Christina Stephenson Wins The Election: Early returns showed that labor attorney Christina Stephenson won the campaign to be Oregon’s next labor commissioner with a comfortable margin on Tuesday night. Stephenson secured 60 percent of the vote in the election. In the two-person election, the competitor Cheri Helt finished a distant second with 39% of the vote, and write-in candidates received fewer than 1% of the total vote.
“Oregon ought to be the best place to live and work in this country,” Stephenson said in a statement that was released on Tuesday night. “I’m going to do everything within my ability at the Bureau of Labor & Industries to make that a reality,” the statement said.
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It was not unexpected that Stephenson would come out on top in the multi-candidate, top-two primary that was held in May. Stephenson received more than twice as many votes as Helt did. Helt, a former Republican state representative, had intended to capitalize on widespread voter dissatisfaction with the way the state was headed in by pushing for reform at the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries, which is more commonly referred to as BOLI.
It is typically a low-profile body that investigates accusations of civil rights violations and wage theft, educates businesses on the employment policies of the state, and publishes posters that outline workers’ rights. However, BOLI is also in charge of the state’s apprenticeship programs, which are an essential component of the workforce development program with a budget of $200 million that was approved by the Legislature the previous year.
Christina Stephenson Desire
During the course of her campaign, Stephenson expressed her desire to increase participation in the labor force among Oregonians of working age. She made a commitment to investigate whether or not the apprenticeship programs are creating the jobs that were advertised and whether or not they are reaching the various groups that the state has undertaken to assist.
Stephenson stated earlier this month that “my responsibility is going as far upstream as we need to go to get individuals into the family-wage positions that we know we can offer through the apprenticeship program.” Stephenson was referring to the apprenticeship program.
The attorney, who is 39 years old and a Democrat, has lived in Washington County for more than a decade and has worked as a worker champion throughout that time. Stephenson easily outdid her competitor in the fundraising competition. Since the primary election in May, she has received campaign contributions totaling over $900,000, which compares to approximately $250,000 for Helt.
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Stephenson takes over for Val Hoyle, who opted to run for Congress rather than seek reelection to his current position.
BOLI has 138 workers and a budget of $62 million for its first two years of operation. This budget includes $20 million in one-time money for apprenticeship grant awards. The agency takes an average of seven months to settle a civil rights issue; during the campaign, Stephenson stated that she may seek additional legislative funds in order to beef up staff.
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