OPB asked all 34 candidates seeking the Republican or Democratic nomination for governor to answer some basic questions on the issues. Below are responses from Bridget Barton, a Republican. These answers have not been edited.
To start, please give us your name and basic biographical details, including your current position or job, any elected offices you have held and any key facts you would like voters to know about you.
I’m Bridget Barton and I’m a Republican outsider for governor. I’m not a politician and have never held political office. I’m a small business owner, a conservative writer and publisher, with 30 years experience in media, publishing, and research. I’ve spent that time advocating for conservative solutions to big problems in Oregon like school performance and choice, business regulations and natural resources. I started a successful conservative business magazine called Brainstorm NW in the late 1990s. I have been married to my husband Curtis for 40 years and helped put our two (now adult) children through college by breaking horses.
Why should you be Oregon’s next governor?
I come to the race as an outsider —with no political baggage. I don’t owe anyone anything, so I can do anything necessary to solve our “kitchen table” issues, such as our dismal education quality and results, soaring crime and substance abuse rates, constantly rising prices and taxes on working families. These problems have reached a crisis level for all Oregonians regardless of their political party. Oregonians are looking for a candidate like me with no interest in building a political career, with nothing to lose, who will fight fearlessly and relentlessly for them, not for political power.
What do you think is the most pressing challenge facing Oregon today?
The deeply intertwined issues of crime, substance abuse, and homelessness are most pressing. Despite record spending, the problem is growing and spreading across the state. I’ve been in recovery from alcoholism for 40 years. What we’re doing now is enabling addiction and homelessness; it’s not compassionate. We’re allowing people to commit slow suicide on our streets. Worse, it’s the root cause of rising crime rates. Oregon desperately needs a leader like me with practical life expertise, experience and backbone to address these crises.
What is your proposed solution to that problem? Please be specific.
Solving crime, homelessness and substance abuse is complex, but here are two key pieces: First, turn the “Housing First” model around completely. Design a statewide shelter database so we are able to clear the streets legally, create large low-barrier shelters, and reallocate most “housing” funds to substance abuse and mental health treatment. Second, gather law enforcement, treatment providers, and parent groups across the state to refer Measure 110, which legalized hard drugs, back to voters for repeal. This policy draws cartels, crime, drug users and homeless people to our state, and it’s killing our kids through increasingly common fentanyl overdoses.
Do you believe human beings are playing a part in rising temperatures?
I don’t consider scientific questions like this a matter of “belief.” While climate change has become a matter of religion to a sector of our society, I think it much wiser to take both an economic and scientific approach. The only solutions that politicians have implemented so far to make climate change somehow disappear are to tax hardworking Oregonians and make it more expensive for them to live. Any further efforts will be exposed to thorough scientific review and cost/benefit analysis.
Do you think Oregon should take additional steps to address climate change? If so, what are some specific efforts you’d undertake or push for as governor?
Oregon has already taken substantial steps to “address” climate change at immense cost, with negligible, if any, benefits. Most efforts thus far fall into the category of virtue signaling, meaning they make some Oregonians feel better, but don’t have any real impact. We should support American innovators and inventors to help address these issues instead of pretending we can solve climate change by taxing Oregonians.
Oregon has experienced a high number of severe wildfires in recent years. What role should state government play in wildfire response?
If leftists were truly concerned about CO2 emissions and wildfires, they would stop bowing to radical environmental groups and manage our forests appropriately instead of letting them overgrow and burn. We need significant revisions to state and federal forest policy, including putting fires out on ALL forests, re-building roads into forests so firefighters can access fires faster, expanding sales in state forests, and better management of post-burn sales. Current politicians’ only response has been to ask families to get ready to run and watch their house burn down. That negligent attitude stops with me.
Parts of Oregon now routinely face drought conditions. What role should state government play in preventing and responding to droughts?
Our one-party rule politicians have consistently neglected and ignored rural Oregon. Then when drought truly starts to cripple rural communities, lawmakers throw a couple million dollars at them and say they fixed the problem. State government, which expends millions every year on non-essential programs and projects, should develop an investment package built for and by rural Oregon. Urban politicians and interest groups need to quit telling rural Oregonians how to live.
Do you support the use of body cameras by police officers to record their interactions with the public? Please explain why or why not.
I support law enforcement. If law enforcement feels it will enhance community safety, then I would support the use of body cameras.
President Joe Biden signaled in his State of the Union address that he wants to increase funding for police. Do you agree or disagree?
In surveys, Oregonians on both the right and the left described political extremism as one of the biggest challenges facing the state. Do you agree with them? If yes, please describe the type of extremism that concerns you and what you would do as governor to address it.
This is why I’m running as an outsider, focused on kitchen table issues, not partisan politics. I don’t want to get the job–I want to DO the job. Voters have had bickering politicians, obsessed with building their political careers at the expense of the rest of us. This power-seeking has resulted in one-party control of all statewide offices, both legislative houses, and the governor’s office for the last 40 years. People want elected officials to solve problems, not pander to the extremists. I’m running for all Oregonians to immediately reduce the crime and chaos we see around us and put a hard stop to our 40-year decline.
In surveys, Oregonians consistently rate homelessness and high housing costs as a major problem facing the state. What role do you believe state government should play in addressing these interconnected problems?
