Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts talks economic renewal in support of GOP candidates Pierce and Richardson at State Party Event in Portland
Portland, OR -- Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts visited Portland on Monday, October 24 for an event hosted by the Oregon Republican Party (ORP) to benefit statewide candidates Bud Pierce and Dennis Richardson.
Around 50 people attended the fundraiser event, including ORP officials, business leaders and Rep. Greg Barreto (R-Pendleton). It began with a roundtable discussion regarding the role that ports and exports play in enhancing economic activity and global trade.
Ricketts, a first-term governor, spent most of his career in the private business sector. His family founded TD Ameritrade and owns the Chicago Cubs baseball team, which is heading to the World Series for the first time in many years.
Richardson, a former longtime state representative and the Republican nominee for Secretary of State, said he made his first trade mission to Asia in 2002 during his legislative campaign. He said those contacts put him in the position of leading subsequent trade delegations to China that resulted in Oregon companies being awarded multi-million dollar contracts.
“We really should be the gateway to Asia,” Richardson said.
Ricketts said that 10 percent of his state’s economy is exports, with agriculture comprising about half of that. He added that rising standards of living and a growing middle class in China and India are resulting in more demand for U.S. products to those markets.
Much of the roundtable discussion centered around the impacts of the Port of Portland’s closure on the varying sectors of Oregon’s economy. Possible solutions include the utilization of other ports in the state, including those in Coos Bay and Astoria.
Coos Bay has a natural deep water port that was once used extensively to export timber products. The rail line from there to Eugene is being improved, and those efforts include the use of an $11 million grant to widen tunnels along its path.
Astoria’s port is largely being used for tourism now, but the facility has docking capabilities. A rail line already runs through there, and a deep-water port could potentially be built to supplement the area’s existing infrastructure.
During the luncheon portion of the event, Ricketts discussed the vision he is implementing to grow Nebraska. He talked about the importance of bringing an outside perspective to state government and running it like a business. Pierce, a Salem oncologist, will bring such an outsider perspective, Ricketts said.
When he took office, Ricketts said he began his duties as governor by starting with a mission and vision statement and asked what the job descriptions were for many top-level state government positions, and how agencies do reviews. Ricketts said he was surprised to hear that there were no job descriptions or processes for review already in place.
In his remarks, Ricketts cited examples of ways in which a customer-oriented approach is being used to improve state government services in Nebraska. He said that signing up for public assistance used to be difficult, and that it would take agencies up to 24 minutes to answer phone calls.
“That’s just bad service,” Ricketts said.
That response time has been lowered to five minutes by using data, Ricketts said. Applying for Nebraska’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program used to take around 40 days but now takes 10. Streamlining those services also saved the state $17 million, he added.
Similarly, Ricketts described how permitting processes through Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality used to take weeks or months but now only takes days to complete. That state’s employment department changed its culture to that of a “reemployment” agency, with job seekers matched up with coaches before receiving benefits to produce resumes that can be searchable online.
Ricketts said that unless and until Oregonians elect Pierce, they will receive “business as usual” from their state government. He said his administration has taken a proactive approach towards enhancing transparency, with Nebraska’s state treasurer publicizing that department’s documents online.
Another website lists the state government’s goals, and Ricketts said he still conducts regular town hall meetings all over Nebraska to stay in touch with constituents and hear their concerns. An annual review process is in place for state agencies, he said, and a Center for Operational Excellence was established within Nebraska’s Department of Administrative Services.
Pierce said that his gubernatorial bid has provided him with a “golden opportunity” to reach out to opponents of Measure 97, a proposed multi-billion dollar tax on businesses’ gross receipts. He said that he has actively sought out the support of minority communities.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work in that area,” Pierce said. “It’s critical that we grow the big tent of the Republican Party.”
His campaign’s minority outreach efforts have included visits to churches in Northeast Portland and upcoming appearances at a Pilipino event, as well as at a Latino forum and an Oregon League of Minority Voters event scheduled to take place in Salem, Pierce said.
Pierce said that key themes of his campaign have included bringing “fiscal sanity” back to state government, as well as addressing Oregon’s road capacity and the growing homeless problem in Portland by utilizing best practices from other states.
Richardson said that his race for Secretary of State was partly inspired by seeing the things he would have done as governor still not being done. He cited a continued lack of transparency in state government as an ongoing problem, as well as issues with Oregon’s foster care system.
The Richardson family adopted one of its many daughters out of foster care, he said, adding that he was sad to see the system in such shambles.
“We cannot allow this race to mediocrity to continue,” Richardson said.
If elected secretary of state, Richardson pledged to use that office’s 72 auditors as a state version of the federal Government Accountability Office.
“Governor Ricketts has shared with us a vision for how Oregon could be a state that could enjoy both prosperity and efficient, effective government that truly serves the people without wasteful boondoggles and pay-to-play schemes our state’s current Democratic leadership give us,” added Oregon Republican Party Chairman Bill Currier. “Electing Dr. Bud Pierce for Governor and Dennis Richardson for Secretary of State will be a great way for our state to realize this good governance and more prosperous future that Oregonians want and deserve.”
Ballots for the Oregon’s general election have been mailed to voters and must be returned to their local county clerks’ offices by 8 p.m. on November 8 in order to be counted.
The Oregon Republican Party is the state’s arm of the Republican National Committee. It’s Chairman and officers are dedicated to preserving and advancing Republican principles within the state of Oregon and to improving the lives and livelihoods of Oregon’s working families through economic freedom and equal protection under the law.
W. Scott Jorgensen began his career as an award-winning small-town newspaper reporter for various publications throughout Oregon. He was also a news director and talk show host for the Grants Pass Broadcasting Corporation and a field organizer for a successful statewide ballot measure campaign in 2012. Jorgensen has worked in the Oregon House of Representatives and is currently the chief of staff for an Oregon Senate office. He lives in Wilsonville with his wife and children.
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