In this introduction to Oregon’s 2023-24 Oregon Blue Book — Oregon’s biannual publication of our history, economy, government and cultures — I once again find myself writing during a tumultuous time. Would it surprise you to hear that I’m optimistic?
Like many Oregonians (and Americans in general) I’m frustrated by the unequal economy, the climate crisis, and the undemocratic roll-back of women’s rights by the U.S. Supreme Court last year. I hate it when big corporations get bailed out but solutions for working families always seem out of reach. As a mom of two young kids, I worry about the future we are leaving for them.
What I don’t buy is the narrative that we’re too divided to solve these problems. Maybe it’s the Oregonian in me. After living my whole life in Oregon and serving the people of Oregon for more than a decade, I know we can put our differences aside and do big, meaningful things.
Look at the Oregon Reproductive Health Equity Act. When the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated the constitutional right to an abortion over the objection of most Americans, Oregonians could rest assured that our state laws protect a woman’s right to make her own reproductive health care decisions.
Look at our vote-by-mail system. Republicans and Democrats in Oregon came together over the last two decades to build the gold-standard for modern, secure and transparent elections systems. That’s why we don’t see voter disenfranchisement, attacks on democratic values or highly politicized legal battles in Oregon the way we do in other states.
Oregon is special. But if we can overcome obstacles and do big things, so can this country. We need leaders who will put their heads down and do the hard work of building us up and bringing us together.
I know it feels like we don’t have those leaders right now. But through the darkness there are glimmers of light. Unemployment continues to fall, nearing the historic lows we saw before the pandemic. Record numbers of new businesses started in 2020 and 2021, showcasing Oregon’s entrepreneurial spirit. And Oregon remains an attractive place to live, with positive net migration last year.
In August of 2022, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. The bill will lower the cost of prescription drugs, require tax-dodging corporations to pay a minimum federal tax, and make the largest investment in clean energy by any nation ever.
We are in a storm, no doubt about it. But as we enter 2023 not knowing what the future holds, let us once again commit ourselves to bringing our loved ones, our neighbors and our fellow Oregonians through these challenging times.
My promise to Oregonians is that as your Secretary of State, I will always work to build us all up. I will never use my position to tear us down or split us apart.
Secretary of State