After arriving in America as a refugee from Somalia, Kayse worked as a server at a restaurant and then the front desk of a hotel as he put himself through school. He and his wife, Stephanie, rented and saved for 12 years before they were able to buy a home in East Portland, which they were able to do because of a first-time homeownership program. Kayse understands the struggles of everyday Oregonians, and will take that lived experience to Salem.
Kayse believes in every worker’s right to join a union and have access to a living wage and quality, affordable healthcare. Even as a nonprofit Executive Director, Kayse began paying his own workers no less than $15 per hour wages when the organization’s very first employee was hired 13 years ago -- and he has continued to increase their wages ever since. He knows that our state must honor its promises to public employees and push for a pathway to a retirement with dignity for every working Oregonian.
As COVID-19 continues to set new records for cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, essential workers go to work and expose themselves every day. Kayse will fight immediately for sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE), hazard pay, and sick leave for isolation, quarantine, and recovery. We’re not through this yet, and must protect the people providing the essential services we all need to survive.
Before the pandemic, the rewards of our economic boom went almost entirely to the wealthy. As we see spikes in unemployment, housing, and food insecurity that disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous, and other Oregonians of color, the rich keep getting richer. Kayse sees an opportunity to rebuild an economy that works for everyone. That means centering our recovery and Oregon’s future on workers.
Fighting for workers means fighting for working families. Kayse is committed to expanding child care access and affordability, guaranteeing equal pay for equal work, and truly valuing caregiving. He will be there to represent all of us, and our families, as the next Senator for District 24.