In 2016, Oregonians chose my husband Dennis Richardson to be Oregon Secretary of State, and in doing so, they put the needs of Oregon over party labels. They set aside reservations Dennis might be too conservative. They disbelieved malicious attacks from big-dollar special interests. In electing Dennis, voters set a high bar with new standards for what we want from our Secretary of State: accountability, transparency and integrity in state government.
In two years, Dennis kept every campaign promise he made to you.
The 2018 election was fair and transparent. Dennis delivered powerful audits on issues of race discrimination in Portland Public Schools and shined a light on our broken foster care system. By auditing the Department of Environmental Quality and following that audit all the way to Gov. Kate Brown's office, Dennis helped deliver millions of dollars to help hold polluters accountable.
On the day he died from a brain tumor, the Oregon State Senate passed a bill Dennis championed, enabling access to emergency insulin prescriptions for people with diabetes.
Dennis transcended party politics to serve the people of Oregon. He showed how impactful the secretary of state's office could be in changing people's lives by using audit data to drive better policies for the people.
This year, voters have a choice to make.
My hope is we continue on the path of progress that Dennis set in motion. We can't go back to a place where Oregonians are kept in the dark about what's happening with their tax dollars. For that reason, I'm endorsing state Sen. Kim Thatcher to keep Dennis's vision for Oregon alive.
Working for Dennis when he served in the House, I had the opportunity to see both Kim Thatcher and Shemia Fagan in their legislative roles and how they approached issues and constituents. Kim's thoughtful approach and compassion for people is evident in the work product of her 16 years in the legislature. Kim has also proven she can be an impartial leader.
Conversely, it is profoundly concerning that Sen. Fagan received $50,000 in direct political contributions from Gov. Brown, and [that] public unions have funded her campaign over a million dollars. They do not want the kind of truthful audits we deserve.
I recall one audit Dennis released where a state agency and high-powered elected officials tried to exert enormous influence on Dennis to quash audit results that showed Portland Public Schools was failing Black children. Dennis stood his ground. With the amount of special-interest money flooding into Sen. Fagan's campaign, it would be hard to believe she can remain neutral.
Dennis shocked people when he stood up to President Donald Trump on elections. Dennis put Oregonians before the president and protected your election data. Similarly, Sen. Thatcher voted against selling your child's personal election data as a public record. Fagan voted for the bill. I trust Kim to run fair, honest elections like Dennis did.
As voters, we must look past party labels to see what a candidate truly values. Kim Thatcher has consistently stood for honest, open and accountable government that serves the people.
If voters hadn't given the same chance to Dennis that I'm asking you to provide Kim with, we would never have had the opportunity to see how an unbeholden secretary of state can use this office to help Oregon families.
Until the day he died, Dennis loved being your secretary of state. He worried about what would happen to us all when he was gone. I trust Kim Thatcher to pick up where Dennis left off.
Please look past labels, look past misleading ads and vote for the person most like the man you voted for in 2016. Oregonians still deserve the outcomes Dennis wanted for us all.
Cathy Richardson is a Central Point resident, and wife to former Republican Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, who died in office on Feb. 26, 2019.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.