Sam’s life experiences have helped shape his
political values and outlook.
The third of four children, Sam was born in 1963,
when his family lived in a ranch house eight miles outside of
Whitehall, Montana (pop. 1,044), 32 miles East of Butte . His father,
Larry, taught special education at Whitehall High School, and
his mother, Kara, worked in the home raising four children .
“My parents' generation was the first to go
to college,” says Sam.
Grandfather Chuck Adams worked for 30 years as a conductor for
the Milwaukie Road Railroad (the old Portland office is now condos
in the Pearl District) and his Grandfather Francis Gibbons was
an immigrant from Joyce, Ireland, who died on the job working
for Montana Power as a lineman . Sam’s Grandmother Winifred
Adams worked at home raising three boys; his Grandmother Marie
Gibbons worked as beautician in Dillon, Montana and as professional
babysitter in Las Vegas, Nevada .
Sam’s Great-Grandmother Delia Gibbons also emigrated from
Ireland to Portland because it reminded her of the “old
country.” She lived in apartment #51 at The American apartment
building on NW 21st and Johnson and worked as the housekeeper
in the Bishop’s house next to Cathedral Catholic Church
in Northwest Portland viagra.
When Sam was two, his family moved to Richland,
Washington for a year, and then on to Newport, Oregon where Sam
attended Sam Case Elementary School and Lincoln Junior High School viagra online.
As a youth, Sam and his friends were almost always outside, rain
or shine cheap cialis.
“My friends and I always wanted to be fishing
or crabbing off the Newport fish canary docks or digging for clams
in the mudflats,” Sam recalls buy cialis. “The only thing that
would bring him inside was food,” said Sam’s Mom,
Kara, "When he was 4 and 5 years old, he just loved Miracle
Whip salad dressing, which was a luxury in our house cheap cialis. In fact,
he asked for a jar of it for two Christmas’ in a row.”
in junior high school, Sam’s family moved to Eugene and
his parents divorced. “I lived with my mom and those were
lean years. We got by with subsidized student housing, student
loans, food stamps and my mother’s amazing strength and
frugality,” said Sam. “I know firsthand how families
can struggle and how the combination of hard work and the right
kind of government help can get families through the rough patches.”
After his mom graduated from college, she could
not find work in Eugene and moved to Portland. Sam stayed in Eugene
and lived on his own throughout most of his high school years.
He worked as a dishwasher and a cook to help support
himself; he wrote for the newspaper and took photos for the school
yearbook. He also was involved in cross country and student government.
“He was just the kind of independent, reliable and responsible
kid who could handle living on his own at that age,” said
Sam’s mother, Kara.
a few close friends, I never told anyone else I lived on my own.
But a teacher and a Vice Principal must have figured out something
was up because they would always make a special point to encourage
me and keep me going,” said Sam. “My graduation from
South Eugene High School in 1982 was really a tribute to their
willingness to push me and give me support. Without these great
teachers, I don’t know where I would have ended up. It is
why I have always fought so hard to keep our local public schools
Soon after starting college at the University of
Oregon, an academic counselor told Sam that future success in
the work world would require learning a second language and getting
practical workplace experience. Sam got a crash course in Spanish
and a perspective on life at the Universidad de Guadalajara for
two semesters. “It was the first time I saw the U.S. from
the outside looking in,” said Sam. “I learned how
little perspective I had on my own country and how much responsibility
as a nation we have for being a good neighbor to the world.”
After returning to Eugene, Sam worked as an intern
for Peter DeFazio, Chair of the Lane County Board of Commissioners.
He dropped out of college when DeFazio hired him to be the press
secretary for his successful 1984 Congressional race. Having a
Press Secretary was not in the campaign budget so Sam took a low
salary and slept on a futon on the campaign headquarters floor
to save money.
“I had no prior experience and Peter took
a chance on an untested kid to do his media,” said Sam.
“The first day on the job, Hasso Herring, Editor of the
Albany Democrat Herald newspaper, said he had never seen a news
conference planned and executed so poorly. Luckily, I got better
“Sam has a natural curiosity that keeps him
in a constant learning mode,” said DeFazio. “You can
throw him into almost any situation and he will figure out what
the best action is to take.”
In 1988, Sam went to work for the Democratic House
Campaign Committee. “Thinking I was healthy, in a very dumb
move to help pay my monthly bills, I stopped paying my health
insurance premiums,” said Adams. “High credit card
debt and a bout of appendicitis left me over my financial head,”
said Adams. “I declared personal bankruptcy.”
though not required to by law, after saving up $20,000, Sam repaid
the original debt still owed to his bankruptcy creditors. In a
2002 letter and check to each creditor, Sam wrote, “I want
to apologize for not keeping faith with the terms I agreed to
in obtaining credit from your company. Keeping my commitments
is important to me and I deeply regret having failed to do so
with your company…I would like to repay the difference between
what the Bankruptcy Court distributed to you from the payment
it received from me, and the amount of my original debt.”
After meeting House Speaker Vera Katz in Salem,
she asked him to manage her successful mayoral campaign and serve
as her Chief of Staff.
“As Chief of Staff, I could assign Sam projects
deemed impossible, or projects that were off track. He would bring
people around a table and just dig into the issues and get results
or nearly die trying,” said Katz.
Sam went back to school to finish his college degree
and graduated from the University of Oregon in 2002.
Sam has been an active community service volunteer,
serving on the Board of Directors for Cascade AIDS Project; Western
States Chiropractic College; Innovation Partnership (co-founder);
Portland Oregon Visitors Association; Basic Rights Oregon; Lane
County Public Welfare Board; Wayne Morse Historical Park Corp.;
and Lane Council of Government’s Commission on Juvenile
Sam lives in North Portland’s Kenton neighborhood.