ONTARIO — Bud Pierce, a candidate for governor for the 2022 Republican Primary, visited Ontario on Wednesday as one of three campaign stops throughout the day. The Argus visited with Pierce during his visit, to learn more about his platform and how he would represent eastern Oregon.
Originally born in Wiesbaden, Germany in 1956, Pierce grew up in Riverside County, California, and obtained his bachelor’s degree there, attending the University of California. He went on to earn his masters and Ph. D at the University of California, Los Angeles, before moving to Oregon in 1994. He has lived in Oregon for 25 years, and has served in the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Naval Reserve.
“My mom was a survivor of Berlin, my dad was a Japanese Prisoner of War who re-entered the military,” said Pierce.
He presently lives in Salem and works in cancer care with Oregon Oncology Specialists. He works in Salem four days weekly, and a fifth day at a clinic in North Lincoln, on the Oregon coast.
He was married to Selma Moon for nearly 40 years before her death in 2020, when she was struck by a vehicle.
“That refocuses the last round of life, which is just: Do as much good as you can,” he said of his wife’s death.
Pierce expressed the belief that in order to understand what the issues are in this and any area of the state, a governor needs to live among them for a period of time.
“I talked about this in my 2016 run,” he said. “The governor, I think, out of a four-year term, needs to spend 15 to 18 months there around the capitol [when] the Legislature’s in session … The rest of the time out of a 48-month session, you can leave. You can go out and set up shop in Ontario for three months, and actually be here and run your administration and communicate through Zoom. You can fly back-and-forth, it’s a short flight.”
Pierce’s campaign tagline is “Sane. Secure. Stable.” When asked about the meaning of this tagline, Pierce explained as follows.
Among his goals for office, Pierce said that he would aim to bring “level-headedness” and common sense to state government.
“When I look at at least a rhetoric of the political class, I’m amazed at how the rhetoric can be so far off our reality,” he said. “Our reality currently is the fear of COVID and how you reassure people. You can’t go into a crisis situation and keep them boiling for months after month, year after year.”
Pierce cited his military experience for teaching him this point. He also said K-12 education would be another focus of his, saying it has needed improvement in Oregon since before the pandemic.
In terms of improving public safety, Pierce said he sees the need for structural improvement in law enforcement and anticipates this goal will provide a significant challenge.
“Law enforcement has been very beaten down and what they need is they need someone to stand side-by-side with them to encourage them. We want our police to have authority, but accountability in policing and transparency.”
He said he has observed a short-term need for more officers on the streets, but also better training and equipment.
“I think that’s what a leader can do, bring in … security and motivation.”
He also cited that there has been trouble with 911 response times in Portland, as well as in eastern Oregon.
Pierce said he sees great value in people being able to count on things to be there for them. He says he aims for “stability in opportunity,” by protecting the public’s means of running their own business and to change careers if they so wish.
“You can’t live in the past and expect that to be where you’re going to be going forward,” he said. “You have to change with the future.”
Pierce also said having an economy shut down due to a pandemic doesn’t help with this goal.
Pierce ran for governor in 2016, losing to Kate Brown with 43% of the vote. He said the inability of Portland authorities to deal with violence in recent years, as well as Salem’s homelessness crisis, inspired him to run again this year.