Support BikePortland - Journalism that Matters

With Kitzhaber resignation, bike advocates upbeat about incoming Gov. Kate Brown

Posted by on February 13th, 2015 at 12:16 pm

kate brown at portland society

Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown at a
2011 fundraiser for the Portland Society Fund, which
supports “emerging leaders in active transportation.”
(Photo: M.Andersen)

Oregon’s next governor rides a tandem.

While we’ve been hurrying around Southwest Portland this week, we’ve been keeping half an eye on the drama unfolding in Salem. In the wake of Willamette Week’s report Thursday that Gov. John Kitzhaber unsuccessfully tried to get state employees to block release of thousands of his emails amid a criminal investigation of the overlaps between his public role and his fiance’s business, the governor has resigned and Secretary of State Kate Brown will be moving into the job.

According to her 2012 election registration, Brown lives with her husband in a 1914 home in Southeast Portland’s Woodstock neighborhood.

We’ve been asking local biking advocates what they know about Brown. Here’s the word from Ellee Thalheimer, a bike tourism writer and organizer of the Portland Society, a professional group for women passionate about biking:

I’ve known Kate for over a decade. … She and her husband ride a tandem. They’ve done the Bridge Pedal in the past. …. I don’t remember talking about transportation policy with Kate and only casually about cycling. As a friend, she’s always been supportive of my cycling-related projects, like the Portland Society and the Cycling Sojourner books. I can say that her husband Dan is one bad ass bike commuter. Kate becoming governor would be one of the best things to happen to Oregon in a long time. When I think about Kate, I think about someone who works their fingers to the bone and someone with unshakable integrity.

This is from attorney Mark Ginsberg, a specialist in bicycling-related injury lawsuits:

When she was a state senator she was the cyclist in the old BTA bike/bus/car challenge. I rode along with her, and was impressed that she was an actual cyclist.

she is a progressive democrat with a killer political instinct. I like her personally too!

Advertisement

This is from Lisa Marie White, co-chair of the Bike Walk Vote political action committee, on Thursday afternoon:

There isn’t a ton known about Kate’s leanings in regards to active transportation, other than her support for Tilikum, which is a positive sign (though may have no actual bearing on her bike-specific support). The only thing certain about Kate is she’s politically savvy, she wants to be governor and has for some time, and her donors and supporters (and potential donors/supporters) can have great influence over her legislative priorities. We’re doing some major R&D on her donor base over the years.

White refers here to the Tilikum Crossing, the bridge about to open as part of TriMet’s new Orange Line. Former TriMet lobbyist Olivia Clark called Brown’s support “essential” in sending $250 million of state lottery funding to that project, back when Brown served as majority leader of the state senate. It was the bill that made the rail line, and therefore the new bridge, possible.

Roger Averbeck, transportation chair of Southwest Neighborhoods Inc.:

I knew Kate and Dan long before they went political. … I’ve been to her house and had barbecues in the backyard. … She was very supportive of the vulnerable road user law when that got passed several years ago.

Here’s Scott Bricker, the former Bicycle Transportation Alliance executive director and political director now serving as executive director of America Walks:

Secretary of State Kate Brown has long been a supporter of bicycling, walking and livable community design. As a Senator, her offices worked with the BTA to support legislative efforts on this behalf. In fact I recently received a notecard from her, stating that she pleased to hear about my role at America Walks and importance of the work.

As Oregon’s secretary of state since 2008, Brown hasn’t been much involved in transportation policy for years, focusing instead on issues like elections, campaign finance and business and voter registration. In all, she’s popped up on BikePortland twice before:

Brown, who has an environmental conservation degree from the University of Colorado and a law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School, also earned decent but not stellar marks from the Oregon League of Conservation Voters: 67 percent in 2003, 67 percent in 2005, 89 percent in 2007.

As we head into a crucial legislative session for transportation issues, Brown will have plenty of opportunities to make her positions known. After that she’s likely to face voters in 2016, the next statewide general election, for the right to serve out Kitzhaber’s full term. Under Oregon’s gubernatorial term limits, she’d then be eligible for reelection in 2018, though not in 2022.

She definitely won’t be Oregon’s first biking governor, though.

Jonathan Maus contributed reporting to this post.

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

33
Leave a Reply

avatar
15 Comment threads
18 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
25 Comment authors
DaveJoe AdamskirickdavemessJohn Liu Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
davemess
Guest
davemess

Interesting. Didn’t vote for him the last election (TERM LIMITS).

