President's Message: Your Voice, Your Vote

"There's no such thing as a vote that doesn't matter." 

- President Barack Obama

Election season is in full swing! In fact, it’s difficult to escape the media coverage of the 2020 Presidential election sometimes.

What’s too often overlooked is the fact that there are a number of other important races closer to home which will have an impact, not just on Portland, but the entire state. 

Over the past few years, we’ve seen the impact elections can have, both nationally, and here in Oregon. This year, more than ever, we need to work together to help elect individuals who support educators, public education, and the students and communities we serve.

We know most people across the state—and across the country— support public education and share our broader values. But if they don’t get involved, or get to the polls, the people intent on undermining our public institutions will win. 

The National Education Association has been hard at work helping members get involved in the Presidential election. If you haven’t already, we recommend checking out the NEA's Presidential election website. 


There, you can see NEA president Lily Eskelsen García interviewing candidates on the record, to find out what they’ll do to support public education. You can also compare candidates on key issues, watch an education town hall, or submit your own questions. You can even find out how to become a state delegate at the national convention.

In addition to the NEA, the Oregon Education Association is gearing up for the PAC Convention. This year we will hear from candidates running for Secretary of State, Attorney General, Labor Commissioner, and all Congressional seats. This is your opportunity to meet the candidates for federal and state offices, to discuss your priority issues with them, and help determine which candidates OEA PAC should support.

Here in our own local union, the Portland Association of Teachers Political Action Committee (PAT PAC) has begun its interview process as well. We recently announced our first endorsement—Laurie Wimmer, candidate for HD 36.

We have also interviewed several incumbents who voted to cut our retirement. Rest assured, PAT PAC has heard your concerns and is asking every candidate about their PERS vote as well as their future plans vis-à-vis our retirement.

PAT PAC conducted interviews for 12 hours last Thursday, and will continue interviewing for other state and local races. PAT PAC is a voluntary, nonprofit, unincorporated association of individual educators and others and is not affiliated with any political party. To contribute to our PAC, you can fill out this form (the same one used to contribute to the OEA PAC and NEA PAC).

PAT PAC's purpose is to elect to office candidates who are interested in the development of a better educational system in Oregon and Portland Public Schools. To contribute to our PAC, you can use the same form used to contribute to the OEA PAC and NEA PAC.

Even within PAT, you can be part of the democratic process. This is my last year serving as your PAT president, and it has been a privilege working on behalf of our colleagues, our students, and our profession.

In February you will have the opportunity to vote for your next set of PAT officers as well as a number of other important positions. Ballots, as well as candidate information and their speeches, will be sent to all members via their PPS email on February 10th. Voting closes on February 24th.

Whether it is the election for President of the United States, the U.S. Congress, State Representatives and State Senators, City Council, Mayor, Portland District Attorney, or Portland Association of Teachers leadership, I encourage you to get informed and get involved.

In Solidarity,

Suzanne Cohen
PAT President