Oregonian Editorial Endorsement: Knute Buehler for Oregon Governor

Reprinted from the Oregonian, October 13, 2018

Editorial Endorsement: Knute Buehler for Oregon Governor

by The Oregonian Editorial Board

Before Oregonians cast their vote for governor they should first recognize what this race is not about. It's not about abortion rights, despite ads attempting to cast it as a wedge issue between pro-choice Democratic Gov. Kate Brown and her pro-choice Republican opponent, Rep. Knute Buehler.

It's not about who aligns best with Portland metro area residents, despite the focus on the region and its immense voting power.

And it's not about Donald Trump, despite his administration's reckless stances and callous policies that have kept people across the country in a continual state of alarm.

Simply, the Oregon governor's race is about who can best lead Oregon in tackling the human and economic crises unfolding on our home turf. From the state's distressed K-12 education system to the critical need for pension reform to encouraging more affordable-housing construction, Oregon is running out of time to responsibly address these challenges. With little vision and no urgency by Brown in her nearly four years as governor, and insufficient experience from Independent Party nominee Patrick Starnes, voters fortunately have a strong alternative. Oregonians should vote for the candidate who is willing to take courageous action on these entrenched problems and mark their ballots for Knute Buehler.

Buehler, 54, may lack the name recognition of Brown, who has been in political office for decades as a legislator, secretary of state and governor since former Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned in February 2015 amid a corruption probe. But the Republican nominee, who is a native Oregonian and orthopedic surgeon, has built up his own impressive record as a two-term state representative from Bend, a district in which Democrats hold a registration edge.

While his votes have tracked with his caucus on fiscal issues, he has broken with his party many times, reflecting his moderate outlook on social issues. He voted with Democrats to adopt a gun control measure banning firearms ownership by people convicted of domestic abuse; voted in favor of a bill raising some real-estate document recording fees to help fund housing initiatives; and he even carried the bill on the House floor that gave women the ability to seek birth control prescriptions from a pharmacist, rather than having to go to a doctor. He also was among Republican legislators developing a more broad-based funding solution for the Medicaid expansion than the temporary package that was signed into law.

But it's not his background so much as his priorities and concrete ideas for Oregon that should win over voters. Improving the quality of education for Oregon's K-12 students is his top priority with an ambitious goal of moving the system from the bottom five in the nation to the top five in five years. More than any other aspect of state government, K-12 education illustrates Brown's profound failure to lead.

Buehler has a long list of proposals to flesh out his vision. They include devoting 15 percent more in General Fund dollars to the K-12 education budget to help pay for lengthening the school year from the 165-day average to 180 days. He aims to reduce class sizes and add reading aides, with the goal that every third grader meets reading benchmarks. He describes establishing an ROTC-like scholarship program to train Oregon teachers and increase diversity within their ranks. And he would restructure Oregon's broken public-employee pension system to help districts direct more dollars to serving students while still ensuring fair retirements for teachers. That priority is particularly important considering that even with record-high education spending in the 2017-2019 biennium - 11 percent more than the budget cycle before - school districts have had to cut teachers and programs to cover skyrocketing pension and health care benefits. Left unchecked, those burdens will sink our schools.

Contrast Buehler's education platform with Brown, whose vision consists mostly of initiatives left by Kitzhaber, programs dictated by voters or priorities pushed by the teachers' union. (Interestingly, her chief education officer is a union official who has zero experience as an educator.) Two years after voters passed a career-and-technical education initiative to improve graduation and dropout rates, she is only now committing to fully fund it, championing it as a key part of her plan. And so perhaps, it's not that surprising that the state continues to have the third-worst graduation rate in the country, test scores show declines or little progress and the last two years of data for dropouts and chronic absenteeism show no improvement.

In fact, when asked by The Oregonian/OregonLive Editorial Board why there hasn't been more progress in education, Brown said it's still coming together. "You will not see more progress until we literally have what I call a seamless system of education from cradle to career," she said, referencing the initiative created by Kitzhaber that her administration is building out. She added that investments in pre-kindergarten will help ensure that students show up to kindergarten "ready to learn."

No one, particularly the families of the 600,000 students currently in Oregon's K-12 schools, should accept her apparent willingness to write off their education. The years students have to grow and learn in the K-12 education system are fleeting. The window of opportunity for students to gain the tools, skills and confidence they need is limited. And the enormous difference that a quality education can make for kids from the poorest of families is an imperative that should guide our leaders to make the bravest of choices.

