The Early Link – Prioritizing Early Childhood in Oregon: A Discussion with State Rep. Karin Power & Rep. Jack Zika

Join us Sundays at 4:30pm for new episodes of The Early Link Podcast. Listen live at 99.1 FM in the heart of Portland – or online anywhere at PRP.fm

On our latest episode, host Rafael Otto speaks with Representative Karin Power (D), representing Milwaukie, Sellwood, and Southeast Portland (elected in 2016) – Brentwood Darlington and Representative Jack Zika (R), Redmond (elected 2018). Both have served on the House Committee on Early Childhood, Rep. Power serving as chair and Rep. Zika serving as vice-chair. Both are retiring this year amid historic turnover in the legislature and will officially end their terms in January. Both have been early childhood champions and we are grateful for their efforts over the years.




Representative Karin Power grew up in a small town in New Jersey and went to Mount Holyoke College in western Massachusetts before moving to the west coast. She’s spent time in Geneva, Washington, D.C., Boston, Seattle, and Portland before making her home in Milwaukie. Rep. Power and her wife live in Milwaukie with their toddler, and two rescue dogs. In her other job, Rep. Power is Associate General Counsel for The Freshwater Trust. She is a graduate of Lewis & Clark Law School.

Rep. Power is committed to progress for our environment, for stronger communities and better schools, and for equity and equality. She puts her years of environmental law experience to work by advocating for cleaner water and air in our communities, and protecting Oregon’s strong environmental heritage. As a new mother and first time homeowner, Rep. Power knows how crucial stable housing and public education are to building successful families and communities. Rep. Power is also the first LGBT woman elected to serve House District 41. She understands how important it is to make our government more accessible, and champions equitable policies both for the Oregon we are today and for the generations yet to come.

Representative Jack Zika was born in Ohio and attended the University of Cincinnati. He worked as a securities trader and, immediately prior to his election to the Oregon House of Representatives, as a realtor in Bend. His interest in affordable housing and other kitchen-table issues like child care comes from the fact that he and his wife Zanthel are raising two young children in Redmond. During his first term, he was named House Republican Assistant Leader, and appointed to the influential Rules Committee. In addition to housing and child care, Jack has worked on legislation to help Central Oregon’s veterans from his position on the Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee, and also on wildfire prevention. He successfully stewarded a ladder fuel reduction bill through the legislature that will direct resources from the Oregon Department of Forestry to fire risk reduction efforts.

Jack and his family love Central Oregon and he considers it an honor to represent the region in the Oregon House of Representatives.



Firstly, the representatives tell of why the subject of early childhood is important to them and the significance of an early childhood committee in the legislature. In addition to supporting the expansion of facilities and strengthening the workforce, they then note other priorities in Oregon’s early childhood sector, and also what they hear from their constituents. Subsequently they talk through what it would take to make sure early childhood remains a legislative priority, how communities can assist and engage, and offer advice to incoming legislators.

With both of their terms concluding next January, they disclose their goals in the interim period, and also how they picture a thriving early childhood system in the future. Concluding the conversation, the representatives detail whether or not they will continue to be active in politics, but note they will always be early childhood advocates.



Rafael Otto, Director of Communications, Children’s Institute

~ Thanks to Children’s Institute, working to ensure that every child in Oregon has the best start in life

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