Kate Brown sworn in as Oregon’s second female governor

The ex-secretary of state was sworn in Wednesday morning in Salem.

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During the inauguration, Governor Kate Brown gave a brief speech in which she pledges to get the state “back to work.”

OregonLive.com reported on the new governor’s agenda as she assumes office in the early stages of the 2015 legislative session:

“I always think of Kate as someone who will take the time to get things work,” said Connie Seeley, the chief of staff at Oregon Health & Science University and a former top legislative aide who worked closely with Brown. “She’s going to be pretty unflappable. There are not going to be a lot of issues she hasn’t seen or heard about” given her 23 years in state government, Seeley added. …

Among Brown’s challenges:

  • Assembling a new staff while figuring out whom she can safely keep, both politically and policy-wise, from the Kitzhaber administration.
  • Figuring out where to weigh in on legislative issues, particularly on the thorny fight revolving around transportation.
  • Deciding what to do if Kitzhaber doesn’t pardon the 34 people whose death sentences have been stayed while he is governor. Brown supported a bill expanding the death penalty in 2005, so her approach to this issue isn’t clear.
  • Dealing with the legal fallout from the multiple investigations of Kitzhaber and Hayes. One big issue: How does she handle the multiple media requests for emails and other records from the governor’s office?

Brown was given 30 minutes to address the state House of Representatives before ceding the floor to legislators.

You can find the full transcript of Brown’s speech at OregonLive.com.

Her address touched on several issues, first acknowledging the turmoil that landed her in office: “It’s been a tough few months. The people of Oregon have had reason to question their trust in state government. Oregon has been in the national news for all the wrong reasons.”

Some additional highlights from her speech:

And throughout my 24 years in public service, I have also sought to promote transparency and trust in government, working to build confidence that our public dollars are spent wisely.

As Governor, this will not change.

On her allegiance to “everyday Oregonians”:

It is with everyday Oregonians in mind that I take office today with enthusiasm and purpose. The legislature is in session; the budget has been submitted and more than 1,700 bills have been filed. Speaker Kotek, President Courtney, members of the legislature, on behalf of all Oregonians, thank you for your dedication and perseverance throughout this recent ordeal.

There is a great deal of work ahead of us, and I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to it.

On former governor John Kitzhaber:

Governor Kitzhaber dedicated most of his life to serving the people of Oregon. His contributions to our state are well woven into the fabric of our public life.

But now, we must restore the public’s trust.

On her intentions as governor:

I pledge to you today that for as long as I am your Governor, I will not seek or accept any outside compensation, from any source. And I pledge further that while I am Governor, the members of my household and the members of my staff will not seek or accept any outside compensation, from any source, for any work related to the business of the State of Oregon. That simply will not happen.

Beyond that, we must seize this moment to work across party lines to restore the public’s trust. That means passing meaningful legislation that strengthens the capacity and independence of the Government Ethics Commission. We also must strengthen laws to ensure timely release of public documents.

And her conclusion:

We must work together to address these and other real problems in real time; to strengthen Oregon’s recovery from the recession; to improve access to quality education and health care, and create more living-wage jobs in every single corner of the state.

Although as individuals we may have our differences, one thing connects us — we are all Oregonians. We are innovators, seekers, doers. Even our state motto, “She flies with her own wings,” underscores the extraordinary Oregon spirit that unites us and characterizes us as a people.

It is time once again to set our sights on Oregon’s future, to stretch our wings towards new horizons. Today is nearly half gone; tomorrow awaits, full of promise. Now it’s time to get to work.

The Portland Tribune reported on Brown’s search for a successor:

Brown has yet to identify a successor to finish the remainder of her term as secretary of state, which expires in 2016. [House Speaker Rep. Tina] Kotek told reporters Monday that she is not interested in the position, but two other lawmakers whose names have been raised as possible successors are not ruling it out. House Majority Leader Rep. Val Hoyle, D-Eugene, has not commented publicly on whether she is interested in the position, but Senate Majority Leader Sen. Diane Rosenbaum, D-Portland, confirmed in a written statement that she is interested in the job.

“I am deeply appreciative of the support I have heard from fellow Oregonians for the possibility of serving as Oregon’s next Secretary of State,” Rosenbaum wrote. “If chosen, I will discuss this matter with my family before making a decision about how I can best serve the people of Oregon.”



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