By Ali O'Neill of Portland, Oregon. Ali is a small business owner and a nurse, and is the secretary-treasurer of O’Neill Electric Inc.
As a woman business owner and strong supporter of women’s rights since childhood, I would like to express my unconditional support for Jefferson Smith. I find it very disappointing that there is more focus on a public figure’s past mistakes rather than their visions for the future. As a business owner I have sometimes been faced with difficult hiring decisions, when the most qualified candidate has past life experiences that may seem to disqualify them for our business environment. I always ask myself whether past mistakes matter, or what this person can do in the future. Looking to the future has always proven the way to go. What I’ve learned from that, as well as my own mistakes, is that for a lot of us, while we wish we could go back and erase these experiences off our “record”, they’re a big part of making us who we are and able to persevere and try to do better. If our society progresses to the point where we will only elect candidates who have never done anything wrong, we will end up with leaders who either have no life experience because they’ve been confined to a plastic bubble for life, or those who are so corrupt or rich that they can pay off everyone who could possibly say something negative.
My husband and I have known Jefferson for several years, and his campaign has rented space in our office building for the last year. During that time I’ve had numerous interactions with Jefferson and his staff. We’re all pretty close together in this environment, and a political campaign can be pretty tense. But I’ve never seen anything remotely untoward, never heard Jefferson raise his voice even. Growing up in a rural community, and later working as a critical care nurse for ten years, I came into close contact with too many women who has suffered incidents of domestic violence. Their faces will always be imprinted in my mind. I could not possibly be a stronger advocate for women or more opposed to domestic violence. At the same time, my experiences as both a nurse and a business owner have taught me a lot about the importance and power of forgiveness as we all struggle to be the best human beings we can be.
Portland is a good city, but to become a great city it truly needs to find a way to a future of equity, justice and parity, and to leave its past of cronyism and prejudice behind. We can’t do that by recycling the same politicians over and over. Jefferson Smith points the way to this future. Portland would be wise to forgive the past and follow him.
Nov. 02, 2012 | |