As I meet with governors throughout the West, I learn that they value the Western Governors’ Association largely because of its role in bringing them together for candid conversations about common concerns and creative solutions. They have a great deal to share and learn from one another.
While Governor John Kitzhaber of Oregon would confess that there is much for him to learn from his colleagues, he may well have more to teach than anyone. Elected in 2010 to succeed Governor Ted Kulongoski, this is not the governor’s first rodeo. Currently serving as Oregon’s 37th governor, he also served as the state’s 35th chief executive from 1995 to 2003. When he won his (non-consecutive) third term three years ago he became the first person to be elected to the office three times.
During a recent visit in Portland with the governor, who formerly worked as a practicing physician, I learned much about his active involvement in WGA during his first tour. He observed that the association operates best when it steers away from ideologically divisive issues and focuses more narrowly on policies broadly embraced by the Western Governors on a bipartisan basis.
Over lunch at Higgins Restaurant -- which serves wonderful food grown in the Willamette Valley -- I learned something else about Governor Kitzhaber. He graduated from the same high school that my daughter currently attends: South Eugene (Ore.) High. Armed with this information, I’m even more confident telling my kid that she can grow up to be governor.