Liveblog: Gubernatorial Candidate Forum

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

It's a beautiful Sunday morning in Sunriver, Oregon. Oregon Democrats have spent the weekend gathered to hear from legislative leaders, our members of Congress, and from activists and wonks of all sorts.

It's all led up to this point - a gubernatorial forum featuring Bill Bradbury, John Kitzhaber, and Steve Shields. Lots of anticipation - especially from the many Democrats who have never heard from Shields.

I'll be liveblogging this morning. There will be three-minute openings - and then questions (previously submitted to the DPO via Facebook and Twitter.) This is not a transcript; but rather my hastily typed notes.

Let's go!

Kitzhaber: We are entering a period of profound transformation driven by forces we cannot shape or control. Baby boomers, escalating health care and energy costs, staggering national debt. This is difficult.

We can be better and brighter if we challenge the status quo. Imagine a different world. Campaigns are not a place to find a discussion of problems. Slogans are easier. "Fully fund education". "Health care for everyone." These win elections, but do little.

The underlying structures of our system were developed in the middle of our last century.

I have faith in Oregonians. They will expect and demand an honest dicussion. Over the next month, I'll be laying out big ideas - some will be controversial and challenge the status quo.

Bradbury: I have faith in Oregon. I've seen Oregonians come together and solve really tough problems over the last 30 years. But I've also seen us ignore some major problems.

We've been ducking the problem of funding education for at least 16 years, if not a whole lot longer. The first step is passing the tax measures in January. Raising the corporate minimum from $10 is not a radical idea. I have seen what the cuts will look like.

Now, to the larger problem: In my first term, in my first week in office, I will bring together the stakeholders to really solve education funding: businesses, parents, retirees. Hammer out an agreement that finally funds education to the Quality Education Model. I will lock the doors and not anyone leave until we come up with a proposed solution that everyone can support.

I am dedicated to results, as I always have been. I led on the Oregon Ocean Plan. I implemented Oregon's vote by mail system.

I'll soon be releasing specific plans.

Shields: It's an extraordinary thing to be here and welcomed by you as a complete outsider. Let's face it: Oregon's next governor matters. Our problems threaten our future, and I won't sit on the sidelines any longer while we make insufficient progress.

I was raised in a timber town in Oregon. My father worked long hard shifts for union wages in the mills. We endured strikes and tough times. Our family situation improved each year. That idea is the heart of every working person's dream. But that goal is much harder for many Oregonians, I'll change that.

I'm running for Governor to restore Oregon as a place of real opportunity for Oregon families. I'm a conservationist and an outdoorsman, and I'll protect our natural resources.

Education is the key to success. I'm running for Governor to reverse the disinvestment in education.

I'm also running to create a new economic reality. I'm the only candidate who has created jobs. Part of a team that implemented one of the world's most successful business models.

I know how to make things work, and that's what I'll do as Governor.

Now, on to the questions.

Q: Oregon faces a huge hole in its budget. The options are to cut essential services or get the tax increase passed. Will you go on record supporting the tax measures over cutting human services?

JK: Yes, I will support the tax measures. Period, end of story. I will not support those spending cuts. For those who have concerns about taxes, we should take them up in regular session. But we will still have a problem with our budget. Much of the current budget depends on one-time stimulus money. We need to understand that our nation is awash in debt, and we cannot raise taxes high enough or fast enough with our current structures. Our great challenge and opportunity. If we spend all of energy trying to figure out to pay for our programs, without figuring out what we're buying. We must rethink the programs and policies in the light of our new world and new demographics, then we will have failed. We are better than that. And in my campaign, I am setting out to prove it.

SS: Yes, I will. This may be surprising from a business person. I am not the only business person that believes this. I don't agree with everything, and the measures don't end the conversation. Here's the sad reality: schools have not been able to take advantage of the funding. OSU had to make commitments on staff and faculty while the Lege was still in session. You cannot count on spending money that won't be there (because of the referral.) This is a perpetual problem in Oregon: revenue stability. In the past we haven't been able to solve this problem. We will have to work hard on this issue. We have one of the worst records for instability of any state in the union. We spend too much time on this, instead of figuring out how to become economically competitive.

BB: This really is the most important issue we face in the next four months. I strongly support measures 66 and 67. We must join together and fight for these measures. No ifs, ands, or buts. Vote yes. The ballot measure doesn't go far enough on the alternative minimum corporate tax. Right now, the minimum is capped at $100,000. So, if you're Nike or a medium-sized small business you pay the same. That's not fair. Washington has no limit on their alternate minimum tax. Microsoft is paying its fair share. Oregon was ranked as the 10th most friendly state to do business. Washington was ranked 3rd, without a limit. So, clearly, having no limit has a positive impact! Seriously, though, it's fundamental that funding our schools and basic services is not important for all of us, it's really good for business in this state.

