OPB asked all 34 candidates seeking the Republican or Democratic nomination for governor to answer some basic questions about the issues. Below are responses from Julian Bell, a Democrat. These answers have not been edited.

Oregon Democratic candidate for governor Julian Bell.

Oregon Democratic candidate for governor Julian Bell.

Courtesy of Dr. Julian Bell / Julian Bell

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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.

My name is Julian Bell, I am a medical doctor and I work full time with Providence Medical Group South in Medford Oregon. I was elected to the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission in 2018. Ashland’s Parks and Recreation Commission is an elected position, an unusual arrangement. Climate change is my main issue because it is Oregon’s main issue. If we do not address climate change we will not be able to address the other issues voters are concerned about.

Why should you be Oregon’s next governor?

The leading candidates for the Democratic party nomination for the Governor’s position will not put us on track to address climate change. While Tobias Reed and Tina Kotek are able to speak about climate change and point to legislative successes, these efforts are inadequate for the task at hand. I don’t think they have the vision to lead the state in the age of climate change. For the two of them, climate change amounts to a distraction from business as usual. They are too constrained by the goals of the donors to their campaigns and to the Democratic Party of Oregon to be able to make decisive changes that will put us on track to address climate change here in Oregon and to play our part in creating a better future for the nation.

What do you think is the most pressing challenge facing Oregon today?

Well, climate change.

What is your proposed solution to that problem? Please be specific.

To simplify; we must aggressively decarbonize Oregon’s economy and invest in carbon capture and storage technology for businesses that are difficult to decarbonize. A high priority is curtailing use of natural gas which is mostly methane, isn’t any more natural than arsenic and is a highly dangerous greenhouse gas.

Other marquee goals include:

# Electrifying our transportation system including expanding access to commuter electric vehicles (not necessarily Teslas, perhaps electric bicycles), disincentivizing fossil fuel powered vehicles, and electrifying the transportation of goods.

# Divesting the state of Oregon from fossil fuel investments. There are no circumstances where it is a good idea to buy a rope to hang yourself with. We must seek ways to encourage or incentivize Oregon businesses to divest from fossil fuel related investments.

# Enacting a ‘stretch’ or ‘reach’ building code so as to enable cities to ban new fossil fuel infrastructure. We could simply adopt California’s.

# Developing an investment system to facilitate the transition from household fossil fuel based home appliances to electric.

# Investing in agricultural carbon sequestration, disincentivizing highly combustible (high density) tree planting by agribusiness / the timber industry. Incentivizing forest wildfire resiliency.

# Investing in research and development of carbon capture and storage technology - to support our existing carbon intensive industries, and since this is an unavoidable part of meeting our atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration goals (target of 350 PPM CO2 and negligible CH4).

# Facilitating the construction of large scale clean energy generation and storage infrastructure.

# Raising public awareness of the urgency of the crisis.

Do you believe human beings are playing a part in rising temperatures?

Yes

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?

Yes, as above:

We must aggressively decarbonize Oregon’s economy and invest in carbon capture and storage technology for businesses that are difficult to decarbonize. A high priority is curtailing use of natural gas which is mostly methane, isn’t any more natural than arsenic and is a highly dangerous greenhouse gas.

Other marquee goals include:

# Electrifying our transportation system including expanding access to commuter electric vehicles (not necessarily Teslas, perhaps electric bicycles), disincentivizing fossil fuel powered vehicles, and electrifying the transportation of goods.

# Divesting the state of Oregon from fossil fuel investments. There are no circumstances where it is a good idea to buy a rope to hang yourself with. We must seek ways to encourage or incentivize Oregon businesses to divest from fossil fuel related investments.

# Enacting a ‘stretch’ or ‘reach’ building code so as to enable cities to ban new fossil fuel infrastructure. We could simply adopt California’s.

# Developing an investment system to facilitate the transition from household fossil fuel based home appliances to electric.

# Investing in agricultural carbon sequestration, disincentivizing highly combustible (high density) tree planting by agribusiness / the timber industry. Incentivizing forest wildfire resiliency.

# Investing in research and development of carbon capture and storage technology - to support our existing carbon intensive industries, and since this is an unavoidable part of meeting our atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration goals (decreasing CO2 from current 420 parts per million to 350 parts per million, and CH4 [methane] from 1900 parts per billion to 700 parts per billion).

# Facilitating the construction of large scale clean energy generation and storage infrastructure.

# Raising public awareness of the urgency of the crisis.

Oregon has experienced a high number of severe wildfires in recent years. What role should state government play in wildfire response?

