(Photo: Richard Devlin; two candidates not pictured)

Oregon faces one of the most intense and consequential elections in 2016, where your vote will make a difference.  We know that communities that vote experience better health, education and economic opportunity.  APANO’s civic engagement work is about speaking out and fighting for what is best for our families.  Our team has reached out equally to all candidates in selected races to provide them an opportunity to communicate more directly with the 250,000 Asian and Pacific Islanders in Oregon in advance of the May 17th Oregon Primary Election.  We encourage you to reflect on their answers and discuss with family and friends as you make your decisions.

Candidates have been asked the following questions to engage more directly with constituents, and for voters to be more familiar with their vision and policies. We are giving equal opportunity to all major candidates in the race. APANO is a 501c3 nonprofit, and makes no endorsements.  This information is provided for educational purposes only.

Secretary of State

Brad Avakian: BradAvakian.com
Val Hoyle: valhoyle.com
Richard Devlin: devlinfororegon.com

No responses from:
Sid Leiken
Dennis Richardson

1. Oregon’s racial demographics are changing rapidly, and today more than 1 in 5 are from communities of color. How are you qualified to represent the interests and concerns of diverse communities of color, immigrants and refugees?

Avakian – As a civil rights attorney, legislator and labor commissioner, I’ve worked to put progressive values into action and create economic opportunity for all Oregonians.  Today as Labor Commissioner, I am leading the charge to return 21st century shop classes to middle schools and high schools — with more than 340 now providing access to more than 100,000 students so far. I’ve fought wage theft and civil rights abuses in the workplace, directing more than $22 million into the pockets of Oregonians treated unfairly. And I’ve advanced policies for better transparency in the workplace so all Oregonians can earn equal pay for equal work.

Hoyle – As a second generation American who grew up in a diverse community and is married to an immigrant, I am aware of the issues that new Americans face. I believe that Oregon is better off when all voices are heard and every vote is counted. That’s why I have a long history of outreach to immigrant rights organizations and communities of color. In Boston, I worked with an organization that helped provide resources to undocumented immigrants who were being exploited in the workplace. These experiences shaped my values, and that’s why I was a strong supporter of Measure 88, the Driver’s Card measure, and Tuition Equity.

As a legislator, I made it a priority to build diverse teams within my office and recruit candidates from historically disenfranchised groups because Oregon needs to have more leaders that look like the communities we represent. Lastly, in my community I worked with the NAACP ACT-SO program to mentor Black and Latino students in academic and cultural achievement.

Devlin – I have a long history of supporting the concerns of communities of color. I have also been one of the longest supporters of Oregon’s Advocacy Commissions and was instrumental in creating the Oregon Advocacy Commission Office. While familiar with all the Advocacy Commissions, I am particularly aware of the work in the Commission on Asian and Pacific Islanders. My wife is an immigrant, originally from Hong Kong. During the 1980s, she worked with refugees with the Department of Human Services and, through her work, our family developed relationships with many individuals from diverse cultures.

2. Asian and Pacific Islanders are persistently under-represented in our public processes. What is one policy you would fight for that expands access for Asian and Pacific Islanders in the political process?

Devlin – One policy that would be of particular benefit to some Asian and Pacific Islanders is to, upon request, provide voter information and ballots in the first language of the voter so that they are better able to make important decisions about their vote.

HoyleThis is a difficult question because the Asian and Pacific Islander community is not monolithic; it is made up of many different nationalities, languages, and levels of political engagement. In the last session, I sponsored a bill with Rep. Joe Gallegos to provide ballots and voter information in different languages. I would also expand upon efforts that I have done in my district like attending cultural festivals and meeting people in their communities. Most importantly, we need to ensure that young people in the API community are provided opportunities for internships and the types of jobs that allow them to develop the relationships, connections, and mentors that will allow them to successfully run for office.  

Avakian – I believe every Oregonian should have a voice in our democracy. I will fight pass meaningful campaign finance limits and for public financing of campaigns to ensure Oregonians of all backgrounds have a chance to run for public office.

3. There have been an increasing number of comments about communities of color by candidates that raise the danger of violence and discrimination. What specific leadership will you take to address the anti-immigrant and racist political rhetoric in Oregon?

