By editorial board • 

Stephenson over Helt for labor commissioner

We find the non-partisan race for state labor commissioner an easy call.

Christina Stephenson led the field by such a wide margin in the primary she nearly won the post outright.

She collected just under 47% of the vote in a seven-way race, far outdistancing November runoff opponent Cheri Helt, who barely nudged her way past 19%. And she has been endorsed by the last five holders of the office, Democrat and Republican alike.

There’s a reason for that: Stephenson boasts directly relevant experience and a clearly articulated agenda; Helt does not.

Stephenson terms herself “a small business owner, civil rights attorney and working mom,” and her legal work dovetails with the mission of the office. She’s promising to beef up apprenticeship programs, create more school-to-career pathways, expand job training opportunities and protect worker rights.

In the course of the campaign, she’s won support from both business and labor interests, along with the Independent Party of Oregon and a broad array of public officials.

Helt’s public service includes nine years on the Bend-La Pine School Board and two years in the Oregon Legislature. She represented House 54 from 2018 to 2020, losing the seat to Democrat Jason Kropf.

Helt pledges to advocate for working families, small businesses and jobs, but is short on specifics. It seems to us that Stephenson is significantly better positioned to carry on the office’s important non-partisan function. 

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