Q: Oregon high school teachers often deal with 30+ students in multiple classes. What are you planning to make education a more personal experience.

SS: This is why I'm running for Governor. Quality education is critical for future prosperity. Having a personal experience in high school is a question of relevance. Schools are out of sync with the society we live in. On class size, clearly a function of funding. A class size of 40 can be fine for some classes, which leaves room for 10 or 12 in other classes. We need to move forward in schools on technology. It is possible today for a class in Corvallis HS to have a joint session with a class in Burns. You could study the same material at the same time. We are unable to do innovative things like that today.

BB: It's time to stop making stop excuses, and fully fund education. Oregon is 49th in class size. Only Utah has more students in a classroom. Oregon has a clear guide in the QEM. But this year, we failed to meet the QEM by $1.75 billion. In fact, we've failed to meet it every single year. My friend, John, got a measure passed that instructed the Lege to fund the QEM, but we've failed since 1999. We need to stop making excuses. We know what it takes. How do we get this done? It's going to take money. Conventional wisdom says I shouldn't talk about new funding or be specific, but Oregonians are ready. They want a leader who will actually lead. I am ready to lead. In this campaign, you will hear from me specific funding mechanisms for the QEM. You will hear a specific plan for education reform.

JK: A good question, but we need to move beyond old metrics. Class size is important, but not the most crucial. Kids need engaged families. But many kids don't have that support, and they need small class sizes. Quality teaching is also critical. We need to incent and honor that. All of our children can learn and excel. We need to rethink our schools are fundamentally designed. High school must be personalized and customized. We must have strong leadership, inentives for our teachers to innovate and use technology. Redesign the educational experience. Moving away from silo mentality of K-12, CC, higher ed. Must be integrated enterprise.

Q: As an emergency physician, I see people who fall through the cracks in the safety net. How do we provide an integrated system that doesn't provide health insurance in name only, but actual integrated services.

BB: For too long, the federal govt has been not only absentee, but criminally negligent. Congress must pass a comprehensive plan with a robust public option. The public option is not a sideshow; it's critical. We need to do more on education to meet the coming labor demands that health care reform will create. We face a shortage of personnel, as well as money. We need to start changing what people are putting into their bodies - obesity epidemic, esp among juveniles, is a crisis. Like tobacco and alcohol, it's time to look at what large multinational corporations are feeding our children. Parents are responsible, but that said, parents are no match for the marketing power of Coca-Cola. Have you tried to buy a soda without high fructose corn syrup? Just like RJR and Philip Morris, Pepsi and Coke must be held responsible! Vending machines in schools are absurd. That must stop!

JK: Ditto what Bill said about high fructose corn syrup. As a former ER doc, what we see is the medical and psychological failure of our society. Health insurance reform is not health care reform. The objective is health, not financing health care. Keep our eye on the ball, it's about health. The thing that has the biggest impact on your health is not your access to health system. We need a way to keep people healthy, and out of the health system in the first place. Most diseases are preventable. The structure of our system has financial incentives to reward acute care instead of prevention and chronic disease management. There's no hospital billing code for prevention. As Governor, I propose broad-based demonstration projects to prove this. We can do this. I am ready to get started.

SS: I agree with John on everything he said. This is incredibly complex. 1) In-home health care must be integrated into the system. 2) We are dependent on a model of employer-based health care that doesn't work. Fear of changing health care keeps people locked in jobs. Hurts us economically. 3) We must pass national health care reform. I get upset when I hear Republicans say we have the best system in the world. Simply not true. Colleagues around the world tell me that's not true; and most of all, they don't worry about it. It's an issue for economic competitiveness.

Closing statements, five minutes each:

JK: We will have a campaign that confronts difficult truths. Analogy: Most successful businesses grow along a curve, then plateau, then decline. GM is an example of a company that did this. Successful companies re-invent a new growth curve. That area between the old curve and the new curve is the area of paradox - where people get nervous.

That's where Oregon is now. We're clinging to the old ways, instead of overcoming and transcending to a new curve. It's not just about electing a new Governor. Requires an effort that everyone in Oregon stand up and be counted; and that's why we're building a campaign that's about you, not about me.

It's going to be very hard. I can't promise that I can solve the problems. But we can solve these problems if we recognize our common future.

