November 13th, 2012 4:18 pm | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: Politics, Activism

Planned Parenthood Will Choose Leader Tonight

Critics question former Qwest Oregon CEO's credentials

pepplerJudy Peppler - Portland Business Alliance

Planned Parenthood of the Columbia-Willamette is expected to choose its new CEO at a board meeting tonight. Earlier this year, after contentious contract negotiations with the Service Employees International Union, the non-profit's CEO, David Greenberg left his $196,000 a-year-post.

As WW reported earlier this week, one of two finalists to replace Greenberg is Judy Peppler, who was until 2011 the CEO of the telecommunications company Qwest Oregon.

Until she left Oregon that year to enter a training program for executives transitioning into public education, Peppler was a registered Republican. She was also a fundraiser for GOP presidential candidate John McCain in 2008 and Oregon GOP gubernatorial candidate Chris Dudley in 2010. 

That past, and in particular an incident during the Dudley campaign, has some local Planned Parenthood supporters questioning whether she's the right person for the job.

Former legislator Jane Cease, is one of those skeptics. Cease says she took issue with remarks Peppler made at a 2010 luncheon at the Portland Art Museum given for Portland State University's Center for Women Politics and Policy.

Because the lunch had more than 600 attendees, Planned Parenthood Advocates demonstrated outside the Art Museum, blasting Dudley for being "faux-choice."

Cease says Peppler  took issue with those protestors at the luncheon, stating that "she wished the people weren’t outside picketing Chris Dudley because he was actually pro-choice," Cease tells WW. "Many of us were booing and hissing because we knew he was on record the other way."

Peppler, who recently stepped down as the chief transformation officer for Wake County, N.C. schools says she remembers the event. "I did make some remarks but only because I thought it was fair to clarify his [Dudley's] position," Peppler says.

Cease says she's been a Planned Parenthood supporter for 40 years and along with many of her fellow supporters is distressed that Peppler could become the group's new CEO.

"There’s a lot of rumbling about that because she was supporting McCain and Dudley [both of whom Planned Parenthood advocates has attacked for not being pro-choice]," Cease says. "I think it would be really ill-advised to have somebody who is not solidly pro-choice running the organization."

Peppler, 49, says such concerns are unfounded.

"I would not have applied for the job if I were not strongly pro-choice," she says.

Although she was a Republican while living in Oregon, Peppler says when she re-located to North Carolina last year she registered as an independent. She says also does not think it is fair to judge her on the record of a politician she supported.

"I did support McCain," she says. "But I don't look at only one issue when I evaluate a politician."

The other candidate for the job is an internal Planned Parenthood employee, according to sources familiar with the search. Board member Bill Haden, who is leading the search committee, did not return a call seeking comment.
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