Kate Brown was born in Torrejón de Ardoz, Spain, on June 21, 1960. After spending most of her childhood in Minnesota, Brown earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Conservation, with a Certificate in Women’s Studies, from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She earned her law degree and Certificate in Environmental Law from the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College in Portland.
Brown has taught at Portland State University and practiced family and juvenile law. She was appointed to the Oregon House of Representatives in 1991. In 1996, after serving two more House terms, she won election to the Oregon Senate. Two years later, she was elected Senate Democratic Leader and, in 2004, became the first woman to serve as Oregon’s Senate Majority Leader.
In her legislative career, Brown made Oregon’s government more accessible by holding legislative committee hearings around the state. She also ensured funding for a comprehensive review of Oregon’s ethics laws, spearheaded legislation creating ORESTAR (Oregon Elections System for Tracking and Reporting), a searchable online database of campaign contributions and expenditures, and reformed Oregon’s initiative process to reduce fraud and protect the citizen’s right to petition.
In 2008, Brown was elected Oregon’s 24th secretary of state and, in 2012, she was reelected. As secretary of state, she created Business Xpress, an online portal to provide resources for starting, expanding, operating or relocating businesses in Oregon. Brown also worked to modernize and streamline the state’s voting and voter registration processes.
On February 18, 2015, in accordance with the Oregon Constitution, Secretary of State Brown was sworn in as Oregon’s 38th governor after Governor John Kitzhaber resigned. She was then elected governor on November 8, 2016.
State Capitol Building, 900 Court St. NE, Suite 254, Salem 97301-4047; 503-378-3111
Kate Brown, Portland; Democrat; appointed 2015; elected 2016; term expires January 2019.
The governor is elected to a four-year term and is limited to two consecutive terms in office during any 12-year period. The governor must be a U.S. citizen, at least 30 years old and an Oregon resident for three years before taking office.
The governor provides leadership, planning and coordination for the executive branch of state government. She appoints many department and agency heads within the executive branch and appoints members to nearly 300 policymaking, regulatory and advisory boards and commissions.
The governor proposes a two-year budget to the Legislature, recommends a legislative program to each regular session and may also call special sessions. She reviews all bills passed by the Legislature and may veto measures she believes are not in the public interest.
The governor chairs both the State Land Board, which manages state-owned lands, and the Oregon Progress Board, which sets strategic goals for Oregon. The governor acts as the superintendent of public instruction, directs state government’s coordination with local and federal governments and is commander-in-chief of the state’s military forces.
The governor appoints judges to fill vacancies in judicial office, has extradition authority and may grant reprieves, commutations and pardons of criminal sentences.
If the office of governor becomes vacant, the office passes, in order, to the secretary of state, state treasurer, president of the Senate and speaker of the House of Representatives. There is no lieutenant governor in Oregon.