New Leadership Delivering Results for Our Community
I am Peter Nordbye. I live in Brightwood, Oregon, Clackamas County. I am a retired educator with thirty-five years as a public-school teacher, behavior specialist andprincipal. I am married to Blythe, and we have two grown daughters and three grand-children.
After Citizens United in 2010, I decided that enough was enough. Although I had been a lifelong Democrat, I had only worked on one campaign. I became a Precinct Committee Person (PCP) and in 2012, ran for state representative in House District 52; an area including Northeast Clackamas County, East Multnomah County and Hood River County. I ran a campaign based primarily on campaign finance reform. I accepted donation limits of $50.00 from individuals who lived in the district. My opponent was an incumbent who outspent me by over twenty times. I received over 48% of the vote with little support from our Party except for a strong base of volunteers in the district. I have since become very involved in our Party.
Change was the driver when I was elected Clackamas County Chair two years ago. In our countywe are making change happen. We are generating hundreds of volunteers as Neighborhood Leaders. We are raising more money than ever. And we are winning elections.
We were key to the defeat of three incumbent Republican legislators in 2018 as all represented key parts of Clackamas County (They were the only three such victories state-wide). Exceptional candidates and a strong volunteer force was key to the victory. In 2017 our volunteers, in 11 non-partisan special district races, contributed heavily to Democratic victories in eight of them.
That winning energy and focus and commitment are what I bring to the Chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon (DPO) based on a deep and unbending belief in the power of the grass roots.
Who do we work so hard for?
Our Party in Oregon, and perhaps nationally, is once again at a cross roads. Instead of leaning more and more on wealthy donors, big corporations and dark money PACs, we are putting new emphasis on our activists and grass rootsmembers, be they urban dwellers or farm laborers.
The path we chose in Clackamas County, with its large areas of wilderness, rural farmers, suburban housing developments and some of the richest and poorest places in Oregon is simple: be decentralized, transparent, and trust our volunteers. And we are all volunteers.
Our success in creating the largest Neighborhood Leader Program in Oregon is built on an organizational model empowering the people who do the work, who know their neighbors, and who flourish in the responsibility of true ownership in a sense of civic duty.
Everyone has a seat at the table
Our large Executive Committee has representatives from each of our State House Districts and full member seats for: youth, labor, justices, and more serving our nearly 500 PCPs. By keeping power in the grass-roots we gain more support and commitment to the Party and to our candidates. Ultimately, grass-rootsorganization is the counter to the impact of “big money” in politics.
This is not easy. It is democracy. Our people work together to help solve problems within their unique area of the county, areas close to their own homes where solutions are best made by people living in the community. Our organizational model is a combination of bottom-up and top-down. It is an empowerment model that emphasizes partnerships, teamwork and shared leadership.
Our Neighborhood Leader Program is more a neighborhood action program. Outstanding GOTV is a byproduct of the NLP, but not the only goal. Our best results occur where the average Democratic voter has a real human face connecting them to the Democratic Party. That is how we see 90% turnouts in many of our NL turfs.
Is all this effort time consuming? Yes. Does it require hours upon hours of Neighborhood Leaders’ time? Board business? Committee meetings? Yes. Does it work? Yes.
I am running for the highest elected office of our state party with trust and belief in the activists; the volunteers. We should enhance the status of County parties within the DPO. We should re-examine how we form our platform and hold elected officials accountable. We need to work on fully integrating our Platform Planks into our organizational culture.
Our current DPO leadership has done an excellent job moving our Party in the right direction. The questions now are, “To what degree do we empower our counties and Democratic activists living in those counties? What do we want our Party to look like as we move forward?”
I don’t have all the answers, but I have helped create what works successfully in our county. We must rely on one another for support in implementing a more grassroots-oriented vision. Together we can make that happen.
Thank you for your ongoing dedication. I look forward to working with you.