Editorial: Roseburg native Knute Buehler is our choice for secretary of state
October 16, 2012, News Review Editorial Board
Ever since he was named Oregon State University’s first Rhodes Scholar, local residents have been expecting great things from Knute Buehler.
Now they have the opportunity to elect the Roseburg native, an orthopedic surgeon who lives in Bend, to statewide office.
While we’d prefer that Buehler had some experience as an elected official, possibly on a school board, city council or planning commission, we’re ready to give our vote to Buehler for Oregon secretary of state.
The candidate, who gained the nomination from both the Republican and Independent parties, would bring the perspective of a businessman to the office. Buehler, 48, is an inventor of a hip replacement system. He started his own medical practice, growing it to 170 employees. He’s also served on the board of St. Charles Medical Center in Bend and the Roseburg-based Ford Family Foundation.
He’s sincere when he says it’s time for him to enter public service, to pay back the investment made in him when he attended Oxford University to gain a master’s degree in politics and economics on his Rhodes Scholarship.
Buehler, who’s married and a father of two, said he put 50,000 miles on his Ford Explorer while campaigning throughout Oregon. During that time, he bettered his opponent, Democratic incumbent Kate Brown, in fundraising and picked up 2,300 individual donations.
Buehler says he thinks Oregonians are looking for a candidate like him.
“I think they can understand quality,” he said. “They realize the reason I’m running is good.”
Buehler, who worked on Ross Perot’s presidential campaign, is interested in improving access to the Oregon primary election for non-affiliated and minor party candidates.
“I think increasingly people don’t want to be part of any party,” he said. “Almost 30 percent of voters, nearly 500,000 people, were left out of the primary.”
In that vein, he believes he would bring a good balance to the state’s top offices, which are held by Democrats. A past contributor to Gov. John Kitzhaber’s campaign, Buehler said he’d work well with his fellow physician, who spent many years working in Roseburg. As the equivalent of a lieutenant governor, Buehler would like to be the official who reaches out to Chambers of Commerce, encourages corporations to locate in Oregon and makes the state more friendly to business.
He’d also like to bring his Douglas County background and understanding of the timber industry and forestry to the State Land Board, which has been dominated by Democrats for more than two decades.
We have to admit we’re not unhappy with Secretary of State Kate Brown’s first-term performance. Her audits uncovered $180 million in savings for the state. She’s making improvements in the child welfare division and she’s worked well with county clerks. Her most publicized blunder was a late change in the date of the state labor commissioner’s race.
But we’ve got one of Roseburg’s best and brightest ready to take a leadership role in state government, so we’re going with the hometown favorite.