But Brown hasn't been that leader.

Buehler's willingness to address the growing $22 billion pension debt - which both candidates called a "crisis" - is another critical difference between the two. Education isn't the only area where pension costs are driving cuts. That painful math is playing out across 900 state agencies, local governments, public utilities and other public employers who will be paying $4 billion in contributions to the Public Employees Retirement System in 2019-2021, a 38 percent increase over the current biennium. The burden is already overwhelming. It's crushing if state economists' projections of a possible recession beginning in 2020 come true.

Buehler advocates pursuing employee contribution changes and salary limits that legislators had considered in 2017 - until Brown, Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek pulled the plug, saying they would revisit such ideas later. In 2019. But even now, Brown is noncommittal about asking employees to contribute to the pension fund as they do in other states. Such changes, she has said, are akin to "balancing the budget on the backs" of employees.

Buehler faces tough odds to win in a state where registered Democrats handily outnumber Republicans, and in a year when Trump's policies and persona have turned a #NeverTrump attitude into a #NeverRepublican mantra. Commercials and social media campaigns by Brown's allies have tried to discredit his moderate stances and paint him as a Trump ally, even though he has openly criticized Trump many times. Oregonians shouldn't be distracted by such maneuvers and instead ask themselves what are the most pressing problems that our governor should address?

While Buehler gets some things wrong - his muddled response on repealing the state's sanctuary law, for example - he offers a brighter vision for what Oregon should be and how to get there. His approach, versus Brown's, reflects the leadership he would bring not just to education and pension reform, but funding health care, promoting housing development, and Oregon's many other needs.

Brown's commitment to public service, whether in or out of political office, is unquestionable. The first openly bisexual governor in the nation, Brown has been an inspiration to many who have been sidelined because of race, gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity. Her work as Oregon's secretary of state to create an automatic voter registration process broke new ground in helping increase voter participation. And when Kitzhaber's resignation amid a corruption probe in 2015 suddenly thrust her into the top job, she rose to the moment, displaying the poise and measured temperament needed to help shell-shocked Oregonians heal.

But in nearly four years as governor, Brown never owned the role. It's time for Oregonians to give it to someone who will.

- Helen Jung for The Oregonian/OregonLive Editorial Board

 

Oregonian editorials:

Editorials reflect the collective opinion of The Oregonian/OregonLive editorial board, which operates independently of the newsroom. Members of the editorial board are Laura Gunderson, Helen Jung, Therese Bottomly and John Maher.
Members of the board meet regularly to determine our institutional stance on issues of the day. We publish editorials when we believe our unique perspective can lend clarity and influence an upcoming decision of great public interest. Editorials are opinion pieces and therefore different from news articles. However, editorials are reported and written by either Laura Gunderson or Helen Jung.

 

Standard Disclaimer: The views and opinions of the author are not necessarily those of the Clackamas County Republican Party

 

Be an Informed Voter: Learn the Facts

The November Mid-term Election is just around the corner. Many people have already decided how they will vote, and many have not. Whichever category you fall into, be informed about your candidate or measure. Learn the facts supporting your decision.

Where do I get the facts?

There are a few places to look. One such place is a Pulitzer Prize winning fact check website, PolitiFact.com. Their link is http://www.politifact.com. Their website states, “PolitiFact is an independent fact-checking journalism website aimed at bringing you the truth in politics.”

History is a good indicator of the future. Look into a Candidate’s past. If they are an incumbent, what was their voting history, what bills did they introduce or support, and did they cater to special interest groups. Personal background is just as important: a person’s personal behavior can demonstrate how they will act while in office.

Attend candidate forums. You will have the opportunity to listen to candidates speak for themselves. Sometimes, you may have the opportunity to speak to the candidate in person.

When it comes to Ballot Measures, it is often a good idea to read the entire measure as it is written.

Who can I believe?

We often look to the newspapers for news. But it seems these days true news is no longer being reported, but a reporter’s, or the editorial staff’s opinions often taints the reality of the news we read or see.

If you seek out a friend’s advice, ask their source. Is it opinion, or are the “facts” they are stating coming from a credible source.