I promise you this: If you have a stake, you will have a role. You've seen people with clipboards and shirts with lightbulbs all weekend. I wanted you to be the first people to participate in our new process - at It'll be an open-source process for developing our common future.

Beyond the indidivual ideas that this process will create, we'll be looking at the big picture. This will not be a gauzy rhetorical vision of the future, but a specific sets of facts, steps, tradeoffs, and sacrificiesto get us there.

One thing I've learned is that real change doesn't come from one person getting elected. It comes from when all Oregonians have a stake. It'll take courage, creativity, and love of Oregon. But you have that in abundance. Join me today for that brighter future for our state.

SS: Oregon is struggling. The devil is in the details, and the danger is in the direction.

We must build a future where Salem can work. Our problems are not easy. Too many years of too little progress. I've seen this before. In my past, I've taken on the challenge on turning around organizations that are stuck by innovating.

Oregon is stuck. We can do what we've been doing, or we can work together. The lack of vision in our state's highest office is the problem. We are at a crossroads. One path is the status quo, band-aids, passing along problems. Easy. Been doing it for years. But if that's unacceptable, we can work together. This is hard. Taking on tough problems. Leaders that will rethink how we do education, restructure govt, and build economic opportunity.

I'm a problem solver and a proven leader. Two things that our state has lacked in recent years. My entire career has been about working toward the future. Must be about what we're for, not what we're against. Ideas don't solve problems, people solve problems. We have problems, and we can solve them.

I'm running for Gov because we must do better. Oregon must believe in itself again.

BB: We've had a great weekend of engaging together for Oregon. I am a proud Democrat because i believe in the values. Quality education. Fair tax system. Clean environment. Right to choose. Equality for all people.

Let me be clear: Those who have fought for those values are stakeholders. And I have fought alongside you for 30 years. I will personally never forget the call from newly re-elected Governor Kulongoski for raising funds for the campaign to change the legislature in 2006. I will not stop fighting for these values and the party as Governor.

I have faith in Oregonians to solve tough problems and stop ignoring problems. But they cannot do that without leadership in the Governor's office. I am ready to be that leader.

I will be specific with real plans for education, jobs, and the environment. We'll move beyond the platitudes. In my effort to walk the talk, here's what I'll accomplish in my first term: We will fully fund the QEM. Oregon will continue to be a leader in sustainable business and the economy of the future. These are my commitments to you. I look forward to earning your vote.

...and that's it folks!

Learn more about the candidates: Bill Bradbury, John Kitzhaber, and Steve Shields.

[And full disclosure: My firm built John Kitzhaber's campaign website, but I speak only for myself.]

  • (Show?)

    Kari, thanks for the most literate live blogging I've ever read.

    Note: on my computer, the links to Kitzhaber and Shields do not work. [Fixed. Thanks! - editor.]

    I'm not there, so I'm naturally curious what people at the forum thought.

    From the live blog, they all seemed similar. I thought the questions were softballs yielding similar, mainline Democratic answers. It probably was not the forum to look for policy difference anyways. That will come later, if at all. All three seem to be aiming at the center of the Democratic Party - no new ideas, just various processes that might someday produce a new idea or two. Unless you can call finding more money for education a new idea. I don't. Needed but not new.

  • Betsy Henning (unverified)

    Kari, amazing transcription skills on display here! Thanks for making it possible for others not in attendance to hear what was said.

    By the way, Steve's website is

  • LT (unverified)

    Really liked this comment:

    "But many kids don't have that support, and they need small class sizes. Quality teaching is also critical."

    Gov. candidates should become informed on programs like AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) which teaches study skills and helps students excel in rigorous academic classes. Our school district uses it in some schools--has specially trained teachers, students who sign a contract to take AVID as an elective, and parent involvement as well.

  • Anonymous (unverified)

    I agree...very good job, Kari. Thank you for doing this.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    "But many kids don't have that support, and they need small class sizes. Quality teaching is also critical."

    Another good program is SMART - Start Making a Reader Today - It mostly depends on volunteers to read one-on-one with kids. The program is a great benefit for the children - and the volunteers.

  • Kaylee (unverified)

    Did Kitzhaber seem a little out of it or disconnected or was it just me? He has always been aloof in social situations but he looked like he was not enjoying himself at all.

  • LT (unverified)

    It would surprise me if Kitzhaber was really being aloof. Last time I saw him in a group setting he was very outgoing, even talking to the folks serving the food (smart move--those folks who do food or drink service have been known to tell friends if a candidate at an event treated them like a potential voter or just "the help").

