Choosing Avakian

Carla Axtman

We are fortunate in Oregon to have a wealth of good public servants who are active in making progressive policy. But among the very best is Brad Avakian. Avakian is Oregon's Labor Commissioner, now campaigning for a second term at the job. At once thoughtful and smart, Avakian's tenure as Labor Commissioner includes a pilot program to bring shop classes back to schools--a vital vocational education program that educates Oregon's future workforce.

Brad also strongly supported the statewide family leave program as well as actively supporting equal pay for equal work. Avakian is a staunch supporter of equality across the board, receiving the 2012 Equality Advocate Award from Basic Rights Oregon for outstanding leadership.

Avakian has elevated the role of Labor Commissioner to one that truly means something for our state.

The position is nonpartisan--but voters should be aware that Avakian is the Democrat in the race. Not only does this inform your decision in terms of the values he brings to the table, it stands in stark contrast to his Republican opponent.

State Senator Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro) is pulling from his base (check out the video of Starr ducking questions by Laurel Porter about his legislative votes). Despite Avakian's good record working with business, Starr has garnered support from various local Chambers of Commerce--most notably Hillsboro--the area he represents in the state senate. But Beaverton and Salem weighed in for him as well. Not exactly ringing endorsements if you're a worker or believe that equality matters. And given Avakian's reputation as someone business feels they can engage with, it wouldn't be surprising to find out later that Starr's support came from those who hope to retain it when he's back in the legislature early next year.

Starr is anti-labor as well, seemingly fully prepared to turn Oregon into a so-called "right to work" state (Meaning he'd allow non-union workers to benefit from union negotiated wages and benefits without paying union dues).

Apparently all part of Starr's grand plan to get Oregon back to work--cuz really, screwing over workers by gutting unions is going to get that done, right?

Starr's history of anti-labor behavior doesn't end there. Weirdly, he voted to essentially end the bureau he's now running to lead. He also voted against the family leave program (that Avakian supports and is working for), against the law which makes it illegal to deny employment to gays and lesbians--and voted against domestic partnerships for gays and lesbians. Not exactly Mr. Equality, this one.

Starr also voted three times against limits on fees and interest rates for payday loans.

This isn't just about voting against a Starr, a guy who would clearly suck at the job of Labor Commissioner. It's about voting FOR a really wonderful progressive who has already been fantastic in the job.

You can help get Avakian elected. Sure, money is nice. But it's getting close to the deadline--and one of the most powerful things you can do is talk about this race. Share this post on Facebook. Talk with fellow progressives, Democrats and all the other political flavors about why Avakian is the vastly superior choice for this job.

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