The "D" in HD 13 should be Nancy

Marc Abrams

The long – too long – debate on whether Nancy Nathanson is sufficiently “liberal” seems to be missing one thing: comment from anyone who knows her.

I’ve known Nancy for almost a quarter of a century. When she was Chair of the Lane County Democratic Party in the early 1980s, I was her Vice Chair. I’m proud to call her a friend, and I’m certain I can call her a liberal.

During this entire debate, in which people have gratuitously whacked “Portland liberals,” debated who can be elected in HD 13, and implied that because some folks who were themselves not liberal supported Nancy, she herself could not be liberal, I have seen no one suggest a simple answer: pick up the phone and call her or e-mail her and ask her a few questions.

I respect OLCV and Jonathan Poisner, and Jonathan tried to inject about the only fact-based argument into the e-mail strand, but OLCV’s job is to be a single-issue advocate. I don’t remember any one challenging the Democratic or even liberal bona fides of Sam Dominy or Tony Corcoran when they represented Lane County in the Legislature because they tended to back jobs in some of the jobs v. environment trade offs that are, sadly but inevitably, made.

And when we get to “look at who Nancy was supported by” arguments, please add my name to the list. I respect Kitty Pearcy, but I don’t think my support of Nancy makes me less than liberal, any more than Jack Roberts’ support of Nancy makes her a Republican . . . or, for that matter, Ron Saxton’s support of George McGovern in 1972 made Saint George a Republican!

We have a totally broken Legislature. It is paralyzed. It needs people who, without sacrificing principle, without changing their beliefs, can at least TALK across the aisle. The support Nancy received from honorable ideological opponents such as Jack Roberts when she ran for Mayor was an indication that she possesses an ability in very short supply in Salem, an ability we really could use.

Two years ago, Nancy lost a race for Mayor of Eugene. Below I re-print, slightly edited for the current day, what I wrote then and what remains true now. I also reprint what Nancy herself tried to post on Blue Oregon, but apparently did not get through.

MY 2004 LETTER (abridged)

Dear Fellow Democrat:

I have known Nancy Nathanson ever since I served as Vice Chair of the Lane County Democrats while Nancy was Chair in the early 1980s.

Although I left Eugene, I never left the Democratic Party, and had the honor of serving as your state Chair and a member of the Democratic National Committee. I currently have a political talk show on KXL in Portland, and am the only liberal voice on the station that is the home of Lars Larson (someone has to get the message out!).

Both in the party and in the media, I have worked with many politicians and elected officials. Nancy is among the best.

Nancy holds fast to progressive values without being a typical partisan politician. She is interested in building bridges to find common ground, not in standing on fruitless "principle." Her willingness to work with persons holding all points of view – left, right and center – has gained support for her across the spectrum.

· Nancy is union – a 25-year OPEU member, so you can be confident that she is sensitive to the concerns of working people.

· She lobbied Congress to secure funding for the West Eugene Wetlands Project, so you know she will protect the environment.

· She led the way in securing funding for parks expansion and a new library, so you know she cares about health and education for all.

· She stood up to the Legislature, defending Eugene's right to make our own decisions on issues like the video poker tax, the new Bascom bicycle path on the Willamette River, and the prohibition of workplace smoking.

· And she stood up to the FCC and the big companies in Washington, to protect local control over telecommunications.

Along the way, she built a reputation for fairness across the spectrum in Eugene including, yes, the business community.

Nancy is uniquely qualified to represent our Democratic ideals.

She has my full support. She should have yours too.

NANCY’Ss POST

After a day at work I’m catching up on some reading, and you might guess this would catch my attention! I suspect that many readers do not know me personally, or the circumstances under which votes occur, the legal and fiscal constraints that lead to proposing or supporting certain compromises or options over others, and the many projects and votes over the years in support of Democratic values. Balancing competing needs (culture and recreation, environmental concerns, social services, infrastructure, public safety, etc.) in times of shrinking budgets has always been difficult, sometimes wrenching.

I have generally voted for realistic solutions rather than taken symbolic stances, and practical ways to move at least a step or two forward – or at least limit the damage from budget cuts – rather than have a stalemate or risk a taxpayer backlash. Sometimes I have to take the heat for what I judge to be the responsible position, but it still feels awful.

On the money: you’ve already seen selected contributions I received during the campaign. Despite my votes increasing demands on developers (money and rules), increasing the number of acres of protected wetlands, and other progressive social and environmental actions, I am able to reach out to many people, including Republicans, and I think that should be a good thing to seek for a Democratic legislator working in Salem .

