Oregon legislature the most diverse in history

SALEM, Ore. (KGW) — Oregon’s 82nd legislative session is the most diverse in history with 19 legislators of color from the African American, Latino and Asian communities.

On Monday, January 9, five Vietnamese American legislators were sworn in — a historic development. Oregon now has the most Vietnamese American representation of any state legislature in the nation.

Representative Daniel Nguyen is Vietnamese American and a small business owner. He said that representation like this matters.

“The five of us, we have a common background coming from refugee families,” Nguyen said. “We are all in different professions.”

Representative Hoa Nguyen said she felt right a home during the swearing-in ceremony which featured a traditional Vietnamese lion dance. She said the more diversity within the government, the better.

“I felt seen in the Capitol,” Nguyen said. “Traditionally, you only see certain people in this space.”

Representative Khanh Pham was the first Vietnamese American legislator elected in 2020. She said she’s happy to be serving with four other colleagues from her community.

“I think it’s a real testament to the resilience of refugees and immigrants and also the capacity of Oregon to be a welcoming inclusive state,” Pham said.

 Newly elected representative Hai Pham with Oregon’s 36th District said it will be nice to see people who look like him inside the Capitol.

“It makes me feel a lot more comfortable,” Pham said. “Twenty years ago it would look different, but I feel so welcomed through this process.”

Representative Thuy Tran represents Northeast Portland. She said she feels honored and privileged to be part of history.

“Diversity will bring very lived experiences and perspective to the table,” Tran said.

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