Gov. Brown names heads of Agriculture, Lottery agencies

SALEM, Ore. -- Gov. Kate Brown has appointed new leaders to two of the state's most high-profile agencies: Alexis Taylor as Oregon Department of Agriculture director and Barry Pack as Oregon Lottery director.

The two agencies are of monumental importance. The Lottery brought in more than $1 billion in revenue last year. ODA is responsible for regulating farms, pesticides and aspects of food safety, along with marketing Oregon agricultural products to the world.

Brown nabs agriculture director from federal government

Taylor comes to the Oregon Department of Agriculture from its federal government counterpart, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where she is deputy under secretary for farm and foreign agriculture services. The job requires Taylor to manage international trade policy at the USDA.

Brown said in a statement that Taylor has a "passion for agriculture," which stems from her upbringing on a Midwestern farm. She said Taylor will be a "strong advocate for our rural communities and Oregon's incredibly diverse agriculture sector."

Taylor replaces longtime ODA director Katy Coba, who was tapped by Brown in August to lead the Department of Administrative Services. Coba took the DAS job, which had been effectively vacant since John Kitzhaber's resignation.

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Dave Dillon, executive vice president of the Oregon Farm Bureau, responded to Taylor's appointment by releasing a glowing statement, lauding Taylor's Washington, D.C. experience and saying she "knows the people of agriculture."

Reached by phone, Dillon said Taylor's international experience is key, especially as a growing number of Oregon agriculture products are being exported for consumption overseas.

Dillon said Taylor has a track record of success, and came with a strong recommendation from the American Farm Bureau. He said he hopes Taylor will continue building upon Coba's record of regulatory and marketing success.

"To find someone that can take that baton and not only maintain that level of excellence but hopefully take us to another level is very encouraging. I think Alexis could be the person to take us there," Dillon said.

Taylor will begin Jan. 23 if confirmed by the state Senate in December. That gives her just days to prepare before the 2017 legislative session, which begins on Feb. 1. Lawmakers are likely to consider nuanced legislation that would change agriculture regulations.

"Everyone drinks from a fire hose early on," Dillon said, "but this is going to be an extreme example."

Agriculture is one of Oregon's primary industries — and is its oldest. More Oregonians are working in agriculture than ever, and the industry is expected to "grow significantly" in the coming years, according to the Oregon Employment Department.

Acting Lottery boss gets permanent job

Brown picked Barry Pack to lead the Oregon Lottery, a key agency for generating state revenue.

The governor moved Pack to the lottery in April after she fired his predecessor, Jack Roberts. Roberts was let go after refusing the governor's request to resign, which came shortly after he put one of his deputies on paid leave. The governor's office wanted that deputy back on the job, and Roberts refused, according to the Associated Press.

Liz Carle, who sat on the Lottery Commission until this fall, said her interactions with Pack were "extremely positive."

"Things got pretty dark and uncomfortable for the entire lottery (after Roberts was fired), just in terms of you have an agency that’s that important and the leadership is in a vacuum," Carle said. "Barry came in and he was very strong and very transparent and did a good job righting the ship."

Before coming to the lottery, Pack was an executive at the Department of Administrative Services where he had been chief administrative officer.

He is also closely allied with the governor. Pack was Brown's chief of staff when she was Senate Majority Leader. When Brown was Secretary of State, she picked Pack as her deputy.

The lottery was founded in 1984 to kick into gear Oregon's stalling economy. Lottery revenue is put into a fund, which is split between public education, job creation, parks, and problem gambling prevention. Total lottery revenue was more than $1 billion in 2015, with nearly $50 million allocated to Marion County.

Send questions, comments or news tips to gfriedman2@statesmanjournal.com or 503-399-6653. Follow on Twitter @GordonRFriedman.

KGW


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