Knute Buehler

Age: 53

Residence: Bend

Job: State representative, orthopedic surgeon

Education: Bachelor’s degree in microbiology and history from Oregon State University, 1986; Master’s degree in politics and economics from Oxford University, 1990; M.D. from Johns Hopkins University, 1991

Sam Carpenter

Age: 68

Residence: Bend

Job: Entrepreneur, author

Education: Associate’s degree in forestry technology, State University of New York/New York Ranger School, 1974

Bruce Cuff

Age: 57

Residence: Mehama, Marion County

Job: Real estate broker

Education: Bachelor of arts in political science from Willamette University, 1989

Jeff Smith

Age: declined to state

Residence: Elgin, Union County

Job: Computer programmer

Education: Bachelor of science in manufacturing engineering technology from Oregon Institute of Technology

David Stauffer

Age: 68

City: Portland

Job: Retired attorney

Education: Bachelor of arts from University of Chicago, 1971; Master’s degree in business from University of Portland, 1974; Law degree from Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College, 1983

Greg Wooldridge

Age: 71

Residence: Beaverton

Job: Motivational speaker, retired naval aviator

Education: Bachelor of arts in economics form Blackburn College, Carlinville, Illinois, 1969.

The May 15 election is almost here. The secretary of state has mailed the voters’ pamphlet, and ballots will soon follow.

For the roughly 697,000 registered Republicans in Oregon, the marquee race is the primary vote for governor.

The winner will have a difficult task come November’s general election. It’s been 36 years since Oregon has elected a Republican to the state’s highest office. Since the late Vic Atiyeh captured a second term in 1982, a string of Democrats have won the governorship in nine straight general or special elections: Neil Goldschmidt, Barbara Roberts, John Kitzhaber, Ted Kulongowski, Kitzhaber again, and the incumbent, Kate Brown. Brown wants to make it 10 in a row this year. She faces only token opposition in the Democratic primary.

Ten Republicans are running to try and break the streak. Six qualified to be included in the voters’ pamphlet. The Bulletin asked that group to answer three questions to give voters a sample of their views:

1. The Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) has a projected $25 billion shortfall. What would you do as governor to try to fix the system?

2. Oregon’s high school graduation rate is ranked 48th among the 50 states. What would you do as governor to significantly improve public school graduation?

3. Choose one issue that would be a priority if you were elected governor and what you would do about it.

Here are their answers:

Knute Buehler


Addressing PERS is vitally important. As governor, I won’t sign a single new spending bill until the Legislature passes real, meaningful and substantive PERS reform. Brown’s lack of leadership has put our public schools, local governments and hard-­working retirees in jeopardy. That’s why I’d require real reform like stopping big monthly payouts by capping yearly benefits at around $100,000, asking our public employees to pay into their retirement plan like nearly every other state government, and transitioning public employees away from PERS into a more typical 401(k)-type retirement plan while protecting current retiree benefits.

High school graduation rate:

Under Gov. Brown, 1 in 4 Oregon students aren’t graduating from high school. This is a public-education crisis hurting our children, families and communities. I will pass reforms to get more dollars into classrooms, ensure elementary school students can read by third grade, make sure every child has an individual success plan and restore lost days in the school year due to crippling budget cuts. With real leadership, we can take Oregon’s high school graduation rate from the bottom three in the nation to the top three. I will lead to rescue our kids, teachers and public schools.

Issue: Leadership

There are far too many problems that have been ignored, avoided and made worse by Gov. Brown. Too many Oregonians have been left out and left behind by a lack of leadership and misplaced priorities. Oregon’s budget has never had more money, but our schools, health care, traffic congestion, homelessness and services that help people in need — like foster care — are getting worse. Oregon children, schoolteachers, working families and small businesses need new leadership — they need a new governor to lead with an open mind, thoughtful voice and a caring heart. I will lead where Gov. Brown has failed.

Sam Carpenter


Working with the Legislature to make this happen: The PERS retirement plan would not be offered to new hires. Rather they would be offered a typical, private-sector 401(k)-type defined contribution plan. No PERS recipient, working or retired, would be affected by this change.

High school graduation rate:

School choice, with a voucher backbone, would introduce freedom and competition into our education system. Parents should have the right to decide where to send their children to school. I would work with our Legislature (and with President Trump) to make this happen.

