Sen. Starr eyes state labor post
Local lawmaker says he'd use the non-partisan job to boost employment
State Sen. Bruce Starr's bid for state Labor Commissioner got a boost last week when a couple of prominent businesses backed his campaign.
As Willamette Week reported, the longtime Hillsboro lawmaker recently collected a $25,000 check from Stimson Lumber and a $1,000 contribution from Portland property magnate Melvin 'Pete' Mark.
Starr, a Republican, is challenging incumbent Brad Avakian, who lost to Suzanne Bonamici in the Democratic Congressional primary race. Bonamici went on to defeat Republican Rob Cornilles last week.
Starr is in the middle of a four-year Senate term so won't have to give up his seat to run for the non-partisan post.
Starr, a former roofer who also worked for the Portland Business Alliance, said he'd use the statewide office to help put Oregonians to work.
'The Bureau of Labor and Industries' mission is to protect employment rights, advance employment opportunities, and protect access to housing and public accommodations free from discrimination,' he said.
'Ultimately we need to have more Oregonians working, and we've got to do that in a way that makes sense.'
Starr said his ability to work with Democrats would be an asset.
'If you look at my skill set, my experience bringing folks together to solve problems in the legislature, I think those skills are necessary right now in the bureau,' he said. 'There's a lot of fighting going on.'
Avakian, in announcing his re-election plans last week, also vowed to use the statewide office to help create jobs.
As in his primary campaign, Avakian touted his record of helping more than 4,000 Oregonians across the state through apprenticeships and other training programs.
'We restored career technical education to schools across Oregon so our children can get access to critical opportunities that can lead to good jobs once they graduate,' he said. 'And when Oregon's workers were treated unfairly, denied wages, or discriminated against, we recovered over $12 million in back wages for them.'
The labor commissioner race will appear on the May 15 ballot. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote, a runoff will be held at the November election.