New faces of Oregon Politics

by Melanie Davis
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Editor’s Note: As we have seen in the recent news the Latino vote is predicted to be at an all time possible high. In fact, we have international superstars like Eva Longoria dedicating time and monies to get out the vote among Latino voters in her campaign #LatinoVictory. To localize these efforts we at El Hispanic News want to take this opportunity to introduce you to the Latina’s, Latino’s, and Indigenous candidates who are running for office in the state of Oregon.
By Melanie Davis, El Hispanic News
Southwick photoMeet Paul Carlos Southwick, who is running for State Representative, District 37 which serves the West Linn/Tualatin/Stafford/Rivergrove/Durham area of Oregon. The legislature passes laws concerning a range of issues including public education, the environment, civil rights and affordable housing. It also sets the state budget. As an attorney with experience in business litigation and civil rights litigation. Paul understands how to bring people together to resolve their differences and get things done successfully. Additionally, he has testified before the state legislature as a youth advocate on a strong bill that will protect minors from harmful therapy practices. When El Hispanic News asked Paul how his office can better fulfill in the diverse communities of Oregon, he said: “All of the major issues facing the legislature have a tremendous impact on diverse and underrepresented communities. These include school funding, affordable housing, healthcare, climate change policies, transportation funding, police accountability, and prison reform and immigration policy. Too many in our communities aren’t heard from and aren’t considered on these matters.†El Hispanic News then asked Paul: When elected, how can your office will better serve these community needs? “A deliberative body can only be as wise as the sum of its members’ experiences. In other words, state representatives need to actually represent the state. That means that the legislature needs a greater diversity of its membership, including people who bring different perspectives, and new, innovative ideas, based on their race, ethnicity, age, gender or sexual orientation. It also means that the legislature needs to make much greater efforts to speak to and hear from all Oregonians. We need to ensure that both our policies and our politics are inclusive.†House District 37 will be one of the closest races in 2016. To help Paul Carlos Southwick win the race for State Representative, District 37 you can get involved and learn more at
teresa 16.1 Meet Teresa Alonso Leon, who is running for State Representative, House District 22 which is located in Marion County and encompasses the cities of Woodburn, Gervais, Keizer, and Salem. In her own words, Teresa has made it very clear why she is running: “I am running for the Oregon House because I want to be a voice for working families and all the community members that make up House District 22.†Teresa’s who is currently a member of the Woodburn City Council, also works for the Higher Education Coordinating Commission in the Office of Community College and Workforce Development, as the state’s High School Equivalency and GED Administrator. When El Hispanic News asked Teresa how her office can better fulfill in the diverse communities of Oregon, she said: “As an elected official, I will make it a priority to work in collaboration with all members of our community. So we can deliver on Oregonians’ top priorities by investing in our schools, improve high school graduation rates, help small businesses create good-paying jobs, and make sure all working Oregonians have a fair shot.†El Hispanic News then asked Teresa: When elected, how can your office will better serve these community needs? “As an immigrant and the first Latina to run for House District 22, I understand firsthand the challenges our families face or have faced because I have experienced them. I will work hard to support or create policies that create change by making our systems more inclusive and better equipped to support the needs of our growing, diverse communities. As a legislator, I will work hard to advocate on behalf of working families and be a vocal advocate about the many contributions diverse communities have made to Oregon.†“As a Purépecha from Michoacán Mexico, I feel blessed to run for elected office and to have the opportunity to be an example to underrepresented communities that a woman from humble beginnings can run for office and work for the well-being of all communities.†To help Teresa Alonso Leon win the race for State Representative, House District 22, please visit, or call the campaign headquarters (971) 216-1532. You can also follow her on Facebook at TeresaAlonsoLeonforHD22 or on Twitter at @AlonsoLeon4HD22.
DSC06037 Meet Tawna Sanchez, who is running for Oregon House of Representatives, District 43 which serves the North/Northeast area of Portland, Oregon. As a legislator one serves the public by establishing laws to protect the public. Additionally, they decide state spending on schools, social services, transportation, public safety, and other priorities. Tawna plans on bringing her extensive experience to this office. For 20 years Tawna has lived in the district and been a leader at the Native American Youth and Families Center. She has worked with families – on early learning, K-12 and college readiness, affordable housing and homeownership, elder care, and dealing with domestic violence. When El Hispanic News asked Tawna how her office can better fulfill in the diverse communities of Oregon, she said: “We face clear disparities when it comes to poverty, school achievement, fair housing access, racial profiling, and other issues. These issues are being debated today in our Legislature and there are too few voices speaking from experience about the struggles in our diverse communities. Over the years, I’ve worked with hundreds of families from this district. They know I always have an open door and an open heart for their needs. We need to bring an eye for equity to how we teach our kids, reward and support our workers, help those who need it, and care for our elderly.†El Hispanic News then asked Tawna: When elected, how can your office will better serve these community needs? “I am fortunate at NAYA to work with people from all ethnic and social backgrounds. Frankly, the needs of our communities of color are not prioritized in the legislature and too often impacts on our communities are overlooked. As the first native woman to serve in the Oregon legislature, I would carry with me the knowledge that I am there to speak for those who feel they don’t have a voice in the process. People without lobbyists or contribution checks. People who may not even be able to vote. I will never stop fighting for the people of this community.†“I have the experience in effectively represent the diverse people of this District. That is why I am supported by leaders like Carmen Rubio, Gale Castillo, Lee Po Cha, Vanessa Timmons, Matt Morton, Nichole Maher, and Tom Potter.†“Democracy is a powerful engine for change and we can make a difference.†Help Tawna Sanchez win the race for Oregon House of Representatives, District 43 or email her at
3 Meet Diego Hernandez, who is running for State Representative in House District 47 which serves District 47, East and SE Portland, Oregon. The experience Diego will bring to the legislative branch of Oregon is his passion for working on more equitable legislation and budgets and his commitment to meet the needs of the district constituency. Diego also brings a diverse set of experience to this office. He’s been a community organizer on environmental justice, renters rights, and racial equity issues, and currently holds Masters in Social Work. He is a former high school and middle school teacher who has also served on a school board since 2013. Additionally, Diego Hernandez was the first Latino ever elected to the Reynolds School Board in 2013. Diego is currently the Co-Executive Director of Momentum Alliance, a nonprofit he co-founded five years ago, which develops young civic leaders. When El Hispanic News asked Diego how his office can better fulfill in the diverse communities of Oregon, he said: “There are many issues that my district faces. Historically, East Portland has been neglected and not provided the right infrastructure and public investment needed to live safe and healthy lives. I will be an active advocate in fighting for East Portland to get its fair share. We face tremendous challenges in our communities, from the affordable and stable housing to safe routes to school, a fully funded public education system, safe and secure public spaces, protecting our seniors, low wages and many more issues that I hope to address and to work on.†El Hispanic News then asked Diego: When elected, how can your office will better serve these community needs? “I am a product of East Portland and I’ve faced many of the adversities our community currently faces, so I have a sense of urgency to do something about it. I am committed to racial equity and I will make sure that our communities of color and immigrant communities have a strong voice in Salem.†To help Diego Hernandez win the race for State Representative in House District 47, please go to