PORTLAND,OR -- Two small business owners fighting to lead Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries took part in their first public forum of the general election, last week.
Civil rights attorney Christina Stephenson and former Bend-La Pine Schools board chair and State Representative Cheri Helt answered questions from the League of Women Voters of Portland including how they would address worker shortages.
Stephenson wants to make apprenticeships more accessible, “Making sure that the administrative rules that regulate those apprenticeships are flexible enough to expand them into the industries where it’s needed. And, we have to make sure that we’re starting early on with dedicated K-12 partnerships.”
Helt says the state needs a clearer path from high school CTE programs, “And part of the problem is that BOLI has not updated its apprenticeship programs and has too much red tape. And so, we need to cut the red tape and build a bridge into K-12 to high wage paying jobs.”
Both as Commissioner said they would retool BOLI.
Helt wants an audit of the bureau, “I would meet with every single staff member and work alongside of them while we get this agency running where they want it to.”
Stephenson says the agency is underfunded and wants to see more state investment, “There is around less than half the folks doing this work than there was in the 90s and Oregon’s, of course, only gotten bigger.”
Helt’s campaign says other forums hosted by various Chambers of Commerce were canceled after Stephenson backed out.
BOLI Commissioner is a non-partisan position.