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Governor Kate Brown To Announce New Secretary of State March 6

Friday, February 20, 2015


A congenial but strict 38th Governor of Oregon took questions from the media for the first time in her new role Friday morning at the state Capitol.

Among other pledges, Governor Kate Brown committed to announcing a new Secretary of State by Friday, March 6.

Currently, Brown’s deputy, Robert Taylor, is serving as acting Secretary of State, following Brown’s swearing in ceremony Friday. 

“It was very bittersweet, that’s the best I can say,” Brown said of her move into the Governor’s office. 

In 20 minutes, Brown answered more questions than her predecessor, John Kitzhaber, did in the four months following revelations that his fiancee, Cylvia Hayes, had possibly misused her role in public office to promote her private consulting business. 

Focus on Transparency

Brown emphasized increased transparency following Kitzhaber’s tenure, but answered a slough of questions on various issues. 

“I will run an inclusive and transparent administration,” Brown promised. 

She will move into Mahonia Hall, approve the ‘motor voter’ bill, work through a backlog of records requests, support vaccinations, provide more resources to the ethics commission, and uphold the death penalty moratorium.

Brown said that she and Kitzhaber, who she has met with since his resignation, have different personalities, and that hers “would shine through.” 

The Governor said additional staff from the Attorney General’s office will be brought on to work through the backlog of records requests that Kitzhaber’s office left behind. 

She also committed to strengthening the Oregon Ethics Commission, and amending the Governor’s ability to veto any appointments to the commission. 

'Have you asked a question already?'

The press conference was a stark reversal from a disastrous media address Jan. 30 in which Kitzhaber was pummeled with sometimes personal, sometimes inflammatory questions by press from around the state.  

Friday, reporters were asked to turn off their cellphones, introduce themselves, and asked to hold any follow up questions until everyone had asked a question.

“Have you asked a question already?” Brown said multiple times. 

That said. the Governor has promised more media interactions, but said she wants to avoid running into TV cameras late at night at her home, as was the case in the days leading up to Kitzhaber’s resignation. 

When pressed about the controversial statement she issued Thursday regarding her “bizarre” and “unprecedented” interaction with then governor Kitzhaber the day before, Brown held she wanted to inform Oregonians.

Brown left the National Association of Secretaries of State conference at the behest of the governor, sparking rumors of an impending resignation. 

“It was really important for me, for Oregonians to know that he called me and I came home at his request,” Brown said. 

It remains unclear whether Brown will approve clean fuels legislation, made controversial by Hayes’ potential influence on the initiative.  


Related Slideshow: Timeline of Kate Brown’s Life and Political Career

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Brown was born on June 21, 1960 in Torrejón de Ardoz, Spain where her father was serving in the U.S. Air Force, but she grew up mostly in Minnesota. 

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Brown graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a B.A. in Environmental Conservation. She then went on to earn a degree in environmental law from the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College. 

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Law Career

Before Brown began her legislative career, she worked at Portland State University and worked as an attorney with the Juvenile Rights Project, a non profit in Portland that provides legal services to children and families. 

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House of Reps

Brown began her legislative career in 1991 in the Oregon House of Representatives where she served two terms. 

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Kate Brown was elected to the Oregon Senate in 1996 and two years later was elected Senate Democratic Leader. 

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Senate Majority Leader

In 2004 Kate Brown became the first woman to serve as Oregon's Senate Majority Leader. Brown served until July 2007 when she announced that she would give up her seat in the Oregon Senate to run for Secretary of State. 

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Secretary of State.

On May 20, 2008, Brown won the election for the Democratic nomination for Secretary of State and on November 5 she won the general election by a 51-46 percent margin against Republican candidate Rick Dancer.

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Rising Star

In 2009 the Aspen Institute named Brown as one of 24 "Rising Stars" in American politics and awarded her with a Rodel Fellowship

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Personal Life

Brown lives in Portland with her husband Dan Little who she has been married to for almost 20 years and is also a stepmother to  two children. She identifies as bisexual and was America's first openly bisexual statewide officeholder. 

Photo: Brown kissing Storm Large at Basic Rights Oregon's 27th annual Dinner Auction in 2009. Photo by Byron Beck.

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Cut D.C. Trip Short

On Wednesday, Feb. 11 2015 Brown left is the national conference for the Association of Secretaries of State in Washington D.C. two days early.

The 2015 Winter Conference runs from February 10-13, 2015, and draws top state officials from around the country.

Brown's spokesperson, Tony Green, confirmed she is on her way back to Oregon, and that her return is ahead of schedule. 

According to multiple sources at the highest level of State Government, her return is tied to a potential resignation by the embattled Governor John Kitzhaber.

Photo: Kate Brown with Peter Johnson (left) and George Vranas (right).

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Governor of Oregon

Governor John Kitzhaber released a statement Friday, Feb. 13 announcing his resignation.

Kate Brown will now serve as the Governor until the next general biennial election. A new governor can be elected in 2016. 

Kate Brown will be the second female Governor of Oregon. 

Photo Credit: Kate Brown with Dianne Lin by Byron Beck


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