Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson spoke at two Gresham area schools Monday, urging students to vote and get involved in their communities.
"Tomorrow is election day. Please vote. Have your voice heard," Richardson exhorted students in a political science class at Mt. Hood Community College on Monday, May 15, a day before Oregon ballots were due.
Richardson started the two East Multnomah County appearances Monday afternoon at Mt. Hood Community College where he spoke to a political science class and toured the campus with college president Debra Derr and officers from the Associated Student Government. Later Monday afternoon at Reynolds High School, he spoke to a small group of student leaders.
He urged all students to get involved in their communities. Quoting an old Latin saying, he asked the students, "Having been given much, what will you give?
"If everyone does something," he added, "things work well."
One student asked how he prepared for and succeeded in getting a leadership position in state government. Richardson joked that he had nine children and at one point, five teenaged daughters.
"That gave me a thick skin," he said. "Everything is a negotiation at that age."
Richardson, a rare Republican in Oregon state government, was elected Secretary of State in November 2016. He is the first in line of succession to the governor and one of his responsibilities is to oversee all elections. He served six terms in the Oregon House of Representatives and ran for governor in 2014, but lost to former Gov. John Kitzhaber.
He frequently dispensed folksy wisdom to the students.
"(It's) like you're all my kids. Apply yourselves. Just do your best," he said. "You don't learn from the easy times, you learn from the hard times."
"One of my goals as Secretary of State," he added, "is to encourage everyone to be a part of the process and thereby be part of the solution. I want to be an example for young voters to engage in their government and take advantage of their rights and cast their vote."