Eddy Morales on running for District 3, top issues, what’s going right

KOIN 6 News contacted candidates who are running for Oregon’s Third Congressional District in 2024, asking them to respond to these four questions:

  • Why are you running for office?

  • What is your prior government/civic experience?

  • In your opinion, what are the top three issues facing the Third District and the state of Oregon?

  • In your opinion, what is going right in the Third District and Oregon? How do you plan to build on it?

Eddy Morales is running as a Democrat. Here are his responses:

Why are you running for office?

For as long as I can remember, my communities have looked out for and supported me. I learned that none of us can do this work alone, and that to succeed we must always do it together — that is the energy I hope to bring to Congress.

My story is one of community, from the very beginning.

I learned from my mom how to be brave and how to treat family and those that live around you. My mom came to this country from Mexico, crossing the border hidden in the trunk of a car because she wanted better opportunities for her children. We first lived for a time in Los Angeles, but after just a few years, once again, my mother moved us. This time, my older brother was driving as we fled a dangerous situation.

She brought us to Oregon to escape domestic violence and I started to learn English in school. Although mom was never able to learn the language or earn her citizenship because of our broken immigration system, she never stopped helping people.

Mom shared meals, laundry detergent, and money. She was always feeding and helping others no matter if they were family, neighbors, or strangers, or even people she couldn’t communicate with — she invited everyone in. She knew how to make a meal for four people stretch to feed eight, and always made more room at the table. One dinner at a time, my mother built and strengthened our community.

That is the community I have been working to build since my first organizing experience my freshman year in college: a boycott of PicSweet mushrooms due to terrible conditions of farm workers. This success taught me how people can come together with a goal and work for change. I learned firsthand that working people could build power.

I continued organizing as a student at the University of Oregon and established a housing code in the City of Eugene. My first job out of college was with the United States Student Association, where we fought for abortion rights, for living wages, public education, and for the rights of DREAMers. I worked in Arizona to fight at the ballot box against Russell Pearce and Joe Arpaio who were terrorizing immigrants. I have fought to restore voting rights for Floridians with Desmond Meade, and I was privileged to join Stacey Abrams to help turn Georgia blue.

Their fight is our fight – and America is stronger because of our work together.

Like when my hard-working, loving older sister blew out her shoulder working on an assembly line. Her treatment involved painkillers that eventually got her hooked and took her life, and I learned firsthand how the trauma of addiction can tear families apart. I will do everything possible to prevent and treat addiction and most importantly, keep families together.

Or when irresponsible gun owners claimed my two brothers’ lives — this also tore my family apart. At that moment I understood the need for work to prevent gun violence and make communities safer. I will continue to fight to end gun violence and make all communities safer in Congress.

During my six years on the Gresham City Council, we created multi-generational affordable housing so families can live under the same roof. Now, we have apartments with many bedrooms, so grandparents and aunties and uncles can live and share wisdom with their children and grandchildren. This is the type of housing my family needed growing up.

Now, when I drive past that multi-generational housing in Gresham, I think of Mom — who rushed to Mexico to care for her mother and then was banned from returning to the U.S. for ten years. My husband and I would have loved to have my mom live with us. I can still smell her cooking and hear her laugh when I close my eyes — but when I look down my hallway to the empty room that should have been hers, my heart aches. Mom died in the final year of her 10-year ban from returning to the United States.

Our broken immigration system tore our family apart — and I will do anything to bring families like mine back together.

Even without Mom by my side, I feel fortunate to be able to live freely with my husband and partner of 21 years, Hugh, and our four-legged rescue “child,” Besitos. I know this is a privilege that too many LGBTQIA+ people don’t have, and I won’t stop speaking out until all families — however they define themselves — feel validated and included. No one should experience discrimination, harassment, or hate based on who they love or their gender identity or expression.

This is a moment that calls for acts of solidarity from each of us — to fix immigration, to defend reproductive freedom and the right to an abortion; to support unions and workers in winning better wages, benefits, and affordable housing; to strengthen public education, respect teachers and faculty needs; and to break the fossil fuel companies’ grip on our nation and halt climate change.

To fight for our community, WE are running for Congress

What is your prior government and/or civic experience?

I am a two-term Gresham City Councilor, progressive champion, and small business owner I have been organizing for 25 years.

On the Council, I led on innovative public safety and criminal justice reforms, expanding multigenerational affordable housing, protecting and expanding our green spaces and watersheds, and creating job opportunities in East Multnomah County’s most underserved neighborhoods.

