Next month Oregon voters will see my name on the ballot for Attorney General. In deciding their vote, they should understand what that position is.
Some imagine the Attorney General is Oregon's 'top cop,' chasing down bad guys. Others think it's being a trial lawyer, questioning witnesses in front of a jury. Both these views are off the mark. The Attorney General should be Oregon's chief advocate - someone who protects Oregonians from crime and consumer fraud, protects our environment from polluters and uncontrolled development, and protects our civil rights.
The Attorney General should be a leader and a visionary. He should establish priorities and work with the Oregon Legislature to get resources. He should respond to the challenges of new crimes like identity theft and internet fraud, and develop new, more effective strategies for fighting meth. He should make sure Oregon's laws protecting us from pollution, sprawl, and consumer fraud are enforced.
The Attorney General should stand up to the federal government when it interferes with the policies Oregonians have chosen, like the right to a death with dignity and tougher auto emission standards. Too often in recent years the Bush Administration has tried to impose its views on Oregon.
As chief advocate for Oregonians, the Attorney General provides leadership like that of an Oregon legislator. Even though the Attorney General doesn't vote on legislation, proposing law changes to the Legislature is an important part of the position. To be effective, the Attorney General must understand Oregon's legislative process.
As Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, I have worked with the current Attorney General, Hardy Myers, on legislation he proposed. For example, Oregonians will vote next month on two amendments to the Oregon Constitution proposed last year by Attorney General Myers. The amendments provide legal remedies to crime victims to assure that the rights already contained in the Constitution are upheld. I moved the amendments through the Legislature so the people could vote on them.
In three terms in the Oregon House of Representatives, I built a record of bringing sound legislation forward. In 2005 I joined three other legislators to craft a response to the problem of meth in Oregon. By banning the over-the-counter sale of the raw material used to cook meth, we virtually shut down home meth labs in the state. Earlier this year I was a leader in sending to voters a proposal to target high volume meth traffickers with longer prison sentences, combined with an investment in drug treatment programs.
Last year I passed a law protecting Oregon families from internet sex predators and another law cracking down on repeat identity thieves. I led the work on Measure 49 last year to protect open space and prime farmlands from the huge new subdivisions and strip malls some owners had claimed a right to build.
I was a leader in the passage of landmark laws last year extending equal rights to all Oregonians, regardless of their sexual orientation. Earlier in my legislative service, I stood up against attempts to take away a woman's right of choice in reproductive matters.
Oregon's Attorney General should serve as chief advocate for his client. That client is the people of Oregon.
Rep. Greg Macpherson, Lake Oswego, represents Oregon House District 38. He currently is running for Oregon Attorney General.