On Looking Forward
Today, I publicly announce that I will not run for re-election to the Senate seat representing District 23 when my current term ends in January 2009.
I am deeply grateful to the people of my district and to all of the people across the state of Oregon who have provided support and encouragement to me and this office over these past 16 years. My beloved family, church family and dear friends have provided a consistent cloak of prayer for which I feel blessed to receive.
It is my belief that public service is a noble calling and profession. To be granted this opportunity to serve has been a humbling honor and a privilege, and has also been an opportunity full of rich learning about our state, its history and its people.
The working relationships and friendships from the far corners of the state and everywhere in between that I have been blessed with over the years have enriched my life immeasurably. I plan to one day write a book about that.
It is now time to transition to my alma mater and share this learning in another great institutional setting—with students at Portland State University, where I have been appointed an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Black Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and where my focus will be on public policy analysis and development.
Nelson Mandela, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, said, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
I look forward to taking on new challenges, to seizing the opportunities that Portland State offers to expand the role of African Americans and other people of color in the legislative process and to develop a youth leadership institute to help Oregon groom and retain potential leaders for our state. We are losing too much of this talent to other states, because as a state, we are not working aggressively enough to keep it.
I look forward to being active in an academic setting, in the heart of a great urban and international university, in the center of a beautiful city and in the state where I have lived my entire life.
I look forward to sharing my life and professional experiences to benefit the educational growth and development of students who are not only preparing to take their places in a world that increasingly requires culturally competent people, but who can also engage cooperatively in a nation challenged by the gift of becoming more diverse.
I have also gifted my papers, covering a period of activism reaching back to 1979, jointly to the Portland State University Millar Library and to the Department of Black Studies. These papers are being organized as the Sen. Avel Louise Gordly Collection.
I thank my chief of staff, Sean Cruz, for contributing his service, and I wish to honor his talent, creativity and enlightened worldview that has served my office and our constituents so well through the past three legislative sessions.
I thank all of the fine people who have answered the call of public service and served as legislative assistants and interns throughout my 16 years of service. Their contributions to my office, to the constituents of Senate District 23 and to the state of Oregon were often -- as all who work in this institution can appreciate -- above and beyond the call of duty.
It is my desire to take a more active role in the development of a mental health ministry at my church -- Highland Christian Center, home of a multicultural congregation -- many of whom have been uprooted from familiar neighborhoods, homes and schools by the forces of gentrification.
Finally, I thank Senate President Peter Courtney for every effort he personally made to ensure that my return to the Senate this session as an Independent member was successful.
Senate President Courtney's love for this institution and all of the people who serve here is unmatched. I am particularly grateful to have had the opportunity to serve with this true servant leader.
Again, I thank my constituents in District 23 for their trust in my service to our great state.
I look forward to participating in the modernization of the legislative process and of the Legislature itself as we move towards annual sessions. We as a body have an opportunity to build on the fine work of this 74th Legislative Assembly when we reconvene in February 2008, and I look forward to what we may accomplish for this great state and its people in that historic session.
It is my hope and prayer that the next legislative session will focus on revenue reform, a rejection of partisan politics, securing a quality, culturally competent education for all of our students, and on setting an Oregon table that values all of its people, including the people who put the food on that table, and those who clean up afterwards.
Someone once said, "service is the rent that we all pay for living on this earth."
The legislative process belongs to the people—it is my fervent hope that more people will claim this process and actively participate in it.
I believe that by each of us embracing and acting on this thought we can lift this state to greatness—and keep it there.
Sen. Avel Louise Gordly is an Independent for Senate District 23, which covers inner North and Northeast Portland.