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 Peter Hall, a Democrat. 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.
My name is Peter Hall. I grew up near Seattle and graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in German and Political Science. I got a Secondary Education Teaching certificate, too, intending to either work for the Foreign Service or get a job as a social studies teacher. I got neither. Instead I wound up working as a cook as I had while finishing up my university courses. This lead to my moving up to be a chef at fine dining restaurants. My schedule made it difficult to pursue public offices, although I did what I could to comment on events of the day. Upon retiring, I now had the time to get involved in my community. I first got on my cities planning commission and budget committee which ultimately got me on the city council and also resulted in my becoming a director on the board of the League of Oregon Cities. I am also a board member of our local fire district. I personally identify as a progressive libertarian and a Pantheist. I have great passion for living in the mountains of the Northwest because I find where I live more important than what I do which fit in nicely with my culinary career.
Why should you be Oregon’s next governor?
I consider myself to be someone with horizontal knowledge rather than vertical knowledge. This means that I know a little bit about a lot while not being an expert at any one thing. This means I can have meaningful discussions on a broad variety of topics and add a point of view those with vertical knowledge may not have. I understand the complexities of many issues and how they can intersect with each other so that policy decisions are based on how they can affect many different aspects of government and the communities that it serves. I have an understanding of urban and rural issues that are unique to each community, but also those that are common to all. I like to say that government should facilitate, not dictate, solutions to each communities problems. I feel it is the duty of state government to give every community the ability and resources to deal with those particular issues that they deem important. There is talk of bridging the urban/rural, east/west divide. I feel that I am uniquely qualified to do that with my experience in both settings and my ability to see connections where others do not. I truly believe I can represent all corners of the state as a good governor should.
What do you think is the most pressing challenge facing Oregon today?
There is never one issue that is most important. The most pressing challenge is understanding how different issues coincide with each other. High housing demand can lead to poverty and homelessness. Climate change leads to drought and wildfires which can devestate some rural communities which can lead to lower crop yields and higher food prices which also affects poverty and health. Even the idea of poverty itself is dig=fferent in each community depending on cost of living and local resources. We must see how many issues intersect so that we do not solve one problem only to create another.
What is your proposed solution to that problem? Please be specific.
Putting in place an administration that will seek out input from many sources and use reason, not political expediency, to determine the best policies.
Do you believe human beings are playing a part in rising temperatures?
Of course. But it is not only our behavior and reckless use of resources that created the problem. It is also our over population which amplifies the effects of our behavior. If we had maintained the population we had 50 years ago, we would not be in this mess.
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?
We obviously must do what we can to limit the use of carbon fuels, but we must also plan for the inevitable problems that will result from climate change. This means building resilient systems that can deal with global conflicts and regional catastrophes that affect the communities of our state. I like to say that if you are not a day ahead, you are a day behind.
Oregon has experienced a high number of severe wildfires in recent years. What role should state government play in wildfire response?
We should have in place a linked network so that resources at the local and state level can be coordinated to be sent to those places where needed quickly.
Parts of Oregon now routinely face drought conditions. What role should state government play in preventing and responding to droughts?
You can not prevent drought. We can not pass a bill demanding that nature provide us with more moisture. We must understand what water will be available to each community and delegate it in a responsible and fair way which may mean cutting back on water to various persons that can affect their livelihoods. We must then compensate them for this disruption so that they can maintain a decent quality of life. This may mean moving populations from arid places as well as finding ways to move water in a responsible way from one area to another.
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 think it is a good idea, but it must be on all the time to insure accurate information and to put the interaction in proper context.
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.
Extremism comes from those who profit by tearing things down. People embrace those who tell them what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. It is always the other guy who must change their beliefs, not you. Too often we find people preaching to the choir rather than reaching out to other communities in dialogue. It is up to each individual to reject those who lie for profit and embrace those who speak of reality without judgement.
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?
We must understand why costs are high. There are several factors. One is the influx of people into metro areas for economic and cultural reasons. Another is the push back from various neighborhoods for more housing density and then there is the issue of urban growth boundaries. High housing costs affect homelessness, but also there is the problem of those with mental illness of psychologically irresponsible, so that even if housing is provided, they will not be able to go by any rules or regulations they do not want to follow. We must encourage dispersal of population to areas that need economic development while discouraging increase in economic development where housing is in short supply. We must also seek to force those investors in real estate to make their housing available for occupancy rather than sit on it as a asset to be flipped repeatedly.
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?
This is an issue that must be dealt with at the local level. What the state can do is make sure every district has the resources it needs to be successful and meet the economic and social demands of their communities.
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?
We must make sure that people have the monetary resources to afford child care as well as provide a way for people to thrive as child care providers. Again, it is about providing what each community needs.
Do public employee unions have too much influence in Oregon? If you answer yes, please tell us which unions in particular concern you.
No. This does not mean that there should not be certain limitations.
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.
I do not believe in campaign finance limits, but I do believe they should be taxed above a certain limit as to create a pool of money for those who will limit their spending.
Do you believe Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election?
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.
How would you describe the relationship between rural and urban Oregon today?
It is one of neither side being aware of the issues that unite them. There are those who seek to isolate themselves in social comfort rather than try to see the world as diverse and that we need each other.
What’s one thing you would do as governor to bring rural and urban Oregon together?
Push for economic development in rural areas to show we care about their communities and listen to those representatives across the state in common meetings so that they can see what binds them together.
What’s the best thing Kate Brown has done as Oregon governor?
I support her sticking by covid protocols despite hard pushback.
What’s the worst thing Kate Brown has done as Oregon governor?
Not understanding the difficulty in enforcing covid protocols.
Name another Oregon leader, either current or in the past, whose approach to public policy you admire and why.
I liked Tom McCall. He seemed to have an honest and pragmatic view of government and what it can, and must, do.