OSU Libraries | OSU Home

Pioneering politics

February 19, 2015

 

Former governor John Kitzhaber resigned from his gubernatorial post last Friday in a published letter to Kate Brown, the Secretary of State at the time. Kitzhaber announced his resignation in response to investigations regarding alleged financial misconduct with his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes. Accusations against the pair bubbled to a boiling point just weeks after Kitzhaber began his unprecedented fourth term in office.

 

Within the span of a single letter, Oregon lost a prominent politician, gained a new governor, and opened a groundbreaking chapter in state political history.

 

Although Kitzhaber is not the first Oregon governor to have stepped down, he is the first to do so amidst such controversy and confusion. According to the Oregon Blue Book, four other governors have resigned since the territory achieved statehood. 

 

“The current situation [of Governor Kitzhaber’s resignation] is without precedent,” said OSU Press author Tom Marsh via email. “True, several Oregon governors have resigned from office—Douglas McKay being the most recent governor to do so. In McKay’s case, he resigned to take the cabinet seat of Secretary of the Interior in the Eisenhower administration. Not so with John Kitzhaber. Never has a sitting Oregon governor resigned under these circumstances.”

 TothePromisedLand

Marsh, a former state legislator himself, is the author of To the Promised Land: A History of Government and Politics in Oregon, published in 2012. Marsh’s work serves as the first comprehensive political history of Oregon, following important political figures and ballot measures throughout the state’s undulating social and economic narrative. An essential volume for anyone interested in understanding the foundations of the modern political climate, To the Promised Land places Oregon within the greater context of national politics.

 

Following the state constitutional order of succession, former Secretary of State Kate Brown was sworn into the gubernatorial office Wednesday. With her inauguration, Brown became Oregon’s first openly bisexual governor and only the second female to hold the seat.*

 

“This is a sad day for Oregon,” Brown said in a statement published by CNN. “But I am confident that legislators are ready to come together to move Oregon forward.”

UptheCapitolSteps 

Oregon’s first female governor, Barbara Roberts, certainly knew a thing or two about progress during her governorship from 1991 to 1995. A “trailblazer in a state that knows something about pioneers,” as Sen. Jeff Merkley called her, Roberts recounts her story in Up the Capitol Steps: A Woman’s March to the Governorship. The book follows her own unlikely rise to power, documenting what leadership is like for a female in politics.

 

Both To the Promised Land and Up the Capitol Steps offer readers a unique and timely perspective on the current period of upheaval. In order to fully understand the complications and consequences of today’s world, a reflective look backwards is often useful.

 

To stay informed, here are four of OSU Press’s most topically pertinent and powerful titles:

 

·       To the Promised Land: A History of Government and Politics in Oregon by Tom Marsh

·       Up the Capitol Steps: A Woman’s March to the Governorship by Barbara Roberts

·       With Grit and By Grace: Breaking Trails in Politics and Law, A Memoir by Betty Roberts, with Gail Wells

·       Remembering the Power of Words: The Life of an Oregon Activist, Legislator, and Community Leader by Avel Louise Gordly, with Patricia A. Schechter

 

You can purchase these items on our website by selecting the “Add to Cart” link on the respective book pages, or by calling 1-800-621-2736.

 

 

--------------------------

 

 

*Kate Brown will be the third female to sit as acting governor in Oregon, according to information gathered by the Statesman Journal. Carolyn B. Shelton officially served as acting governor for one weekend in 1909 when her boss, Gov. George Chamberlain, left to accept a U.S. Senate position and his successor, Frank Benson, was too sick to be sworn in immediately. Her unique position resulted from a small clause in state law that required a governor’s private secretary to become acting head of state in times of absence or illness. Ironically, it would not be until 1912 that women were given the right to vote in Oregon. Most personal secretaries at this time were male.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
Member of AAUP