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 Nick Hess, 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 Nick Hess. I’m running for Republican candidate for Governor. I am a lifelong Oregonian. I am an entrepreneur and CEO of two Portland-based businesses: a cybersecurity firm and telecommunications company. I am a cybersecurity expert and I look to bring my 21+ years of experience in business and technology to the role of Governor.
Why should you be Oregon’s next governor?
Oregon needs a leader to heal our great political divide. We need someone who brings diverse groups of people to the table, finds common ground, and keeps Oregon moving forward. We need a leader that prioritizes Oregonians over party politics. Someone that will listen to what people need rather than dictate their needs to them.
As a business leader in our community, these are things that I have dealt with. And this is just one reason why I believe I am the right candidate for Oregon.
What do you think is the most pressing challenge facing Oregon today?
Homelessness is the biggest challenge facing Oregon today. There are many factors that contribute to homelessness including drugs and alcohol. Each one must be addressed before we see a dramatic change. Clear metrics for success must be established before money is handed out. Our city and state leadership must know what’s working and what isn’t which has not been a priority of the current administration.
What is your proposed solution to that problem? Please be specific.
Homelessness is our current epidemic. It is a crisis affecting most communities across our state. A money pit with no clear path to helping people. We need to start supporting solutions that are showing proven results. Solutions that get people off the streets and into long term housing with jobs. Change certificate of need guidelines from OHA to allow for the creation of more mental health and drug rehab facilities. Enforce our laws.
If we are going to solve this crisis, we need to identify the programs that are working and grow them. We need to fund private non-profits with proven results such as Rogue Retreat in Medford, Blanchet House and Bybee Lakes in Portland.
At the same time, we need to curb the factors that contribute to the crisis. This includes adding more mental health and drug rehab facilities by changing Oregon Health Authority’s certificate of need. We need to create more affordable housing and have funding in place for government-funded non-profits like Community Action Partnership (CAP) which help with rental assistance and job training.
We must leverage technology and track available shelter beds in real-time with web-based applications similar to Hotels.com. In 2022, that information is still being tracked by spreadsheets and phone calls. The next step is to rebuild the HMIS system that currently collects client
-level data and information on housing, shelter, and homeless services. It is outdated, complex, and wasteful. Many organizations have 3 or 4 employees strictly adding data into this system. It is a huge waste of resources.
To read my full homelessness plan, please visit votehess.com.
Do you believe human beings are playing a part in rising temperatures?
Yes and no. Science says that the earth goes through patterns of warming and cooling. However, the earth is warming at a quicker rate than previously known, indicating human involvement. Regardless of the science, sustainability and protecting Oregon’s natural resources is and always has been a bi-partisan issue. Oregon’s economy is centered around our natural resources and ensuring sustainable practices means strong, thriving industries for generations to come.
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?
Absolutely. But not at the expense of cutting jobs or eliminating people’s livelihoods which is why Kate Brown’s Cap and Trade bill was bad for Oregon. That bill died in the legislature so Kate Brown decided to force it through the DEQ. It will consolidate power to bigger corporations and push mom & pop businesses out in industries such as construction, agriculture, timber, etc.
If the government wants to create the greatest amount of change possible, we must leverage corporations to make that happen. This means incentivizing companies to make the initial investment in greener practices, such as making the switch to sustainable packaging, renewable energy and resources, and investing in new green technology.
Oregon has experienced a high number of severe wildfires in recent years. What role should state government play in wildfire response?
Summer of 2020 showed us that Oregon needed better forest management. And 2021 showed us that we need more of it. That means doing more mechanical clearing and controlled burns to limit fuels that may accelerate wildfires.
We are lucky to have one of the top research universities in the world in our backyard. Oregon State University’s College of Forestry has been doing amazing research and going out and helping manage our federal forests and researching the impact of their efforts.
Parts of Oregon now routinely face drought conditions. What role should state government play in preventing and responding to droughts?
The state should be supporting county efforts to replace older piping and look into new dams and water reservoirs. At the same time, the state needs to look into new technology like desalination water treatment plants along the coast that can pipe fresh water into drought-stricken areas in the state.
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. Body cameras increase accuracy of reporting, accountability, and transparency. But, we need to be using the right type of body cameras. If we are going to supply our police officers, they must be high-frame cameras. Low-frame cameras only catch a few frames per second and do not provide the level of accuracy our police officers or the public need.
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.
Yes. Our government needs to start acting like leaders and start bringing people together. That is the definition of a leader. As people, we are never going to agree 100% on everything all the time. A great leader finds common ground, compromise, and finds solutions that benefit the greatest number of people.
As governor, that means only approving bi-partisan bills and legislation. That also includes no executive orders or overreach. There should be more issues out for people to vote on. And to increase transparency of state data which builds trust between the government and their citizens.
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?
Owning a house is the quickest way to build personal equity. And with high housing prices, it’s a lot harder to get there. Our state government needs to establish more grants to build affordable housing. These grants must go to private non-profits with proven results.
Additionally, the state should also create first-time homebuyer grants that give people the opportunity to purchase their first home. These grants would work similar to a lien holder where the state would make the money back after the sale of the house.
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?
We must institute school choice and increase competition among private and public schools. This means the money follows the student. The state pays approximately $11,920 per student. That money would follow the student in the form of vouchers.
The governor must also place pressure on the legislature to add back in higher standards of education.
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 governor must remove all COVID restrictions so that daycares can reopen and operate at pre-pandemic capacity.
Do public employee unions have too much influence in Oregon? If you answer yes, please tell us which unions in particular concern you.
Yes. All of them. The larger any singular group becomes, the more control it has. We need to increase competition and allow employees to opt out of union membership.
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! I agree with the recently killed-off campaign finance reform bill that limited political contributions to $2,000 per entity.
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.
No. Any restrictions must come from the voters.
How would you describe the relationship between rural and urban Oregon today?
Dysfunctional. What we are seeing is the lack of balanced leadership in Oregon. The needs of our rural areas are drastically different from the needs in our urban areas. Our leaders have forgotten that and they have ignored rural areas for the last 36 years. We need to bring people together, to LISTEN, and then find common ground. That’s true leadership.
What’s one thing you would do as governor to bring rural and urban Oregon together?
One of the first things I would do would be to establish a satellite office in eastern Oregon. I would visit every county in the state multiple times per year.
What’s the best thing Kate Brown has done as Oregon governor?
Be the most hated governor in the country.
What’s the worst thing Kate Brown has done as Oregon governor?
Led Oregon school rankings 48/50 in the country. Increased the pandemic by not increasing hospital capacity. Killed every industry that had to shut down during COVID.
Name another Oregon leader, either current or in the past, whose approach to public policy you admire and why.
Vic Atiyeh. He did what was right for Oregon, not what was best for any one party.