Avakian – I will never be silent when the civil rights of Oregonians are under attack. As Labor Commissioner, I am charged with enforcing the state’s civil rights laws. I secured a $2.4 million settlement against Daimler Trucks North America stemming from complaints of racial discrimination and intimidation, the largest civil rights settlement in the agency’s history. I also created the Oregon Council on Civil Rights to develop and advance policies and initiatives, including ending the pay gap between women, people of color and their white male counterparts.

Devlin – As a member of the legislature, I have strongly spoken out against every anti-immigrant measure that has ever appeared or been proposed on the ballot. As a statewide official, I would continue to do the same. I do not believe anti-immigrant or racist political rhetoric have any place in Oregon politics.

HoyleAs one of our statewide elected officials, I will lead by example by embracing immigrants and communities of color through words and deeds, pointing out and promoting their positive contributions to Oregon.  And I’ll call out others when they cross the line. I will continue to speak out loudly in opposition of such rhetoric and would be proud to be able to use the bully pulpit of my statewide office to do so.

On a similar note, we need to do a better job at having honest discussions about race and institutional bias. Oregonians, and progressives are sometimes the guiltiest, and are very awkward when talking about race. More often than not we have discussions where instead of embracing diversity and race, we ignore it all together. We need to move beyond comments like “I don’t see color” that fail to recognize a community’s inherent value and celebrate the cultural differences as opposed to ignoring them.

4. What policy priorities do you envision fighting for that you believe will make a difference in the lives of Asian and Pacific Islanders?

HoyleGentrification and affordable housing continues to be a growing problem in our state, specifically within the Portland area, and it needs to be addressed. As Secretary of State, I would work with different groups to ensure that communities are not displaced and have a voice within the decisions that affect their area. 

I would also like to continue my work with increasing culturally appropriate healthcare access. I previously worked for the United Way Health Care Access Coalition in Lane County that advocated for providing culturally competent health care to immigrant communities. As Secretary of State, I would utilize the auditing function of the Secretary of State’s office to do performance audits on community health care programs to assess levels of success in treating under served and immigrant communities.

Avakian – I think Oregon should be a national leader in combating climate change. In the legislature I passed the Oregon Renewable Energy Act of 2007 to create more clean energy jobs for the state and was named Oregon League of Conservation Voters’ “Consensus Builder of the Year” for effort. As Secretary of State, I will use my position on the State Land Board to promote a clean energy economy. We should be building wind and solar facilities in Eastern Oregon, geothermal facilities in Central and Southern Oregon, and wave energy systems off Oregon’s coast.

Devlin – I have worked for many years in the legislature to represent the interests of the diverse communities in Oregon. During this last session and 2015 session, I worked closely with advocates on HB 4071, which established the COFA premium assistance plan, and was critical to ensuring the program received funding.  If elected to be the next Secretary of State, I would continue to work on similar issues with advocates, as well as work on issues related to expanding access to the ballot – eliminating the registration cut-off, making sure that Motor Voter is properly and fully implemented, and providing voter information in the first language of the voter.

5. Why should Asian & Pacific Islanders vote for you?

Devlin – Asian and Pacific Islanders should vote for me because I am the most qualified candidate for the job, I have the clearest understanding of what the responsibilities of the Secretary of State are, and I will be ablest to uphold the integrity of the position. No other candidate for Secretary of State has ever had the vast knowledge of the state’s finances and the auditing process as I have.

Avakian – I always look for input from constituents before making changes in policy or procedure at the Bureau of Labor and Industries. As a legislator, and now as Labor Commissioner, I have continually sought input not just from community leaders, but from the people most impacted by the policies. Input from workers has played a significant role in improving the office and I will continue to actively seek input from community members as Oregon’s next Secretary of State.

HoyleThe Secretary of State has the responsibility to engage voters in the electoral process. After looking at my record, I hope the API community recognizes my level of outreach, support of many API community leaders, and my commitment to strengthen the voices of all communities. I have fought for immigrants, refugees, and communities of color long before I became a legislator and I hope to be able to work with the API community in a greater capacity as your next Secretary of State.


To get involved in APANO’s civic engagement work, please contact Kathy@apano.org or call 971-340-4861.