Catching up with Knute Buehler

Knute Buehler_thb

by NW Spotlight

Knute Buehler may not be a family name just yet, but he did make a name for himself in the Oregon political arena when he ran for Secretary of State against the infamous Kate Brown in 2012. Buehler came to the table a respected surgeon, medical product designer, and business owner in Central Oregon. He is a Rhodes Scholar – the first OSU graduate to achieve this honor – and a politically conscious and involved citizen of the State. Buehler was a strong contender against Brown, to say the least.

The election was hard fought by both candidates. Buehler’s inspired approach and integrity during the campaign enabled him to secure endorsements from 11 of 13 prominent Oregon news publications – a Republican gaining these endorsements is no small feat.

It’s no surprise that Buehler’s campaign successes did not sit well with Brown’s camp, which resorted to questionable tactics.

After a gracious concession, Buehler admitted in post-election interviews that he wanted to take a break and spend more quality time with his family. In truth, he has been anything but idle.

We caught up with the former candidate recently and he gave us a peek into his impressive agenda.

The Political & Legislative Contributor:

Since the election, Buehler has maintained active involvement in political and legislative happenings in Oregon, contributing to a number of efforts.

  • Among other endeavors, he successfully advocated with OSPIRG and other groups for a legislative memorial to encourage a constitutional amendment allowing meaningful campaign finance reform.
  • He has served as the chief petitioner for a ballot initiative, “Respect Oregon Voters”, to create more transparency in the process of disqualifying gathered signatures for initiatives. This measure would counter the current ability for anonymous state bureaucrats to disqualify signatures without repercussions.
  • Buehler has also been advising a number of statewide candidates as they prepare to run for office in 2014 – principally, assisting candidates with logistical advice, messaging strategy, and organizational recommendations.

The Surgeon and Medical Product Designer:

Keeping time with surgery patients and keeping up with medical product design and development has been a main post-election objective of the former candidate. Buehler often performs 30 or more surgeries in a month. This rigorous schedule keeps him busy, but as he puts it, “I am committed to serving as many patients as I can. I have the experience and so many people, desperately need a solution.”

Buehler currently has one medical product patent , and is working with an Israeli startup company to create a device, which will prevent blood clots post-surgery. Additionally, he’s working with a large US based company to make improvements to instruments used for total knee replacements.

He is also a well-respected and frequently published medical author. If you’re looking for some light reading, keep an eye out for two scientific papers, authored by Buehler, which were recently accepted for publication.

The Professor:

Buehler was recently named adjunct professor at OSU (his alma mater). In 2013 he taught a masters-level course on health systems organization for the OSU School of Public Health. The course covered critical health care topics ranging from national health care policy to details of the Affordable Care Act.

The Philanthropist:

Coming from a hardworking family, of which Buehler was the first generation to earn a college education, he is strongly committed to giving back to the community and the State of Oregon. One of Buehler’s main philanthropic commitments is to The Ford Family Foundation where he has recently been inducted as chair of the Institute for Community Building. As chair, Buehler is working with his counterparts to expand the Foundation’s efforts and enhance support of rural communities around the state of Oregon.

The Family Man:

You may be asking yourself how a man with Buehler’s community, state and business commitments is able to find time for a personal life. Interestingly, Buehler often asks himself the same question.

As the former candidate put it, “an aggressive professional agenda is important to me, but my family is the most important component of my success and happiness. We support each other at each step.”

Finding the right balance is his top goal. This year Buehler and his wife Patty are excited to see their son Owen start his sophomore year at Cornell as an Applied Physics and Engineering major. They are also seeing their youngest daughter, Hannah, off to a year abroad as a foreign exchange student. While the thought of an empty nest takes some getting used to, they’re excited for their children to branch out into new adventures.

So What’s Next?

It’s difficult to see the plethora of qualifications and personal investment Buehler commits to his professional and personal endeavors, and not feel a tinge of disappointment that we were not able to experience his work as Oregon’s Secretary of State.

It does allow for a few other questions to emerge: Will Knute Buehler run for office again? If so, what would be his office of choice?

Regardless, it’s evident that Buehler is not throwing in the towel. He is too invested in Oregon’s well being to disappear from the political arena as a future candidate just yet. Now that he’s got his feel for the field, let’s keep an eye on this noteworthy candidate for his next move.