David Buchanan, RIP

By Mary Botkin of Portland, Oregon. Mary is a political and union activist.

Like many in the 60's politics for me was a contact sport, filled with confrontation, passion, opinions and activism. As the late 70's and 80's drifted in and the world seemed to be settled into an uneasy but livable peace with relative economic security, politics were more easily relegated to voting only.

Then in the mid 80's I was looking for new employment. I stumbled in to a job with Senator Rod Monroe (during his first tenure in Salem). This is the first encounter I had with David Buchanan - a person who would remain a lifelong friend, contrarian at times and a sometime colleague and always a co-conspirator.

When I first met David we were working on a little initiative for "Public Power". Then as I tried t find my way around the Capitol building in my new job with Senator Monroe I found David in the Bill Room. He literally showed me where all the important things were. The Coffee Shop (down the hall); the bathrooms, the back stair wells (you'll need those to get places in a hurry, when the 'school kids' are in the building); the 'tunnel' for when it is raining, and also gave me my first lessons in "do's and don'ts. The secret ones that no one ever talks about. Warnings about some literally "hands on" legislators to stay a way from and not ride elevators alone with, they are all gone now. Most important was David's abundance of knowledge and ability to of recall obscure facts, information and reference material. Everything from election results to the rules of election engagements. He knew them, he knew where to find them in print and he was willing to share every bit of knowledge he had with all of us.

Last week, I read that my friend David had passed away. I saw him just a week or so ago in a hearing in Salem. We nodded and smiled to each other but were both too busy to speak. It is with regret that I look back on that day, but also a lesson learned. We should never be too busy or too rushed to say hello to a friend old or new. We never know when it may be the last time we will see them.

David, thank you for all the value you brought to the world of politics and for your unrelenting belief that we can and should do better. To your family, I for one want to say thank you for sharing this wonderful man with all of us. He will be missed!

  • Grant Schott (unverified)

    Thanks, Mary, for posting this. I heard about Dave's death two days ago, and was going to submit the obit. from the Salem SJ, so am glad you shared you memories.

    Yesterday the top 50 OR politicos were listed on Blue OR. In terms of knowledge of OR politics, Dave would have easily been in the top 50, and he was active, often behind the scenes, on so many battles. For example, a year or two ago, I was talking to Dave about the battle over Trojan, and he explained to me an initiatives that passed in '78 that effectively prohibited utilities from borrowing from ratepayers to fund nuclear power plants. I knew about the initiatives that would have closed Trojan, but hadn't heard about the '78 measure, which Dave said was actually one of the more meaningful ones in OR. I'm sure Dave was in the thick of that fight.

    Dave and Pam Ferrara from Salem wrote and published two editions of the Almanac of OR Politics (89 and 94) which are a wealth of information.

    Dave, as many of you know, was head of COmmon Cause in OR for a number of years. I think one of his favorite experiences was working on Mo Udall's '76 campaign, primarily as a fundraiser in NY.

    Dave was a thoroughly nice guy and a committed liberal activist. He'll be missed.

  • jrw (unverified)

    Thank you Mary, for writing this tribute.

    I, too, knew Dave back in the day. When I was a legislative intern back in 1979, Dave explained the Bill Room and the Lege system to me and helped me figure a few things out around there. Grant, Dave was one of the activists involved in the '78 initiative.

    Dave was a very nice guy. We lived in the same building in 1979, and a couple of times I joined him for popcorn and TV on Saturday nights. IIRC, he was another science fiction fan but I can't remember what we were watching. Too many years ago.

    Dave was a sincere believer in honest and fair election processes. His knowledge of the system was thorough and detailed. He knew the history of the DPO in a way that most activists do not.

    One of our giants has gone.

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