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This race for Oregon Senate is much more than just my story. It's our story.

It is a story about us.

We are a rapidly changing district. With over 70 beautiful languages spoken in our neighborhood schools, we have enormous cultural resources. Ours is a hardworking district. Whether we have lived in the area for generations or we just arrived, out here in East Portland and North Clackamas, we are industrious, resilient and hopeful. I know this because, through our campaign, I have met thousands of you.

And as I travel Senate District 24, I see everyday people struggling with basics. There are families on the streets, hungry and homeless. I talk to people in my neighborhood who are working two or three jobs trying to make ends meet. Others who are one paycheck away from foreclosure or eviction. Muslim women tell me they have been harassed and targeted simply because of who they are. Immigrant and refugee residents are fearful of being deported. I have personally witnessed black and brown men stopped by the police regularly. As a former refugee who loves this country, I find this unconscionable.

My friends, when I say this is a story about us it's because East Portland and North Clackamas must make a fundamental decision about who we are. Do we stand by and watch as our neighbors are forced onto the streets, living paycheck to paycheck, in fear that we could be next? Or do we come together and fight for a people’s agenda that brings security and stability to all?

From what I've seen so far, my neighbors in Senate District 24 are ready for change, and are willing to join in that fight.

Together, we can be the change that this district needs.

Not me, WE.

I’ve spent nearly 20 years working as a community organizer to shift the balance of power and even the scales so that all people have a fair chance of reaching their dreams. As your next Oregon State District 24 Senator, I will work not only for you but with you to ensure all of our neighbors have the ability to thrive. 

—Kayse

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Kayse Jama is the Founder and Executive Director of Unite Oregon, a statewide nonprofit working to build a unified intercultural movement for justice. Jama currently serves on the Steering Committee of both the Oregon Health Equity Alliance (OHEA) and the Fair Shot Coalition. He is a Democratic Party Precinct Person, a Commissioner on Black Affairs for the State of Oregon, and has served on various boards and commissions, including: Portland Public Finance Commission, Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement Bureau Advisory Committee, Portland Fair Housing Advocacy Committee, Metro Equity Strategy Advisory Committee, Oregon Attorney General’s Workgroup on the Prevention of Profiling by Law Enforcement and many others. He has been an adjunct instructor at Portland State University and from 2005 to 2007, Jama trained immigrant and refugee community leaders in five Western states—Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah and Idaho—under a prestigious New Voices Fellowship at Western States Center. He has been awarded the Skidmore Prize for outstanding young nonprofit professionals (2007), the Oregon Immigrant Achievement Award from Oregon chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (2008), the 2009 Lowenstein Trust Award, which is presented yearly to “that person who demonstrated the greatest contribution to assisting the poor and underprivileged in Portland,” the 2012 Portland Peace Prize, and the 2016 Rankin Award in recognition of "lifelong activism and extraordinary service." He lives with his wife and David Douglas School Board member, Stephanie D. Stephens, in the Hazelwood neighborhood of East Portland along with their seven-year-old twins, Sahan and Saharla.

 

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