The AAYLC Opening Program remarks by Governor Kate Brown on April 24, 2020:
Good morning everyone!
It is such a pleasure to welcome you to the 2020 virtual Asian American Youth Leadership Conference.
I wish that we could be there to share in the excitement ahead of you today. But I’m proud of everyone on this conference call for doing their part to keep your fellow Oregonians safe. We know from the most recent modeling from OHA that staying home is working to save lives here in Oregon.
I want to assure you all today that this is a safe space for you to learn and express yourself free from the anti-Asian racism and xenophobia.
I know this is a hard time, but the program here today is designed to call you to action. You have a great opportunity here to learn more about yourself and how you can dig in to serve your neighbors and loved ones. Now more than ever, Oregon communities need leaders.
Leaders like YOU. Today is about YOU and your future. Business, education, and cultural leaders have come together to show you how to use the tools you already have to continue to build healthy, positive communities all over the state.
A few of your panels speak to some issues that are near and dear to my heart: voting and the census.
And I know firsthand the power of voting. During my first run for state legislature, I won by only seven votes.
People still stop me in the grocery store to say, “I was your seventh vote”—and whether they were or not, their voice made a big impact. Yours can too.
Your vote is your voice, and every voice matters. Because the problems you care about—homophobia, sexism, climate change, immigration—are addressed in major ways at the ballot box.
They are also addressed in different ways by participating in the census.
Like many of you, I have been focused on empowering all Oregonians to participate in the census—especially those who are harder to count.
Especially in these unprecedented times, I am gravely concerned about the effects of an undercount in the census— fewer funds for critical public services that hard-to-count communities rely on, like Medicaid, SNAP, and Section 8 Housing Vouchers.
While the work to combat the current public health crisis is our key focus right now, we know that motivating Oregonians to fill out their 2020 Census is more important than ever.
But that’s enough from me for now! I’m just delighted to welcome you all to this conference.
You’re going to learn a lot, so take all of it in. I think I speak for your teachers, parents, and friends when I say: I look forward to seeing what you do next!