. We celebrate each thread that weaves together the rich fabric of our extraordinary communities.


    It’s been disheartening to hear about whisper campaigns and rumors at the doors in recent weeks questioning my professional background, my commitment to the progressive agenda, my lack of true experience as a mother and my roots in this community.


    The truth is nobody wins with this kind of politics. In the end, everyone who cares about a better future for our state loses. I don’t want to be part of it and I believe the people of HD 36 don’t want it either.


    So today, I’m asking my two Democratic opponents to join me in signing a Clean Campaign Commitment to stick to an honest debate on the issues and the facts in this election and talk about our backgrounds and our plans to represent this district.


    You could call it a mutual non-aggression pact or a clean politics pledge. I prefer to think of it as a better way forward for Oregon. Certainly, my opponents and I have some serious differences on the policies and ideas it will take to turn things around for Oregon. Those issues should be fully debated and voters should know where we all stand. But this race should be about ideas for the future, not the failed negative politics of the past.


    I hope my opponents sign the Clean Campaign Commitment, and join me in a discussion of progressive issues and ideas instead of smears and innuendo.


    The people of HD 36 deserve nothing less.


    For Oregon,

    Jennifer Williamson

    P.S. I’ve sent a copy of the Clean Campaign Commitment to both of my opponents inviting them to sign. Let’s hope we can all give you the campaign you deserve.

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    American Federation of Teachers- Oregon endorses Jennifer

    On behalf of our membership, I wish to congratulate you on achieving the recommendation of AFT-Oregon for your candidacy in the 2012 primary.  AFT-Oregon’s Executive Council approved recommendation in your state legislative district race. The recommendation is based largely on your broad understanding and commitment to issues critical to our membership. 

    David Rives

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    Portland Association of Teachers and the Oregon Education Association endorse Jennifer

    Portland educators are excited to endorse Jennifer Williamson because of her deep commitment to public education and the issues surrounding delivering a quality education for all students.
    -Suzanne Cohen, 7th grade Math/Science Teacher Peninsula K-8
    Teacher’s Voice In Politics Co-Chair
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    An important message from Governor Barbara Roberts

    Dear Friends,

    These days there seem to be a lot of folks in politics who say one thing and do another.  They get into office and suddenly they’re not the person we thought they were.

    The people of House District 36 have been fortunate to be represented by a tireless and courageous progressive leader in Mary Nolan. She has done great work in Salem and is a consistent voice on the issues that matter most.

    Now, with Mary running for City Commission, it’s critical that we fill this seat with someone who won’t need on-the-job training.  We need a leader who is ready to hit the ground running and make sure that Oregon doesn’t retreat from the values that make our state special.

    House District 36 deserves a proven progressive in Salem.  That’s why I am proud to endorse Jennifer Williamson for State Representative.

    Jen has done an awful lot before the age of 40! For two decades, she’s been a leader for women’s health and access to all reproductive health care services. That’s why she is the only candidate in HD 36 endorsed by Planned Parenthood. 

    She grew up on a farm in Washington County and believes in the dignity of work and the rights of working people.  That’s why she is the only candidate in HD 36 endorsed by the AFL-CIO and AFSCME.

    Jennifer will protect the programs that are critical for Oregon families.  That’s why she’s earned the support of the Oregon Nurses Association and Oregon Fire Fighters.

    Jen knows we have to work together to create new opportunity for all our citizens and a new economy for Oregon. That’s why she is the choice of the Oregon Business Association.

    House District 36 needs a proven progressive in Salem. We need Jennifer Williamson in the State House.

    For Oregon,

    Governor Barbara Roberts

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    Why I resigned from the Komen Board

    I’ve spent decades working for better health care for women in Oregon. Sometimes, that’s involved bringing diverse groups of people together to do the right thing. I was very proud of what we achieved to improve women’s health with the passage last year of the Low Income Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Act to ensure all eligible women in our state have access to lifesaving screening and treatment.

    In my view, the access to quality healthcare for all women must come first–not narrow partisan agendas or religious crusades. Unfortunately, the national leadership of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation decided to ignore that principle in its recent decision to defund Planned Parenthood’s breast cancer screening program for low-income women. They injected politics, partisanship and divisiveness into basic health care services that save millions of lives.

    I simply can’t sit back quietly and let that happen.

    That’s why I resigned my position today from the Board of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure of Oregon & Southwest Washington.  As a proud supporter of Planned Parenthood and former chair of the board of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, I cannot in good conscience remain on the board of any organization that chooses to put politics ahead of preventive healthcare for low-income women.

    I had hoped our local Komen Chapter would loudly and strongly denounce this decision, work to overturn it immediately, or end affiliation with the national organization if the policy remains in place. I also believe the board should demand the dismissal of Karen Handel, Senior VP for Public Policy who drove this move by the national board. Because this has not happened, it is with deep sadness I am stepping down from the board of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure of Oregon and SW Washington until this policy is overturned and Karen Handel is no longer with the organization.

    Rest assured, I will continue to fight for better health care for women across Oregon and to ensure a women’s right to choose is never under threat in our state.

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    Mercy Corps: Our Work begins at Home

    Crime Rates Fall to 30-Year Low While Correction Spending Soars

    By Jennifer Williamson

    Oregonians are safer than they have been in 30 years, according to a recent report released by the FBI, yet state spending on corrections is at an all-time high.

