Four Democratic candidates running for Oregon secretary of state faced off in a debate Sunday at the culmination of the party’s weekend Oregon Summit in Sunriver.
The biennial event brings together Democrats from around the state and Pacific Northwest for three days packed with workshops meant to promote civic engagement and political understanding, with a focus on the upcoming 2020 election.
The four Democrats who have declared candidacy for secretary of state are former House Majority leader Jennifer Williamson of Portland; Jamie McLeod-Skinner of Terrebonne, who challenged U.S. Rep. Greg Walden in 2018; Ryan Wruck, an office manager from Salem, and state Sen. Mark Hass of Beaverton.
Common themes addressed by each candidate included making voting more accessible to diverse communities, offering ballots in multiple languages, defending against voter fraud and encouraging civic engagement among young voters.
At 28 years old, Wruck is the youngest candidate running for the position.
“I believe that the most important thing we can do is to promote people to vote, because that’s the best way to defend against voter suppression,” Wruck said.
Hass, on the other hand, said he’s had years of experience working in the Legislature to transform the education system in Oregon.
“I have the experience to run this office,” Hass said. “I’ve been in the Capitol building for a while. I’ve won some big battles, and I’ve lost some big battles in that building.”
Williamson emphasized the importance of protecting public records, the press and democracy.
“We’re now in a fight not just for our civil rights, but for our very democracy,” Williamson said. “I’ll fight for every federal dollar available for cybersecurity, to protect our election data, our records, our registration system and our process.”
She also talked about improving voter registration among people of color and other minority communities.
McLeod-Skinner spoke about reaching out to rural communities and including them in the election process.
“We need to be going beyond our comfort level, into rural communities, and talk in ways those people can hear us,” McLeod-Skinner said. “We have shared values statewide around these issues, but we need to get out there and bring communities in.”
No Republican candidates have filed for the position as of yet. The Oregon primary election takes place May 19, 2020.