Editorial: Dennis Richardson for Secretary of State

It’s tempting to make an endorsement in the contest for Oregon’s secretary of state this way: With six candidates on the ballot, most anyone not named Brad Avakian would be a better choice.

In reality, while Avakian, a Democrat, may be wrong for the office he seeks, only one of the remaining five — Republican Dennis Richardson — is actually right for the job.

Two years ago, when Dennis Richardson, 67, ran unsuccessfully for governor, we made note of his “buttoned down attention to detail.” It’s still there, and it’s exactly what makes him such a good choice for secretary of state. Here’s just one example. When he was a state legislator, he was one of the few people sounding the alarm about Cover Oregon before it crashed so spectacularly.

Under Richardson’s leadership, we’d expect to see a well-functioning state agency, one that fulfills its constitutional obligations regarding elections, audits, corporations and archives smoothly and efficiently. That makes Richardson easily the best choice.

Avakian, 55, sees the job as a jumping-off point and jumps right off the deep end into expanding the role of the office. He believes, for example, that the office’s audit function should be applied to private businesses as well as public ones. He would audit school districts and would use the State Land Board, which is charged with managing state lands for the benefit of the people, to make the state a “leader in renewable energy.” And so on.

Other candidates include Sharon Durbin, 67, the Libertarian; Michael Marsh, 68, Constitution Party; Alan Zundel, 64, Pacific Green Party; and Paul Damian Wells, Independent Party and a self-described voting rights activist.

While the other candidates offer differing views of the role of the secretary of state, they agree with Richardson that the secretary of state’s job is largely an administrative one, with duties set out in the state constitution. Richardson is an experienced, sensible government professional. He’s the best candidate for the role.

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