If you want to learn about hard work all you need to do is follow Rhonda Lawrence around for a few hours. Rhonda works hard for the Josephine County Democratic Party and we Democrats are thankful for her efforts, her intelligence, her enthusiasm, her activism and her dedication to progressive values. In her former life Rhonda worked as a consultant to local and state governments in California and Nevada as well as serving as a Human Resources Manager. In July of 2013 Rhonda retired from her high-powered consulting position in L.A. and moved to beautiful southern Oregon.
It didn’t take long for Rhonda to see a need for her experience and talents in the local Democratic party office in Grants Pass. Rhonda is currently Josephine County Democratic Party Treasurer. “I’ve always been a Democrat,” she states.
Currently, the JoCo Dems are looking for new digs and Rhonda has been recruited to be a major part of that search for new office space. The timing of the displacement couldn’t be worse with the 2024 election racing towards us. So, if there is anyone in the community that has some office space, they are willing to donate to us, give Rhonda a call. Of course, disability access and visibility are important factors in the final selection of a property.
While Rhonda no longer negotiates labor contracts or recruits high powered executives, she has been able to turn those talents into useful tools in her life as a volunteer and political activist. For the last six years Rhonda has served on the Senior Advisory Committee for Jackson and Josephine counties. One of her proudest accomplishments is the opening of the 9th Street Senior Resource Center. Currently, “Food and Friends” (equivalent to Meals on Wheels) operates from that location.
Rhonda, like so many of us, can’t believe we are fighting the same battles we fought and “won,” half a century ago. How is this possible? So many of the hard-won issues of our time are meeting the brick wall of a far-right Supreme Court that wants to take this country back pre-Medicare/Medicaid, pre-Social Security, pre-voting rights, pre-Roe, pre-EPA. Rhonda understands the choices we make in the upcoming election will no doubt reshape the face of America. The America of 2040 will either be a dark, dystopian world always looking backward, or it will be a bright, clean, and hopeful society, built on the middle class and based on equality in the workplace and the voting booth.
Local issues that most concern Ms. Lawrence the most are: 1) clear cutting, 2) reforming the Josephine County Commission and 3) encouraging Democrats to vote. Encouraging the participation of younger citizens whose lives will be the most directly affected by more restrictive laws and a faltering social safety net is important to her. On a national level, Rhonda is most concerned about 1) adoption of the National Popular Vote Amendment (a means to eliminate the Electoral College), 2) Bodily autonomy, and 3) Climate Change.
"There are no limit of issues to be concerned about,' she proclaims, but we have to start somewhere.
When queried if she would consider running for office, her quick response was, “Too old. We need some younger voices.” When I asked how do you interest young people in the Democratic Party and voting for progressive issues? Rhonda thought for a minute and said, “I wish I knew; I just think it needs to be through interpersonal contacts, friend to friend. Talk to people. Share ideas. To vote in Oregon is so easy; there is no excuse not to take 10 minutes and fill out the ballot and drop it in any State Ballot collection box or any USPS mailbox. It doesn’t even require a postage stamp. We need to motivate the young, by talking about their interests, and that shouldn’t be hard because there is no age barrier on LGBTQ+ issues, abortion, gun safety, sexual abuse, and homelessness.
As we all know; one does not live by politics alone. Outside of politics Rhonda enjoys reading. A recent favorite was ‘American Character’ by Colin Woodward. “It was interesting; Woodward takes on the eternal American question, individual freedom vs the common good.” And “I also liked ‘Democracy Awakening’ by Heather Cox Richardson; “it’s a series of essays.” Other non-political activities include a recent outing to see the musical version of “The Color Purple,” which she stated she enjoyed, “not as serious as the original movie.” Another recent event that has brought a smile to Rhonda’s face has been the arrival of a stray kitten at her back door. She has named the adoptee, “Peeka”.
If you really want to make Rhonda smile, please register to vote Democrat and then get the damn completed ballot to the mailbox.
By D.S. Mitchell