Women now hold most top Oregon political jobs

Women now hold most top Oregon political jobs

When Val Hoyle was sworn in Monday as labor commissioner, she helped realize a milestone: For the first time, elected women hold more statewide political offices than men.

Hoyle joins fellow Democrats Gov. Kate Brown, who is about to start her first full term, and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, who is in her second term. The other top offices are held by Treasurer Tobias Read, also a Democrat, and Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, a Republican. All four attended Hoyle’s swearing-in ceremony at the state Capitol. 

“This is the most important job that nobody has ever heard of,” Hoyle said in a speech to lawmakers and other officials in the House chamber. She noted that only four states have an elected labor commissioner “and in none of those states does the labor commissioner oversee civil rights or… protect against housing discrimination. But that’s what our Bureau of Labor and Industries does.”

A former state lawmaker who served as House majority leader, Hoyle also has experience as a small business owner.

Hoyle’s historic win came as an increasing number of women ran for office across the country, prompting some observers to dub 2018 “Year of the Woman.” However, women had been making gains in Oregon politics long before President Donald Trump’s policies and hostile comments about women prompted many to seek elected office.

For example, the 2016 Election ushered in a majority of female lawmakers in the Oregon House Democratic caucus. Republicans, meanwhile, fielded 14 women House candidates that year, though most of them lost. Democrats in the Oregon Senate achieve a majority female caucus back in 2009.

Get Email Updates