Obviously, there are many issues I’ve been involved in over 18 years of public service. I’ll mention just a few here. On my environmental record: I helped with restoring Amazon Creek as a more natural waterway and adding native plants. I supported adding 200 acres to the West Eugene wetlands inventory. I’ve supported increasing land use density when it wasn’t popular (the point being to reduce pressure on agricultural land and natural resources, decrease vehicle miles traveled, etc.); alternative transportation modes including the controversial Bus Rapid Transit project; adding 200 acres to the wetlands inventory. I also lobbied for federal funding for West Eugene wetlands funding affordable and subsidized housing; and assisting schools with additional public money (i.e. tax increases). I vigorously defended the Bascom Riverbank Trail ( Willamette River ) when it was in danger of being stopped – by the Legislature. To increase openness to City government, I proposed expanding the scope of the citizen Budget Committee to include citizen oversight for city programs and services, and review the impact of major proposals. In the telecommunications arena, I aggressively advocated consumer rights and local control over big telecom industry interests, until my whole 15-member advisory committee to the Federal Communications Commission got dismissed by the current Republican administration. These are just some examples of what I’ve worked on.

I invite anyone with concerns about my positions on issues to contact me by email at [email protected] so we can set up a time to talk. In fact, for those of you not in the Eugene area, I’ll be in Salem on Monday Dec. 12, and available in the late afternoon for a chat. Let’s get to know each other, and find a way to collaborate on the many good ideas to work on in the next

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Excellent post, Marc. TypePad must be broken, so I can only see half of it, but the part I saw looked great.

    I don't know Nancy Nathanson, so a lot of what I think of her is informed by what folks post here, including her campaign manager. So I hope she can resolve whatever is preventing her from jumping in.

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    Until we get it fixed, here's the text of Marc's letter:

    Dear Fellow Democrat: I have known Nancy Nathanson ever since I served as Vice Chair of the Lane County Democrats while Nancy was Chair in the early 1980s. Although I left Eugene, I never left the Democratic Party, and had the honor of serving as your state Chair and a member of the Democratic National Committee. I currently have a political talk show on KXL in Portland, and am the only liberal voice on the station that is the home of Lars Larson (someone has to get the message out!). Both in the party and in the media, I have worked with many politicians and elected officials. Nancy is among the best. Nancy holds fast to progressive values without being a typical partisan politician. She is interested in building bridges to find common ground, not in standing on fruitless "principle." Her willingness to work with persons holding all points of view – left, right and center – has gained support for her across the spectrum. · Nancy is union – a 25-year OPEU member, so you can be confident that she is sensitive to the concerns of working people. ·She lobbied Congress to secure funding for the West Eugene Wetlands Project, so you know she will protect the environment. ·She led the way in securing funding for parks expansion and a new library, so you know she cares about health and education for all. ·She stood up to the Legislature, defending Eugene's right to make our own decisions on issues like the video poker tax, the new Bascom bicycle path on the Willamette River, and the prohibition of workplace smoking. ·And she stood up to the FCC and the big companies in Washington, to protect local control over telecommunications. Along the way, she built a reputation for fairness across the spectrum in Eugene including, yes, the business community. Nancy is uniquely qualified to represent our Democratic ideals. She has my full support. She should have yours too.
  • (Show?)

    I want to say that, following the overheated rhetoric on this topic yesterday, I find Marc's and Nancy's contribution to the discussion a positive, welcome change.

    I'd like to say for my own part that the initial post was never intended as a personal attack on Nancy. I have long suppported liberal Democrats, and will continue to do so. This isn't, as suggested by some folks yesterday, a knee-jerk position intended to alienate or isolate moderates. Believe it or not, my politics are actually liberal, and as a political blogger, I will continue to urge candidates to consider more innovative, liberal legislation.

    This does NOT mean I think only DeLay-like lock-step partisans need apply. History is replete with liberal politicians with an ability to speak to all constituents--Eugene is blessed to have one representing them in Congress.

    I also delight in and welcome further discussion. In politics, we are often surprised by candidates. Given the full-throated defense of Nancy Nathanson, perhaps I'm due for a surprise. I welcome it, and I thank Marc and Nancy for their words.

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    I regret not getting into the fray yeserday, but in the AM we had our HD weekly breakfast and I also attended the Dem fundraiser for Sugarland, Texas last night and boy are my arms tired.

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    First, thanks to Marc and especially Nancy for jumping in here with actual first hand info. If there are other primary candidates let them speak their piece here too. I'll be supporting the Dem primary winner in the general and I'll bet Jeff will too.

