HD 44: Kirchmeier, Kotek, Robison

In HD 44, in North and Northeast Portland, three Democrats are vying to succeed Rep. Gary Hansen:

- Mark Kirchmeier, Gary Hansen's legislative assistant and former journalist and PR guy.
- Tina Kotek, policy director for Children First for Oregon.
- Jim Robison, administrator of the West Multnomah Soil & Conservation District.

The Oregonian covered the race - digging into health care, taxes, education, and more.

Pose your questions for the candidates. Tell us who you're supporting and why. (And let's keep it positive, folks.)


  • pdxdemgirl (unverified)

    The Oregonian also made an endorsement that's worth reading. Explaining why they chose Kotek they said: "Neither [of the other candidates], however, comes close to matching Kotek's policy expertise, her personal magnetism or her years of demonstrated passion in advocating for children and the needy. In a district where one out of four kids lives in poverty, Kotek is the clear choice."

    I know all three candidates...and I couldn't agree more.

  • Version2.O (unverified)

    I've not learned very much about Mark, his website was good to sit down with for a bit. As I read through the list of accomplishments I was clearly moved by the neighborhood activism and local impacts he has had. As an advocate for similiar and related issues, I appreciate much of the list. I wonder though, if all that effort and time and commitment has been best expressed through hit and miss neighborhood level problems.

    As a North Portland native, I know that some issues facing HD 44 are much greater then neighborhood level issues. I'm looking for a person who can accomplish the on the ground work as well as the represent HD 44 at the big table- when the big issues come down. It is a policy expert that I trust with our hopes and dreams.

    Kurt is clearly a neighborhood asset, and long time resident. My hat is off to his hard work. I'll personally be looking for someone who can best navigate in Salem, among the issues I care about the most; children and families, poverty, hunger and health. It is what HD 44 needs most, and Tina Kotek is the person who can deliver change.

  • Cathy K (unverified)

    Tina is hands down the best choice. I am a St John's resident and feel very strongly that my issues are Tina's issues. Another important consideration for me is getting more smart women into goverment. Tina is running against two men, neither of which match her experience and skills, even if they do share some of her values. The bonus for me is that in addition to her strong policy skills, she will also bring a much-needed female perspective to the legislature.

  • Varner (unverified)

    I know Tina and have seen her work in the legislature first hand. I think she's a great person and a wonderful candidate who we would be well served to have in the legislature.

    I've been impressed by her intelligence, compassion and understanding of the complex issues facing families in this state.

    While I live in Diane Rosenbaum's district I would urge those in HD 44 to vote for Tina.

    Varner Seaman

  • Steve Novick (unverified)

    Thing about Tina Kotek is, she's already one of the go-to people in Oregon progressive politics. The Oregonian is dead on. Having her in the Legislature would simply enhance her ability to do what she already does well, what we in the progressive community already count on her to do, in terms of making the policy arguments, getting press attention to key issues, etc. Any number of times when I've needed information, or thought that there was some story that had to be told in the media, and told right, I've called Tina. "Tina! Help! What happened today is going to be reported all wrong and somebody needs to walk into the press rooms and tell it right and make three key points and you're the only one who can do it and you have two hours." [That's almost a verbatim transcript of a call I made to Tina once last session.] "OK." And the next day there's Tina in two newspapers making exactly the points that someone needed to make. She Gets Things Done, to use Robert Caro's phrase about Bob Moses (although fortunately, unlike Moses, she doesn't tear down nice neighborhoods in the Bronx to build ill-advised freeways). When Tina's in the Legislature, she'll do tons of cool stuff on her own, but she'll also be one of the key people that progressives can call in an emergency and say "Tina. There's this huge opportunity people are missing and you need to grab it, NOW." Or, "Tina. People are about to do something stupid and they need to be talked out of it, NOW." And she'll get it, and she'll do it, and with style. She'll figure out the graceful and polite but firm and effective way to get it done and get it done immediately. There are people in politics with knowledge but without energy, or with energy but without knowledge, or with knowledge and energy but without the respect of their peers because they don't know how to get along with people. Tina's one of the very few who's got it all. She's one of the people you want to have the ball at the end of the game. "Duckworth with the rebound ... to Porrer ... lickety brindle down the floor ... To Kotek ... she drives ... she shoots ... Two! And a foul!" I will sleep easier knowing that Tina Kotek is in the Legislature.

  • (Show?)

    Tina will make a great state rep. I'd say more but Novick said it all.