    I liked this comment here, "I have faith in Oregonians. They will expect and demand an honest dicussion. Over the next month, I'll be laying out big ideas - some will be controversial and challenge the status quo."

    I look forward to those ideas, then I can say if I agree or disagree. The ideas section of his website looks like a smart way to campaign.

  • paper shredders (unverified)

    I wonder if there are politicians who actually provide direct answers to simple questions....

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    Thanks Kari, I look forward to hearing more from Shields and Kitzhaber. Bradbury seemed to come across as an automaton. Of course it could be me.

    I liked their openess and candidness regarding some of their coming soon ideas. If Kitzhaber eally has the backbone to be controversial, if Shields really has the will to say some unpopular things. We shall see.

  • (Show?)

    (also posted on "Summit")

    The straw poll provides an interesting assessment of the 2 top gubernatorial candidates as viewed by Democratic activists. Factoring in that the Kitz kamp paid the way for more than 20 20-somethings to attend the Summit, plug Dr. John AND participate IN the poll, Bradbury essentially came out ahead.

    It is telling that there is such a distinct difference between the public polling and the informal poll done among the Party activists. While indeed, the Democratic public will decide its candidate for Gov. in May, we all would do well to assess why the "popular" Dr. John's popularity is at best lukewarm among activists.

  • LT (unverified)

    "we all would do well to assess why the "popular" Dr. John's popularity is at best lukewarm among activists"

    So, an activist is defined as someone able to spend the weekend at Sunriver and chose that over anything else they could do this weekend?

    Anyone not at Sunriver is not an "activist"?

    I am waiting for more ideas to be discussed, and to find out if Peter DeFazio and/or Frank Morse run for Gov.

    I don't care if "activists" all support Bradbury, that will no more determine my vote than being called a "Merkleyite" last year was going to get me to vote for Novick.

    I believe we were denied an intelligent Gov. debate in 2006 and I won't vote for anyone who tries that this time.

    So, Trueblue, let me know what your favorite candidate has to say on education, kicker reform, budget and tax reform, and a whole host of other issues.

    I was on State Central Comm. when some party activists were angry about an issue being debated in the legislature. I don't recall where St. Sen. Bradbury was on that issue, but there were legislators who disagreed with the party activists, incl. the presiding officers at that time, Speaker Katz and Sen. Pres. Kitzhaber. For voting on that (legislative) side of a state party resolution, I was called "not a real Democrat". Since then, anyone who tried to tell me that issues mattered less than the views of party activists has had a hard time gaining my vote.

    So go ahead and talk about how Bradbury's straw poll result was "better than expected". But that and a few bucks will buy a cup of coffee. So far, I have not been impressed by what I have heard from Bradbury.

    In this post, Bradbury says, "Conventional wisdom says I shouldn't talk about new funding or be specific, but Oregonians are ready. They want a leader who will actually lead. I am ready to lead. In this campaign, you will hear from me specific funding mechanisms for the QEM. You will hear a specific plan for education reform. "

    When he comes up with this specific plan, then I will read it and evaluate whether I think it makes sense. The content of the plan, not a straw poll vote, will decide whether I believe the plan makes sense.

  • Lord Beaverbrook (unverified)

    You need to do this more!

  • James P (unverified)

    Boy they all sure were articulate on how to get Oregon's economy moving again. Wow. With all those ideas, how could we lose?

    Sheesh. Three guys running for Governor and all they could talk about was government programs. Earth to Democrats: Everyone can't be public employees!

  • (Show?)


    While all attendees at the Summit were Democratic activists of one stripe or another, I did not imply that all state activists were in attendance, nor even imply that this would be considered as a random grouping of activists. Nonetheless, the straw poll results do provide an interesting snapshot.

    My intent is not based on any advocacy, so I am not weighing for or against any candidate. I see this snapshot as an opportunity to start a conversation, so thanks for weighing in.

  • KCleland (unverified)

    Link for Steve Shields is incorrect. Its not Thanks for the live blog.

  • (Show?)

    Let's keep the straw poll talk over on the thread that talks about the straw poll. Here, let's talk about what the candidates said.

  • matthew (unverified)

    i would like to hear some talk on what they are going to do to cut the size of the bloated state govt and reduce our unemployment rate.i dont want to hear any more talk on school funding because we alraedy very well and very generously fund schools now at 10,000 bucks a kid and schools have gotten that level of funding for the last 15 to 20 years so tell me mr shields where is the disinvestment is education funding in oregon? because i dont see i.schools dont need any more money.i would like to see some discussion of reforming and reducing the cost of state govt like salaries,health care for state workers,pers and etc.its time oregon moved forward with fresh leaders with fresh ideas and sorry none of these 3 liberals wow anyone and are stale and very unimpressive

  • (Show?)

