On April 16, 2006, I was appointed by Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski to his Commission on Hispanic Affairs. The Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs is an 11-member public commission dedicated towards building economic, social, political and legal equality for all Oregonian Latinos. Originally founded in 1971 as the Commission on Chicano Affairs to address the needs and concerns of migrant workers, the Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs is authorized by statute to monitor existing programs and legislation, identify and research problem areas, maintain a liaison between the Latino community and government entities, and encourage Latino representation on state boards and commissions.
We should serve the public good at least once in our lifetime. Public service perfects our democracy. I began service almost right out of college. In fact, I had written a political science paper analyzing this commission while still an undergrad at Oregon State University. This experiment we call democracy is only as good as our involvement.
The Commission’s Selection Process
The Commission on Hispanic Affairs began almost 40-years ago to bring attention to the dire conditions Oregonian migrant farm workers faced in the fields. Each Commissioner brings a unique set of knowledge, skills and abilities to the group. Currently, potential commissioners apply for a seat on the commission and that application is reviewed by the Office of the Governor’s Executive Appointments whom in cooperation with the Chair provides a recommendation to the Governor. The Governor ultimately makes the final decision and submits their names to the Senate Rules Committee for public hearing and confirmation. Upon committee approval, the Commissioners names are submitted to the full Senate for full confirmation. The Commissioners serve a 3-year term with the option of being reappointed for additional terms.
Building Trust and Relationships
Since our state elections late last year, this Commission has worked closely with the State Attorney General, John Kroger, Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, Superintendent Susan Castillo (former Hispanic Commissioner), Secretary of State Kate Brown and numerous public officials to bring issues and concerns in the Latino community to the front burner. Despite the long distance, Secretary of State Pedro A. Cortes joined us at our October public meeting via teleconference. The Commission understands that building trust and establishing relationships take time, whether they are local and in our communities to Washington D.C., but are essential for long-term growth.
I am reminded by Ben Franklin when he was asked what kind of government had been decided upon, following the Constitutional Conventions. He replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Today, our democracy, our states, and our communities depend on our involvement. Our communities fate depend on high-caliber individuals ability to cut through the fog, serve our communities and ensure all communities get their fair shake.
David Molina has served on the Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs since April 2006 and served as Vice Chair from July 1, 2008 to July 16, 2009. He was recently reappointed by the governor to serve an additional 3-year term. You can reach Commissioner Molina via his LinkedIn. All opinions you read here are Commissioner Molina’s own and are not necessarily those of the Commission or Oregon Governor.