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Soapbox: We need fresh, new leadership to move Oregon forward

Knute Buehler is the Republican Party and Independent Party nominee for secretary of state.

Over the past nine months, I’ve driven almost 50,000 miles across Oregon. I’ve talked to people in all of Oregon’s 36 counties, from Lakeview to Portland, and from my hometown of Roseburg to my current home in Bend. What I’ve heard, over and over again, is that people are concerned about Oregon’s direction.

Newspapers across Oregon have agreed, which is why a diverse group has endorsed our campaign in this election. Papers like The Oregonian, Willamette Week, The Eugene Register-Guard and The Bend Bulletin, to name just four of the 10 who have endorsed my candidacy.

The secretary of state is Oregon’s second highest elected position. Past secretaries of state include prominent, independent thinkers like Phil Keisling, Norma Paulus and Mark Hatfield. They were leaders who solved real problems.

But for the past four years, the Oregon secretary of state’s office has been underperforming, and that has real consequences for job creation, for protecting taxpayers’ money and for making our elections less partisan and more fair.

The Eugene Register-Guard wrote, “Based on Democrat Kate Brown’s inconsistent performance in this important job, voters should replace her with GOP challenger Knute Buehler.”

I’m running for office because I believe in public service. I want to use the secretary of state’s office to its full potential and make my home state of Oregon a better place to live, work and play.

As head of the Corporation Division, the secretary of state has the opportunity to make Oregon more welcoming to business. With 11,000 pages of rules, regulations and red tape, businesses in Oregon need an advocate inside government to help them navigate these potential barriers.

As secretary of state, I’ll be an ambassador to business and establish a team to help businesses make it through this maze of regulation so they can create jobs for Oregonians.

As head of the Audit Division, the secretary of state has the opportunity to identify and cut waste and inefficiencies in state government. We need a taxpayer’s advocate to dig deeper and stop the misuse of our money so we can protect our schools from budget cuts. The current secretary of state, Kate Brown, says she’s “found” waste. But I’ll find and fix it.

Finally, I fully support vote-by-mail, and as head of the Election Division, I’ll make our elections more fair and inclusive. Over the past 20 years, I’ve been involved in two ballot initiatives to reform our election laws. As secretary of state, real campaign finance reform and getting big money out of politics will be top priorities.

Remember when Kate Brown moved last spring’s election for the commission of the Bureau of Labor and Industries to the fall? She didn’t even notify the candidates she was doing so! The move shows she is either hyper-partisan or unorganized. The Willamette Week called it “inept,” and other media outlets have questioned her competence and attention to detail. Clearly, we can do better!

On audits, the current secretary of state has let cities, counties and agencies off the hook from performing their required audits. For audits she has done, she hasn’t used her authority to require agencies implement the suggested reforms. And media outlets like The Oregonian have been better at finding waste than she has.

I’m not a 20-year politician who has sat at a desk in Salem voting the party line, raising millions in special interest money and voting to increase taxes by billions of dollars. That is the kind of “experience” my opponent brags about.

Oregon needs a new direction, and Oregonians want a new approach to the office of secretary of state. They want a leader who will focus on solving real problems. I will bring my executive experience managing a company with 170 employees, a master’s degree in economics and real life experience working on election reform for two decades in Oregon.

I’ve set up innovative performance auditing systems in one of the state’s largest health care systems, and I’ve started and grown companies, which is experience and knowledge desperately needed in the secretary of state’s Corporation Division.

Oregon can be so much better than we are as a state right now. We just need fresh, new leadership to get us there.

The Bend Bulletin said, “Voters can support his well-informed, well-reasoned and results-oriented approach by ousting Secretary of State Kate Brown and sending Buehler to Salem in her stead.”

And The Daily Astorian added, “We recommend Knute Buehler. Electing him would add diversity to the chemistry of the statehouse. Oregon could use that.”

If you’re like me and expect more out of your state government, if you want a better Oregon, then join me this election and vote for a change in leadership. I hope you’ll vote for me, Knute Buehler, for secretary of state.

Get on your Soapbox

The Times offers a Soapbox to stand on every week online and on our Opinion page. The Soapbox is a guest column written by any reader on any local issue of public interest. They should be no longer than 800 words (about three double-spaced typewritten pages) and should include the signature, address and phone number of the writer.

Soapboxes are due Mondays at noon and can be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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