Meet the Democrats: Nancy Nathanson

Editor's Note: We continue our series introducing you to the ten new Democrats in the Oregon Legislature.

NancynathansonNancy Nathanson is a new state representative from Eugene, succeeding Bob Ackerman in House District 13. Previously, she spent a dozen years on the Eugene City Council.

We asked Representative-elect Nathanson a few questions:

What was the best job you've had that didn't involve politics?

Teaching tap dance in the Eugene community recreation program and at a private dance school. A high point was dancing in the Midnight Show at the Oregon Country Fair.

What's the most important issue facing Oregon? What's the long-term solution, and what can be done in the short term?

Restoring public confidence in government! We need to earn it back by implementing smart, targeted, incremental changes that actually improve people's lives.

If you found yourself alone with an entire day all to yourself, how would you spend it?

Good grief, I can't imagine ... hmm, dividing the perennials and planting the lilies. Baking treats for neighbors and friends. Weather permitting, reading a book on the deck.

What books have you read lately?

Tips and Tricks for Remodeling Your Bathroom; The First Eagle (Tony Hillerman); the Oregon House Rules

Name one Oregonian, past or present, who inspires you - and tell us why.

Peter Defazio, for his honesty, courage, independence, and vigorous pursuit of the values of his district.

Ducks or Beavers?

Ducks! I'm a UO alum, but my staff is evenly balanced, one each.

Tell us one thing that no one knows about you.

The blue spot on my coat is paint from a Blue Man Group concert.

As a first-term legislator, what do you hope to accomplish?

My list begins with the House Democrats' "Roadmap for Oregon's Future." Aside from those critical goals, I would like to help create some progress in workforce development, cleaning up the Willamette River, improving rail and public transit service, and expanding treatment and health care to reduce the burden on the criminal justice system.

Why do you live in Oregon?

After 30+ years, still, every day I wake up here I think what a wonderful place. I was born & raised in Texas, and lived for a few years in Illinois. I just can't imagine wanting to move away from here.

Name three favorite movies.

Chicago. Stomp. Schindler's List.

What did you learn on the campaign trail that you didn't know before - about yourself, about your district, and about Oregon?

Myself: At 55 I have as much energy as I did at 35. District 13: How intensely angry people are about the federal administration, and disappointed at the state legislature for failing to come together to find solutions. About Oregon: the need to prepare young people for the adult world of work and participation in society (including understanding local and state government).
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    Welcome, Rep.-elect Nathanson! Your Voter Pamphlet Statement says that you were a union member for more than 20 years. Are you still? I would be interested in knowing more about that. I know we endorsed you during your campaign, but did not realize that you were a member. Please post here or email me sometime. Thanks!

  • John (unverified)

    Progressives should monitor Nancy's voting record carefully. At times she has characterized herself as a Libertarian. When she was on the non-partisan City Council in Eugene, she consistently voted with pro-business, pro-development groups. Fortunately she was defeated for mayor by Kitty Piercy, a progressive who has been a breath of fresh air. I was frankly dismayed when Democrats let Nancy run unopposed in the primary. Democrats in her district will be watching...

  • josh (unverified)


    She is cut from the same cloth as Bob Ackerman. She is a perfect fit for her district.

  • Phen (unverified)

    John is badly misinformed. He is thinking of Toni Nathan, a well-known local Libertarian who actually ran for President of the United States several decades ago. Nancy has always been a Democrat; in fact was chair of the Lane County party in the early 1980s.

    Democrats in her district will be proud.

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    As a Country Fair Board of Directors member, I'm delighted to see that Nancy enjoyed her OCF experience.

  • (Show?)

    I don't know anything about the "libertarian" stuff, but I do know that the rest of what John accurately describes some of the debate.

    On December 8, 2005, Jeff Alworth posted an item titled Can't We Do Better in HD 13?. Two days later, Marc Abrams posted an item titled The "D" in HD 13 should be Nancy.

    I'm not fully educated on the various arguments that took place at the Eugene City Council, so I don't know much about all this. I do know that Nancy seems like a lovely person, and will be an excellent member of the House Democratic caucus.

