The conversations were cordial, she said.
“I let them know that I’ll focus on the problems all three of us agree need fixing,” Kotek said on Thursday at a press conference held in downtown Portland.
At the top of that list, Kotek said, is the state’s housing and homelessness crisis.
Kotek promised to declare a state of emergency as soon as she officially takes office and move with urgency to get people off the streets. She plans to meet with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler next week to start discussing strategy.
“I know that we can make things better, fix things, come together,” Kotek said as she stood in Tom McCall Waterfront Park for her first press conference since Election Day. “Because Oregonians don’t back down when things get hard, we dig in, we think outside the box and we get the job done.”
Before being elected governor, Kotek served the longest tenure as Oregon House Speaker in state history. As a lawmaker, she pushed through statewide rent control and a measure to allow some cities to build duplexes and triplexes to increase housing stock, despite the zoning restrictions. Housing has long been one of her policy focuses. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she was instrumental in transforming motels into emergency shelter beds to increase the supply of beds for people experiencing homelessness.
While campaigning, she promised to “get people the help they need to move off the streets.”
On Thursday morning, Kotek also promised to swiftly move to expand access to mental health and addiction services and focus on improving the state’s schools. She announced she was bringing back her former chief of staff Tim Inman, who was serving as the secretary of the University of Oregon Board of Trustees, to head her transition team.
The race for Oregon governor was the most expensive yet in the state’s history, with the three candidates bringing in more than $65 million. Nike co-founder Phil Knight donated millions to both Drazan and Johnson, telling the New York Times he was an “anti-Tina” person. Kotek promised to work to create limits on campaign spending.
Kotek’s election was also historic. Along with Maura Healey, who was elected governor of Massachusetts on Tuesday, she’ll will be one of the nation’s first two openly lesbian governors.
Kotek said she heard from young people while campaigning who thanked her for “being who I am.”
Drazan has not conceded the race yet. She trailed Kotek by 3 percentage points as of unofficial returns Thursday morning.