At the end of the twentieth century, the state government of Oregon was routinely entangled in intense partisan conflict, with opposing sides waging bitter battles in elections, the legislature, and the courts. Many of the most important state laws -- such as Measure 5, which capped property taxes -- were decided through the initiative process rather than by lawmakers in Salem.
As the twenty-first century began, this political dynamic began to shift. Partisan conflict in the capitol grew less rancorous, legislative gridlock eased, and ballot initiatives lost their central role in defining Oregon politics. Less visible changes reshaped issues from agricultural policy to tribal government. This shifting dynamic coincided with significant transformations in Oregon’s economy and cultural life.
The state’s economy sustained severe blows twice in the early 2000s, but by 2014, Oregon boasted one of the fastest-growing economies in the nation. Along with economic expansion, Oregon’s population grew in both size and diversity. Despite these powerful forces of change, other aspects of Oregon political life remained entrenched, including the deep urban-rural divide and the state’s problematic fiscal system.
With contributions from 27 leading experts and political insiders,Governing Oregon: Continuity and Changeoffers insight into the people, political practices, governing institutions, and public policies of Oregon. It will be of tremendous value to political scientists, public servants, and engaged citizens alike.
Warda Ajaz is a PhD candidate in the School of Public Policy at Oregon State University.
Jeannine Beatrice is Chief of Staff with the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS).
David Bernell is an Associate Professor of Political Science in the School of Public Policy at Oregon State University.