Commentary

Oregonians face a high-stakes election with an unusual governor’s race

October 17, 2022 5:30 am

Voters need to drop off their ballots by Election Day or make sure they’re postmarked by Nov. 8. (Ron Cooper/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

When Oregonians cast their ballot for governor, they’ll decide whether the state will continue to push toward a lower emissions future to combat climate change in lock step with Washington and California or will rescind emissions targets on industry.

They’ll also determine who will decide the state’s direction on housing and homelessness, which polls show is a top concern for voters. They’ll decide who sets the tone on crime and policing and appoints the next judges. And the candidate voters choose will shape the executive branch, naming the directors of state agencies with budgets of millions of dollars that oversee regulations on the environment, health care, education, justice and more that touch the lives of all Oregonians.

A lot is at stake, and the race is unusual. Three candidates are vying for the top job. They’re all women and former state legislators, but the similarities stop there. They differ on the future direction of the state, government regulations and priorities.

The election comes at a time of deep partisanship, both in Oregon and nationwide. 

It’s often said that each vote counts. While one vote won’t tip this or any election, the more who vote, the stronger a mandate the winner will have. If you haven’t already, register. You have one day to do that before ballots start going out on Wednesday. Ballots need to be postmarked or turned in by the end of day on Nov. 8. Though some doubt the validity of the state’s vote-by-mail election system, experts say it’s one of the easiest and safest systems in the country.

The Capital Chronicle was created just over a year ago to fill gaps in statehouse and state government coverage created by shrinking newsrooms. We fulfilled that role during the primary by producing a stream of stories on the issues and races. We also participated in a collaboration with more than 60 newsrooms, fielding questions to each gubernatorial candidate on key issues to help readers decide how to vote.

In that spirit, the Capital Chronicle organized another newsroom collaboration for the governor’s race. I contacted small newsrooms across the state and asked them to join in tackling one issue apiece and sharing the stories in our newspapers and online. Five other newsrooms welcomed the opportunity to focus their resources while broadening their coverage of the governor’s race.

The Albany Herald-Democrat tackled how the gubernatorial candidates stand on climate issues; Ashland News covered health care, including mental health; the Mail Tribune wrote about abortion, the Capital Chronicle covered housing, the Salem Reporter covered education and Yachats News wrote about the economy and cost of living. 

Our series kicks off this week: On Monday, we’re publishing our story on education, followed by housing on Tuesday, the economy on Wednesday, health care on Thursday, abortion on Friday and wrapping up next Monday with our climate story. The stories include infoboxes showing how each candidate voted in the Legislature on key bills. We did not dig into campaign finances. We’ve covered that before and will do so again

Democrat Tina Kotek and nonaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson agreed to talk to the six reporters. Republican Christine Drazan declined, though she did grant an interview to the Salem Reporter.

Other newsrooms are welcome to pick up our coverage as well. Together, we’re providing readers much more than each could do alone. We hope the coverage is useful.

 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site.

Lynne Terry
Lynne Terry

Lynne Terry has more than 30 years of journalism experience, including a recent stint as editor of The Lund Report, a highly regarded health news site. She reported on health and food safety in her 18 years at The Oregonian, was a senior producer at Oregon Public Broadcasting and Paris correspondent for National Public Radio for nine years. She has won state, regional and national awards, including a National Headliner Award for a long-term care facility story and a top award from the National Association of Health Care Journalists for an investigation into government failures to protect the public from repeated salmonella outbreaks. She loves to cook and entertain, speaks French and is learning Portuguese.

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