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    Chris, et. al. Please bear in mind that despite the endless grousing to the contrary from LT, the state party is being pushed, from the inside, toward a more inclusive position. Many of those folks post here on blue oregon.

    Some of those folks currently live in urban or suburban environments. I'm sure thqat no sane person can honestly argue that where you live is the sole indicator of your ability to see the big picture.

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    I think that the fact that there was a huge and spirited conversation around Jeff's post actually validates the posting.

    That thread, it seems to me is a very good example of what Kari, Jeff, and Jesse had in mind when they started this blog.

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    Good post, Pat.

    The funny thing was that some of us who talked about just a point or two were immediately attacked as neo-progs, losers, etc. However, we never stated our position on the specific candidate, we just spoke to some of the points that had already been brought up (such as the 10% scorecard rating).

    I know very little about the district or its candidates-- so I'm not going to choose a side. I'm going to be way too busy over the next year trying to take HD 49 & 50 for dems.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Dear Marc, Thank you for your most intelligent post, esp. this: I don’t remember any one challenging the Democratic or even liberal bona fides of Sam Dominy or Tony Corcoran when they represented Lane County in the Legislature because they tended to back jobs in some of the jobs v. environment trade offs that are, sadly but inevitably, made.

    For those of you who think I was "grousing" let me put it another way: As a resident of Salem, I knew Sam and Tony when they were legislators. All I was saying was that Nathanson deserved the same consideration Sam and Tony were given when they were legislators.

    Let's concentrate on electing as many Democrats to the legislature as possible by getting to know them personally, not saying "but if they got this score on a scorecard.....".

    If you object to heated language, just think how you would feel if you were told that the person you knew didn't matter--all that mattered was a score on a scorecard.

    That is all I was trying to say.

  • (Show?)

    Thanks Jeff for dealing with the issue of the margins on the letter and for following up with some good common sense about what this discussion should be about. I think this morning's discussion is much more,as Pat notes, what Kari and Co. had in mind starting this adventure. It is also the kind of discussion that will not provide November ammunition against whoever wins the nomination in HD 13.

    I'm proud to be a "D," proud to be a liberal, and proud of the level of discussion we can generate on this site. Keep it up, everyone!

    Marc

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    Marc, I certainly hope you are wrong about this morning's discussion being more what Kari, et al, had in mind when they put this site together.

    Unlike most of the rest of you important people, I'm the lowest of the lowly foot soldiers in the political arena. I squeeze a little money out of the budget for Democratic candidates, volunteer for voter reg/canvassing/phone banking when I can, write a few letters, etc. I'm just a bumpkin--albeit an urban, Portland bumpkin at this point. I don't know anyone here personally.

    Although couched in a very local context, it seems to me that this debate about what the Democratic Party should look like and how it should operate is of extreme national importance. I understand your concern about some of the overheated rhetoric in the previous thread but to my mind, better an honest discussion than the backroom arm twisting that seems to be the usual alternative. I would hate to think Chris Matson is going to face any kind of sanction over his comments in that thread.

    Just as an aside, Marc, you began your post with a couple of inaccurate comments. You started by saying the previous thread "lacked one thing: comment by anyone who knows her." Her campaign manager, who presumably does know her, was a major contributor to that thread and at least one other commenter appeared to know her. You said no one suggested calling or emailing her and asking her questions. To the contrary, one of Chris' main points in his early comments was that Nathanson's critics, both Jeff and the Weekly, wrote what they did without talking to her first. He very definitely suggested people should call her up and talk to her if they had any questions at all about where she stands on any subject.

  • (Show?)

    I've just cleaned up Marc's post. I'll send him instructions on how to avoid that in the future.

    As for "Nancy's post", I have zero idea why it "didn't go through". I haven't received a guest column - which is the preferred method of sending in commentaries.

    As to the question of whether "anyone who knows her" has been commenting on the earlier post, I assume that Chris Matson knows her. After all, he is her campaign manager, right? Certainly, he's figured out to post comments.

    BlueOregon is an open forum - and I would recommend that anyone who wants to submit a guest column do so thru the regular channels.

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    Now, as to the content:

    Marc, you (like Chris) are arguing that this is some sort of labor vs. enviros argument. It's my understanding that both organized labor and the enviro community are actively recruiting another candidate.

    I could be wrong here (and certainly I don't have anything close to an omniscient viewpoint) but if both enviros and labor are recruiting an opponent - well, it seems that they finally found something to bring them together.

  • jmg (unverified)
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    This is a great post, and it's great to get a chance to hear from the candidate. I think our representative from HD13 should and will be chosen by the people who actually live in the district, though I'm sure that prospect drives many of our friends in Portland wild.

