This story will be updated later tonight as more votes are collected.
Christina Stevenson was the front-runner to become Oregon’s next commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries as of Tuesday’s 8 p.m.
Attorney Stevenson and former state Rep. Cheri Helt are running to lead Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries. The Office monitors civil rights by enforcing various laws, educating employers about these laws, and investigating civil rights violations in workplaces, housing, and public accommodations.
The labor commissioner-elect will lead the agency with a $35 million budget, more than 100 employees and oversee part of Future Ready Oregon, a $200 million plan to strengthen the state’s workforce through training and employee preparation.
Seven people ran in the primary to replace current Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle.
Stevenson won 46.9% of the vote in the May election, below the 50% threshold needed to avoid a two-person runoff. Former state legislator Cheri Helt came in second with 20 percent of the vote.
More about the candidates:
Helt is a restaurateur and former state legislator from Bend with a degree in psychology from Michigan State. According to her campaign website, she moved to Oregon with her husband, Steve, 18 years ago.
In a previous interview with the Statesman, she cited her experience as a legislator, business owner and school board member as her qualifications.
He was a member of the Bend-La Pine School Board for nine years, during which he helped pass the 98th in 2016.
“We now have a line item in our budget for vocational and technical education for high schools,” Helt said.
He also noted the experience of running a restaurant that employed 60 people and his success in managing that business during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the rules changed frequently.
On its website, Health pledges to protect workers’ civil rights and the right to fair wages, and to work to fully and quickly implement the paid family medical leave it passed in the Legislature. And he promises to “strengthen and expand access to internship programs.”
Helt was endorsed by former Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno and former state Rep. Knut Buehler of Bend, along with the Oregon Farm Bureau.
Christina Stevenson is a small business owner and civil rights advocate. An Oregon native, she said she is running because she believes “Oregon should be the best place in the country to live, work and do business.”
Stevenson said he has worked with BOLI for more than a decade on behalf of employers and employees.
“I have the experience and the track record to help me get things done,” he said.
Stevenson said that as a civil rights lawyer, he represents workers who “get a raw deal from employers who don’t follow the rules” and helps small businesses comply with those rules and regulations. He said he wants to continue to protect workers.
Working families and small businesses are struggling with rising costs and need to focus on how the state can help grow businesses and create jobs that allow Oregonians to find good, high-paying jobs and Inflation will be maintained, Stevenson said.
“I want to make sure that we invest in our apprenticeship program so that we can staff our schools, construction sites and hospitals, and I want to make sure that we enforce the law. Make sure that everyone can access their rights and empower our employers by giving them the tools they need to comply,” he said.
Stevenson said he also wants to strengthen partnerships with other government agencies.
His endorsements include current Labor Commissioner Hoyle, several legislators and unions such as the PCUN, Oregon Police Officers Association, Oregon State Firefighters Council and the Oregon AFL-CIO.