Issue: Government size:

A dramatic reduction in the size and the scope of the Salem bureaucracy (“the deep state”), returning power and autonomy to county and local government. Now, in every corner of Oregon, government restrictions and regulations are choking our personal lives and our businesses.

Bruce Cuff


I have a four-point plan:

1. New state hires receive only a 401(k)-type retirement program.

2. All elected officials are taken out of PERS.

3. Reduce taxes on business to as close to zero as we can get to expand private sector business. Currently, 1 out of 6 jobs is in government. It needs to be more like 1 in 10. Raising taxes on business runs business and jobs out of state. My approach will maximize revenue from personal income taxes by expanding the number of private sector employees.

4. School vouchers for parents to promote competition from private schools. Encourage public school teachers to set up these schools. Get our “community controlled” schools back.

High school graduation rate:

Bring back vocational training, giving students more reasons to stay in school. Most students aren’t college-bound, and learning a marketable skill in school will keep more students engaged in education with options that appeal to them.

Issue: Natural resources

Oregon is a natural resource-­rich state, and our rural counties have been struggling to provide basic services because jobs in that sector have been systematically eliminated or reduced. We need to focus on bringing these back. Businesses based on logging, ranching, farming, mining and fishing should be expanded through lower taxation, lower regulation and invoking a state-wide coordinated response to dealing with federal agencies such as BLM and U.S. Forest Service that are mismanaging the people of Oregon’s land.

Jeff Smith


New employees must have a 401(k) plan that does not have a guaranteed rate of return, but will get whatever rate of return the investments actually produce.

High school graduation rate:

The emphasis in high school must move away from pushing every student towards college. It should be replaced with more emphasis on vocational training that can lead the students to pursue trades that have family wage jobs and are currently in high demand. Things such as construction, being an electrician, etc.

Issue: Health care cost

The cost of health care always goes up. Every time you go to the doctor, you are paying four to 12 times more than in other industrial nations. The reason this happens is because of laws that drive up health care, such as there is only one place in Oregon to become an M.D. That needs to change. We have at least three major universities that could have medical doctor programs.

Dave Stauffer


PERS pension payments are currently taxed at the 5 percent to 9.9 percent tax rates that every taxpayer pays. I would ask the Legislature to change the tax rate on all pension payments above $100,000, to a 90 percent rate in order to make a progressive tax rate on those retired PERS recipients who have excess money that they receive from the PERS system. The PERS recipients will receive every penny that they were promised from the PERS system — however, they will pay a 90 percent tax on amounts above $100,000.

High school graduation:

To increase graduation rates, I would give all local school boards more control over teaching methods and personnel.

Issue: Environment

I am the environmental-­solutions candidate. I have plans to implement five solutions to Oregon’s very real environmental problems. You can find more details on my Facebook page.

Greg Wooldridge


The first person hired after I take office should go onto a defined contribution, defined benefit 401(k) program. We would fund it nicely, so they would have a nice nest egg. We can change the future. I don’t think we can change the past. I don’t think the courts will let us. I know that I wouldn’t want that to happen to my pension. People work hard, and most are getting just enough money to pay the rent and have a little left over. I don’t go for this “drain the swamp” stuff. There are a lot of good, hard-working people in government.

High school graduation:

First, limit elementary school class size limits. That is where attitudes about learning are developed. If the average class size is 35 students, I think 25 is a good target. By 10th grade, there should be a new version of what used to be called shop classes. Plumbing, carpentry, construction. But not just the trades, also computer programming and technology. Enough so they can get on with a trade union or Intel after they graduate. When industries come to Oregon, they have to train people. If we give them a labor ready workforce, it will improve the business environment. With jobs, I think drug use and welfare dependency will drop, too.

Issue: Infrastructure:

We need wider roads, new roads, working on land use to get it done. How do we pay for it? That’s the big question. Gov. Greg would go to Washington and start asking to work with us.

We have to get traffic moving. It is all about commerce and providing family-wage jobs and a good quality of life. If you are a florist trying to make flower deliveries, you have a small operating margin. Oregonians are exceptionally hard workers and business people if given the chance. I am not for tolls — that would just push traffic onto the already over-taxed arterial highways.

— Reporter: 541-640-2750,