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Editorial: No leadership = no endorsement for governor

Dear Reader and Viewer,

In the race for governor of our state, neither the incumbent nor contender has demonstrated the leadership to win our endorsement.

We are not discouraging anyone from voting. We urge you to vote.

We are putting the eventual winner on notice: You will be held accountable by one of the oldest news organizations in the state, and we expect you to lead us to our potential.

We are weary of the lack of leadership we see through the fog of wildfire smoke ruining our summers, damaging local businesses, and most importantly, impacting our health.

We’re using our front page to hold power accountable.

Our message is not one of endorsement this time around, it is one of warning: We are putting our elected leaders on notice. We want, we deserve, better.

Kate Brown, as a Democrat, has had the opportunity to make a national nuisance of herself against a Republican president that fully understands nuisance and how to get his way. In retrospect and going forward, what better contrast than calling Trump and the feds out to marshal support and expertise to quell the wildfires in a more grand and unprecedented way? What better way to practice politics than to take on Donald Trump, demanding he use the might of the federal government to abate stubborn wildfires? We see a huge missed opportunity the past two seasons. And we do not hear enough about combating next season, which is 223 days away. We do not see Brown becoming more assertive in a second term.

Two-term State Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, shows no sign of taking on Republicans in Washington, D.C., in a meaningful way, yet assails Brown for what he calls failures of leadership, and says he would get better results for public education, achieve state pension reform and eliminate homelessness. Those are lofty goals, and we doubt he can deliver on them quite as easily as he claims, especially with a Democratic-controlled Legislature.

Neither candidate demonstrates the urgency or zeal to make things happen. We reject “incremental” as a goal. We want a leader who inspires. And we want a leader who gets results.

We believe Oregonians are overwhelmingly in agreement:

Our elected leaders don’t seem to understand the urgency.

Only we the people — not those in power — are as mad as hell and don’t want to take it anymore.

So get out and vote. And stay involved. We are resolved to keep our Clean Air series of reports going until the wildfires and smoke are minimal. That might take years at this rate. But we’ll be one day more stubborn than those fires. The winner on Nov. 6 better hear our voices in Southern Oregon loud and clear about the smoke and other pressing issues.

We are fed up with watching state tax dollars and leaders not produce one of the best public school systems in the nation, and we believe we deserve better. Can either candidate manage big systems and ensure voters that government spending is done wisely, without waste? We do not have confidence that either candidate will adequately tackle the tough issues of bringing a manageable compromise to the soaring costs of the Public Employee Retirement System. Democrats rarely have shown fiscal responsibility to taxpayers in this area, and Buehler won’t be in a position of strength to make the several changes he recommends that would require agreement at the bargaining table.

Brown and Buehler are not far apart on most of the big issues, such as the need to boost funding for education, address the unfunded state pension liability and grapple with homelessness. They differ on how to get there. Neither paint a grand vision or a road map to making Oregon a top-ranked state in all the categories we all know we deserve to be ours.

Brown has drawn considerable criticism for her neutral stance on the Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas export terminal and the pipeline proposed to run through Southern Oregon to deliver gas to Coos Bay. Voters want her to take a stance, and many of her supporters are frustrated. She says she will make sure state agencies hold the project responsible for meeting all applicable environmental safeguards.

Buehler unabashedly supports the Jordan Cove project — putting him at odds with many landowners in Southern Oregon who don’t want to see the pipeline snake across their properties.

Again, we encourage you to get out and vote.

Regardless the winner, we pledge to hold the governor of Oregon accountable. In four years, we hope a leader emerges who once again can earn our endorsement.

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