PORTLAND, Ore. – The fast-paced final debate between Gov. Kate Brown and Republican challenger Dr. Bud Pierce gave the Oregon governor candidates ample opportunity to spar over issues ranging from homelessness to education.
The debate, hosted by KGW and The Oregonian/OregonLive, was a lively yet civil departure from the presidential debates. KGW’s Tracy Barry moderated the debate, with questions from a panel comprised of KGW’s Laural Porter and The Oregonian’s Steve Duin and Hillary Borrud.
Measure 97 was one of the most hotly contested issues of the night. Brown, who supports the measure that would tax some corporations with sales over $25 million, said the money is needed to fund education and health care. Brown was pressed by panelists on how much of the tax would go toward education, senior service and health care, instead of other costs like the expensive public retirement system, PERS.
“I will spend ballot Measure 97 dollars as the voters intend,” Brown said.
Pierce opposed Measure 97, saying it would cost Oregonians on average an extra $600 a year. If it was passed, Pierce said he would fund education and try to “get the money back into the hands of Oregon families.”
Brown was pressed about not vetoing a single bill since she was in office. She said she enjoyed bipartisan support, which is why she hasn’t vetoed a bill.
When asked about minimum wage increases, the candidates also differed on their stances. Brown touted the bill she signed in to law, gradually increasing Oregon’s minimum wage over time.
Pierce said minimum wage increases would burden small businesses.
“The problem with bills of mandatory minimum wage is that you make people lose their jobs,” Pierce said.
Both candidates agreed that Oregon needs more affordable housing and assistance for the homeless population, but differed on how they would address it.
On the issue of domestic violence and sexual assault, Pierce responded to comments he made, and has since apologized for, during an earlier debate.
Pierce recounted a story from his childhood, when he, at age 6, punched his 8-year-old sister in the stomach and was admonished by his father.
“He said, ‘William, you’ll never touch a woman or a girl again.’ And that just changed me fundamentally,” he said. “I was in a good family, I got that correction early in life.”
Brown responded by asking, "Do you want someone who has been and will continue to be a leader on these issues or do you want someone who just learned about these issues two weekends ago?"
The topic of campaign contributions also arose. Brown advocated for campaign finance reform but was pressed to address the $250,000 contribution she received from Michael Bloomberg.
“I play by the current rules but I have worked to change them,” she said.
In an informal poll, viewers were split over who won the debate.
Thanks for watching our governor debate! Who do you think won tonight?Posted by KGW-TV on Thursday, October 20, 2016
A poll commissioned by KGW and The Oregonian showed that before the debate, voters favored Brown.
Election Day is Nov. 8.
Read more: KGW Election Guide
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