July 23, 2024

Letter: My experience working on Jamie McCloud Skinner’s campaign

October 13, 2023

Although I no longer live in Oregon, an article about Jamie McCloud-Skinner, candidate for the upcoming Congressional District 5 election in Oregon (straddling the Cascades between southeast Portland, south to the east side of Corvallis and east to Bend), written by Julia Shumway of the Oregon Capital Chronicle and reprinted in The Ashland Chronicle as well as on, was brought to my attention by Oregon friends.  

They thought it might be of interest to me because I was a volunteer campaign staffer for McCloud-Skinner in 2018 in Jackson County for nine months, serving as Jackson County coordinator, when she ran against Greg Walden in District 2.  My volunteer position resulted from a meeting with Jackson County social workers where we invited McCloud-Skinner to talk about what she hoped to accomplish with her campaign.

As a result of that meeting, the many social workers in attendance decided to support her campaign because she represented many of our values. Many of us volunteered to work for her campaign, and I volunteered for a leadership position which I held through the general election in 2018.

The accusations reported (anonymously) in this article by previous campaign staffers of abusive behavior by McCloud-Skinner during previous campaigns surprised — actually shocked — me.  During the many stressful months of the  campaign in which I was involved, I experienced McCloud-Skinner (and all of her campaign staff, both salaried and volunteer) to be respectful and supportive as I “learned the ropes” of coordinating a countywide campaign. It was a big learning curve for me and McCloud-Skinner was always available (as well as her campaign manager in Bend) by email, phone and, frequently, in person, to mentor,  direct, and support the work I did for her campaign. She was always willing to listen to my concerns and I only experienced constructive feedback.

I am not suggesting that those who reported this past behavior were being untruthful, but I do question their accusations (and motives) in light of my positive experience working for McCloud-Skinner’s previous campaign.  I continue to support McCloud-Skinner — unfortunately, not with my vote as I live in another state — but with my donations and my attestation that she is an intelligent, thoughtful, respectful, and effective problem-solver and visionary whose representation of the state of Oregon in Congress will benefit all those who reside there, regardless of their political persuasion.

Gretchen Thiel

Indio, California

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Email him at

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