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Stephensen holds lead in race for Oregon state labor commissioner

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Tuesday 9:39 pm

Oregon Capital Bureau

Early election returns show Christina Stephenson holds a lead over Cheri Helt in the race for Oregon state labor commissioner.

Preliminary election results posted shortly after 8 p.m. showed Stephenson with 65% of the vote and Helt with 35% percent.

They are seeking to succeed Val Hoyle of Springfield, who is vacating the office in a bid for the 4th District seat in the U.S. House.

Because there were just two candidates, the contest for commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries was scheduled for the general election.

Stephenson sought an Oregon House seat as a Democrat in 2020, and Helt was a one-term Republican representative from Bend who lost a re-election bid in 2020.

Stephenson has the endorsement of all five former or current labor commissioners, including Jack Roberts, who was elected as a Republican in 1994. The 1995 Legislature made the office nonpartisan, and Roberts was re-elected in 1998. Stephenson, 38, is a Portland lawyer who specializes in civil rights, one of the bureau’s chief responsibilities, along with enforcement of wage and hour laws and supervision of apprenticeships.

Helt, 52, is a restaurant owner and former Bend-La Pine School Board member. She promoted her experience in small business and elected office as assets for the job.

Because any mail-in ballot postmarked by today will be counted, the unofficial results won’t be known for several days.

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