6 chiefs of staff dish on their bosses


We ask chiefs of staff for the scoop on Oregon legislators.

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As Gov. Kitzhaber grapples with scandal , Oregon legislators wrapped up the first week of the 2015 legislative session.

We asked six chiefs of staff what their bosses hope to achieve this year — and to tell us something we don’t know about their employers. 

Click through to read their answers.

Sen. Sara Gelser | D — Corvallis

Nikki Fisher, chief legislative aide:

GelserWhat would your office  like to accomplish this 2015 session?

[Sen. Gelser is] working with Treasurer Wheeler to pass Oregon’s ABLE Act.  This is an important new opportunity for families to save for children with disabilities in the same way they save for their nondisabled children.  Under current law, families are encouraged not to create any savings for their children with disabilities because if they accumulate assets greater than $2000, they will be ineligible for critical support services, such as in home care or job coaching, as adults.  Under the ABLE Act parents can save tax free for their children with disabilities, similar to a 529 College Savings Plan.  The funds can be used for education or other needs related to the disability, and the account can accumulate up to $100,000 before the person with the disability starts losing eligibility for services.  This will allow people with disabilities to become more independent in adulthood, reduce reliance on public assistance, and allow families to build assets for all of their offspring. 

What is one interesting thing about Sen. Gelser that people don’t know?

[Sen. Gelser is] a violist, and once played the viola in the pit orchestra of a professional opera company

gombergRep. David Gomberg | D — Central Coast

Kyle Linhares, chief of staff:

What would you like to accomplish in the 2015 session?

A top priority for this session is to help OSU expand their Marine Science program in Newport and bring over 500 undergraduates to live, work, and learn at the coast.

What is one interesting/funny thing about Rep. Gomberg people don’t know?

Rep. Gomberg is a pretty serious hot chocolate connoisseur/enthusiast. He also designs, builds, sells, and flies kites for a living. 

read high resRep. Tobias Read | D — Beaverton

Chelsea Broussard, chief of staff:

What would your office like to accomplish in the 2015 session?

Our office is pursuing an ambitious agenda that includes addressing retirement savings in Oregon. Right now, millions of Americans retire into poverty. We’re working hard on legislation to fix that problem.

What is one interesting/funny thing about your legislator that people don’t know?

Rep. Read was once chased around Memphis because people thought he was Peyton Manning.

Rosenbaum 2012 edited2 2Sen. Diane Rosenbaum | D — Portland

Molly Woon, communications director:

One thing accomplished in 2015:  A transportation and infrastructure package that benefits all of Oregon and puts people back to work.

One thing people don’t know: Senator Rosenbaum has the same birthday as Kevin Mannix.

sprenger hi resRep. Sherrie Sprenger | R — Scio

Rachel Bruce, legislative aide:

What would you like to accomplish in the 2015 session?

Rep. Sprenger will be focusing on asking the right questions during her Education and Judiciary Committees and getting good legislation passed and hindering bad legislation that will hurt rural Oregonians.  As always, she will be working towards bridging the gap between small businesses and State government  in hopes of becoming more of a stepping stone that allows these businesses to flourish, rather than a stumbling block that causes them to fail.

What is one interesting/funny thing about Rep. Sprenger people don’t know?

Rep. Sprenger is a real sucker for kids, and the office staff knows that.  It is not uncommon to find the Rep. playing make-believe on the floor or reading a book to any child in the building.  She usually walks around the Capitol with a pocket full of State Seal pins that she will hand out to kids at the end of a conversation.

wintersSen. Jackie Winters | R — Salem

Pam McClain, legislative assistant:

In a perfect world this session we would see some truly bi-partisan work on the major issues we may tackle this session.  I know that everyone says they are willing to work across the aisle but I rarely see a vote that reflects that on the big issues.  

Senator Winters has been heard to quip lately — “my granddaughter loves to sing and I love to dance!”  She has a granddaughter that just released her first single and Senator Winters loves dancing to her granddaughter’s song Bombs Away!

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