OSU alumna runs for Oregon House of Representatives

Sarah Finger McDonald is photographed on Oregon State University campus while she campaigns for State Representative
Sarah Finger McDonald is photographed on Oregon State University campus while she campaigns for State Representative
Reid Myers

Dr. Sarah Finger McDonald is a busy woman. 

An Oregon State University alumna, she balances her work as an academic advisor for the OSU College of Horticulture with her political work, while still finding time to hang out with her daughter after school.

She is also aiming to represent Corvallis and Adair Village in the Oregon House of Representatives.

Graduating with a Ph.D. in Horticulture in 2007, McDonald said the path she took at OSU was a “crooked” one, defined by lab closures, research, getting married and the birth of her first child.

After earning her doctorate, McDonald joined OSU as an academic advisor for the college of Horticulture.

“I realized I didn’t want to get on the tenure track, and ended up working part time as an advisor with horticulture students,” McDonald said. “I work with our students in the online horticulture degree, which is a really fun group of students, because it’s non-traditional students who also have kind of taken the crooked path and are balancing a lot in their lives to try to get through their degree.”

McDonald, an advocate for the prevention of gun violence ever since the Sandy Hook shooting in December 2012, said that a lot of her advocacy and politics stem from her being a parent.

“What really got me involved initially, was after the Sandy Hook shooting, talking to my son,” McDonald said. “I realized all I could do was tell him ‘I would work hard to make things better.’”

After that promise, McDonald joined the Corvallis School Board, where she has worked on a volunteer basis since, as well as founding the Oregon charter of Moms Demand Action, “a grassroot movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence.”

While in office, McDonald plans to focus on not only gun violence and education, but also housing issues, climate change, labor and affordable healthcare.

“She has a lot of great ideas about how to address climate change from an agricultural perspective,” said Steven Richmond, McDonald’s campaign manager, citing her doctorate in horticulture.

While McDonald does not think her time at OSU hugely shaped her politics, she says that her training as a scientist does.

“I’ve seen the impact that climate change has on agriculture and agricultural workers, and then also the impact that agriculture has on climate change,” McDonald said.

According to her campaign website, McDonald also wants to understand the system that makes problems and barriers, and talk to people who understand the problems before she makes decisions and develops solutions.

McDonald also wants to focus on education, including college education.

“I want to think about education, pre-K all the way through, and make sure we have an educational system in Oregon that supports students on whatever path they’re going to take.”

According to McDonald, she does not plan to run for offices above the state level at this time.

“A lot of the things I care about, I’ve realized, I can’t solve those issues at a local level, I really need to work at them at a state level,” she said. “I want to get the work done.”

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