  • Mark Kirchmeier (unverified)

    Hi folks, I’m back from Salem this morning after being immersed with Gary Hansen the past week preparing for the successful Legislative special session.
    The issue research and coalition-building paid off, especially on the $132-million DHS shortfall where Gary, as the DHS committee’s senior Democrat, got concessions out of Republicans. It’s also remarkable how reasonable conservative Republicans can suddenly become -- when there’s a grave threat to their own re-election. Speaker Minnis gave the back of her hand to Portland school kids and pay day loan victims in the 2005 session. Yesterday, with Rob Brading on her heels, she supported Democrats providing $18 million for Portland schools, reigning in Pay Day loan sharks and protecting the seniors, kids and the vulnerable.

    Mark Kirchmeier

  • Matt Swanson (unverified)

    I too have met Tina, and seen her work. Her policy expertise does not come off as overly wonky, she just knows what makes sense for working Oregonians and at risk familes and children. Her experience with Children First, the Oregon Food Bank and other work done to make the community stronger and give folks a hand, gives her a much needed perspective on public policy that is lacking in the Oregon legislature today.

    Also, Mr. Novick to clarify something, its "lickety prindle, up the middle...dishes to Kotek...Kotek drives..shoots....got it! and the foul!" Thanks for chanelling the Shonz though...and remember, you've got to make your free throws.

  • (Show?)

    I'm supporting Jim Robison. He's been heavily involved in that community for more than a decade. He knows the issues, he knows the people, and he knows the community.

    He's a working class kind of guy and definitely knows what working families are going through. Through his work over the years, he's done a lot of work with the environment, supporting working families, and more. It's been a pleasure to work with him over the past six years through the Multnomah County Democratic Party.

    While he might not have worked for as many non-profits, he has a lot more community experience. In my opinion, we need more legislators that know their districts, know the people, etc.

  • Steve Novick (unverified)

    Wait -- I remember him saying "Two!", not "got it!" But maybe he only said that when it was Wally Walker, "the Who," and he could say "Two! For The Who." Also I had a typo -- that was meant to be Porter (as in Terry), not Porrer. (I started with Walton and Twardzik instead of Duckworth and Porter but realized that only really old people like me would remember Dave Twardzik.)

  • Angus (unverified)

    [Unnecessary name-calling deleted -editor.]

    I'm a Republican and I've met Tina and I think she would be a tremendous asset to the process. She's very smart and personable, and I think she would do well in the process. Go Tina!

  • Karen (unverified)

    After viewing the candidates' websites, I notice that Ms. Kotek's is the only one that doesn't mention much about her experience in North Portland (my neck of the woods). Does she have any? Didn't she run somewhere else two years ago? How long has she lived in the district?

  • Mike Leachman (unverified)

    I can think of few people who would serve Oregon progressives better in the legislature than Tina Kotek. She is ready to hit the ground running. And when she does start running, we can all be confident she'll head productively in the right direction - left. She knows the issues; she's smart; she's effective. Vote for Tina.

  • Eric Berg (unverified)

    I've known Jim for over 20 years. I've met Mark a few times. I'm familliar with Tina. Either will be a fine legislator. Voters in the district are lucky to have three very capable and qualified candidates to choose from.

    I support Jim. He's smart, hard-working, dedicated, is from the grassroots, and knows the district because he's lived there and been active there for 16 years. He'll represent the district well.

    Jim isn't afraid to stand out by letting folks know where he stands and for what he'll fight for. He's a progressive's progressive. His top priority is universal health care. He also supports campaign finance reform and public power.

  • (Show?)

    Yeah, guess I have to agree with Eric and Jenni on this one. Robison's no "insider", just a guy who gets up every morning thinking about what he can do to benefit his community.

    As was the case with the Avakian/Chase thread, I have zero dirt to dish on Kotek or Kirchmeier. Still, as Jenni mentioned, Jim's close to the ground and knows first hand what's going on in has district.

    I personally like a guy that stays in touch with the Bill of Rights as well. Jim's been an advocate for personal freedom since long before I met him.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    I know few people as consistently and genuinely progressive as Jim Robison. We know that North Portland will elect a Democrat. Why not elect a Democrat who will not sell out to the powers that be, but keep true to his principles?

    Portland needs more legislators like Joanne Bauman and fewwer like Ginny Burdick. Vote for Jim Robison.

  • Liz Smith Curie (unverified)

    There are only a few people in Oregon that I admire as much as Tina Kotek. Take the time to get to know this woman. She will do great things for Oregon.

  • St Johns resident (unverified)

    I live in the St. Johns. We are proud of our history and our heritage. I look first for how long someone has lived here. Then I ask what they've done in our community to better it. And then I look at experience in government.

