I supported Jason Atkinson in the primary. When I saw the line up, I sighed. My choices were bleak. I was faced with a young, good looking State Senator with little backing in the Metro area and little executive experience, a former Democrat who couldn’t seem to get any traction in General elections, and a moderate Republican from Portland who seemed to change his stripes in order to win the General Election.
I wasn’t excited. I sensed the same faces and same empty rhetoric. I chose to support Jason partly out of protest, partly out of hope. Hope that he might pull it off and bring vision and clarity back to a State that desperately needs it.
Today, I’m working for Ron Saxton. The choice was easy. He will win and I do have hope that he can do what I’m hoping for.
That said, what am I hoping for? Why was I so apathetic about the race and the candidates? I’ve spent some time trying to figure it out and what I’ve come up with is a bit of a rant. I don’t know if my ideas are shared by a great number of my fellow Oregonians but they are my thoughts nonetheless.
So here are the 10 Things I Want From My Next Governor.
1. Support the creation of family wage jobs. I’m sick and tired of our electeds standing up in front of Bridgeport Village talking about all the jobs that have been created. The average wage in Oregon is below the nation standard and it isn’t trending in the right direction. Are we surprised? When companies that promise well paying jobs approach the State, they seem to be treated as pariahs. Look at the LNG facilities that are being proposed or the ship breaking firms that wanted to be here. Not only construction jobs but on-going jobs that pay well in parts of the State that need it. Instead of a whoop of joy from the Governor he said he’d study it some more. I want a governor that will open his arms to well paying jobs. He should start carrying around a pair of scissors to help cut the ribbon for new businesses or expanded facilities. He should also get out there and recruit them. We shouldn’t have to be a “branch office” state but a corporate HQ state where executives want to live. So first, be actively recruiting well-paying employers.
2. Support taking back programs from DC. Help the Conservatives in the Beltway shrink the size and scope of the national government by being willing to accept responsibility for programs here. Don’t stand at a lectern with other governors asking DC to cut checks or take on more responsibility. Don’t let the State be party to ridiculous lawsuits that try to nationalize everything using the Commerce clause. Seek to reduce the National government’s golden handcuffs and experiment with what we are given. Welcome block grants but more importantly welcome and encourage DC to divest itself of complete lines of business.
3. Be Oregon’s governor. Reach across the aisle when possible. Get out of the valley, away from Portland and Salem. Meet with the Chamber of Commerce in Paisley (assuming there is a Chamber of Commerce in Paisley). Don’t appear only with the traditional Republican groups. Meet with immigrants, go to an AIDS hospice, volunteer in a homeless shelter. Be everywhere and honestly show you enjoy the entire state. Spend time in Oregon’s forgotten corners and with Oregon’s forgotten people.
4. Recognize good work done by public employees. As a former public employee you may expect such sentiments from me. And please believe me when I say that there IS deadwood that needs clearing out and ancient bureaucratic systems that need removal. However there are also hard working case managers trying to improve the life of the developmentally disabled. There are corrections officers working long hours to turn around the lives of offenders. There are school teachers that put in 50 and 60 hour weeks for your children and grandchildren. There are many that work hard and their work needs to be recognized and celebrated.
5. Understand the new industrial revolution. I’m talking about technology here. My boys buy music on line using a debit card. They receive and post school assignments on web pages. They expect that information is only a few clicks away and that every hamlet in the State has internet access. Talk about how you will shift the State government to recognize this reality. Encourage the high tech parts of Oregon’s economy that is making this happen. Set the bar high for your own administration’s use of technology. Look in your own State for cutting edge — nay bleeding edge — examples of way cool innovation. Create a Governor’s technology summit. Have a State chief technology officer report directly to you.
6. Think creatively. Don’t be stuck in old paradigms. In fact use the knee-jerkers as your gauge as to whether you are close to the mark or not. When they howl, you are getting close to goring their sacred cows. For example The Nature Conservancy has an excellent track record in creating deals with farmers, ranchers and local communities for sustainable, non-governmental parks and open space. On the other end of the spectrum, James Dobson’s Focus on the Family has excellent, non-governmental methods— field tested and proven — to reduce the incidence of divorce and out-of-wedlock births. Each of these examples made certain people reading this start to get hot under the collar. I’m getting close!
7. Show that you care. This isn’t kissing babies or showing up at old folks homes. This isn’t signing yet more legislation for victims or emptying the state coffers into the pockets of case workers. Don’t always use the bottom line or data or facts to justify your actions. The people want a leader who cares. Where is your passion? Show it. Live it.
8. Bring civility back to disagreements. Did I miss the decision that disagreement means hate? Socialize with those who disagree with you and be open to having public debates with those of alternative points of view. Show that you are comfortable with disagreement and don’t believe that we all have to march lock step. On the other hand once a decision is made, encourage the disagreeing parties to march together once the decision is made. This means facing down the extremists. Call them extremists whether they are radical libertarians or radical Marxists.
9. Point out that the “National News” isn’t necessarily Oregon News. While the Oregonian publishes everyone else’s stories, serious issues here get ignored or interpreted with the viewpoint of the Beltway or New York. The national media drive the viewpoints of those living here. Point that out. Explain why solutions or problems in other states or countries won’t impact us in the same way. And be sure to highlight things that are working here or problems we need to fix here.
10. Finally, what I want most from my governor — or at least my candidate is for him to win.
Now there is quite a bit here. Too much to wrap a campaign around. In fact many of these are more about how the winner approaches problem solving than actually policies to implement. So really the thing I want out of my next governor is the last one. I want him to win.
So I suppose, at the end of the day, that isn’t so different than the rest of you.