I am extremely disappointed with Sen. Chuck Thomsen, who has walked off the job in Salem so many times, most recently in February, because he was mad about some legislation or proposal. It’s shameful and there must be accountability for lawmakers who fail to show up and do their jobs. There have been a lot of scary moments over the last year for myself and my friends and neighbors in Hood River. A frightening pandemic, smoke from massive wildfires, as well as small businesses worried about if they will be able to survive extended closures and unemployed Oregonians worried how they will be able to pay the bills. This is on top of how the pandemic has made hunger and homelessness more dire in our community. We need our senator to show up for us, not turn his back on us.
When politicians walk off the job and refuse to negotiate on policies, it shows they are unfit for office. It doesn’t matter what the issue is that he doesn’t like. We didn’t elect Thomsen to go on vacation when the going gets tough. That is why I support proposals that would bring consequences to lawmakers who violate their oath of office and skip out on work. One proposal on the table says that if lawmakers don’t show up when they are supposed to, they won’t get paid and will face fines. I support that. No work? No pay. And the bill prohibits the kind of fundraising that can occur from big political donors to pay the fines or make up lost wages. They can’t turn to their drug company, corporate timber industry, and other corporate donors to reward them for walking out. I also strongly support the proposal that would ban any lawmaker from running for office who has had 10 unexcused absences. Regular people have to show up, go to work and do their entire job, not just parts of their jobs. If they don’t they get penalized or fired. The same should be true for the people we send to Salem.
I grew up here in Hood River, and I now work in health care administration. Every day in my work our customers and coworkers rely on me, as do my friends and family. I take seriously all of my obligations and duties, and I frankly find it stunning that Sen. Thomsen and the other GOP Senators who claim to be our leaders and ask for our votes don’t do the same.
Working in the health care field, I see the sacrifices our front-line health care workers are making every day. Under immense stress, they still do their jobs because they keep their promises and take their oaths seriously. They deserve to know that every single day, no matter what, every single lawmaker is showing up for them. When these Legislators refuse to do their jobs, they are delaying our communities’ access to desperately needed housing assistance, resources our schools urgently need to safely fully reopen, legislation to lower pharmaceutical drug prices and other assistance Oregonians need. Perhaps even more infuriatingly we the taxpayers, who are hurting most right now, have to pay for the costs of the walkouts. Last year these costs came to almost half a million dollars.
Hood River, and communities across Oregon, can’t allow these walkouts to continue. A strong bipartisan majority of Oregonians support policies that would make walking out on the job hurt for lawmakers. As more and more Oregonians get fed up with GOP gridlock they are joining together with teachers and other community organizations to demand change. Please check out NoMoreCostlyWalkouts.com to learn how you can get involved. We as a state cannot allow our government to continue to be shut down in these scary times.
Lucy McLean lives in Hood River.