We would love to support a more independent or progressive candidate in this race, but our hands are tied. Democrat opponent Michael Graham, an educator and paralegal, has said his reason for jumping into this race was that no one was opposing Republican Gene Whisnant—but apparently "jumping in" didn't mean actually running a campaign. If we were privy to any position statements or other campaign documents coming from the Graham camp, we may have found a way to support him, but communication from the Graham camp has been virtually non-existent. And so is our support for his efforts.
Whisnant, as a longtime legislator, has helped lead efforts to create the state's transparency website, considered one of the best in the nation. His experience in the corridors of power may help secure funding for his district. Faced with a legislative session that will have to tackle the sad state of our education system and the funding of our public employees retirement system (PERS), District 53—and all the districts of Oregon—need strong leadership right now. What we didn't need is a lame duck race. Sadly, we find ourselves waddling along with the incumbent. Vote Gene Whisnant for House District 53.
Oregon's Secretary of State is next in line for the governorship, and as we saw recently with the departure of Gov. John Kitzhaber, it's a distinct possibility that it can actually happen. Knowing the stakes, it's crucial to assess the candidates for their suitability for both positions. This time around, our vote is for Democrat Brad Avakian, currently the Oregon Commissioner of Labor and Industries. He's a retired civil rights attorney, a clean-energy promoter and co-founded the Oregon League of Conservation Voters chapter in Washington County.
Compare that to Republican candidate Dennis Richardson, who's opposed abortion and has expressed favor for coal over other options, we say Avakian is the best bet. Adding to Avakian's suitability is his aggressive enforcement of laws for veterans as well as his high-profile campaigns against businesses that discriminate against gay and transgender patrons (remember the Sweet Cakes by Melissa case out of Gresham? Avakian's agency investigated that), we say vote Brad Avakian for Oregon Secretary of State.