Today, departing Oregon Governor Kate Brown penned a goodbye to all Oregonians. Here is the letter in its entirety, as released by her office.
Thank you for the responsibility and honor you have entrusted in me as your Governor. I have been committed to serving the people of Oregon as Governor, Secretary of State, and a state legislator since I won my first election by seven votes over 30 years ago. It has been the greatest honor of my life.
When I became Governor in 2015, we had little idea of the crises that lay ahead: mass shootings; wildfires and severe weather events made worse by climate change; natural disasters; a worldwide pandemic. We learned hard lessons: that we must always be prepared, especially for the challenges for which there is no playbook.
There is no doubt that more challenges lie ahead for Oregon. But, I am proud of what we accomplished together. Today, all children in Oregon have access to health care, as do 94% of all adults. We have made historic investments in Oregon’s students and schools. We ended the decades-long Timber Wars, and modernized Oregon’s approach to fighting the wildfires of the 21st century. We put Oregon on the path to achieving 100% clean energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions on one of the most ambitious timelines in the nation. We expanded voter access, protected reproductive freedom, and helped protect the rights of our LGBTQIA+ community.
Every Oregonian deserves a warm, safe, dry place to call home. Under my leadership, Oregon invested more in affordable housing and homelessness prevention than under any previous governor. And, thanks to Oregon voters, we are undergoing a transformation in how we approach addiction––by centering people as we focus on substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery. There is much more work to do, and it will take collaborative, community-wide efforts to accomplish our goals. There are no quick fixes, and we should never lose sight of our values as we work to help the most vulnerable in our communities.
I know I will be remembered for the decisions I made and the actions I took during the pandemic. My hope is that Oregonians will also remember the lives that we saved, the neighbors we helped keep housed, and how we worked together to rebuild a better Oregon than we had before, where economic opportunity is truly within reach of everyone.
In 2020, a truth that had been in plain sight for decades became impossible to ignore: Our systems and institutions in this country, and in Oregon, are built on historical and all-too-present racism. There is a reason that Black, Indigenous, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, Tribal, and communities of color consistently bear the disproportionate impact of the challenges we face. We can and we must dismantle the systems of racism in our state the same way they were built, brick by brick.
In a democracy, leadership is a team effort, and there are far too many people for me to thank for their work over the last seven years. Community leaders, federal, state, and local officials, state agency leaders. Our Oregon National Guard members. The entire State of Oregon team. My staff, my family, the First Gentleman, and so many more. The work of building a just and equitable Oregon is never done, and it truly took all of us working together.
No matter what comes next for me, I will continue to look for ways to continue serving the public. And though none of us knows the challenges that lie ahead for our state, I know that we will continue to take them on the same way we always have––the Oregon way, together.
Source: Oregon Governors Office