Stephenson Leads Helt in Labor Commissioner Race

Stephenson has had a to-do list for BOLI for a decade.

Christina Stephenson, a civil rights lawyer from Portland, leads Bend restaurant owner Cheri Helt in the nonpartisan contest to become commissioner of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry, the agency that protects workers’ rights.

In the first round of returns, Stephenson, 39, was beating Helt 61% to 38%. The nonpartisan position is open because Commissioner Val Hoyle is running to fill the open seat of U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, who is retiring.

Stephenson ran on her experience representing workers in BOLI cases, saying that she’s had a “to-do list for BOLI for 10 years.” BOLI’s mission, she said, is to provide workers with fair treatment that secures them a pathway to the middle class.

Helt, meantime, said BOLI had abused businesses by not giving them fair warning before levying fines. “A lot of people are just getting fines and not understanding why they got them,” Helt, 52, said during the campaign.