    Preliminary crime data for Oregon shows a dramatic decrease in 2009 crime rates. According to Craig Prins, Executive Director of the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, violent crime for 2009 fell in Oregon’s four largest cities. Violent crime de- creases were largest in Portland (-10%) and Gresham (-23%), while property crime declines were largest in Eugene (-12%) and Salem (-14%).

    “Crime spiked in the early- to mid-1990s, but has been going down in Oregon and across the country ever since. We haven’t seen crime levels this low in more than 30 years,” Prins told legislators at a joint hearing of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees in late May.

    Leading indicators for a reduction in crime rates, according to Prins, are the health of the economy, incarceration rates and demographics, especially the percentage of young adults in the state population. Bucking this trend, however, Oregon’s unemployment rates increased during 2002-2004 and again in 2008 and 2009, while crime rates continued to decrease.

    In 2009 we saw the largest increases in the unemployment rate since data were available in 1976. And yet, preliminary data shows that crime continued to fall. The most reliable indicator, said Prins, appears to be the number of young people ages 15-39. With fewer people that age in Oregon, the crime rate tends to de- crease. A decrease in young people in the population is projected to continue for the next 10 years.

    Correction Spending Up, Service Funding Down – And Nonprofits Fill the Gap

    Even as crime rates have dropped, spending on criminal justice budgets has skyrocketed, reducing available funding for other important public safety programs.

    According to the PEW Center on the States report “One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008” one in 100 Americans are currently behind bars. The PEW report found that corrections spending is devastating state budgets and that Oregon spends a greater percentage of its general fund dollars on corrections than any other state in the country. This has cost billions of dollars for both the construction and operation of corrections facilities. In the 1993-1995 biennium, the Oregon Department of Corrections budget was $377 million; for 2009-2011, the Department of Corrections budget is estimated at $1.4 billion. This spending trend is expected to continue even as the state faces an estimated $577 million shortfall for the 2011-13 biennium.

    The upward trend in corrections spending is especially alarming be- cause it has been, and will continue to be, at the expense of programs proven to reduce future crime at a fraction of the cost of building more prisons. Cuts to programs for drug and alcohol treatment, prison-based education, juvenile intervention and other community-based services have actually reduced the state’s ability to maintain public safety.

    Federal, state, and local lawmakers are responding to stark budget realities by making difficult funding choices as well as distressing cuts in public safety and corrections budgets, often leaving necessary service needs unmet. Nonprofit organizations are stepping up, with the help of private funding, to ensure these important programs continue and to fill the gap in essential ser- vices in our communities.

     Prisoner Reentry Services Reduce Recidivism, Increase Safety

    One service area that will be potentially devastated by state budget cuts is programming focused on transitioning the formerly incarcerated back into society. Over 95% of all state prisoners will eventually return to the community. Advocates for transition services argue it is in everyone’s best interest to create a system that actually prepares people to succeed when they return home. Formerly incarcerated people are often stigmatized and stereotyped, and face a range of laws, policies and practices that under- mine their ability to become active and productive members of society.

    Many local organizations, including Mercy Corps Northwest, are stepping up to meet the critical need in the community for services to prisoners transitioning back into the community. In 2009, Mercy Corps Northwest along with six other lo- cal non-profit organizations, created the Reentry Transition Center (RTC) located at 1818 NE MLK Blvd., with initial funding from the United Way.

    Support for the RTC has recently been supplemented by a two-year grant from Multnomah County, using federal funds administered by the Criminal Justice Commission.

    The RTC coordinates reentry services for formerly incarcerated people leaving county, state, and federal jails and prisons. The two navigators at the center, who have successfully made the transition from prison to the community themselves, coordinate a range of essential reentry resources in one location, fostering the financial independence and well-being of a highly challenged and potentially isolated population. The coordination of services is intended to help individuals address barriers to reintegrating back into the community, which in the bigger picture, reduces recidivism and increases community safety.

    “It is in everyone’s best interest that these individual succeed in re- entering our community” said Doug Cooper, Mercy Corps Northwest assistant director and project director of the RTC. “When people succeed, they become productive, tax-paying members of the community. They support their families and strengthen the social fabric. If they don’t succeed, there are increased costs of crime, law enforcement, judicial and prison costs – not to mention the added cost in misery and suffering.”

    As government funding for these vital public safety services and programs is reduced, the work of Mercy Corps Northwest and other agencies becomes increasingly vital for the quality of life of everyone in our communities.

    Jennifer Williamson is a Portland attorney.

    Published in Oregonian Thursday, June 17, 2010

    link to the full article

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    Women’s Investment Network PAC endorses Jennifer

    I am so honored to have earned the WIN PAC endorsement. WIN PAC members know that “when women make policy, the needs of women and families are not ignored.” I am proud to have their seal of approval.

    More about WIN PAC…

    WIN-PAC has made a real difference over the years .  During the 2009 legislative session, 10 of the 18 Senate Democrats were women, making it the only caucus in the country with a majority of women.  The powerful revenue and budget committees were chaired by women.  Women also co-chaired two important budget subcommittees, and another WIN-PAC supported candidate chaired the health care committee which moved significant health care reform legislation.

    In the House, five WIN-PAC endorsed women chaired committees and three others co-chaired budget subcommittees.  Two WIN-PAC endorsed candidates became the first Democrats elected from east of the Cascades in over 10 years (Rep. Judy Stiegler of Bend and Rep. Suzanne VanOrman of Hood River).

    Source-(WIN PAC website, 2011)