    For me the first cut eliminated Tina. She hasn't lived here long enough so she doesn't know us. She doesn't understand our proud history.

    For me it's too bad that Mark and Jim haven't lived here all their life. It's a shame that neither has family born & raised here. But at least both have been here over 16 years. So, if I can't vote for someone who's lived here all their life, I want to know what they've done for us. Have they been involved with us fighting for what we need here.

    I know Jim's involvement. He's attend neighborhood association meetings for years. Doesn't come every month but he updates us on clean up the Willamette River toxic sites and I've seen him at Smith & Bybee Lakes meetings. We have DEQ folks at some of the meetings and what they don't know Jim fills in. I haven't seen Mark. And Tina started attending when she moved in & started running against Jim.

    Jim was heavily involved in fixing the odor issues up here. He was President of University Park Neighborhood Association. Mark talks about Zidell on his page but he was representing University of Portland and Jim was UPNA President. So the successful UPNA involvement in the Zidell thing should go to Jim. And I remember Jim fighting to keep the North Portland Precinct. There are so many things I could say about Jim. And so many places or events I seen Jim.

    Mark has been involved in the community but mostly known through the Church or the UP. I know Mark also because of a housing development near Interstate. I see Mark at school games. I was amazed he didn't volunteer last year at the Polish Festival like Jim. We needed help. And even though Jim wasn't signed up to help, he and his friend sat down & helped for hours. That's someone who's involved his community.

    The politics Jim's talked to me over the years about and the things he's done in Salem, I could never understand. What's important to me is that he understands what they do. But what matters the most to me is that Jim understands what I'm going through. I don't have a lot. Neither does Jim. I knew Jim was smart but you'd never guess he graduated from Harvard because he doesn't talk down to me. I can't get him to say anything negative about Tina or Mark in fact he says nice things about them. That's someone I respect.

    I going to vote for Jim.

  • Cheryl (unverified)

    Jim is a awesome guy He will do a exellect job in Salem. North Portland needs someone down in Salem who really understand the needs of the people in north Portland. JIM IS THE ONE. He is down to earth,grassroots progressive democrat. Jim will do the right things for the working people of Oregon. He not influence by money or power, it is time we start electing people down in Salem who will stand for good principles who have integrity and self repect, JIM IS THAT GUY.Jim is strong on quailty public education, Health Care for all Oregoians, civlil rights for all, Living wage , and enviromental protection, VOTERS IN DISTRICT 44 ELECT JIM ROBINSON FOR YOUR STATE REPRESENTATIVE

  • Jim Robison (unverified)

    Hi all,

    I just got back from canvassing and was told to check out the discussion here. As I told a voter today when I was at his door, the best part about canvassing is running into people I know from years past working on projects in the community. EVERY day that I am canvassing I run into people I know. That's what comes from being involved in the community.

    Yesterday evening a woman who I had worked with on union and Democratic activities years ago, called up and asked for a lawn sign. It was great to hear from her after all this time. This reminds me of an incident a few years ago when I was in the Fred Meyer's around the corner from my house. A woman stopped me in the aisle and asked "You're Jim Robison aren't you?" I said "yes", and she said "You're doing good things. Keep it up." I remember that as a great testament to my work in the community.

    Feel free to take a look at my website, and give me a call or email if you have any questions.


  • (Show?)

    With all due respect to Jim, who is a very good guy, many will remember when the carpetbagger argument was thrown at Hillary Clinton in 2000 (or Robert Kennedy for that matter in 1964). Leadership is not about how many years you've lived in a house. Tina, of course, didn’t just move to the city. She has been an activist and leader for many years in Portland – one of the best. Jim and Mark (and their supporters) should stick to debating the real issues – schools, our environment, housing, hunger, economic development and opportunity – and leave the personal stuff behind. I fully agree with Eric Berg that we have three good people running in this district.

  • (Show?)

    Keep in mind that these legislative district boundaries were only drawn five years ago, and this is only the third election in which they exist.

    I think the "carpetbagger" thing might be relevant if we were talking about a small town district - where someone had just moved in all the way from Portland. But, from one part of N/NE Portland to another? Naaaahhhh....

    Not only that, but I think it's important to look at how well the person will represent that community. Greg Macpherson moved into his district just before he was elected in 2002. But let's be honest -- he represents Lake Oswego far better than he would have inner and outer Southeast Portland (from where he moved.)

    I haven't endorsed any candidate in this race, and probably won't, but I know all three and they're all good folks. People I care about and trust have endorsed each of the three. HD 44 residents can't go wrong.