    I also hope the voters will not rely on such a biased, shrill, poorly informed, and generally suspect publication as the Eugene Weekly to make their decision. I also hope they will not base their decision on the arbitrary ratings doled out by the small, select group of single minded activists that runs the Lane County chapter of the OLCV.

    It's really time for us as Democrats to begin looking at the big picture instead of continually reinforcing every negative stereotype and attack proposed by the Republicans, and trying to drive out everyone who doesn't match exactly with our own personal templates for being a "good liberal." If we had a few more coalition builders in Salem, we might see some actual results at the end of the legislative session.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Thank you jmg. I just sent an email to a friend saying I like your comment.

    And just now I clicked on one of those "blogwire" links on the side of the home page and found this. Here is a quote and the URL. It is from Benton County Democrats.

    For the record, I agree with these quotes from the Benton County Democrats:

    good leaders do not quash differences or try to cover over disagreements. good democratic leaders find ways to let the diversity feed ideas and energy while gaining accord on platforms, policies, etc. it's a tough thing to do, which is why the Republican leadership in both Oregon and DC prefer to rule dictatorally. democracy is the real hard work, and for all their imperfections, the DPO's leadership is willing to do that hard work. i will continue to fight for the right of Democrats to be a total mess on the issues........... as long as we agree to disagree and develop processes to work out those differences so we can win elections and sway legislation, we will be fine. we've seen the results when a party crushes dissent and forces a single voice

    http://bcdems.net/node/489

  • Andy N. (unverified)
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    Thanks for making this post.

    I'm an independent voter, who unfortunately doesn't live in Nancy's district...but I would probably vote for her. I've met her once or twice and heard her speak. I think she would be a great addition to the Legislature.

    What seems to be lost on a lot of BlueOregonians is that being so far left on every issue might win you friends in the bloggosphere, but it doesn't make for good governance. Witness the pathetic legislature full of left wingers from Portland and right wingers from the rest of the state (that's right...I called them "left-wing"...it is so hypocritical when people here use "right-wing" perjoritively without realizing that it makes them "left-wing". The fact that some Republicans like Nancy and some Democrats like Jack Roberts makes me WANT to vote for them...not seek candidates that are further left or right of them. That is what has put us in this mess in Salem in the first place.

    I realize there aren't a lot of Independents reading this blog, but I like to read a lot of both the left and the right, and there are usually some insightful posts mixed in with the Deaniatic ones. Some people just don't get the idea that you have to appeal to those of us in the radical middle to win elections unless you're in a gerrymandermade safe seat.

    Again, good post Marc.

  • Ron Ledbury (unverified)
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    Can anyone tell me how many of the multi-family affordable housing projects in Eugene or Portland are organized as cooperatives rather than based on the landlord-tenant model?

    I will not call a new tenement project affordable housing if it does not include the option in the future for the resident to eventually sit back in their rocking chair and say they own the property, and have no debt whatsoever. You must ask about who gets the property when the debt is covered? If the ultimate owner is the poor person then this is incompatible with the notion of hitting up the perceived rich developer with whatever costs can be saddled upon them.

    Can anyone tell me whether public sector workers have the choice to select an alternative representative during the period between the expiration of one contract and the agreement on a replacement contract?

    It is essential to recognize the distinction between a particular union that seeks self preservation through political influence and the freedom of workers to freely select an alternative bargaining agent, or no agent at all. Could the ERB demand that a public employer deliver the equivalent of fair share dues, out of their own funds rather than the employee's pay, simultaneously, to two labor organizations that are each competing for recognition as an exclusive bargaining agent?

    Proclaiming that one is pro-affordable-housing or pro-union does not cut it, alone.

    If the UAW and GM can join forces and act as one for purposes of advocacy at the federal level on pension legislation then it should not be too remote a possibility that the NEA/OEA (as proxy for all public employee unions) to join forces with corporate taxpayers to make a mess of Oregon's public employee pension system.

    I want someone who can move beyond sound bite. Otherwise they look as real as these Pantomime-Dames that can be outfitted with the clothing of the day. If they don't know the difference between putting on a show and the real thing then they are useless, except as someone's pawn.

    So, Marc, can you offer a non-power-point style advocacy for Nancy? I am quite satisfied that nearly anyone can dress themselves with the clothing of rhetoric. Or can accept direction for the clothing that they shall wear.

    Is Nancy bright enough to see that Pension Obligation Bonds are an abomination both of capitalism and unionism? Will she support the bond issuers and bond holders while happily calling it support for the left? I am not here to cheer the choice of outfit.

    pdxape.us

  • LT (unverified)
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    Trust Ron to bring pensions into this.

