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Staff Snapshots | James K. Goulding

  • Hometown: Salem, Ore.
  • Role: Publications coordinator in the Oregon Senate secretary’s office
  • Years of legislative service: 20-plus

“The legislative process is constantly evolving and once you think you’ve experienced it all, there is a new development that tests what you thought you knew.”

James K. Goulding Oregon

Why did you choose to work at the Legislature?

I grew up in Salem and the Capitol was always a major hub of community activity for what was a relatively small town at that time. I remember school field trips to the building, singing in the rotunda with my choir, and visiting to see the tree lighting every December. I had never been super involved in politics, but it was one of the first places I applied out of college. I think there was always a draw to be in the center of where big things were happening.

What skill or talent are you most proud of?

I have had the good fortune to work in several departments at the Oregon Legislature. I started in 2001 as session staff for the secretary of the Senate, staffed committees, worked in legislative administration and media, then finally back to the secretary of the Senate’s office in a greater capacity. These experiences have given me valuable insight into the connections between different pieces of the process. I’d like to think that gives me a talent to step back and analyze the big picture of how the work of our office connects to everything else going on in the Capitol.

What’s the best advice you were ever given?

I was lucky to have been mentored by many veteran staffers over the years. I think the best advice I took was the sense that there is always more to know. It amazed me that people could work in this process for decades and still not know everything. Now, with 20 years under my belt, I realize how important it is to be curious and keep learning. The legislative process is constantly evolving and once you think you’ve experienced it all, there is a new development that tests what you thought you knew.

Who or what inspires you?

The concept of democracy continues to fascinate me—that we could replace the entire House and Senate with new members, and certain patterns, personalities and conflicts will emerge every time. It is a very people-driven process and it really holds a mirror up to the electorate. The things that inspire and frustrate us about our politicians are often the very same things that inspire and frustrate us about ourselves and the people around us.

What’s one thing you love about your state or territory?

Growing up in Oregon I really took it for granted. As an adult, I have come to admire how many natural wonders there are within our great state. The rugged coastal region, the majestic Cascade Mountains and the inspiring landscapes. I really do feel fortunate to live and work in such a beautiful part of the world.

What are you currently reading/listening to/watching?

I’m a science fiction geek, so I have been really enjoying the new film adaptations of “Dune.” Your Oregon trivia of the day is that author Frank Herbert spent time living and working in Salem. He took some inspiration from the coastal sand dunes in Florence, along the southern Oregon coast. Sadly, I have yet to see any giant sandworms on the coast.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Use the email icon above to suggest a legislative staffer for the “Staff Snapshots” series.

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