Former Secretary of State Kate Brown was sworn in as Oregon’s 38th governor at 10 am, Feb. 18, becoming Oregon’s second female governor to date.
Brown finished her inaugural speech a few minutes later, after touching on her plans to “restore the public’s trust,” “get to work,” and pass laws to “ensure timely release of public documents” and “strengthen the capacity and independence of the Government Ethics Commission.”
She promised Oregonians she would run an ethical office. “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,” she said. “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.”
She also made restoring public confidence in Oregon’s government her first priority. “It’s been a tough few months,” she said. “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. That changes starting today. It’s time for use to get back to work. It’s time to move Oregon forward.
“I know that every Representative and Senator in this chamber loves Oregon as much as I do. And as I am sure you agree, in order for us to move forward, the first order of business is to regain the confidence of the people.”
Brown’s staff appointments were also announced this morning. Brian Shipley was selected for chief of staff; Benjamin Souede, a former advisor to Hillary Clinton, was chosen as general counsel; Kristen Grainger, Willamette University vice president, was appointed communications director; and Gina Zejdlik, Brown’s chief of staff during her secretary of state tenure, was named senior policy advisor.
Portland’s mayor, Charlie Hales, gave Brown an enthusiastic welcome.
“This is an historic day for Oregon,” said Hales. “I wish Gov. Kate Brown all possible success as she takes on the difficult task of presiding over our state. The challenges ahead of her are significant. Thanks to her extensive experience — as a Portlander, an activist, a member of the House, a member of the Senate, and Secretary of State — she is uniquely positioned to tackle these challenges. I look forward to working with Gov. Brown in the days, months and years ahead.”
Brown met with former Oregon governors Ted Kulongoski and Barbara Roberts. Roberts gave her some advice: “Be as good a governor as you have been a secretary of state, and just keep being the person you are.”
“She will do that, and I think the people of Oregon are going to fall in love with her — partly because she runs a tight ship, an ethical ship, and she will do the work they expect of her,” said Roberts.
Senator Jackie Winters, R-Salem said, “She talked about trust, and I think transparency is a part of that.”
Representative David Gomberg, D-Otis said, “I’m from the Coast — a storm blows in, we clean up, we get back to work. I think she touched on a couple of clear issues. The question in the short term is who will stay and who will go? We didn’t hear a lot about a timeline, and I’m sure that will be the next piece of big news.”
One of the constituents who came to watch Brown’s swearing in offered her thoughts.
“It’s a historic day, and I just wanted to see,” said Peggy Halley of Hillsboro. “I hope that she’s a strong leader, and I think she’s proven she is. At least we get to see her for awhile before we vote. I always like a strong woman, especially in government.”