November 2022 Candidates: BOLI Commissioner

The Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) is a nonpartisan position. The two candidates running for this position were given the same opportunity to provide information about their campaigns and to answer the LWV questions. They also participated in a LWV candidate forum, which you can view or listen to by clicking the links below.

Most of the information below is copied from the VOTE411 website of the League of Women Voters of the United States.

Candidate Contact & Campaign Information

Cheri Helt
Christina E. Stephenson

Candidates’ Answers to LWV Questions

1. How will you balance the needs of business with those of workers in administering the Bureau of Labor and Industries?

Cheri Helt: My husband and I employ 63 people in our restaurant. We offer full benefits to all of our employees, this is our commitment to our co-workers so they know just how much we value their hard work.

I’ll approach the job of Labor Commissioner the same way: growing opportunities for employees and small businesses. By increasing apprenticeships we help Oregonians secure high waged skilled jobs, matching the labor force needs of Oregon’s small businesses.

Christina E Stephenson: Growing up my parents owned a small business where I learned the value of hard work. Now I own a small business, where I treat the people I employ with dignity and respect, because I’ve spent my entire career as an attorney fighting for workers. I’ve worked extensively with labor unions, small businesses, and the Bureau throughout my career so I know what it takes to ensure fairness for both workers and employers. I have support from businesses, workers, and the past five Labor Commissioners.

2. What more could be done by the Bureau of Labor and Industries to eliminate discrimination in access to housing, public spaces and job opportunities in Oregon?

Cheri Helt: First, BOLI offices must be open and accessible to employees and employers, and expedite their process in a more timely manner. BOLI must immediately address the high volume of unassigned cases in its civil rights division.

Second, BOLI needs to advocate for an adequate supply of housing for our workforce. We will never achieve fair housing without increasing access to workforce housing for our working families. I will be a strong voice for Oregon’s workforce housing needs.

Christina E Stephenson: We need to maximize our scarce resources by using the data-backed approach of “strategic enforcement.” I intend to forge deeper community relationships and use this model to ensure that we are reaching the most marginalized populations in our state and using all of our tools to ensure compliance with the law. Good businesses shouldn’t have to compete with businesses that don’t play by the rules and with strategic enforcement we can support both workers and our responsible businesses.

3. What can the Bureau of Labor and Industries do to increase job training programs to provide well-qualified workers to industry?

Cheri Helt: BOLI needs to connect high school career and technical education programs directly with BOLI-affiliated apprenticeship programs. Oregon has a severe shortage of skilled workforce. These are high wage jobs, often overlooked career paths in high school. We can change that by creating a seamless pipeline from high school to apprenticeship. BOLI can improve Oregon’s economy and give Oregonian’s access to great career opportunities by taking a leading role in this effort.

Christina E Stephenson: One of my top priorities is expanding apprenticeship programs to provide a pathway to economic stability and address our workforce shortages. That means increasing flexibility in how workers can participate in paid apprenticeships; obtaining funding for childcare, transportation, and tools; and expanding into industries like healthcare and education. I believe this model can be used effectively to make many family-wage careers more accessible and help diversify our workforce.

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