Upcoming Town Hall; Seeking Solutions to the Growing Wealth Gap


House Speaker Tina Kotek
D-North/NE Portland
District 44

Phone: 503-986-1444    900 Court St. NE, H-269, Salem Oregon 97301
Email: rep.tinakotek@state.or.us     Website: http://www.leg.state.or.us/kotek

Town Hall Meeting for the 2014 Session

Where do we go next?

Working for our shared values

Step one: Defining the problem

Finding Solutions: Please take the survey

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Happy New Year!  I hope you and yours had a wonderful holiday season.

We are a month away from the 2014 Session.  I look forward to seeing many of you at my pre-session town hall with Representative Lew Frederick and Senator Chip Shields later this month:

Town hall meeting for the 2014 Session

Speaker of the House Tina Kotek

Representative Lew Frederick, and Senator Chip Shields

WHEN: Saturday, January 25, 2014 – 10:00 a.m. to Noon

WHERE: Self Enhancement Inc., 3920 N. Kerby Avenue, Portland


Where do we go next?

This is a perfect time to reflect on the year just past and, more importantly, to think about the opportunities ahead.  As I embark on my eighth year in office and my second year as Speaker of the House, I am reminded of all the unfinished work still ahead.

I remember going to the Capitol in 1999 when I first worked for Oregon Food Bank.  That year, Oregon was identified as the hungriest state in the nation.  We made progress, but then national economic woes led our state through a grinding economic downturn followed up by the Great Recession. While we are still standing, too many Oregonians continue to struggle.

Yet, Oregon continues to attract new residents, carrying their hopes and dreams to our communities – starting careers, seeking something better for their children, looking for a safe place to grow old.  We are a hopeful state.  We want to be better.  My hope is that we can work together across ideological lines to make sure prosperity is a possibility for everyone who works hard and plays by the rules.

I’m pleased by the progress we made in 2013, the first real year of the economic recovery.  We turned the corner on the recession and put our state back on track.  Historic investments in our public education system, for example, are a huge step in the right direction.  But, I don’t believe in standing still when there’s work to be done.  I’m guessing many of you would join me in being frustrated by the economic uncertainty and lack of opportunity experienced by so many Oregonians.  We have to talk about it more if we’re going to solve it.

Working for our shared values

While at a local antique shop over the holidays, I came across a 1940’s school textbook entitled “The Way of Democracy.”  The authors wanted to make sure that children learned about the characteristics of democracy so they wouldn’t be indifferent to or ignorant of our democratic way of life.  The times they lived in certainly made them very aware of the threats democracy faced.

The editors’ preface for the teachers lists twelve characteristics of democracy that frame the book.  The first three are:

1.      Respect for the dignity and worth of the individual human personality.

2.      Open opportunity for the individual.

3.      Economic and social security.

I can’t imagine many would disagree with these three democratic values.  To what degree, though, do we really value them today?  When someone works several jobs and still needs an emergency food box at the end of the month, what does that say about dignity, opportunity, and security?  We must constantly work to make these aspirations a reality.

Step one:  Defining the problem

The gap between the wealthiest households and everyone else is not the easiest thing to describe or even get your head around.  Fortunately, we have YouTube.  Please take a few minutes to watch this video.  It does a great job of explaining the problem with helpful graphics – it shows how people would like things to be, what they perceive the problem to be, and what the actual problem is.



Seeking Solutions: Please take the survey

I hope you’ll join the conversation about the problem of income inequality.  We have to try to solve it.  Oregon can take on big topics.  We need to take this one on together because it impacts every corner of our state and our way of life.  I welcome your thoughts and ideas.  Here’s a quick survey to get us started:


Thank you for reading.  I look forward to the discussion.


Tina Kotek

State Representative

House District 44

Speaker of the House