In Short

Stephenson in the lead for labor commissioner in early results

By: - November 8, 2022 9:18 pm

Preliminary results show employment attorney Christina Stephenson will be Oregon’s next BOLI Commissioner. (Campaign photo)

Employment attorney Christina Stephenson was in the lead for labor commissioner in early results announced Tuesday evening.

Stephenson had 60% of the vote according to results released by the Secretary of State’s office by 11:30 p.m. Her opponent, restaurant owner and former Bend Republican House Rep. Cheri Helt, had 39% of the vote.

It could be days before the final results are known but Stephenson appears to be well positioned for victory. She raised more than three times as much as Helt, pulling in $1.7 million according to campaign finance data on Tuesday. Helt raised nearly $540,000.

BOLI enforces anti-discrimination, labor and civil rights laws in the workplace and in housing and regulates and supports apprenticeship programs and state workforce development programs. 

The current commissioner Val Hoyle did not seek reelection. Instead, she ran for Oregon’s 4th Congressional District. 

The nonpartisan post has a four-year term and the commissioner oversees a biennial budget of more than $62 million.

Stephenson, 39, is a Democrat and an attorney and founder of Stephenson Law, LLC. She said in an earlier interview with the Capital Chronicle that she would address the agency’s backlog of civil rights cases, create additional school-to-career pathways and invest in a broader range of apprenticeship programs.

Both Helt and Stephenson made it to the ballot by finishing as the top two candidates in the May primary. Under state law if no candidate gets 50% of the vote, the two candidates that received the largest quantity of votes advance to a runoff. 

Stephenson earned about 47% of the vote among seven primary candidates, and Helt received about 19%.

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Alex Baumhardt
Alex Baumhardt

Alex Baumhardt has been a national radio producer focusing on education for American Public Media since 2017. She has reported from the Arctic to the Antarctic for national and international media, and from Minnesota and Oregon for The Washington Post.