I’m intrigued by why Brown thought living in a one bathroom house was pertinent. Still it’s pretty cool to have the new governor live in the neighborhood next to mine.

Guess we’ll see where she stands over time. It’s always an interesting situation when politicians end up in a position in this way (unelected, and not necessarily looking for it).

Electric Mayhem
Guest
Electric Mayhem

Wow. I liked John Kitzhaber. I’m glad to see see that he has a good replacement.

jeff
Guest
jeff

its a bit premature to call her “good” at anything.

Champs
Guest
Champs

As a slight pivot, I’m trying to understand the BikePortland take on Tilikum Crossing: one day, it’s praised for those New Urbanist sensibilities, the next it’s misplaced transportation spending.

This year in Salem was shaping up to be a big one. Transpo notwithstanding, I want my Google Fiber. Let’s hope Brown can be an effective governor.

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

The only negative thing I’ve seen BikePortland report on regarding Tilikum Crossing is the lack of bike lanes on the flyover connecting the bridge to SW Lincoln. I don’t recall them ever criticizing the bridge itself.

Bill
Guest
Bill

Yeah, Comcast Kate concerns me a bit.. Let’s hope she does better in the big office.

Tony H
Guest
Tony H

And I was all set to send in my resume. Of course, riding to and from Salem every day (from Portland) might get tiring.

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

Hopefully Gov. Brown will push for more protected tandem lanes! 🙂

peejay
Guest
peejay

I liked Kitzhaber too, but we should all remember that he was a fairly vocal proponent of the CRC. There may be some interesting connections between Ms. Hayes’ connections and the governor’s support for that project. I hope that story gets written soon.

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

Fantastic job pulling all this together and having it ready in such a timely fashion!

I see where Carrie Brownstein is being suggested as the new Secretary of State, and has accepted. 😀

Brendan
Guest
Brendan

Amen to that. I came here wondering how this confusing political shake-up would affect the Portland biking scene and you guys didn’t disappoint. Thanks for the reporting and thanks for what sounds like good news.

Dwaine Dibbly
Guest
Dwaine Dibbly

Captain or stoker?

9watts
Guest
9watts

🙂

Barney
Guest
Barney

Only on BP could corruption at the highest levels in state government be characterized as “the drama unfolding in Salem”. But Hey, at least he was ripping us off in the name of “green energy!”

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

Oregon and California now both have Brown governors.

Better than Schwartzeneggers.

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

During the 2010 election Kitzhaber promised to ask for the resignations of all heads of the state’s departments, which he did–except of ODOT. There he went right down the line with the construction industry, shilling for the CRC big-time, even engaging an employee of the major corporate distributor of funding to work in his office and lobby. That was not his first noxious conflict of interest, but at the time it was his most egregious.

Biker Kate can slice and dice ODOT anyway she wants. Restripe Barbur? Not a problem!

Jack Vance wrote a marvelous story about how to deal with ossified bureaucracies: “Dodkin’s Job.” Kate Brown is not old Dodkin; always we can hope for Luke Grogatch.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

This is a crucial year for Oregon transportation, if only because the dive in oil prices from $100 to $50 creates a rare opportunity to raise and index the state gasoline tax. In 2016, most likely oil will be back to $65-70 (based on futures) and that opportunity will be fading.

I am sorry to see Kitzhaber leave under these circumstances (no opinion about whether he was or was not at fault, I just think the circumstances are bad) and am concerned that Brown won’t have the focus and political capital to get things done in her stub term, with a 2016 election looming.

We (Portland) gave up on the street fee and, other than the hoped-for increase in the gasoline tax, I don’t see that any alternative source of funding has emerged for the additional road, bike and ped infrastructure investments that we need and want.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Have you seen (or heard) the scare ads out there, about how raising gas tax at this time would be bad for you and businesses?
I was kind of shocked the first time I heard on (on a pandora station!).

I’m curious who is funding them.

rick
Guest
rick

Build the Red Electric Trail quickly and soon!

Joe Adamski
Guest

Soon to be Governor Brown will lead the entire State, not just the cyclists. Sorry.
And she will go in directions we don”t like or expect. Reality.
That said, we need, as cyclists, urbanistas, and citizens of the planet, to offer workable lucid ideas and the political chutzpah to force her and the State to realistic goals that match ours. Good luck and good hunting. Oh, and there still is a legislature and a supreme court. Wouldn’t hurt to have them on our side also.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Two Northwestern states–two cyclist governors. Jay Inslee rides often, usually on a well-worn Cinelli road bike.