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Tina Kotek for Oregon governor
Through my professional experience as an advocate for those in need, and serving in the State House where I’ve proudly led as Speaker, I have carried the value of service instilled in me by my parents to get real results for Oregonians.
My grandparents came from Eastern Europe in the early part of the last century to find opportunity and a better life. My parents were proud first-generation Americans. They were able to provide me and my siblings with a stable and supportive upbringing because my dad had the benefit of a college degree he had earned by going to night school courtesy of the GI Bill, making him the first person in his family to go to college. My parents believed in hard work, being informed citizens, and encouraging their children to follow their dreams.
I moved to Oregon from the East Coast in 1987, and found a place where I could truly be myself. I fell in love with the beauty of the state and the openness of the people. I eventually finished my undergraduate degree at the University of Oregon, graduating without student debt because of a Pell grant, work study assistance, and affordable tuition.
I also came out as a lesbian in my early twenties and it was liberating. While it wasn’t always easy, each experience coming out to others strengthened my resilience. For me, coming out became a personal responsibility to undermine hatred and bigotry. But it was bigger than me as an individual, so while getting my graduate degree, I fought for and won domestic partnership rights for faculty and students at the University of Washington.
When I returned to Oregon after graduation, I took a job at the Oregon Food Bank. I was attracted to their mission to end hunger, not just feed people. And because I was raised as a person of faith with a belief in the inherent value of everyone, I knew I had found my calling as an advocate for others. I listened and learned and fought for ways to reduce food insecurity – like a strong minimum wage, housing assistance, and access to health insurance. I continued my advocacy for children when I joined Children First for Oregon as their policy director.
My experience working at nonprofits on behalf of Oregon’s most vulnerable led me to run for public office and serve in the Oregon Legislature. In my first term, I rewrote the state’s poverty program for low-income families while also playing a key role in making historic progress for the LGBTQ+ community by passing statewide protections and access to benefits.
In 2013, I was honored to be elected by my peers to be the Speaker of the House. In nearly a decade leading the Oregon House, I am proud of the progress we have made together. From expanding economic security for more families, combating climate change, and working hard to get us through an unprecedented pandemic, my time in the legislature has been dedicated to fighting for Oregonians.
Together, we have changed Oregon for the better. But it will take real leadership to confront the challenges we now face — from the pandemic to the homelessness crisis to climate change.
Our communities need proven leadership that they can depend on. We need a Governor who is ready to get to work on day one, a Governor who knows that actions speak louder than words.
That’s why I’m running for Governor.
There’s more to be done to build a future of opportunity and justice for every Oregonian. By working together we can reckon with the legacies of injustice and inequality to build a great future for our state.
I will be a leader who puts people first, who prioritizes justice and equity, who brings people together, and inspires all of us to reach for a better future.
Housing and Homelessness
No one should have to live in a tent on a sidewalk. Houselessness is a humanitarian crisis in our own backyards. Everyone has the right to live somewhere in security, peace and dignity. But safe, affordable housing is out of reach for too many Oregonians. This challenge has two parts: the long-term lack of an adequate supply of affordable housing, and the immediate crisis we see on our streets.
Tina has responded to both. She is a national leader in addressing housing stability and will continue to bring forward concrete solutions to address Oregon’s housing crisis at the scale needed to solve it – from services for the unhoused to affordable rental housing to increasing homeownership. And, as local communities have struggled with houselessness, Tina brought unprecedented state resources to help.
Tina’s Priorities for Tackling Oregon’s Housing Crisis
- End unsheltered homelessness for veterans, families with children, unaccompanied young adults, and people 65 years and older by 2025, and continue to strengthen pathways to permanent housing for all Oregonians experiencing homelessness.
- Build enough housing to meet the need for people currently experiencing homelessness, address the current shortage of housing, and keep pace with future housing demand by 2033.
- Advance racial equity by reducing the racial homeownership gap by 20 percent by 2027.
- Keep people housed who are currently on the brink of homelessness.
- Encourage intergovernmental and private sector partnerships to have more effective and efficient responses to solving this crisis.
Climate and the Environment
Oregonians treasure the clean air, clean water, and natural beauty of our state, and it is our responsibility to preserve it. It is also our responsibility to do what we can to combat climate change, which is a real and present danger that Oregonians are already experiencing firsthand. Oregon’s economy and the health of our communities require ongoing bold action to match the scale of this crisis. While Tina understands that Oregon alone cannot solve the climate crisis, she is committed to making sure Oregonians do our part.
Tina’s Priorities for Addressing Climate Change and Protecting Our Natural Environment
- Protect the progress we have made.
- Decrease pollution from transportation by increasing the use of zero-emission vehicles and increasing investments to make public transit the convenient and accessible choice for more Oregonians.
- Transition away from the use of fossil fuels like methane gas in homes and commercial buildings.
- Increase climate resiliency for communities on the frontline of extreme weather events, including protecting people who have to work outside and supporting community-level technical assistance for small family farms and ranches.
Mental Health and Recovery
When someone is ready to seek help for a mental health concern or substance use, that help should be easy to find and available – no matter where you live or what you can afford. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the need for a stronger, more accessible system of mental health care and substance use treatment. In fact, the pandemic made things even more difficult for individuals already receiving care or in recovery. Additionally, the ongoing strain of low pay and high workload for frontline health care workers has created a crisis in the behavioral health workforce.
Tina’s Priorities for Improving Oregon’s Behavioral Health System
- Expand inpatient and outpatient services for Oregonians experiencing a mental health and/or substance use crisis.
- Help people who are experiencing houselessness and suffering from a mental health or substance use disorder by expanding the availability of trained outreach professionals and increasing housing with supports to keep people stable and on a path to long-term recovery.
