A Baker County man has filed as a candidate for Oregon labor commissioner.

Robert Neuman, who lives near Greenhorn, is one of four people seeking the nonpartisan office.

Oregon’s Commissioner of Labor and Industries — the official title — enforces state laws prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodation and vocational, professional and trade schools. The commissioner has the authority to initiate a “commissioner’s complaint” on behalf of victims of discrimination.

The current commissioner, Val Hoyle, is a candidate for Congress. Her term ends in January 2023.

Four candidates have filed for the May 17, 2022, primary — Neuman, Chris Henry, Casey Kulla and Christina Stephenson.

If one candidate receives more than half the votes, that person would be elected outright.

Otherwise, the top two candidates in the primary would advance to a runoff in the Nov. 8, 2022, general election.

Neuman, who has lived in Baker County for about 10 years, said he thinks the labor commissioner can be a more vocal advocate for programs such as job apprenticeships, such as in the construction industry, that offer good-paying careers without the need for a college degree.

Neuman said the labor commissioner is a “low-profile” state office compared with, for instance, the secretary of state.

“A lot of people don’t realize the job exists,” he said.

He said he would like to see the labor commissioner promote changes in job qualifications that list only things relevant to the job.

Neuman believes that broader descriptions, with long lists of qualifications, can discourage people from applying from jobs because they don’t think they have all the needed skills, even in cases where some of the qualifications aren’t actually required for the job.

Neuman said his campaign will rely mainly on “knocking on doors” and meeting potential voters.

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