Oregon AFSCME Member Appointed To Salem City Council

SALEM, OR - As a newly appointed Salem City Councilor, Vanessa Nordyke takes public service seriously.

While not the only resident vying to serve out Ms. Cook’s term, at the city council’s vote, Nordyke received the most votes and was sworn in as Salem City Councilor, Ward 7.  

This will be far from Nordyke’s first endeavor in advocating for causes she cares deeply about. Nordyke dedicated herself to fight the stigma surrounding mental health in her community, specifically the legal and public service fields, which like so many other areas that work in stressful and traumatic, see heightened levels of suicide, depression, and alcoholism.

At the Oregon AFSCME 2019 Convention in April, Nordyke and other delegates passed a resolution supporting HB507, which creates a presumption for public safety workers that PTSI and other stress-related conditions are work-related for the purposes of workers' compensation benefits. In the most recent legislative session, Oregon AFSCME members were instrumental in passing this important legislation. 

“Last spring I attended Oregon AFSCME’s convention as a first-time delegate, and that was a real game-changer for me. While I work with Correctional Officers every day in my role with the Department of Justice, I was struck at how my union was fighting to increase mental health access for everyone who work in fields where they face traumatic situations on a daily basis” said Nordyke.

In 2018, Nordyke made history as the youngest ever elected President of the Oregon State Bar, a unified bar of about 19,500 lawyers and judges. As President, Vanessa spearheaded a statewide mental health initiative for the Oregon legal community. Her passion for destigmatizing mental illness led Nordyke to develop and conduct mental health trainings all over the state. Under her leadership, Oregon became one of the first states to mandate mental health and substance abuse training for every lawyer in the state. She now provides training to managers and others on how to incorporate trauma-informed care in practices into the workplace, to reduce employee burnout and turnover.

“Educators, first responders, nurses, personal support providers, correctional officers - these are vital positions in our communities that are too often overlooked and thought to be able to ‘tough out’ traumatic experiences at work. That’s not how we work as people. We need time to decompress and we need access to professional support” continued Nordyke.

Marc Abrams, President of AFSCME Local 1085 representing Oregon Association of Justice Attorneys has seen Nordyke stand up for working people firsthand. “Vanessa has a dedication to helping others that is evident from her work both in the community and at the Department of Justice.  She will bring both skills and sensibility about working people to the Salem City Council” said Abrams.

Looking ahead, Nordyke believes her experience as the Vice-Chair of the Citizens’ Budget Committee as well as her time on the Youth Advisory Commission, Social Services Advisory Board, the Community Police Review Board have provided her with the background necessary to advocate for all of her constituents.

“Representing public servants both in my role with the Department of Justice and now on the Salem City Council is a real honor. They’re constantly being asked to do more with less, and I’m thrilled to be able to fight for those who do so much for our communities” said Nordyke.