Elect Knute Buehler as Secretary of State

By Baker City Herald Editorial Board October 26, 2012 10:27 am

Knute Buehler has taken an interesting approach to the inherent challenges of his candidacy for Oregon Secretary of State.

One of those is to convince voters that Secretary of State is a vital job, and that choosing the right person for the post can have wide-ranging effects on residents across the state.

Buehler, who already bears the considerable burden of being a Republican in a state that has elected few candidates from his party to statewide office in the past 30 years, has emphasized — correctly — that the Secretary of State can have a major influence on important issues.

More to the point, he makes a compelling argument that his challenger, incumbent Democrat Kate Brown, has not wielded that influence with much vigor.

Oregon’s Public Employee Retirement System (PERS), for instance, is not, strictly speaking, under the Secretary of State’s bailiwick.

Yet PERS’ exorbitant, and growing, appetite for tax dollars not only at the state level, but for cities, counties and school districts statewide, is a looming fiscal disaster, and Buehler, unlike Brown, has proposed a series of reforms that could help ease the PERS threat.

That’s what we expect from an elected official, regardless of what their official job description says.

We also like Buehler’s enthusiasm for taking a more active role as a member of the State Land Board, and questioning the status quo. The Secretary of State is one of three members of that board, which among other things sets policy for how state forests are managed.

Finally, we believe Buehler will be more aggressive than Brown has been in using the state’s audits division, which the Secretary of State oversees, to find frivolous spending in state agencies.

Oregon voters should elect Buehler and give him a chance to make good on his plan to turn the Secretary of State into something more than another office in Salem.