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Portland civil rights lawyer has big lead over former Bend legislator Cheri Helt for the nonpartisan office.

Christina Stephenson has claimed victory over Cheri Helt in the race for Oregon state labor commissioner.

Election results posted as of 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, when nearly 1 million votes were tallied, show Stephenson with 60% of the vote and Helt with 39%.

They are seeking to succeed Val Hoyle of Springfield, who is vacating the office in a bid for the 4th District seat in the U.S. House.COURTESY PHOTO - Christina Stephenson

Stephenson is a civil rights lawyer in Portland who lives in Washington County. She will be the first labor commissioner in almost half a century not to have held another public office first.

Her statement as released by her campaign:

"I know that we all believe in a shared vision of what Oregon's economy can be.

"I'm ready to roll up my sleeves on day one:

• "Expanding apprenticeship and job training opportunities.

• "Ensuring small businesses get the support they need.

• "Working through the backlog of potential civil rights and wage violations, so that every Oregon worker can confidently access their rights in the workplace.

"Oregon should be the best place to live and work in this country, and I'm going to do everything within my power at the Bureau of Labor and Industries to make that a reality."

Because there were just two candidates, the contest for the nonpartisan commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries was scheduled for the general election.

Stephenson sought an Oregon House seat as a Democrat in 2020, and Helt was a one-term Republican representative from Bend who lost a re-election bid in 2020.

Stephenson was endorsed by all five living former or current labor commissioners, including Jack Roberts, who was elected as a Republican in 1994. The 1995 Legislature made the office nonpartisan, and Roberts was re-elected in 1998.COURTESY PHOTO - Cheri Helt

Stephenson, 38, is a Portland lawyer who specializes in civil rights, one of the bureau's chief responsibilities, along with enforcement of wage and hour laws and supervision of apprenticeships.

Helt, 52, is a restaurant owner and former Bend-La Pine School Board member. She promoted her experience in small business and elected office as assets for the job.

Because any mail-in ballot postmarked by Tuesday will be counted, the unofficial results won't be known for several days.

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