Co-op Director Chosen by Oregon Governor to Fill Secretary of State Job

An electric cooperative director has been named Oregon’s new secretary of state.

Bev Clarno, who serves on the board of directors of the Central Electric Cooperative in Redmond, Oregon, was appointed to the post last Friday by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown. Clarno, who is a Republican, will fill the vacancy left by the death in February of former Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, a GOP leader who died of brain cancer.

Bev Clarno, who serves on the board of the Central Electric Cooperative in Redmond, Oregon, has been named Oregon secretary of state by Gov. Kate Brown. (Photo Courtesy of Oregon governor’s office)
Bev Clarno (Photo Courtesy of Oregon governor’s office)

Clarno is already well-known in Oregon’s capital city of Salem, where she served as speaker of the House and Senate Republican leader. She left the state legislature in 2003 when she was appointed regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services by former President George W. Bush.

“Bev’s career is marked by her trailblazing spirit, focus on fiscal responsibility, and a commitment to Oregonians,” the governor said in a statement. “Bev’s experience as a legislator and as a manager of a large government organization is key to the success of the programs and employees the Secretary of State oversees. I’m confident that Bev will continue the legacy of accountability and integrity that Secretary Richardson left on the office of Secretary of State.”

Clarno, 83, said she was honored by Brown’s confidence in her. She plans to serve out the remainder of Richardson’s term but will not seek election to the post next year. The secretary of state oversees elections and audits state agencies to make sure they are using taxpayer dollars wisely.

“I know there is not a Republican way or a Democrat way to oversee elections—there is only a fair and honest way,” Clarno said in a statement. “There is not a Republican way or a Democrat way to audit state agencies, there is only a fair, thorough, and honest way. I will administer the key functions of this office in a way that will earn the trust and faith of all Oregonians.”

Co-op leaders said they were thrilled by Clarno’s appointment.

“Bev has the ability to look forward and anticipate changes in the electric utility industry,” said Dave Markham, CEO of Central Electric Cooperative. “She will bring this same vision as Oregon’s secretary of state.”

Ted Case, executive director of the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association, said statewide co-op leaders are “beyond proud that she will represent the people of Oregon.”

“Bev is a wonderful public servant and strong supporter of electric cooperatives,” Case said.

According to a bio provided by the governor’s office, Clarno was a hog farmer, cattle rancher and real estate broker and appraiser before her 1988 election to the Oregon House of Representatives. She was re-elected three times, serving as speaker from 1995 to 1997.

Clarno was elected to the Oregon State Senate in 2000, serving as GOP leader during the 2003 session when the Senate was split evenly between Republicans and Democrats. Brown served as the Democratic Senate leader during that session. In addition to serving on the co-op board, Clarno has served on the boards of the Oregon Historical Society, the Deschutes River Conservancy, the Central Oregon Community College Foundation and the Redmond Chamber of Commerce.

Erin Kelly is a staff writer at NRECA.