Downtime with Val Hoyle

Jason E. Kaplan

How Oregon’s labor commissioner unwinds

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What are you reading?  

I’m on the go a lot, so I listen to a lot of audio books. Right now I’m listening to All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days by Rebecca Donner, and I just finished The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah.  

What are you watching?

I’m a big British mystery and sci-fi/action-adventure fan. Right now I’m watching Quirke and the McDonald & Dodds series. I also watch every new Marvel movie as soon as it’s released, on my couch with a big bowl of popcorn.

What are you listening to?

I have a well-curated Pandora station that has a great mix of Americana, Irish music and lots of Lyle Lovett.

What is your must-have gadget?

Without question, myBluetooth headset.

What are your hobbies/interests?  

Cooking paella and hanging out with friends. I’m married to a chef, so I limit my efforts to paella and oatmeal. The tradition of a paella is a social event where people enjoy the process of cooking and eating together.

What was your childhood or earliest ambition?  

In first and second grade, I was certain that I wanted to be a nun or an astronaut or just maybe an astronaut who was a nun. I have a learning disability so I struggled in school. I didn’t see myself going to college, and no one else in my family had earned a college degree.

Where is your favorite place to vacation?  

When we vacation, it’s usually somewhere in Oregon. We love spending time on the Coast, heading to the other side of the Cascades into the high desert, and of course we spend plenty of time right here on the McKenzie River swimming and kayaking.

What is your biggest extravagance?  

My biggest extravagance would be getting my nails done. I tend to talk with my hands, so I have my nails done in a way that reflects my personality, mood or current season.

What motivates you to come to work?  

Every day I am able to make a difference in the lives of Oregonians. I take heading a statewide agency seriously. I’ve traveled all around Oregon and brought a staff presence for my agency to Eastern Oregon for the first time in 20 years with our apprenticeship and business technical assistance representative. I’m very proud of our successes to expand those opportunities and outreach to communities throughout the state.

Who is your professional role model?  

My role model has always been my dad. Although we had different career paths, he is the person I call when I’m not sure what to do. He’s always been active civically and in the labor movement. He is 83 and currently a state representative in New Hampshire.

When I first got elected to the Legislature, he told me that I needed to work hard to understand the needs of the district and keep an open door to everyone whether I agreed with their position or not. He sent me his old fire helmet, and I still keep it in my office today. It helps me remember where I came from and reminds me to never forget how I got here.

What ambitions do you still have?  

If I am lucky, I’ll be a voice for our state in Congress, representing Oregon’s Fourth District.

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