Editorial endorsement November 2022: Elect Val Hoyle to Oregon’s 4th Congressional District

The retirement of one longtime congressman, the ousting of another and the addition of a new district means Oregonians will be choosing three new faces to go to Washington D.C. on their behalf. And in a midterm election where Republicans are widely expected to pick up seats, the three districts are particularly competitive. Oregonians looking for representatives with experience, deep understanding of the issues and a commitment to fight for Oregon values including abortion rights should pick Val Hoyle, Jamie McLeod-Skinner and Andrea Salinas for Congressional Districts 4, 5 and 6.

4th Congressional District: Val Hoyle

With the impending retirement of Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio, the 4th Congressional District will see new House representation for the first time in 36 years. Hoyle, a Democrat from Springfield and currently Oregon’s elected labor commissioner, is the best candidate to succeed DeFazio. With years of experience in the state Legislature and a longstanding commitment to workers, Hoyle, 58, is the candidate who can most effectively serve the vast southwestern Oregon district of coastal, rural and urban counties.

Hoyle said she wants to focus on rebuilding the middle class with opportunities for good-paying jobs, noting her support for a container terminal at the Coos Bay port. She would also seek to deepen federal investments and partnerships to produce housing at all levels and push for climate-focused provisions to help address climate change.

Even before overseeing the agency responsible for enforcing Oregon’s employment laws, Hoyle built her reputation on championing workers’ issues, from passing increases in the minimum wage to supporting creation of a statewide paid leave program. And her support for labor has sometimes come at the cost of her bonafides as a climate champion. Despite environmental opposition, she supported the proposed Jordan Cove project to build a liquefied natural gas pipeline and export terminal in Coos Bay, for the thousands of jobs it would have brought to the struggling region. But project developers abandoned the effort last year, and Hoyle took hits from fellow Democrats in the May primary for supporting the fossil-fuel project.

She has since pledged not to support new fossil-fuel infrastructure. But her willingness to go to bat for workers reflects the sincerity of her commitment that they not be left behind as America transitions to a clean-energy future. The district needs a strong voice who will elevate the needs of rural Oregon at the same time she is pushing for stronger climate protections.

We would have liked to hear Hoyle’s Republican opponent, Alek Skarlatos, offer more details of his priorities than the generalized responses on his website. We also hoped to ask him his opinion on what role, if any, the federal government should play in abortion, and how he would approach such contentious issues as the push to breach dams on the Lower Snake River. However, Skarlatos, the former Oregon Army National Guardsman who helped foil a terrorist attack on a train to Paris in 2015, declined to participate. His campaign spokesman explained that Skarlatos was focusing on meeting with those who are physically situated within the boundaries of the district.

That’s unfortunate, since his public statements and campaign materials offer little to show what he would do if elected. Voters should trust Hoyle’s track record and years of public service and send her to D.C.

-The Oregonian/OregonLive Editorial Board

For all our endorsements to date, click here or go to oregonlive.com/opinion.

Oregonian editorials

Editorials reflect the collective opinion of The Oregonian/OregonLive editorial board, which operates independently of the newsroom. Members of the editorial board are Therese Bottomly, Laura Gunderson, Helen Jung and John Maher.

Members of the board meet regularly to determine our institutional stance on issues of the day. We publish editorials when we believe our unique perspective can lend clarity and influence an upcoming decision of great public interest. Editorials are opinion pieces and therefore different from news articles.

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