That’s how Oregon Secretary-elect Dennis Richardson described his vision of his upcoming Inauguration during his recent address to the Washington County Business Council. Richardson’s theme of pledging more government transparency began with an open invitation to his Swearing In Ceremony in Salem December 30 at 11 am. “Bring your families, bring your kids,” said Richardson, in keeping with his message that the government belongs to, and is accountable to the people. “I want Oregonians to get a chance to see where their laws are being made.”
And history making it will be. Richardson will be the first Republican to serve as Secretary of State in Oregon since 1985, and the first to hold a statewide office in more than a decade. Although unabashedly conservative, Richardson stressed his commitment to embody the non-partisan spirit of the position.
That being said, he was far from reticent to blame the longstanding grip Democrats have held in the Oregon government for the hundreds of millions of tax-payer dollars wasted in failed large-scale projects such as Cover Oregon and the Columbia River Crossing. Catastrophes such as these could have been avoided, he said, with strict oversight and thorough auditing throughout the processes.
It is no wonder then that, as Richardson pointed out, a recent poll cited 64% of Oregonians as distrustful of the state government to effectively manage tax revenue. “There is no accountability, no transparency and a lack of trust by the public,” he said. “And the only question we hear from Salem is, ‘Can we have more money?'”
In his newly-elected role, Richardson plans to change all that. Even PERS, a program hitherto deemed untouchable by the democratically held administration, is in dire need of reform, he asserted. “This is a crisis,” he warned, offering as evidence the fact that Oregon’s public pension costs are slated to increase by $885 million in the next two years alone.
When asked how he plans to overcome Democratic resistance to his many proposed governmental overhauls, Richardson cheekily replied “I raised eight daughters, I’m used to adversity.” All joking aside, there can be no argument against his experience traversing onerous situations. As a helicopter pilot, Richardson served his country by flying combat missions in Vietnam. He then worked as a trial lawyer in Central Point, Oregon for 30 years before beginning his rich and diverse political career—a career that has ranged from city council to state Legislature.
During his time in the legislature, Richardson co-chaired the bipartisan Joint Senate-House Ways & Means committee. Although the committee was evenly split between Democrats and Republicans; he succeeded in leading Oregon out of a $3.5 billion budget deficit without raising taxes, ending the biennium with the largest ending-fund balance in the state’s history.
His demonstrated fiscally conservative background earns him respect among the wide range of business owners who comprise the WCBC. As Secretary of State, Richardson promises to “cut through the red tape” businesses face in dealings with the state government, and to bring more jobs to Oregon by promoting the state’s businesses abroad.
“So what can you do?” he asked of the Council members. Stay “Informed, Involved, and Invested.” That is to say: Keep up-to-date on the current political atmosphere, use tools such as the state’s Corporation Divisions Office of Small Business Assistance for guidance with inquiries and advocacy, and continue to support Richardson to ensure that state government gains the momentum it needs to lead to a brighter future for individuals and businesses alike.
“I am excited, ready to work, and happy to be your next Secretary of State,” Richardson enthusiastically concluded. “The voice of the people will be heard.”
Find more on Dennis Richardson here:
– Portland Tribune
– Dennis Richardson for Secretary of State