Three groups team up for candidate fair
Three organizations — two with decades-old national roots, the third with decades-old local roots — teamed up to sponsor a Washington County candidates forum.
The League of Women Voters and the League of United Latin American Citizens joined the Washington County Public Affairs Forum to organize the forum, which drew about 100 people Thursday, April 5, to the Hillsboro Civic Center.
The audience heard candidates for three Washington County positions — board chair, and the District 2 and 4 seats — and the Metro Council presidency and District 4 seat, which covers much of the county. (Only one candidate of 12 invited was a no-show.)
"We have teamed up before, but not on something like this," said Rob Solomon, president of the Washington County forum, which is sponsoring other candidate forums on Mondays through May 7.
"The League (of Women Voters) really knows what it's doing — and it deserves the lion's share of credit for this."
The forum was founded in 1956. The national league was formed in 1920 to support the federal constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote.
"But this is the first time we have cosponsored a single event," said Kathleen Hersh, co-leader of the Washington County unit of the Oregon league.
Leagues elsewhere in Oregon have sponsored candidate fairs and forums, but Hersh said the Washington County unit is trying to revive itself after years of inactivity.
The candidate fair in Hillsboro also attracted candidates for other offices on the May 15 primary ballot, plus advocates for other organizations, which sponsored tables.
Hersh also said in addition to the April 5 forum — which will be rebroadcast daily on Tualatin Valley Community Television through April 21 — the league sponsors a video voters' guide on the channel with one-on-one questioning of candidates.
"This counteracts the influence of money because it is open to all candidates," Hersh said. "It is a way for all candidates to have a voice."
Luis Nava sits on the boards of the League of Women Voters and the League of United Latin American Citizens, founded in 1929.
"I am bringing the Latino voice into the league," he said.
LULAC chapters have sprung up in the past few years in Eugene, Southwest Washington and Washington County.
Nava said both organizations have joined forces to register voters, promote citizenship classes and student readiness for college.
Though Oregon has 250,000 Latinos who are permanent residents of the United States, Nava said not all have chosen to become full citizens — until now.
"Now they are taking classes to become citizens. They are becoming engaged," he said. "They know at this time, it's even more important to have their voices heard."
Nava said LULAC goes beyond civil rights and immigration issues.
The local league has promoted civic involvement in Beaverton and Hillsboro community plans, and parental involvement in schools and Portland Community College.
He said younger generations can acquire the academic skills and financial aid — through the Oregon Promise program — for recent high school graduates or their equivalents to attend community college.
Solomon of the Washington County forum said he hoped attendees drew some value from the fair.
"If people came here who did not know anything about the candidates, they probably got some new information," he said.