Many people search out such websites as Wikipedia and Snopes. Neither is a reliable source. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that is based upon public submissions. So called facts on this site can change daily depending on submissions of the online users. As for Snopes, this website has been proven to lean toward the liberal side when stating their opinion of the facts. This site is run solely by a husband and wife team with no investigative experience and liberal leaning tendencies.

The Clackamas County Republican Party does its best to bring you unbiased, fact based information. You can find more information from their website at www.ClackamasCountyRepublicans.org.

In conclusion:

It is easy to vote with your heart, your emotions. But an efficient, well governed body must set aside their emotions, their personal interests, as difficult as that may be. Your candidate of choice must make decisions that are best for the wellbeing of the nation, each state, and your city. Sometimes we need to take a deep breath, be realistic as to what would be nice to have versus what we need to have.

Take a long look at the candidates that are running for office this November. Are they tugging at your heart strings, or are they being realistic as to what is best for you, your city, our state and country. If you answer this honestly, your decision will be to support the Republican Candidate on your ballot.

Author: Ron Le Blanc. Past Chair of the Clackamas County Republican Party

 

Standard Disclaimer: Opinions and statements may not expressed in this article may not be those of the Clackamas County Republican Party.

Meet Your Candidate: Lori Chavez-DeRemer, Candidate HD-51

Jobs and the Economy

As a small business owner, I’ve worked hard to earn every dollar and provide fair wages for employees. Our communities are depending on lawmakers to create an environment that will help entrepreneurs to keep doing business here in Oregon. However, in recent years, the Legislature has pushed for unnecessary mandates and hardships for businesses. We must lessen this burden and allow our small businesses to succeed.

 

Education

Oregon’s education system is broken. Our state is 48th for graduation rates and the Legislature underfunded voter-approved career-technical education. While insufficient money is going into our classrooms, it’s not enough for our politicians to say, “We need to fund education first.” As your next state representative, I promise to promote innovative ways to advance our students through career-technical education courses, apprenticeship programs, and other job training initiatives. A solid, well-rounded education is the key to living the best life.

Transportation

We need more lanes. The transportation package passed in 2017 was a giant first step to address our state’s infrastructure and congestion. But we must do more. It’s important to have everyone at the table to bring forth common sense proposals. If elected, I will ensure our dollars are prioritized to build sidewalks and fix potholes. Fixing our state’s lackluster infrastructure is critical to our economy and our success. Every minute wasted while stuck in traffic is a minute someone cannot work or spend time living their life. The traffic is also hurting our environment and increasing our air pollution. In fact, four Oregon cities ranked among the top polluted cities in the nation.

Housing Affordability

The rent’s too high. And for too many, owning a home is a daydream, not an attainable reality. Every day it’s becoming harder and harder for Oregonians to become first-time homeowners. Oregonians have been hit with a housing crisis caused by politicians. The labyrinth-like, restrictive land use system has derailed and prevented people from moving up in life. We must address this long-unsolved problem so we can help people live to their fullest potential. Owning a home is one of the greatest game-changers to being successful. We must finally address Oregon’s flawed policies to help drive down rent prices and make owning a home more possible. The Legislature must continue to protect home ownership incentives like the mortgage interest deduction. The doors have been closed to the American dream, it’s time to unlock opportunity.

Government Waste

The government has taken in more of Oregonians’ paychecks than ever before. State “revenue” is at record-breaking levels. And while our state agencies continue to be ineffective and waste hundreds of millions of dollars, the Legislature continues to raise taxes. The Secretary of State’s office has done a good job of revealing the incompetence of our state’s agencies through various audits. Moving forward, we must hold these agencies accountable and make sure taxpayer dollars are spent in an effective manner.

PERS

All roads lead to PERS reform. Virtually every issues that plagues our state can be attributed to Oregon’s pension system. We must address this issue, come together as Oregonians, and fix it. By failing to reform PERS, our state could end up failing to uphold promise to our workers, and that is unacceptable.

Inclusiveness and Independent Thinking

In a time of hyper-partisan politics, it’s more important than ever to elect independent leaders that will do what’s best for their constituents and set aside party politics. As a Mayor, I’ve done just that and will continue to do so in the State Legislature. I support equality for our LGBTQ communities, stronger environmental protections, and support a woman’s right to choose.

 

Source: Lori Chavez-DeRemer For State Representative website

http://www.lorichavezderemer.com/