- Eliminate the red tape in government and insurance bureaucracies that prevent Oregonians from accessing treatment.
- Invest in a diverse behavioral health workforce by increasing compensation, lowering workloads, and simplifying career pathways and promoting professional development opportunities for Oregonians.
- Ensure access to services that promote social and emotional wellness, especially for our children and youth who have been particularly traumatized during the pandemic.
Oregon thrives when Oregonians have financial stability and pathways to increased economic opportunity. The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that many of our neighbors are just a paycheck away from financial disaster and houselessness. Tina began her public service at the Oregon Food Bank, advocating for ways to help people feed their families. She knows that more family-wage jobs are the key to reducing poverty and lifting up all communities across the state. Tina also believes in the right to organize and has fought to protect workers’ access to collective power.
Tina’s Priorities for Increasing Economic Opportunity
- Support the professional development of all Oregon workers by improving access to training and education through community colleges and grow state-certified pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs.
- Leverage the state’s purchasing power to invest in workforce and apprenticeship opportunities for women, veterans and historically disadvantaged communities, ensuring that state project dollars fund local, family-wage jobs in all corners of the state.
- Ensure a successful roll-out of Oregon’s paid family and medical leave program, holding state agencies accountable to ensure families can access this critical benefit.
- Hold companies accountable for stealing wages for workers, increase enforcement on bad employers, and ensure justice for victims of discrimination in the workplace.
- Create a joint strategy with the federal government to hold companies accountable who took advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to cheat Oregonians.
- Collaborate with local governments and business leaders to close the technology divide, ensuring every Oregonian has access to reliable, affordable high-speed internet.
Education and Childcare
Every Oregon child and youth should have a safe place to receive a high-quality public education, and every working family needs access to affordable child care options. Before being elected, Tina advocated for children in Salem as the policy director for Children First for Oregon. She knows the importance of strong systems that support working families and make sure children have what they need to succeed and graduate from high school.
Tina’s Priorities for Improving Educational Outcomes
- Improve Oregon’s graduation rates to 90% for all student groups by 2027.
- Reduce the time dedicated to standardized testing and focus on real-time assessments to monitor student learning.
- Restore child care capacity that was lost during the pandemic, maximize federal dollars to expand access to pre-K for Oregon families, and improve access to infant and toddler care by cutting the red tape that limits where home-based child care providers can operate.
- Increase educational achievement for rural youth and youth of color by expanding investments in community-led initiatives.
- Accelerate career and technical education program growth in economically disadvantaged areas of the state.
Systemic racism and inequities are woven into the fabric of our society, directly impacting our communities of color and undermining our shared efforts to create a state where everyone can truly thrive. As House Speaker, Tina listened to and worked with communities of color to promote solutions to injustice. As Governor, Tina will continue to address the legacy of systemic racism and inequality in Oregon by prioritizing racial justice in all policy areas.
Tina’s Priorities for Addressing Racism and Empowering BIPOC Communities
- Transform training for police and security officers to meet international standards on safety and justice.
- Invest in our community-based organizations that are on the ground, doing the work in our diverse communities – from education to public health to community safety transformation.
- Build a workforce development pipeline for underserved communities, ensuring that state investments are directed upstream at BIPOC communities who have long faced disinvestment.
- Guarantee that economic development initiatives serve all Oregonians equitably.
Community Violence Prevention
All of us want to feel safe in our homes and in our communities. While Oregon has made progress in keeping guns out of the hands of people who should not have them, the recent increase in gun violence makes it clear that there is much more urgent work to be done. Tina believes that we need to continue to do the hard work to make our communities safer from senseless gun violence.
Tina’s Priorities for Creating Safer Communities
- Require a completed background check before any firearm purchase.
- Increase the age to purchase semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21 because these are weapons of war that should not be sold to teenagers.
- Collaborate with the Oregon Attorney General and state law enforcement to stop the ghost gun black market.
- Invest in local government efforts to expand the availability of trained specialists who respond when individuals are suffering from a mental health crisis.
- Prevent acts of hate from turning deadly by banning individuals with hate crime convictions from owning guns.
Health Care and Public Health
The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the importance of quality, affordable health care and the necessity of a strong public health response system. Tina believes that all Oregonians deserve justice in health care – that means equitable access so that everyone, regardless of their race, income or zip code, has access to the care that they need.
Tina’s Priorities for Health Care Access and Public Health
- Protect Oregon’s progress in reducing the number of uninsured Oregonians.
- Maintain and increase access to care in rural communities and in underserved communities in more populated areas.
- Strengthen Oregon’s public health system in response to lessons learned during the pandemic, including making sure we have strong reserves of personal protective equipment and other emergency supplies.
- Invest in a diverse health care workforce by increasing compensation for frontline workers, encouraging cultural and linguistic competency, and simplifying career pathways and promoting professional development opportunities.
- Continue to move health care dollars upstream for prevention by investing in the social determinants of health and leveraging federal dollars where available.
Women’s Rights and Reproductive Freedom
Society is more fair and just when women have equal rights and protections, including the right to make health care choices about their bodies. Tina is a leader with a proven record of standing up for women’s rights and protections.
Tina’s Priorities for Advancing Women’s Rights and Defending Reproductive Freedom
- Ensure that Oregon is a safe harbor for anyone seeking access to reproductive health care – because your zip code should never determine whether you can get the health care you need.
- Address the systemic inequities within our health care system that lead to disproportionate rates of maternal and infant mortality among women of color, including investing in community-based programs and provider interventions that work (e.g., doulas).
- Invest in comprehensive, medically-accurate sex education so that our schools are providing students with the resources to live healthy lives.