It was nearly a year ago that I first had the pleasure of meeting and styling Elizabeth Steiner Hayward. As it turns out, she's a neighbor to the shop and represents most of NW Portland and part of Beaverton (District 17) as a State Senator aaannnnd she is as down to earth as they come. We had an amazing impromptu stylist appointment that day and she has been a loyal client ever since. I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions and I've no doubt you'll appreciate her responses (read on). And if you are interested in asking a few questions of your own, please join us at the shop for a Meet and Greet on April 12th at 5:00. Please RSVP here.
So, tell us a little about yourself and how did you find your way into politics?
I’m a family physician by profession and had been involved with advocating for access to high-quality, affordable healthcare for about a decade prior to making the switch. Fundamentally I believe Oregon can be the healthiest state in the nation, but only if we understand the interconnections between health, education, economic development, environmental issues, housing, nutrition, etc. As a family physician I saw these connections every day and wanted to bring that perspective to policy-making at the state level. It’s certainly not what I thought I’d be doing at this point in my life but I’m glad I ended up here.
How long have you been in office? Why state legislature?
I won my seat in an appointment process at the very end of 2011, sworn in January 5, 2012, so I’ve been in office just over 10 years now. Working at the state level allows me to help people in every corner of Oregon.
What geographic area do you represent?
Right now I represent most of NW Portland, a chunk of NE unincorporated Washington County, and about ⅓ of Beaverton. However the redistricting process changed the boundaries of my district a lot, so this year I’m running in my new district which is virtually everything north of Hwy 26 (including most of downtown Portland) and east of 185th st, plus Cathedral Park area in St. Johns.
What are you most proud of in regards to your career over the years?
That’s a tough one. I’ve passed several important public health bills, including raising the legal age for tobacco & e-cigarettes to 21 (third state in the nation to do so) and implementing the nation’s first statewide, universally-offered nurse home visiting program for families with new babies. As Co-Chair of the Ways & Means (budget) committee I’ve helped secure over $1.5 billion for housing, over $500 million for behavioral health, $300 million for summer learning programs, and so much more.
Do you still have time to practice medicine while being a senator?
I used to do urgent care when we weren’t in session, but my current role as Co-Chair of W&M makes that pretty tough, so I still do some teaching but don’t see patients.
What or who inspires you?
This will sounds a little dorky but I am inspired by anyone who shows up to really do something well. That could be a janitor, a full-time parent, a police officer, a business owner, an artist, etc. If you care about what you do, and work to get better at it, then you inspire me.
What is your superpower?
Connecting - I’m really, really good at connecting with lots of different kinds of people, and then helping them connect with other people so they can help each other.
Favorite book of all time?
When I was young, it was a memoir called Northern Nurse (can’t remember the author’s name) about a young woman from Australia who becomes a nurse in far north Canada. One of the most powerful books I’ve read, that I recommend to lots of people, is The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Ann Fadiman. It’s an incredibly compelling story about a young Hmong girl with epilepsy and her family’s interactions with the Western medical system.
Why do you feel it is important to shop local?
Let me count the ways. Small businesses create the vast majority of jobs. Shopping local encourages Oregonians’ entrepreneurial spirit. I like buying items that most people don’t have. I love building relationships with business people in my community.
Besides you, who is the most stylish senator in the Oregon state senate?
Kate Lieber & James Manning
How did you discover Garnish?
I was walking up 12th and saw that cool blue & white striped jacket in the window!
And what about Garnish will keep you coming back?
I love that Erica & Paul know me, know what I like, push me to try new pieces. I love that they’ve helped me expand my style a lot. I love supporting local businesses. Oh, and of course the clothes are amazing - interesting, comfortable, fit well, made locally (not just designed locally), and reasonably priced.
You recently did a bit of a style reboot with us, what prompted that and what came out of it?
I was a little stuck, stylistically. I also had a good traditional business wardrobe and plenty of really casual clothes, but not much in between. I can wear clothes from Garnish in a lot of contexts.
Do your peers in Salem know about Garnish?
Oh of course! I’m getting lots of compliments on my new outfits and I tell everyone about getting them at Garnish.
As I mentioned before, I’m a connector. I love meeting new people and being inspired by them. I want people living and working in my district to know who I am, know that I’m accessible to them and want to hear from them, and I want to know them!
All photo credits go to Kelly James