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Candidates face extended debates

Oregon is forging new ground with Gubernatorial Forums. In a press conference Monday at Portland State University, former Senator Mark O. Hatfield and Congressman Earl Blumenauer announced the forums.

In the urban center, Hatfield and Blumenauer announced the schedule, format, location and topics of the forums. Approximately 50 people attended the press conference.

“It is a pleasure to be associated with the good work here at PSU,” Blumenauer said.

Blumenauer likened the new gubernatorial forums to an “in-depth” interview for the candidates.

“Oregon politics are known for intimacy with the voter,” Hatfield said.

Hatfield said the commercialization of politics have made voters less interested and perhaps less involved.

“In a very real way, voters are managed by campaigns,” said Ronald Tammen, director of PSU’s Mark O. Hatfield School of Government.

Blumenauer said the forums would allow the gubernatorial candidates two to three hours to focus on specific topics. The candidates and their advisors will be presented a possible scenario they could face as a governor.

Blumenauer said that who the candidates choose to help them make decisions might be as important as what decisions the candidates make.

The candidates would then present their ideas in 10 to 15 presentations or a two or three page memo about the topic. Blumenauer said that this new forum would not be a “sound byte” opportunity for the candidates, but instead an in-depth discussion.

“We have an opportunity in Oregon to challenge this (sound-byte) state of affairs,” Tammen said.

Blumenauer reminded the audience Oregon is looking for a leader for the next four years.

“We’re not casting for a soap opera,” Blumenauer said.

The Hatfield School of Government at Portland State and the Oregon League of Women Voters are co-sponsors of the forums.

“The Hatfield School, an educational institution that operates on the frontiers of knowledge, is delighted to be a part of this great experiment,” Tammen said.

The forums will be held at six sites across the state, each focusing on a specific topic.

Blumenauer said that all major candidates for the office of governor would be invited to participate. He said that any change to the political system could create caution for the candidates. However, Blumenauer said that he is confident that the candidates will respond positively.

Former Oregon governors have endorsed the forum format and will be involved in the creation of the scenarios presented to the candidates. Hatfield said that Governor Kitzhaber has also endorsed this format but as governor will not participate in creating the scenarios.

The forums will be held in partnership with the Eugene City Club, Pendleton Chamber of Commerce, Portland City Club, Salem City Club, Nike and the Medford Chamber of Commerce. Other groups that have endorsed the forums include the Portland Tribune, Medford Mail Tribune, Oregon Business Association, Oregon Business Council and the Oregon AFL-CIO.


The current schedule for the forums includes the following venues and subjects:

May 1: Portland, “Transportation” (Portland City Club, Portland Hilton, Nancy Hedin, 503-228-7231);

May 10: Beaverton, “Economy” (Nike, Nike Auditorium, Paul Kelly, 503-671-6255);

April 17: Medford, “Natural Resources” (Medford Chamber, Red Lion, Brad Hicks, 541-779-4847 x314);

April 19: Eugene, “Education” (Eugene City Club, Eugene Hilton, Gil James, 541-685-0626);

April 22-25: Pendleton, “Rural Health Care” (Pendleton Chamber, Pendleton Convention Center, Leslie Carnes 541-276-7411);

September (date TBA): Salem, topic/site TBA (Salem City Club, Sandra Smith Gangle, 503-585-5070).