As an organizer, I was a champion in diversifying the district’s leadership and advancing progressive causes at home in Gresham, East Multnomah County, state, and country.

At the national level I organized around passing the Affordable Care Act, comprehensive immigration reform, electing progressives to office, and supporting organizers in their local fights.

I am also the founder and co-chaired the University of Oregon Latino Alumni Association, serve as the Board Secretary for Planned Parenthood of the Columbia Willamette, and on the boards of East County Rising Community Projects, Local Progress, Participatory Budgeting Oregon, and Midwest Academy. I have previously served on the boards of: East County Rising Action Fund, Marguerite Casey Action Fund, Treasurer of the Democratic Party of Oregon, Pac Plus, Community Catalyst, Battleground Texas, Jobs with Justice, Oregon Alliance for Gun Safety.

In your opinion, what are the top three issues facing District 3 and the state of Oregon?

Affordable Housing

Growing up my family was housing insecure. Many times my mother would exchange childcare for a place for us to live. The current affordable housing provided does not meet the needs of families like mine and many times are in poor quality and actually not affordable. I want to work towards:

  • Expanding affordable housing vouchers and rental assistance programs

  • Making investments in affordable housing development

  • Expanding affordable housing tax credits

  • Homeownership programs. Addressing homelessness and housing insecurity

  • Creating affordable housing for multigenerational families

Inclusive Economy

As a member of Congress, and through my current work with East County Rising and as a Gresham City Councilor, I will work toward a more inclusive economy that prioritizes people’s needs, champions fairness, and creates an environment where everyone can prosper and contribute to our nation’s success. To me, that means:

  • Advocating for policies that create good-paying union jobs with benefits and safe working standards, and where workers can retire with dignity

  • Supporting businesses large and small

  • Strengthening workers’ rights and ability to have recourse

  • Supporting workers’ right to organize

  • Investing in infrastructure and renewable energy initiatives that bring union workers and people who have been historically left behind along

  • Make public education more accessible and affordable

  • Ensuring billionaires pay their fair share

Public Education:

Whether we’re dealing with hate and bigotry or trying to build an economy that works for everyone — everything comes back to education. As a first generation student myself and a University of Oregon alumnus, I know that prioritizing lifelong learning can be revolutionary. I believe that alongside educators, faculty,  parents, and students, we can build a more fair and comprehensive system that provides equitable opportunities and respects our educators, faculty, and staff. This requires an accessible, affordable, and engaging education system from pre-school to higher education including trades, apprenticeship programs, and certifications In Congress, I will advocate for:

  • Universal access to high-quality pre-kindergarten programs

  • Increased funding for K-12 public schools

  • Making higher education more accessible and affordable

  • Support early intervention programs

  • Increased funding for vocational and technical education programs

  • Creating safe learning environments

  • Support the full funding of  programs like IDEA

In your opinion, what is going right in District 3 and Oregon? How do you plan to build on it?

To me, our district is a place of opportunity, one where it’s possible for someone like me to represent their community. But, it wasn’t always that way.

As a young boy, I never saw an elected official that looked like me or dreamed of a public life. Over the past 25 years of my community organizing work, I have really come to understand the great importance of representation. As a second generation immigrant and a Queer Latino, I have taken space at the table, brought others to the table, and advocated for myself and other people that have similar experiences as me. One of my proudest moments was when I joined with our community to start East Country Rising and to be representing my community in Gresham on the City Council.

I demonstrate my commitment to inclusivity in both my personal and professional life by actively creating spaces where diverse voices are heard, valued, and lifted up in leadership. In my role on the City Council and throughout my campaign, I consistently listen to the community, ensuring that their concerns and perspectives shape my decision-making.

Equity and justice are not just principles I advocate for, but values I embody. I work tirelessly to address disparities, fight against discrimination, and champion policies that promote equal rights. This includes pushing for initiatives that specifically address the issues of marginalized communities, such as affordable public education, housing, healthcare, and good job opportunities.

Something I hear a lot from our community is how much people are disheartened from the lack of representation and transparency in our government. They want real politicians who represent their lived experiences and can get things done. I believe that the start to engaging our community members, especially those from marginalized communities, is to meet them where they are, use our shared lived experience to build relationships and trust, and organize with them on the issues that are important to them while being intentional about how we use these moments to develop the leadership in our communities. We need to trust and support our neighbors from underserved communities to lead organizations, government, movements, and direct resources to where they are needed. My vision is to engage authentically by having a diverse staff and leadership that respects our community.

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