The Democratic primary race is nearly as packed with candidates as the Republican. It seems to be between Kotek, the former speaker of the Oregon House, and Tobias Read, the state treasurer. We interviewed them both.
They come at Oregon’s challenges from a similar set of values. We aren’t aware of any significant policy differences between the two. Kotek is our pick.
She worked for the Oregon Food Bank. She worked for Children First. And then she moved into politics. That brings a lens to look at politics that most any Democrat values.
It wasn’t lost on us the way she knew when she spoke to us about the local efforts here to improve childcare from Oregon State University-Cascades and Central Oregon Community College, to add shelter capacity for the homeless and efforts by the city to add more housing. You could say that is just basic political savvy or solid preparation before an interview with a local newspaper. We do need statewide politicians who will take that time to learn about the challenges and efforts in local communities.
Kotek also brought up the importance of having a conversation about water in Oregon. Central Oregon faces another year of drought. We have a system of water allocation and a system of distribution in this basin and in the state that needs improvement. It will be a controversial topic. It needs to happen. We give Kotek credit for bringing it up.
She led on major initiatives in the Legislature on housing, on the minimum wage and on the environment. She didn’t get everything she wanted. And she has been disappointed to see the slow implementation of paid family leave in Oregon.
Kotek didn’t volunteer it, though, she also led on getting some needed reforms to PERS. That didn’t earn her any points with some union members. It does show she has been willing to get things done for the state at large that some members of the Democratic Party’s base don’t like.
We have interviewed Read several times over the years. He seems to have done a fine job at the Treasury Department. And on the state land board, he has helped bring resolution to what is to be done with the Elliott State Forest.
This is our opinion, of course, but for Democrats Read would be good. Kotek would do more to get the most out of government agencies. She would do more to achieve Democratic priorities. She would make a better governor for Oregon. It’s about her personality. It’s about her skill. Whatever you think, we hope you vote in the May election.