Shemia Fagan (or S.O.S.), Fighting to Defend our Elections
Updated: Sep 24, 2020
“Together, we share an understanding that fairness cannot be taken for granted, ordinary will not just happen. If progress is within reach, we can fight for it.” - Shemia Fagan
Who Is She?
Shemia Fagan grew-up in a small town in eastern Oregon. Her father raised her and her two older brothers as a single parent. Shemia’s mother battled addiction but had been clean for the last six years of her life. Shemia’s mother inspired her to fight for people who have been left out and left behind, and to make sure everyone’s voice is heard.
Shemia has dedicated her life to public service and advocating for people who don’t have a voice. After working her way through College and Law School, she began her career as a civil rights attorney. Her first experience as an elected official was on the David Douglas School Board. She then went on to run for and win a state House seat that was held by a Republican just two months after she gave birth to her first child. Shemia held this position for two terms before winning a seat in the Oregon Senate, where she currently chairs the Committee on Housing and Development and serves on the Healthcare committee.
How has your background inspired and equipped you to run for Secretary of State?
Shemia Fagan: My dad was a single parent and a very conservative evangelical Republican, and I remember the first time I voted. My dad drove out to bring me my ballot, which of course had been mailed to my home in tiny Dufur Oregon. He and I didn’t vote the same way, but we voted together. He watched me as I filled out my ballot, I was voting differently from how he voted. I’m a Democrat, but I’m running to be Oregon’s Secretary of State. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat, Republican, or Independent, I’m going to fight for you to make sure that your government is working and that you have a voice in our elections.
I’m proud of Oregon’s 20-year tradition of voting by mail. I've been championing automatic voter registration and vote by mail my whole time in the legislature, but it's funny because I think about that moment with my dad, who essentially knew that I was voting differently from him, but knowing and trusting that this is how we vote in Oregon, and trusting that both of our voices would be heard and our ballots would be counted.
What Is She Fighting For?
While Shemia cares deeply about issues such as reproductive justice, universal health care, and climate change and rights for LGBTQIA and BIPOC Oregonians, her focus as Secretary of State will be to reinstill trust in our democracy. She wants every Oregonian to know their voice is heard, their ballot is counted, and their actions make a difference. Shemia believes that “progress will always be within reach” if every eligible voter can vote.
What are the key voter concerns in Oregon, and how do you plan to address them?
People are very concerned about making sure that the United States Postal Service won’t be undermined by Donald Trump and his Republican enablers in their ability to make sure every vote counts in our all-mail elections. As Secretary of State, I’ll defend our vote-by-mail elections for every Oregon voter. The other big function of the Secretary of State in Oregon is the audits division. We've got numerous issues that have arisen during the COVID crisis that make it clear there's some massive inequities here in Oregon, that we could use some good, unbiased, independent audits to really expose, particularly, the employment department’s failure to get Oregonians who lost their job to COVID the help they needed during the pandemic.
What common issues and core beliefs do you believe Oregonians and Americans are ready to rally around together?
Shemia Fagan: We have reached a tipping point on seeking racial justice and really recognizing and correcting systemic racism. Holding elections during a pandemic, it’s become clear that access to democracy and making sure that everyone’s voice is heard in our elections is something we can all unite behind.
It has been 100 years since women achieved the right to vote. The United States has come a long way since then; It is gratifying to see multiple women on the ticket for such an important race. However, there is still much to accomplish in terms of equality. How will you champion women’s rights in comparison to your Republican opponent? In other words, why is it in a woman’s best interest to vote Blue?
Shemia Fagan: My opponent is a Trump delegate who has stood against women's rights, particularly reproductive health care, at every turn. She’s extremely right-wing when it comes to women's reproductive health, and has sponsored legislation to ban abortion. And so in this particular race, for folks to whom women's rights is an issue, there's a very big contrast between my record and my colleagues’, on that particular point.
The current Oregon Secretary of State is Republican Beverly A. Clarno, who was appointed by Governor Kate Brown to complete the term of Republican SOS Dennis Richardson after his passing in 2019. She will be facing Republican Kim Thatcher in November. Though the position will have been held by two Republicans before her, Shemia isn’t afraid of a fight; she has a strong track record of winning uphill battles. She defeated a 25-year incumbent for the David Douglas School District, a Republican incumbent in the Oregon House, and a three-term incumbent in the Oregon Senate. She was also victorious in the close three-way race in the May Democratic primary for Secretary of State. With her no-nonsense attitude and perseverance, Shemia is ready to lead the fight to restore faith in our democracy.
What is your leadership style, and how will you use it to unite our divided polity after the election?
Shemia Fagan: “So my leadership style is very “no bs.” The town I grew up in had a population of 527 people. My dad was a single parent, I have two older brothers. So we didn't dance around issues. We are very direct, very willing to say to somebody, ‘we agree to disagree.’ Either let's try and find common ground or agree that we disagree on this. I certainly am willing to take up a good fight to find the best solutions for Oregonians, whether it's fighting for my constituents or working to pass important legislation.
What is the current state of your race and how do you envision your path to victory?
Shemia Fagan: My path to victory is telling Oregonians about who I am and what I’ll do to make sure their government is working for them, and that they have a voice. That means we should make sure voting by mail works for everybody, if there's folks out there that want to vote against Shemia Fagan, I want them to be able to do so safely, securely, with the knowledge of their vote counts. Holding government accountable and defending our elections are not partisan issues.
How Can I Support Her?
Please visit Shemia Fagan’s campaign website and various social media pages below: