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State legislative races are becoming increasingly influential as a reactionary Supreme Court, congressional gridlock and vitriol define the national political scene.

Can you imagine if the results of an election came down to the roll of a die?

Well, that actually happened during the May 2016 primary election for an Oregon House District. That's because the vote was exactly tied. We've had some extremely close elections in Oregon's very recent history. Another election was won in 2018 with a two-vote margin. Your vote is powerful and it can make a huge difference. Don't gamble with Oregon's future. That's why I'm calling on you to come out and vote by Nov. 8.COURTESY PHOTO: ROB WAGNER - WAGNER

My sisters, brothers and especially my mom and dad taught me the value of community service and civic engagement here in Oregon. Public educators abound in my family — and they will always remind me about the real consequences of elections. I grew up feeling the impacts that elected leadership and funding decisions can have on our teachers and classrooms. Now, as a dad, I want to make sure I'm doing everything I can to encourage my family and community to take part in the civic process.

State leadership means more now than ever. State legislative races are becoming increasingly influential as a reactionary Supreme Court, congressional gridlock and vitriol define the national political scene. In Oregon we can decide a different course — both in terms of our goals and in our civic debate. Working together we are defining our future for a healthy Oregon, a safe Oregon, a green Oregon and an equitable Oregon. We are working to protect the right to reproductive freedom, move families into stable housing and fight gun violence.

I have been honored to serve as a state senator the past four years, representing communities including Southwest Portland, Lake Oswego, West Linn and Tualatin. Our neighbors have joined together from all walks of life to tackle enormous challenges. Through the pandemic, we saved lives, kept folks safe and supported Oregon businesses and families. Working across the political spectrum — and from rural to urban Oregon — we pushed forward significant statewide investments in housing, mental health, workforce opportunities, education, child care, climate resilience and infrastructure.

In my role as Senate Democratic Leader, it's my job to elevate the work of my colleagues from around the state. I'm proud of our recent accomplishments — from starting to rebuild our statewide behavioral health network to strengthening our state wildfire response and protecting seniors with access to affordable prescription drugs. These accomplishments were made possible by communities casting their ballots and supporting leaders who reflect our values.

With Oregon's future on the line this election day, our state is not just a "laboratory of Democracy" — but a critical safeguard against attacks on our fundamental freedoms, on the integrity of our elections, for reproductive rights and a safer future for our communities. I believe our communities will continue to support Oregon's greatest legacy, that we will continue to uplift and celebrate diversity and make health care and education accessible to everyone.

In just a few months, legislators from every corner of Oregon will return to our state's capital for the 2023 legislative session. Every voter in our state has the ability to define what Oregon's future might hold. Despite the challenges we face, I know Oregon's brightest days are ahead. As long as our communities turn out to the polls, it's a sure bet.

Sen. Rob Wagner is the majority leader of the Oregon Senate and represents District 19, which includes Lake Oswego, West Linn, Tualatin and Southwest Portland.

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