I am saddened by the passing of Secretary of State Dennis Richardson. I think there must be a respectable interval where we reflect on his service to his family, his country and to his state — a time to thank him for giving so much of himself. Rare are the people who devote themselves to service.
We must be thankful they are out there whether we agree with their politics or not. We share a value, making our community a better place. Alas, the people's business must be done. To do so, the office must be filled with all due haste and all due diligence. Among my Republican friends I have seen fear that Gov. Brown might not appoint a Republican to finish Secretary Richardson's term. Some thought she had a choice because they mistakenly believed that SOS is a non-partisan office. It is a partisan office and Gov. Brown will appoint a Republican.
I would like to think that the mistaken, "non-partisan position" is a belief born in part due to the way Secretary Richardson ran the office. Even handed, just, and with an eye on making Oregon's state government more effective, efficient and transparent as opposed to advancing a particular platform.
I read in the Willamette Week that Gov. Brown will appoint a placeholder with no desire to run for election to the office when the term ends. It isn't unprecedented. When former Gov. Kitzhaber resigned and then-Secretary of State Kate Brown became governor she appointed Jeanne Atkins as the new SOS in that placeholder role. We got lucky. Atkins served capably. She didn't just keep the seat warm. Nonetheless, I don't like the placeholder idea.
I hope Gov. Brown has the courage to find us the absolute best replacement for SOS Richardson regardless of their political ambition.
When the voters elected Dennis Richardson, they didn't elect a placeholder. He had run for governor and was again running for statewide office, so the voters didn't elect someone without political ambition. Bring us a Dennis Richardson clone so that the level of service and performance from the office doesn't decline. Then be prepared to find the right candidate, work your (butt) off and beat the new incumbent the next time the partisan office is on the ballot.
Don't succumb to the appointment that makes the best sense when considering political/electoral calculus. It is callous, chicken-hearted and cynical. Choose based on who reflects the values of the voters who put Richardson in office. It is what they deserve. Choose based on who will put their heart and mind to work making Oregon's state government more effective, efficient and transparent. It is what we all deserve.
RIP Secretary Richardson. My condolences to your family, your staff and your state.
T. Scott Harden is the mayor of Wood Village.
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