    Seems to me if he lives in Dist. 13 he should ask Nancy personally, but otherwise he should be asking these questions of the legislators he can vote for.

    I see no difference between "I don't live in the district, but she should have a better score on the OLCV scorecard" and " I don't live in the district, but the candidate should conform to my pension and other financial views".

  • (Show?)

    Personally, I find all this bickering over who lives in what district to be ridiculous.

    Yes, a person is elected by a district. However, from that point on they are voting on items for the entire state. So as far as I am concerned, we should all try our best to make sure that every legislative candidate is the best they can be.

    Yes, we want Dems to be elected so we can control the House and keep the Senate. But what good are they if they're crappy Dems and end up voting with the Repubs (not saying this candidate is, just an example)?

    We have the same problem here in Multnomah County with the Commission. They think they only have to listen/pay attention to the needs of their district. They forget that the moment they're elected that they are COUNTY commissioners, not NE Portland Commissioners.

    The same goes for legislators-- they are STATE representatives or STATE senators. They are there for the good of the entire state.

    We have districts so that everyone can be represented in Salem fairly evenly. If we did open elections for all the seats, the chances of someone from east of the Cascades or Southern Oregon getting elected would be slim. With districts, every area is guaranteed to have someone represent them who lives in that area. As such, they're more familiar with the specific needs and problems of their area. But once they're in Salem, they're working on the needs of everyone in the state-- and as such we should all give a damn about how good they are.

  • Ron Ledbury (unverified)
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    LT

    In Wilsonville Heights Assoc. v. Department of Revenue the court accepted a much lower appraisal value for purposes of property taxation for affordable housing. It was based on value as rental property. Yet, when the property is fully paid off the owner gets to keep it. The federal funding program, 42 USC 1485, would allow cooperatives to get the same funding. I would assert that cooperatives could also get lower property tax rates too. It is an issue that is clearly invoked by the assertion that Nancy is pro-affordable housing. If the poor are the target set of beneficiaries, so as to give legislation its' public purpose, then surely one could explore the possibility of targeting cooperatives for assistance rather than landlords.

    That issue isolates in on one objection to the so-called efforts to trumpet affordable housing while conveniently only giving politically connected folks a foothold, forever, on rental property.

    The mortgage documents on HUD related projects are fungible with Pension Obligation Bonds, as collateral, in Oregon Commercial Banks. They can each be used as collateral to purchase more of the same.

    Try envisioning a cooperative getting a low-interest low-down loan and then pledging it to an Oregon Commercial Bank so as to go do another affordable housing project, except this time not as the residents but as investors. Weird. Yet this perspective should help to illuminate how some people can start with very little resources and then amass control of vast amounts of rental property.

    The mere switch to a focus on cooperatives would disappoint the financial dreams of nearly the entire collection of folks that today have the money to politically trumpet affordable housing.

    NANCY -- "I also lobbied for federal funding for West Eugene wetlands funding affordable and subsidized housing; and assisting schools with additional public money (i.e. tax increases)."

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    We have the same problem here in Multnomah County with the Commission. They think they only have to listen/pay attention to the needs of their district. They forget that the moment they're elected that they are COUNTY commissioners, not NE Portland Commissioners.

    I hope everyone who lives in Portland pays attention to this issue. I expect electing City Commissioners from districts will be a hot topic of conversation coming out of the charter review process.

  • Jim Edmunson (unverified)
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    Nancy Natanson is a wonderful woman and will be a great legislator from north Eugene. She is well liked and respected in her district. Her unsuccessful Eugene mayoral campaign a few years ago was hurt by people outside the city who tried to "one up" Kitty Piercy's popularity, and it backfired. Plus, a host of Republicans jumped on the anti-Kitty band wagon and that polarized the race to Nancy's damage. But those days are past and Nathanson has a solid and energetic base to win the House seat now held by Bob Ackerman and (for the most part, before redistricting) held by Piercy and yours truly. Now we need to find an equally qualified candidate to run against ex-mayor Jim Torry in the Senate district being vacated by Vicki Walker. The good news is that down here in Lane County we have lots of good Democrats -- sometimes, as we saw in the Nathanson-Piercy matchup, too many.

  • pencil neck (unverified)
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    <h2>Nancy was an ungracious loser in the Eugene Mayoral election last year. To this day, she has never conceeded the contest. I am just down the street from being in HD13, so I don't get a say, but someone who Torry endorsed for Mayor of Eugene is not going to get any help from me when there are other good candidates who I prefer to see representing my neighbors.</h2>

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