  • Jim Robison (unverified)

    Thank you Kari. I fully agree with you that residents of HD 44 cannot go wrong with any of the three of us. Each one of us brings our own strengths, and our own approach to how we will represent the district. I personally believe that I am the best choice (a little bias on my part), but I certainly would not be upset to be represented by either of the others in Salem. No matter what the outcome of the Primary, I plan to work with the others as we go forward. I also plan to do everything I can to help Rob Brading defeat Karen Minnis.

    So, I believe we should let the voters get to know each of us, find out our differences, and make a choice. My stands on the issues are clearly set out on my webpage, and I'd be glad to answer any questions.


  • Ellen Klaastad (unverified)

    Hi Everyone.
    Great dialog. Here's a few events that might help any HD 44 voter reading. I encourage voters to attend & ask Jim questions. Here's two events in the district that at which you can ask Jim questions.

    Portsmouth Neighborhood Assoc., St Johns Neighborhood Assoc., & University Park United Methodist Church are sponsoring a candidate forum Tuesday April 25 from 7p - 9pm @ University Park United Methodist Church.

    St. Johns Booksellers, Wednesday April 26 from 7pm @ 8622 N Lombard Street.

    See you there!

  • Hannah (unverified)

    I think that Kari's point about district boundaries is well taken. In addition District 44 encompases more than just the St. Johns neighborhood the last time I checked.

  • (Show?)

    I'd point out, though, that even though the district boundaries changed after the 2000 Census, the area has still been there a long time. So I doubt people would count it against you if your home had been districted in one area prior to 2000 and in HD 44 after 2000.

    And I don't think anyone said the district only had St. Johns, just that it was where they personally lived.

  • (Show?)

    I do live in HD 44 and it's a pleasure to be constantly changing my mind about which candidate to vote for because I keep finding out more positive things about all of them.

    If they keep up this positive campaigning, the two of the three of them who don't end up representing this district in Salem are going to have a big head start with me if they run for public office in the future.

  • activist kaza (unverified)

    I got to know Jim originally during my run against Darlene Hooley in 2004. As the then-chair of the Multnomah Dems, he treated me and my candidacy far more fairly than the fiefdoms in several other counties in CD5. So Jim earned my respect by respecting the democratic process, instead of discouraging debate like many of his counterparts.

    He's also been a strong proponent of campaign finance reform, altho in fairness, I have been disappointed that he has apparently backed away from open support of p37 during this campaign.

    As a grad of Univ. of Portland and a former resident of North Portland, I can appreciate the points raised here about Jim's slightly deeper roots in the community. He's also clearly bright and educated and a real "grass-roots" guy, all of which give him a slight edge, I think, over Kotek (whom I admittedly don't know other than by her strong reputation).

    I'm proud to endorse Jim Robison and think he'll make a great state Rep for HD44 but it's another lucky Portland neighborhood that should be well-represented regardless of the outcome in May (er, & November).

  • Leo Schuman (unverified)

    While I moved back to St. Johns a year ago, I first lived in the general neighborhood - and what is now HD 44 - 22 years ago as a student at the University of Portland. My first deep impression of Portland was from the window of my sister's apartment across from Cathedral Park, as a high school student from Montana visiting UP for the first time. I've lived in Portland for most of 22 years since. My partner and I have sunk our homeowner roots in St. Johns, and I'm getting to work as a Democratic party activist, running for PCP in precinct 2002.

    I've spoken (or emailed) with all three candidates, as have thoroughly read their public materials. I certainly agree that all three are impressive, experienced, and worthy of support. We're lucky to have such a selection.

    Ultimately, I plan to vote for Tina, because we need her strong, articulate woman's voice in Salem.

    I believe that while our representatives represent the geographic region which elects them, they also represent constituencies which may not have the privilege of geographic concentration. Tina is deeply experienced in advocating for the interests of woman and children, two populations whose voices and needs have been given short shrift in the past decades' Republican-led assault on childhood education funding. Women are our primary childhood caregivers, and children who are not in school become primarily their burden, to be juggled with the job(s) our economy requires most mother's to have. Someone capable of articulating this serious - and under-appreciated - needs to be in Salem as a voting member, not just a lobbyist. Women and children need a stronger voice in Salem, and Tina has that voice.

    Once again, all three candidates are fine folk. In this particular race, I expect Tina will get my vote. And, I'll be listening at the candidates' forums this week.


    <h2>p.s. BIG kudos to the marvelous women of St. Johns Booksellers for putting another candidates' forum on the calendar! If you haven't visited their store, it's yet another great reason to take a weekend stroll through St. Johns. Brunch and book-browsing, then pop across the bridge for a Forest Park hike ... ? What a great day.</h2>
open discussion

connect with blueoregon