I don’t accept the interconnectedness of these problems —it’s loose at best. But both require policy shifts and intervention. The most significant cause of homelessness in every survey is substance abuse, which is not solved by housing. Oregon is #1 or #2 in substance abuse per capita in the nation. That’s appalling. Reallocation of housing funds to shelters and treatment options is required immediately. Outdated and economically flawed land use laws are the most obvious cause of high housing costs, and require significant adjustments to make Oregon affordable for young and low-income families who can’t afford decent housing.
Would you support requiring people experiencing homelessness to stay in shelters if adequate shelter space exists?
Oregon’s high school graduation rate continues to lag behind other states. What are specific actions you would take as governor to improve student performance?
As a young mom I began advocating for charter schools and choice in the 1990s. I’ll present a thorough change of vision, goals, and strategies refocused on academic excellence. Progressive leftists have put ideology and partisan agendas above practical academics. The dismal results are clear. I will appoint a Deputy Superintendent to execute this vision down to the individual school level. Standards will be reinstated and expectations raised for all children. Only an outsider like me will have the guts to withstand the likely pushback from groups like the teachers’ unions over this drastic shift back toward learning and achievement.
Oregon, like much of the rest of the nation, has a child care crisis. What role should the governor play in this situation, and what are specific steps you would take as governor?
I was a working mom raising my kids and I will never forget what it was like to try to juggle both. Government shouldn’t be in the child care business. My efforts would be aimed at reducing government roadblocks for private child care business models to develop and grow.
Do public employee unions have too much influence in Oregon? If you answer yes, please tell us which unions in particular concern you.
Of course. Government employee unions get what they paid for–leftist politicians who spend billions and make life more expensive for regular people. One need only look at the hundreds of millions of government union dollars pumped into political races and special interest groups. In Oregon, government unions spend nearly 10 times the average in other states. From school board races to the race for governor, government unions dominate spending, resulting in outsized influence over our elected officials. In effect, they control both sides of political negotiations, making our state more expensive and less secure for the rest of us.
As governor, would you support the creation of campaign finance limits in Oregon? If no, please explain why not. If yes, please can us specifics on what limits you would endorse.
No, Oregon already has some of the most transparent campaign finance laws in the country. Anyone at any time can visit the Secretary of State’s website and see exactly, down to the dollar, where candidates and measures are receiving and spending their contributions. In states that limit the amount one person can give, the result is to push this information underground, making it nearly impossible to “follow the money.” The same money is spent, but voters can’t see it. In Oregon, voters get a clear picture of who is spending what on whom. Let’s leave this transparent system in place.
Do you believe Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election?
Did not respond
Would you support creation of a sales tax in Oregon?
Do you support the use of tolls to help pay for infrastructure constructions in the Portland region, including a replacement for the Interstate 5 bridge?
If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, would you as governor push for new abortion restrictions in Oregon? If yes, please specify what type of restriction you would propose.
I think the public needs to clearly understand that recently millions of their tax dollars were allocated to pay for transportation, care and lodging for out-of-state residents to seek abortions in Oregon. Oregonians should know state officials place no limits on abortion through the third trimester up to the moment of birth. My efforts as governor will focus on support for all human life, including all of our most vulnerable from conception, through foster kids, the sex-trafficked, mentally ill, to our fragile seniors.
How would you describe the relationship between rural and urban Oregon today?
I’ve never been afraid to speak up for rural and blue collar communities. The conservative business magazine I published consistently exposed the disdain that elitist urban politicians often demonstrated for rural Oregon’s hardworking families and businesses. But I’m relentlessly optimistic and whether I’m in Crook County or downtown Portland, people want many of the same things: they want their schools and their businesses back, they want their lives and their freedom back. This 40-year hole that the radical left has created, and the crime and chaos all Oregonians see around them is actually uniting people across our beautiful state.
What’s one thing you would do as governor to bring rural and urban Oregon together?
I’m an outsider and that means everything is on the table. I don’t owe anyone anything, and that gives me the freedom to set a new vision for our state that values every Oregonian. To execute this vision I will more heavily weight state-level economic and business advisory councils with strong rural voices -- balance must be restored immediately at the state policy level.
What’s the best thing Kate Brown has done as Oregon governor?
Finally ending her authoritarian emergency executive authority in March 2022. Unfortunately, it’s 21 months overdue.
What’s the worst thing Kate Brown has done as Oregon governor?
There’s a cornucopia of possibilities when it comes to the least popular governor in the country. But her unconstitutional extension of her emergency orders in late spring 2020 began a cascade of suffocating mandates that have crippled the state, devastating businesses, hindering health care, and worst -- destroying almost two full years of education for our children, time they’ll never get back. I helped organize the first lawsuit against her in 2020 over her emergency powers and we won, only to be overturned at the state Supreme Court. But I stood up to this breach of our freedoms.
Name another Oregon leader, either current or in the past, whose approach to public policy you admire and why.
I’m a big fan of our last Republican Governor Vic Atiyeh. I was lucky to meet with him personally several times before he passed away. Atiyeh was a regular guy, a business owner, a hard worker, who cared about regular working Oregonians. He understood that bringing good, high-paying jobs to Oregon would make for a strong economy and a better life for all. He worked hard to build a business-friendly reputation for Oregon that resulted in our high-tech boom, and a solid diversified economic base. His business-friendly legacy has been squandered; I’d be honored to begin rebuilding our state’s reputation.