Secretary of State Bev Clarno Final Newsletter
As I have reflected on my 20 months as Secretary of State I decided to write an opinion piece that has been published in the Oregonian today.
Upon taking the oath of office as Oregon’s secretary of state on April 3, 2019, I quoted the famed commentator Andy Rooney. “Age,” he said, “is nothing but experience, and some of us are more experienced than others. I then noted with a smile that at 83 years old, I was the most “experienced” secretary of state in Oregon’s history.
I have been very grateful to serve as your secretary and will always look back on this time with great pride in the work we conducted and in the great people I have had the privilege of working with. I want to share some thoughts and reflections on my time in this role.
While many know that our agency conducts elections and audits, people aren’t as familiar with our other divisions: archives, business services, corporation, human resources and information services. All of our divisions do amazing work, and I am so proud of everything they do to keep us in line with the goals of transparency, accountability and integrity.
My goal has been to serve in a nonpartisan manner; the core functions of our work don’t have a Democratic or Republican way – only the fair and honest way. I wanted to ensure that we are seeking all perspectives and to try to not let partisanship become a barrier or influence in the work conducted.
This is especially important when we are talking about safe and secure elections and audits. My hope is that this will continue in the future. It is troublesome to see how partisan things have become in Salem. Politics will always be infused with partisan agendas, but I have prided myself on being a person who tries to build bridges toward compromise. I believe clinging to partisanship cannot produce good outcomes for all Oregonians. I hope more government leaders see how governing in a partisan manner contributes to the division and strife in our state.
Oregon’s secretary of state also serves on the Oregon State Land Board with the governor and state treasurer. Coming from a rural background I feel the need to point out that rural Oregonians often feel left out of the conversation. Having lived in both rural and urban areas of the state, I tried to bring both perspectives to the table to help bring balance: what is good for Wasco may not be good for Salem or vice versa. The balance of perspectives is particularly relevant to the issues that come before the Land Board. Oregon’s constitution directs the Land Board to manage lands under its jurisdiction – the vast majority of which are hundreds of thousands of acres of forestlands – to obtain the greatest benefit for the people of Oregon, consistent with resource conservation and sound land management. I urge all public officials to make an extra effort to understand the needs and concerns of fellow Oregonians across geographical differences.
While my time as Oregon’s secretary of state comes to a close, I will always remain an engaged citizen. It is vital for Oregonians to understand the various functions of government, how we can share our input and try to improve how Oregon works. Even though state government does great work every day, my office was often contacted by those who struggled to receive the help they needed from government agencies. Earning the public’s trust is a critical part of serving the public and maintaining integrity. A responsive government is imperative to building this trust and credibility.
This will be my last newsletter as Oregon Secretary of State. Secretary Elect Shemia Fagan will be sworn in and take office on Monday, January 4, 2020. She was elected to be Oregon’s next Secretary of State in the 2020 General Election and we have worked together to make the transition as smooth as possible. I wish her the best in her new role and of course wish the Agency the best in this time of change.