    [Full disclosure: I built during the election cycle, but I'm not working for her now. I speak only for myself.]

  • John (unverified)

    More on Nancy Nathanson. The Eugene Weekly's assessment in 2004, when she was running for mayor:

    "Many of her positions clearly follow a pro-growth, pro-sprawl agenda. She is backed by the Chamber of Commerce and developers who stand to profit from the West Eugene Parkway and expansion of the urban growth boundary.

    Nathanson says she likes to move quickly in deciding on issues, move forward and get things done. That translates to a record poor on fairness, first for a record of closed meetings and lack of public input, and second, Nathanson only moves forward quickly when the agenda is conservative. On progressive matters, such as the renaming of Centennial to MLK Jr. Boulevard, Nathanson has actually called for more discussions, more hearings, i.e., more process, before making a decision."

    Nathanson got 10% on OLCV's scorecard, voted for $1.8 million in tax breaks for Hynix, and voted against livability standards for rental housing in Eugene.

    A Democratic? At most a Blue Dog or DLC Democrat, not a progressive.

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    Having lived in Nancy's district as a kid (Sheldon High School class of 1986!) and worked with her during the past year, I am confident that she will serve her district and our state exceedingly well. She's going to play a key role in rebuilding Oregon's schools, health care, public safety, infrastruture, fiscal responsibility, ethics, and trust in state government.

    From my perspective, that makes Nancy Nathanson a great legislator and a true blue Democrat.

  • LT (unverified)

    John, the whole OLCV scorecard issue was debated in the topics linked to Kari's comment:

    Posted by: Kari Chisholm | Jan 6, 2007 3:12:12 PM

    Just let me say that my mind is not made up solely by how someone votes on a number of issues selected by a lobbying group. I went to the OLCV website, and I am not sure I would have voted 100% with them. No lobby group speaks for me--I think for myself. More importantly, someone involved in local politics is not the same as someone with a legislative voting record.

    John, I suggest you watch Nancy's legislative record closely, and if you don't like it you can spend the next 2 years finding a primary challenger. But don't brand someone as DLC or Blue Dog (national terms, not Oregon terms) without watching a legislator's performance in legislative office.

  • John (unverified)

    LT--My whole point is that people should be watching Nancy's voting record...

  • Val (unverified)

    Nancy initially did have a challenger in this primary race, Bob Reeves, who pulled his name out before the election. Nancy Nathanson did not have a tough race as she had a strong support in her district and a very weak Republican opponent so she sent many of her volunteers to help work on Sen. Vicki Walker's race and Rep. Chris Edwards race (Sen. district 7 is comprised of HD 13 represented by Nancy Nathanson and HD 14 represented by Chris Edwards). We all worked very hard to win those races and Nancy's help was very much appreciated. Nancy showed that she is a team player and I think that she will work very well with the House Caucus and represent her district by voting with the Democratic majority on key matters of choice, labor issues, education, health care and land use.

    Nancy was the former Chairperson of the Democratic Party of Lane County and will be in good company with many other former DPLC Chairs while in the legislature like Sen. Vicki Walker, Sen. Bill Morrisette and Rep. Phil Barnhart. All are good Democrats working hard to represent the interests of Lane County and the State of Oregon. They also all strongly support our local Democratic party efforts to make sure that we keep Lane County blue.


  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)

    Q: What books have you read lately?

    Nancy Nathanson

    Tips and Tricks for Remodeling Your Bathroom; The First Eagle (Tony Hillerman); the Oregon House Rules

    Bob T:

    Great! Good, practical and realistic reply. Thanx a bunch for not being pretentious.

    Bob Tiernan

  • John (unverified)
    <h2>Interesting how none of the posters tried to contest Nancy's coziness with the business community. Now that Oregon has the lowest corporate tax rates of any state in the nation, will Nancy vote for more tax breaks, shifting more of the tax burden to voters? Her record in Eugene is not encouraging.</h2>
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