Ore. secretary of state hopefuls square off in Bend

Confrontations break out between incumbent, challengers

Ore. secretary of state hopefuls square off in Bend

BEND, Ore. - The candidates looking for your vote for Oregon Secretary of State met at the Deschutes Public Library in Bend for a League of Women Voters forum Tuesday evening. Four of the five met to discuss everything from PERS reform to making government more transparent.

Incumbent Democrat Kate Brown, Republican Knute Buehler, Progressive Party candidate Robert Wolfe and Seth Woolley of the Pacific Green Party addressed a packed audiences.

Many of the candidates took jabs at what incumbent Brown had done -- or not done -- in her first term.

"Unfortunately, under Kate Brown's tenure, there are fewer initiatives by far," said Wolfe.

"Most concerning, they (Oregonians) don't even know who our current Secretary of State is, but for that matter what she has done in the last four years to try and turn Oregon around," he added.

Even though other candidates were attacking Brown's record, she stood by what she has done, touting accomplishments like OreStar, a program used to follow campaign funding.

"Oregon now has one of the most transparent systems in the country," said Brown. "It enables you to follow dollars, both contributions and expenditures."

But Woolley said, "Its pretty hard to see in that system where that money is actually flowing. He added that as a computer engineer, there was a lot that could be done to fix and improve the current system.

Brown touched on a subject that made headlines across the state early in the race, saying Buehler wouldn't agree to a campaign spending limit.

"He wouldn't agree to a limit, and he wouldn't agree to even negotiate on that limit," said Brown.

Buehler, a Bend orthopedic surgeon, responded by asking why in the last 90 days leading up to the election the spending limit was proposed.

"That stuff is just not acceptable to Oregonians," he said. "They see through those kinds of partisan games. That needs to change."

Spending limits weren't the only point of contention. When asked about PERS reform, Buehler and Brown were at it again.

"Dr. Buehler's solution is to not take PERS -- I appreciate the fact that he is independently wealthy," said Brown.

"Wow, where do I start with that?" Buehler said with a smile. "How can you act and make decisions on something you have your own personal estate tied up in, which I think is just prudent."

Libertarian Bruce Alexander Knight was the only candidate on the ballot who did not appear at the forum.

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