    Matthew, OK I'll bite, what part of the state government is bloated, and don't respond by telling me you think the whole government is "bloated". Unless you can be more specific, I'm going to blow off your opinion as "bloated".

    What I found especially ironic was having the Bus Project and the "free" market think tank Cascade Policy Institute presentation tables side by side. heard they had some interesting conversations.

  • matthew (unverified)

    odot mark is very bloated and could be cut and the state buraeucracy is extremerly bloated too and needs to be about a big cut in the size of the state govt mark?how about we quit wasting money on consultants?how about we be honest with the public and tell them that we have a 54 billion all funds budget with a 2 billion surplus instead of this liberal garbage that we are 4 billion short on essential services with a 15 to 17 billion general funds budget?can you liberals start being honest with taxpayers for once about how much the state really gets and quit overblowing how dire our financial situation is because it is not one half as bad as portrayed in the liberal media and on blueoregon.i see through the liberals and their scare tactics and they dont work with me.andc start telling us about the millions of dollars in more in hidden taxes like fees,system development charges and etc that businesses pay that you liberals never bother to mention or talk about in your baloney argument that corporations only pay the 10.00 corporate minimum.that 10.00 corporate figure is a total lie.businesses pay a lot more than you liberals tell us.the size of the state govt is bloated mark and tell me when is the last time we significantly cut the size of the state govt?

  • (Show?)

    the state buraeucracy is extremerly bloated too and needs to be about a big cut in the size of the state govt mark

    Try again, Matthew. Saying that state government overall is bloated is a meaningless comment. As Mark said, be specific.

    You said ODOT is bloated. How and where? Most their money pays for asphalt and trucks. If you've got suggestions, be specific.

  • LT (unverified)

    Kari is right, Matthew.

    If you believe that ODOT is bloated, you need to say how. Too many middle managers? Too many employees total? Too many different tasks?

    Otherwise you sound like every other "believe my generality because I am angry!" complainer.

  • matthew (unverified)

    kari you need to fully read my whole comments before you openly criticize me if you would have you would have read that i feel odot could cut 2500 people and the state could get rid of all consultants.ok odot is bloated in upper management and many workers standing around on the highways doing absolutely nothing nothing.what do you liberals want?i tell my opinion and list things then you criticize me for not listing things.lets cut all non citizens and their anchor babies off all state services.lets cut the size of the state govt at least 50% and cut a good majority of the management and bureaucracy.lets trim pers too and make state workers have to start paying their fair share of health insurance premiums too.its a fact whether you like it or not kari the size of the state govt is way too big and govt is the only thing growing and getting bigger during these difficult economic times.lets cut ginseng advisory committee,covered bridge committee and garbage like that that dont benefit taxpayers.lets trim cultural trust too.the sttae dont need to be blowing money buying art kari sound like the typical liberal.criticize anyone who has any common sense and who dont buy your constant liberal baloney that the sky is falling and the world will come to an end if you dont give us more money liberals have never ever cut any of the fat in state govt like consultants.really read the whole state budgetthoroughly and what each total funds dollar is spent on before you criticize me again kari.stop the liberal extortion scare tactics if you dont give us more money we will have to cut grandma off her meds too.cut the millions of dollars worth of consultants first because you dont need consultants and they are fat you can live without.

  • (Show?)

    Thanks for the specifics. I don't see where you talked about 2500 employees.

  • matthew (unverified)

    again read what i said thoroughly word for word kari beacuse i said odot needs to trim about 2500 people including management and many workers standing around doing nothing because i saw this firsthand at a constuction site in portland on 82nd ave and halsey just off the i 84 freeway liberals need to comprehend logic and common sense better

  • Take it from an ignorable that goes back to BO post #1... (unverified)

    Posted by: LT | Oct 19, 2009 5:07:53 PM

    Kari is right, Matthew.

    If you believe that ODOT is bloated, you need to say how. Too many middle managers? Too many employees total? Too many different tasks?

    Otherwise you sound like every other "believe my generality because I am angry!" complainer.

    Don't take the bait! If you give facts, you'll become a conspiracy theorist. Perhaps a note from the BO grammar primer: "backslapping=debate. debate=attack". As opposed to Sean, who'll really listen to your ideas? Do either side realize that 90% of the populace will never be able to keep from disgorging their stomach contents long enough to listen to your "positions"?

    Get me the hell off this fucking waste of a rock and its killer apes!


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