Editorial: Buehler for secretary of state
Published: October 14. 2012 4:00AM PST
Knute Buehler is making his first run for elected office, but he is far from a newcomer to the electoral process. Voters can support his well-informed, well-reasoned and results-oriented approach by ousting Secretary of State Kate Brown and sending Buehler to Salem in her stead.
Buehler grew up in Roseburg and played baseball for Oregon State University before becoming that school’s first Rhodes Scholar. He was awarded a master’s degree in politics and economics from Oxford University before earning his medical degree at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and returning to Oregon for medical residency at Oregon Health & Science University.
In Bend as an orthopedic surgeon, he helped build and manage The Center: Orthopedic & Neurosurgical Care & Research, which employs 170 Oregonians. His extensive community involvement includes serving on the board of directors of St. Charles Health System.
Locals may be less aware, however, of his long-term political involvement, including more than 20 years advocating for campaign finance reform. One early reflection is his 1994 voter’s pamphlet statement supporting Measure 9, designed to limit the effect of special interest campaign contributions.
The secretary of state, which may be an enigma for many voters, runs the elections division, as well as the corporate and audit divisions of the state. Buehler, a Republican who also has the Independent Party nomination, advocates changes to lessen the influence of extreme political forces. They involve redistricting, ballot access and campaign finance reform.
In the corporate division, he would seek to ease government barriers to business development, particularly by eliminating outdated administrative rules that strangle business growth and innovation. Buehler believes the audit division lacks a strong feedback system to ensure identified fixes are carried out.
Incumbent Kate Brown is a lawyer with a long history in state government, starting as a Democratic representative in the Oregon House in the early 1990s and moving to the state Senate in 1996, where she served for some years as party leader. She ran successfully for secretary of state in 2008 and now seeks re-election.
Brown has been criticized for partisan dealings, particularly in the election division.
The other two candidates in this race — the Pacific Green Party’s Seth Woolley and Progressive Robert Wolfe — say she tries to restrict the initiative process. Wolfe is a one-issue candidate, unhappy with the way Brown’s office rejected signatures and thus kept his marijuana measure off the ballot. However, we were impressed with Woolley’s knowledge and analysis of ballot and voting issues, and believe the winning candidate would do well to engage him in a reform process.
Buehler is open-minded and non-ideological, with a focus on solving problems rather than winning arguments. Asked about key differences between himself and Brown, Buehler said it has to do with how they approach solutions: “I’d rather empower; she’s more top down with a bigger role for government.
Oregon has big problems to solve, in the secretary of state’s office and elsewhere, and Buehler can bring a fresh perspective to those discussions. Voters should send him to Salem.