Bill Bradbury: Kitzhaber resignation "a great loss for Oregon"

By Bill Bradbury of Bandon, Oregon. Bill served as Secretary of State from 1999 to 2009. In 2010, he and John Kitzhaber were primary opponents in the race for Governor.

When the topic of John Kitzhaber comes up these days, I get sad. I am sad that one of Oregon’s best governors has ended his elected public service amid such a mess. I am sad that the policies John cares about: health, education and the protection of Oregon’s natural resources have lost such a great leader.

I worked very closely with John when he was Senate President and I was Senate Majority leader in the ’87, 89 and ’91 sessions. We spent hours in his office, talking about public policy with a few shots of Wild Turkey. John would always ask, “Is this good public policy?” He didn’t care which party supported a bill or what the lobby thought. He wanted to know if something would serve Oregon.

A lot of innovative programs were launched, supported and sometimes amended. Many of those programs continue in some form today. John has maintained his commitment to good public policy throughout his life and as our governor.

John’s commitment produced substantial results for Oregon. Three examples: the Oregon Health Plan; the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds; and an unswerving commitment to human equality and a woman’s right to choose.

Thanks to John’s leadership creating the Oregon Health Plan and implementing ObamaCare, over ninety-five percent of Oregonians have health insurance today.

Salmon are also better off today thanks to John’s leadership. John’s Plan for Salmon and Watersheds was the official response to the federal listing of salmon as an endangered species . Building on the work of Governor Barbara Roberts, Kitzhaber fostered thousands of diverse stakeholders working together in nearly 90 watershed councils across the state to save our iconic fish.

When forces of intolerance sought to divide us, John stood up for the principle that every Oregonian deserves respect and basic rights – including the right to choose and the right to marry the person we love. Today, Oregon has the fewest restrictions in the country on a woman’s right to choose and people can marry whom they choose.

There are so many more examples of John’s leadership and the loss of his leadership is a great loss for Oregon.

Luckily for Oregon, Kate Brown will make a superb governor. She shares many of the policy commitments that John so ably maintained. Over her long public career she has worked closely with Governors Roberts, Kulongoski and Kitzhaber. Kate has an effervescent, active personality and she is a hard and productive worker.

Oregon’s founders created a line of succession for situations like this and we will be well served by Kate’s leadership.

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