Sarah Baessler, BS, BA, ONA Director of Health Policy and Government Relations
Dear Oregon Nurses,
This May, I was honored to accept a position as ONA’s Director of Health Policy and Government Relations. For the past two years, I’ve worked as ONA’s political organizer, and in that role have had the opportunity to work with many of you to strengthen our political program, elect nursing supporters to the legislature, and advocate for nursing priorities in Salem.
Jack Dempsey, ONA’s previous Director of Health Policy and Government Relations will continue to work on your behalf as one of our lobbyists in Salem. I’m also pleased to announce that Jenn Baker, an ONA staff member since 2011, is our new political organizer.
We have a strong team, and we have our work cut out for us in the months ahead.
The Road to November:
While it may seem like we’re always gearing up for an election, the fact is that a critical election is just a few months away. This November, we have the opportunity to re-elect President Obama who, in his first term, was able to pass the Affordable Care Act, dramatically expanding access to quality affordable health care, and transitioning from a model of "sick care” to a system that provides for the types of primary and preventive care that nurses know can keep us all healthier and reduce overall costs. ANA has endorsed the President’s re-election campaign, and we’ll work with the campaign in Oregon.
While the presidential campaign is critically important, I can’t overstate the importance of local campaigns for the Oregon House of Representatives and the Oregon Senate.
For the last two years the Oregon House has been evenly divided with 30 Democrats and 30 Republicans. While we’ve made major steps forward in health care reform at the state level, laying the groundwork for our Health Insurance Exchange, and transitioning towards a system of Coordinated Care Organizations to provide quality cost-effective care to our Medicaid population, who is in power in the 2013 session will be critical. Nationally, we’ve seen attacks on basic union rights like collective bargaining. Electing pro-labor candidates will help ensure that Oregon nurses keep the rights they’ve earned in the workplace.
As we do each election cycle, ONA members will decide which candidates to support in the November election. At ONA, this is a member-led process. Our Cabinet on Health Policy, and Oregon Nurse Political Action Committee (ON-PAC), both made up of active ONA members from around the state, work together to interview candidates, evaluate their support and knowledge of nursing and labor issues, and ultimately make endorsements, financial contributions and give grassroots support by making phone calls and knocking on doors. When we do candidate endorsement interviews, all ONA members from the area are invited to participate. Your participation helps ensure that candidates are familiar with ONA and the issues that matter most to nurses. Your perspective and impressions inform our endorsement decisions. Stay tuned for an email or post card inviting you to candidate interviews in your area.
Once the endorsements are made, we’ll spend the fall electing our endorsed candidates, and again, we’ll need your help. Nurses remain the most trusted professionals in America, and your endorsement and support of a candidate is both highly sought and highly valued. We’ll work with our endorsed candidates to make sure that your volunteer time is used effectively and that you have all of the training and information you need to make an impact.
In Multnomah County, two of your nursing colleagues are campaigning for re-election.
Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson, RN, the chair of the Senate Health Care Committee and the only nurse in the Oregon Legislature is already talking to voters in her district about the campaign.
On the Portland City Council, ONA Member Amanda Fritz, RN, a former psych nurse at OHSU is also running for re-election.
ONA has endorsed both Senator Monnes Anderson and Commissioner Fritz and will be working closely with them throughout the campaign. Both campaigns would be honored to have your support and your help, and we’ll be organizing volunteer opportunities for nurses. Look for specific opportunities in Friday Email and by friending ONA on Facebook.
In addition to candidate races, Oregon voters will make decisions on ballot measures. ONA will carefully evaluate ballot measures and will share our recommendations with you in the coming months. As you read this, the Secretary of State’s office is validating signatures to determine which measures will make it on to the November ballot.
This summer and fall, I hope you’ll join ONA for candidate interviews, or for an activity supporting one of our endorsed candidates. As a member led organization, the more participation we have the stronger we are. Oregon Nurses can make a difference, but we need your help.