fb pixel

Log In

Reset Password

Oregon Editors Say

Governor should get out more The diversity of his administration is improving, but it could be better

The (Salem) Statesman Journal

Oregonians would cry foul if University of Oregon graduates were the only people appointed to lead state agencies or serve on state boards.

With good reason, citizens would point out that A) such appointments don't represent Oregon as a whole; B) there are many well-qualified people who attended other public and private universities or are well-educated despite lacking a formal college degree; and C) state government is losing out on the good ideas that emerge when people of different backgrounds work together.

That scenario may sound far-fetched. But it illustrates why it is so important that state government reflect the broad diversity of Oregonians ' in race and ethnicity, gender, geography, views and, yes, even educational background.

Finally, Gov. Ted Kulongoski is making progress in that regard, as was reported in a story in Tuesday's Statesman Journal.

Kulongoski frequently has proclaimed his commitment to equal opportunity for all Oregonians. But when it came to appointing people to state positions, his actions didn't match his words. He initially appointed a preponderance of white men, as if they were the only ones who could handle state jobs.

— But last year, one-fifth of his new appointments to state boards and commissions were people of color, and two-fifths were women. Those numbers represent a big improvement over his previous record. They are important not as a quota but as a way of bringing a broader spectrum of Oregonians into state service and building a state government that reflects, understands and serves its entire population.

Kulongoski still tends to rely on white males in his inner circle of top aides and agency directors. Of the seven agency directors he appointed last year, six were white men and the seventh was a white woman.

Kulongoski has said he looks for well-qualified executives whom he trusts to follow his administration's agenda. If that is the case, he needs to get out more and expand his circle of political acquaintances.