By editorial board • 

Devlin strongest Democrat in secretary of state field

The secretary of state’s office, currently led by appointed caretaker Jeanne Atkins, has a long and distinguished history.

Its first holder was Whig Theophilus Magruder, chosen by Oregon’s Territorial Legislature in 1849, some 10 years before Oregon achieved statehood. More recent and better known holders include future governors Mark Hatfield, Tom McCall, Barbara Roberts and Kate Brown, would-be governors Clay Myers, Norma Paulus and Bill Bradbury, and leading vote-by-mail champion and open primary advocate, Phil Kiesling.

Brown’s ascension to the governor’s office has created a void attracting three Democrats and two Republicans.

Our focus today is the Democratic field of Ways & Means Co-Chair Richard Devlin, State Labor Commission Brad Avakian and former House Majority Leader Val Hoyle — a field in which Devlin commands the clear choice for us. We favor Devlin over Avakian and Avakian over Hoyle — a partisan who seems out of her depth in this company.

Devlin is a Eugene native holding a B.A. from Portland State and M.A. from Pepperdine University. He has spent his career working in juvenile corrections and criminal investigation.

He won election to the House in 1996 and Senate in 2002, and went on to follow Brown as Senate Majority leader. He is known as a bookish, centrist policy wonk, which fits the secretary of state’s office to a T.

Avakian is a California native who grew up in Oregon’s Washington County. He went on to earn a law degree from Lewis & Clark and become a civil rights attorney.

He was elected to the House in 2002 and Senate in 2006. He sought the Democratic nomination in Oregon’s 1st Congressional District after David Wu resigned, but lost badly to fellow lawyer-legislator Suzanne Bonamici.

Hoyle made the move north from California 16 years ago, settling in Eugene. She holds a degree in political science from Boston’s Emmanuel College.

After working in sales and marketing, she joined the staff of Sen. Floyd Prozanski. She won election to the House in 2010, but is giving up her seat to make the state run.

The secretary of state’s office is one of three established by the Oregon Constitution. The holder serves as the state’s chief auditor, archivist, elections officer and corporation commissioner, and fills one of three seats on the State Land Board.

Devlin’s campaign platform presents detailed proposals on items like maximizing governmental transparency and accountability. On the other end of the spectrum, Hoyle’s settles for vague platitudes about creating jobs, improving public education and other items that do not bear relevance to the office.

Having already run successfully statewide may give Avakian an edge, but all three are proven fundraisers with established track records in electoral politics.

We give the nod to Devlin. Of the three, he would do the most to maintain the office’s political independence and integrity, in the tradition of prior distinguished holders.

 

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