Eugene Weekly: Why I’m a Write-In Candidate to Replace Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-OR)

Posted by on October 6, 2016 in Activism, Disability, Legislature, Mental Health, Peer Support | 9 comments

Eugene Weekly: Why I’m a Write-In Candidate to Replace Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-OR)
Rep. Pete DeFazio looks a bit grumpy.

Rep. Pete DeFazio, a progressive who has represented us in Eugene, Oregon since 1987. I have supported him, even when he has been grumpy. Now I am a write-in candidate to replace Pete.

Update 22 October 2016: At the bottom you will now find a rebuttal from Rep. DeFazio. 

The main alternative paper here in Eugene, Oregon ran my letter to the editor about why I am running (or rolling) as write-in candidate to replace Rep. Pete DeFazio.

Eugene Weekly, October 6, 2016:


Rep. Pete DeFazio sadly co-sponsored the worst piece of mental health legislation I have seen in 42 years of human rights activism. HR 2646 is more than 100 pages long, so mainly lobbyists seem to know the details. The worst part is that this bill extends federal financial support for involuntary outpatient psychiatric treatment.

In other words, Americans living peacefully in their own homes could be court-ordered to take psychiatric drugs against their will. I call this approach the “Bill Cosby School of Mental Health.”

I have supported Pete for decades and interacted with Pete personally several times. He’s always been kind of grouchy. That is OK; everyone has a different style. But if Pete legislates for involuntary psychiatry despite many constituents trying to explain why this is horrifying, then we have the right to ask, “Has Pete ever had a mental health check-up himself?” If not, will he?

Those of us with psychiatric labels appear to be one of the last groups that get thrown under the bus, by both Democrats and Republicans. I hope the Senate stops the bill.

Following the revolutionary Micah White’s strategy, I have decided to place my name as a write-in candidate for Congress.

David Oaks, Eugene

Update News:

Your feedback, questions, support are encouraged via the public comment area at the end of this blog. Also, please use Rep. Pete DeFazio’s website to ask about this topic. Even though I hope much of mu blog is humorous, I do want to take the moral road about elections and mental health. Please ask Pete to do the same, because this bill will probably be back in some version or other.

By coincidence, today I was also on the teleconference for the National Counsel on Independent Living Mental Health Civil Rights Subcommittee. Thankfully, we heard a report that the US Senate has not acted to vote for this Murphy bill. The Senate has not taken pieces of the Murphy bill to become amendments in a new mental health bill, either.

Because of the election next month, Congress is highly unlikely to pass any big bill about mental health. Of course we should stay vigilant. But mainly we should be prepared for the new session in 2017.

I said on the teleconference that we need to move from a quiet, group-oriented, Washington D.C. beltway, Facebook-based campaign to a transparent, national, people-power approach. Remember our mantra: Nothing about us without us! We need to learn from past disability campaigns that we need thousands of folks all over the country to not only stop Murphy, but to also win ratification of the historic UN treaty for disability rights.

Here are more places to learn about some of these issues:

Resource links:

From my earlier blog entries

Other links

On October 20, Eugene Weekly published a response from Rep. DeFazio:


In the Oct. 6 edition of EW, local activist David Oaks claimed that legislation that I co-sponsored, along with 207 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives, would force “Americans living peacefully in their own homes” to take psychiatric drugs under court order. This is simply not factually accurate. The bill, H.R. 2646, includes language that supports assisted outpatient therapy (AOT) programs for those within the community who are found to be mentally unstable and unwilling to seek voluntarily treatment, posing a serious threat to themselves and others. AOT is usually in the form of case management and personal therapy programs and does not necessarily require medical intervention. As I hope Mr. Oaks is aware, Oregon law already authorized AOT and Oregon’s statute is clear: AOT does not include forced medication. H.R. 2646 passed the House with a bi-partisan vote of 422-2. This common sense legislation was a huge step forward in improving our mental health system, and I’m proud to be a co-sponsor.

Peter DeFazio, 4th Congressional District Candidate, Eugene


  1. Good for you, David. I wish I could vote for you, but I don’t live in Oregon.

  2. Nothing about us without us! Thank you speaking out and not standing by while people are thrown under the bus.

    • You are the mother of someone abused by the mental health system. With great allies like you we will no longer be thrown under the bus.

  3. Hey David, just want you to know what an inspiration you are to me – you never give up the seemingly endless fight to protect the human rights of people labelled with mental illness. Thanks.

    • Thanks, it is great turning lemons into lemonade, because I turned my psychiatric label into meeting great psychiatric survivor friends like you,

  4. Dave, you’ve got my vote too! Like Patti I’m very grateful to have come upon your offices at Mind Freedom, many years ago. The knowledge I was able to acquire through your work at Mind Freedom has been fundamental in my own “Mind Freedom.” The rhetoric of the “mental illness system” used to have such a hold on my consciousness. I feel so blessed to be liberated from the exploitive agenda of that system!

    • Gail, thanks much! You are one of the very few survivors of the mental health system to come out of the closet publicly in Eugene during my decades here. If more of us came out of the closet the area would be safer and healthier.

  5. Hi Dave, You got my vote in any way I can help. You helped me back in 2011 when I came to you devasted by what happened to me by the street level cops in Springfield how they hi-jacked me off the street, took me to the Johnson Unit, forced stripped me in front of 5 men plus 2 women nurses, forced drugs on me when I was never out of control, and last took my blood, I wasn’t under the influence of nothing but medical marijuana, no medication because I finally got off all those. I didn’t do anything wrong, never resisted arrest because I was never put under arrest. They held me for 10 hrs before they sent me home in freezing wet clothes, with no explanation why. That’s when a friend told me about Mind Freedom. Through some peaceful protesting & a lot of therapy, I am recovery mentally over that experience, but I will never be the same. Thank you Dave Oaks for being there for me back then, taking my story, and allowing me to be heard, even if it was just a few.

    • Thanks, I am so glad that I could help you when you were being abused in the mental health system. I would just say, “pay it forward” and help someone else. I am so glad that you have commented, and I encourage other people to do that! Community sustains us all.


  1. My Response to Rep. Pete DeFazio About His Mental Health Bill | David W. Oaks - […] My Oct. 6 letter against H.R. 2646, and Peter’s Oct. 20 reply. […]