1. What racial/cultural/ethnic identities do you claim?
Pierce – My mother is of German descent, who met my US serviceman father in 1948 in the Berlin airlift. I was born in Wiesbaden, Germany. My father was orphaned at a young age. His father, of whom nothing is known, may have been a Native American.
Brown – White, Non-Hispanic
2. There are over 800,000 People of Color in Oregon, and growing. Generations of racial exclusion, exploitation and divestment have historically marginalized communities of color from the political process. What steps will you take to engage communities of color?
Brown – My Equity Resources Team is charged with partnering with communities of color across the state to identify and address barriers to social and economic equity. As governor, I’ve worked to implement the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion across all policy areas. I’m holding my entire staff accountable for evaluating proposed policies to consider the impacts to historically underrepresented demographic groups.
Pierce – I have joined the Oregon League of Minority Voters to encourage individuals to participate in the political process. As Governor, I will have people of color in my inner circle (as I now have in my campaign) and in leadership in government agencies. As governor, I will actively engage and encourage people of color to participate in democracy.
3. What are the root causes of racial inequities in Oregon?
Pierce – The lack of good education, training, and good job opportunities for many people of color. Human beings also may show favoritism to people who look more like them, which is best overcome by having people living and working together.
Brown – I agree with the premise of your next question, that generations of racial exclusions, exploitation and divestment have marginalized communities of color in Oregon. We must ensure that voices from all communities are given the opportunity to thrive. When there is a diversity of perspectives at the table, we all benefit from the product of true and equitable collaboration.
4. What is your response to comments that target and stereotype specific populations, such as immigrants and refugees to this country?
Brown – I have and will continue to publicly oppose racially charged comments that stand in the way of cultivating a culture of inclusion and building an Oregon where each person can thrive.
I recognize and embrace my role as Governor, and the leader of state government, in bringing Oregonians together; and in making sure all residents have equitable opportunities to thrive. I seek policies that bring people together, and build bridges, not walls.
Pierce – I have a great love of people, and my comments about people and their intrinsic worth will always be positive. I am against all derogatory comments about people.
5. What solutions will you champion in response to the OHEA Mend the Gap Report highlighting the 383,000 uninsured Oregonians? This includes COFA, immigrant, women and low-wage workers who face exclusions and barriers to healthcare.
Pierce – As a practicing cancer Doctor, I favor medical insurance that provides basic medical services for all people in Oregon. As a state, we must strive to create the prosperity which will allow us to pay for it.
Brown – Affordability, access, and quality are all improving in Oregon, but there is clearly more we must do. It is critical that we fund healthcare for COFA immigrants living in Oregon and my administration publicly supported this bill. I have also encouraged the legislature to prioritize ensuring all Oregonian, particularly children have access to health care. Access to healthcare should not be predicated on where you are from, how you came here, your gender, age, or economic status.
6. What are your solutions to the Housing Crisis facing Oregonians?
Brown – Everyone deserves a safe, affordable place to call home. As governor, I have prioritized $70 million in state investments to help build new affordable housing units, with a goal of adding 1250 new units statewide. My administration will also continue to support the Housing Stability Council, which has been working with housing development experts to target and serve rural and traditionally underserved communities. Moving forward, we must continue to make this issue a priority, taking a variety of strategies into consideration that will create affordable housing and help families avoid homelessness.
Pierce – Improving the prosperity of Oregonians will better allow us to afford housing. The cost of building affordable housing can be lowered by lowering the cost of land, lowering building fees charged to contractors, and modifying building codes to allow safe, high quality, but lower cost housing to be constructed. Short term subsidies are appropriate to keep people from becoming homeless.
7. What ideas do you have for improving curriculum to prepare our K-12 students to be business, political and social leaders in a racially and culturally diverse state?
Pierce – Each student will require an individual curriculum plan for optimal education and development. This plan will be used to create a pathway towards university preparation or to prepare for a technical or vocational career. What children of color need most of all are people who believe in them, who hold them to high standards, and know that children of color can grow up and become business, political, and social leaders.
Brown – It is my vision that all Oregon students have access to a seamless system of education, from cradle to career. A strong and well funded education system is key to giving every Oregon child the opportunity to thrive and contribute positively to their communities. It is my hope that we shrink the opportunity gap that starts early and makes it harder every year for students to catch up. We’ve started that work with a historic investment in education in 2015, particularly early childhood education, the ELL program, and in applying an equity lenses in policy making. But, there is much more to do.
I want each of our students to complete high school with a plan, whether that be college, post-secondary, job-training or entering the workforce. And that education system should prepare them for the jobs of the future. That is why I have created a cabinet-level Education Innovation officer who reports directly to me, and helps me identify the resources needed to raise our graduation rates.
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