Our forests are naturally combustible, however the recent mega-fires are not normal and are driven by climate change. Climate change is drying out the forests, raising temperatures during the peak fire season and extending the fire season. The fire season is at least 3 months longer now than it was in the 1970s because of greenhouse gas emissions.

# In order to decrease the scale of the fires, we must work on the root cause which is climate change.

# We must also partner with the timber industry to incentivize changes in forest management practices on private land to improve resiliency and decrease combustibility. Similar efforts are needed on state and federal lands.

# We must also disincentive people building homes in difficult to access fire vulnerable locations.

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# We need to ensure residents in vulnerable areas are easily able to evacuate in the event of fire. In the Almeda fire that burned Talent, Or and Phoenix, OR, 3 lives were lost. In the Camp fire that destroyed Paradise, CA, 85 lives were lost.

# Preventing these fires is a major cost savings; the Camp Fire cost nearly 17 Billion dollars. The Almeda Fire cost the state of Oregon a reported $170 million to clean up, although I have heard the figure was closer to $340 million.

Parts of Oregon now routinely face drought conditions. What role should state government play in preventing and responding to droughts?

The state of Oregon can’t make water appear on the scale that the agricultural sector would need, or that the rest of the Oregon landscape needs. The main goal again, is to address climate change which is driving drought conditions, and is something we do have potential to control. Perhaps there are reforestation strategies that will increase rainfall. We should not support agriculture in areas that can be predicted to have sustained drought in the near future.

Do you support the use of body cameras by police officers to record their interactions with the public? Please explain why or why not.

Yes. They are employees of the government and as such, when at work, are subject to rules and monitoring.

President Joe Biden signaled in his State of the Union address that he wants to increase funding for police. Do you agree or disagree?

Agree

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.

Everyone has some beliefs that are not grounded in reality, I’m sure I do as well. The goal is to pick the items for which there is a reason to be confident that your ideas are based in reality, and then to explain to your audience why these are the priorities, what the best information is, and what to do with it. It’s identical to doctoring. We do not have to agree on everything, just the critical goals.

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 support a ‘housing first’ approach. In other words, it is important to put an un-housed or homeless person in a house whatever their social failings might be. The housing crisis was created by the income inequality crisis, and this was created by dog-eat-dog free market ideology that led to federal policy, particularly tax cuts, enacted by Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Trump. Which is why I support democratic socialist public policy. The free market works great as long as you have money to spend and the things you need are affordable. The free market does nothing for you if you don’t have the money. But none of us are going to be fixing income inequality or federal tax codes in the short term. The only agency that ordinary citizens have to address income inequality on a large scale is the primary manifestation of their collective goals; the government. For this reason I don’t think there is any alternative for housing people with no housing (whether they’re homeless or simply struggling to find housing) other than state organized housing projects. These should be owned by the voters, i.e. by the state or local government, and managed by private organizations. Many details would have to be worked out, but this, I think, is the only way of addressing the housing crisis. We are going to have to put more effort into it, because it seems highly likely that we will have a deluge of climate refugees arriving in the next 5-10 years and we already don’t have housing for our existing population.

Would you support requiring people experiencing homelessness to stay in shelters if adequate shelter space exists?

No

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?

Encouraging high parental expectations of academic achievement for their children. Fostering the creation of competitive jobs in our state as an incentive for academic 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?

The issue with the lack of childcare is that nobody can afford to work for the kinds of wages that childcare commands. Or, if childcare was entirely subject to free market forces, the childcare would be cost most of the income of the parents. A big part of the reason childcare is unavailable is that a childcare provider is not able to make enough to afford health care or a mortgage for a home. These problems could be addressed by developing a single payer health care system in Oregon (for example, similar to financial structure in Germany), and having the state of Oregon play a bigger role in the construction of new high density housing.

Do public employee unions have too much influence in Oregon? If you answer yes, please tell us which unions in particular concern you.

No unions in particular concern me, but I do think Oregon needs campaign finance reform, specifically campaign contribution limits.

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.

Yes. Something about $5000 maximum from any organization or individual would do it.

Do you believe Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election?

Yes

Would you support creation of a sales tax in Oregon?

No

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?

Yes

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 would expect the state of Oregon to abide by Federal Law. I would not push for greater abortion restrictions.

How would you describe the relationship between rural and urban Oregon today?

Many opportunities for improvement.

What’s one thing you would do as governor to bring rural and urban Oregon together?

Greater communication and dialog. I would also foster greater energy and trade interdependence.

What’s the best thing Kate Brown has done as Oregon governor?

EO 2020.

What’s the worst thing Kate Brown has done as Oregon governor?

Failed to invest in mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

Name another Oregon leader, either current or in the past, whose approach to public policy you admire and why.

Tom McCall. He was a Republican who prioritized economic and environmental sustainability.

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