When Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced on Sept. 25 that she would be running for re-election in 2018, she didn’t have much time to celebrate because her campaigning began immediately.
Brown has been on the campaign trail since Nov. 9, 2016 after she won her first election for Governor.
During Brown’s campaign, Oregon students and some of their collective concerns have made headway: lawmakers gave tuition waivers to community college students in need, and the state passed environmental protection and the economy grew. On the other hand, tuition has also increased, causing a penny-pinching struggle for some students. Also, stricter federal immigration laws have struck fear into some students. Their dreams of gaining citizenship and working in the U.S were put in limbo.
While Brown’s supporters say she’s had successes, she has also seen resistance from the Republican party on her support of abortion rights, gun control and immigration.
She has an approval rating of over 50 percent consistently but will face solid competition for a 2018 election from the Republican party.
Brown was the secretary of state in February 2015 when former Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned during a scandal, and Brown stepped up.
Here are five things that Brown’s campaign hopes to improve for Oregon students in her aspirations for re-election:
1. Halting tuition hikes
During spring and summer, students watched a teeter-totter of tuition increases.
The UO Board of Trustees approved a 10.6 percent in-state tuition hike in March, but the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission rejected the tuition hike the next month, per Brown’s recommendation. Then, the school appealed the decision and secured the 10.6 percent hike — but the University received a last-minute influx of money from the state, dropping the tuition hike to 6.6 percent after all.
According to Brown, the constant uncertainty of being able to afford higher education needs to stop.
“I am concerned that Oregon’s students are carrying too much of the financial burden of their own education,” Brown said in an email to the Emerald. “That’s why I worked this year with Oregon’s public universities to decrease proposed tuition hikes and make sure that schools are spending their resources wisely.”
This is also a large concern for the university’s student government. Amy Schenk, ASUO president, has made it clear that tuition increases is a primary concern for her team in the upcoming year.
2. Continue to grow Oregon’s economy
According to many state economists, Oregon’s job prospects remain strong, and have triggered a tax “kicker” because the tax revenues have exceeded what they originally projected.
Brown hopes to keep that growth going in 2018.
“Since I became governor, Oregon has added 130,000 jobs to the economy,” Brown wrote. “Our state has the fastest job growth in the country. We need to keep the economy strong and make sure every Oregonian has the opportunity to get ahead and stay ahead.”
The availability of jobs is a major concern for many students who face large student loans and uncertainty of being able to pay them after they graduate.
3. Defending minorities
Brown signed a bill in August that shields immigration information, and has been very clear on her stance of keeping Oregon as a sanctuary state.
Brown understands that this movement of protecting immigrants and minorities needs to keep going — and she relies on the student vote to make sure that happens.
“I look forward to earning the support of students and young voters across the state,” Brown said. “In the current troubled political climate, Oregonians need someone they can trust in the governor’s office — someone who will defend our progress on health care access, LGBTQ equality, immigrant rights and reproductive rights.”
Brown is also Oregon’s first openly LGBT governor to win an election.
4. Access to information
Oregon has had consistent issues when it comes to access to public information. Critics say obtaining public records is a difficult process. Brown understands that and she has tried to make this process easier.
On May 9, 2016, a task force assigned by Brown came to Allen Hall to discuss how to make public records requests easier. The governor has moved on the issue since then, with Senate Bill 481, which was signed by the governor on June 22. It will take effect on January 1, 2018.
“One thing I’m proud of is the work I’ve done to improve accountability and transparency in state government,” Brown said. “My administration has enacted the most significant public records reform in in forty years.
Brown publicly posts all public records requests and their responses online and has hired a staff attorney whose job is to deal with requests. She also posts her weekly calendar online, along with employees’ conflict of interest forms when they’re filed.
5. Maintaining Oregon’s individuality
Part of what makes Oregon unique is its ability to be attractive to all types of people who love its inclusiveness and progressive thinking.
While the governor has a lot of issues that still need to be addressed and many who oppose her, Brown wants to keep that feeling of progress alive, and wants to be the governor that is able to do that.
“Oregon is a special place. Let’s make our state an even better place to live, work and raise a family.”
Follow Erin Carey on Twitter: @erinlcarey