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Secretary Of State Candidates Meet, Debate in Eugene

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Three of the candidates for Oregon Secretary of State made their case to voters in Eugene Friday.

Democrat Brad Avakian, Republican Dennis Richardson and Alan Zundel of the Pacific Green Party spoke before the Eugene City Club.

Avakian is a former state lawmaker and currently serves as Oregon's Labor Commissioner. As Secretary of State, Avakian said he would focus on implementing changes that reflect Oregon values.

"Breaking down barriers to the ballot with same-day voter registration, finally passing campaign finance limits in our state, and making sure that immigrants have every opportunity to get to the ballot as well."

Richardson is a former state lawmaker who was the Republican nominee for Oregon governor in 2014. He told the audience that he would focus on being impartial in the role of Secretary of State.

"I offer myself because I believe I have the experience, the ability, the knowledge and the temperament not to attack, but to facilitate. And with your help I'll be able to show that's what I can do."

Zundel is a licensed professional counselor from Eugene and has a leadership role in the Pacific Green Party of Oregon. He said he knows that as a third party candidate, he's unlikely to win. So he said he's careful not to set expectations too high.

"A lot of candidates will do that. Even though they don't have a reasonable chance of winning, they may say 'you know, if you get out there, work hard enough and vote for me, things will change.' What I'd say instead is that if you vote for me, that vote will say something to the people who do take office."

The Oregon Secretary of State is responsible for overseeing the state's elections and conducting audits of state agencies.

Current Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins, was appointed last year after then-Secretary Kate Brown became governor. Atkins is not seeking a full term in the office.