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What Trump's Election Means To Blue Voters In A Red County

Greg Delgado listens as the ''Not In Our Town'' proclamation is read at a December meeting of the Bend City Council.
Chris Lehman
/
Northwest News Network
Greg Delgado listens as the ''Not In Our Town'' proclamation is read at a December meeting of the Bend City Council.

On Friday morning, Donald Trump will become president of the United States. The backlash against his election was intense in places like Portland and Seattle -- cities that overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton. But east of the Cascades, where support for Trump was widespread, opponents of the president-elect are working more quietly.

Opponents of the president-elect may not be as numerous in more rural areas, but they are using the election to build momentum.

In mid-November, thousands of people took to the streets in cities across the nation, including Portland and Seattle, to express their unhappiness with Trump's election. Protesters gathered in the central Oregon city of Bend, too. But their numbers were…smaller.

Bend TV station KTVZ covered the event.

”They brought songs, signs and slogans to that demonstration. 'The people, united, will never be divided.'"

One of that rally's organizers was Lief Bamberg, a twenty-something activist who said he moved to Bend from Portland a few years ago for the clean air and natural beauty. After the marching and chanting at the anti-Trump rally was over, Bamberg said he sat down with his friends to try to figure out what to do next.

Can progressive activists work together?

The answer: Take the slogans they were chanting seriously. You know, the one about the people being united.

"We brainstormed this idea that all of these movements, all of the progressive activists that are out there need to start working together, stop being siloed off in their own pet issues,” Bamberg said. “Because at this point, everything is on the table."

Bamberg and others in central Oregon formed what they're calling the "Protect Our Progress Coalition." They said they're worried that the Trump administration will implement policies that threaten religious minorities, health care and the environment.

One of their first projects culminated at this mid-December meeting of the Bend City Council.

The "Protect Our Progress Coalition" arranged for council members to approve a proclamation they called "Not in Our Town." Council member Nathan Boddie read from the document.

"Be it resolved that the City of Bend stands up against bigotry and hate-based violence of all kinds and declares that no one shall be discriminated against because of race, faith, ethnicity,” he said.

While Bend itself is somewhat moderate politically speaking, Deschutes County as a whole voted for Donald Trump. Thomas Wrisley dove up to Bend from one of the county's outlying communities, La Pine. The teenager identifies as part of the LGBT community. He said a resolution like this one has the potential to be more than symbolic.

"Our public officials, if they are condemning it, then there's going to be stigma, then that stigma can be utilized so that it could protect minorities and I think that's part of the reason why having this proclamation was important,” Wrisley said.

Wrisley said he's worried that minorities will feel the brunt of new Trump administration policies. He said he turned 18 in time to vote for the first time in last year's election. As you can probably guess…his preferred candidate didn't win.

"That's how democracy works,” Wrisley said. “If not everyone else agrees with what you're saying, if not everyone values the same things, then that's kind of it.”

‘We all have to become leaders in this conversation'

Another candidate who didn't win was Greg Delgado, who ran as a Democrat for a state senate seat in Bend. Delgado is now turning his efforts to helping the fledging coalition of left-leaning groups in central Oregon.

"We all have to become leaders in this conversation now, to say we need communities that respect and reflect us as people and so we have to take more responsibility in the leadership and development of our community,” Delgado said.

Delgado said the coalition wants to engage in conversations with business and community leaders to help people on all sides of the political spectrum develop the tools to have healthy, peaceful dialogue on issues where they may not see eye-to-eye.

It's likely some of that dialogue will continue to take the form of protest, though. Like in many cities around the country, there's a march planned in Bend for when Donald Trump takes the oath of office.

Copyright 2017 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.