State Sen. James Manning. Photo by Todd Cooper.

Audits and Accountability

State Sen. James Manning says as Oregon secretary of state he would set up those he oversees for success and would value transparency while promoting privacy.

In Oregon, the secretary of state serves as chief elections officer, audits public accounts and aids public records access. They are also the next in line to assume the position of governor. 

Oregon state Sen. James Manning, who has served for eight years in the Oregon Legislature’s District 7, which covers part of Lane County including northern Eugene, Junction City and Veneta, is running for Oregon secretary of state in the 2024 primary election.

“My vision is a little different than anybody else because I see the most valuable tool of the audit as the people,” Manning tells Eugene Weekly. 

Manning says if elected to be the next secretary of state he intends to sit down with members from every division he oversees and have an honest conversation about the things they think need improvement, without repercussions. 

“People are the ones that make this thing work. You won’t hear any other candidate talking about how we can improve quality of work and work life for employees,” he says.

Manning, who speaks with as much passion as level headedness, served in the U.S. Army for more than 24 years. During his service he noticed that when people are set up for success they will work to the best of their ability, and this is a system he would employ as secretary of state, he says. 

When asked how he thinks the current Oregon Elections System for Tracking and Reporting website is working, Manning says as a senator it bothers him that his personal information is available to the public.

ORESTAR is a system through the Oregon Secretary of State’s office that promotes transparency by tracking election information including campaign finances, candidate filings and local measures. ORESTAR holds government officials and candidates accountable by allowing the public quick access to this data. 

“I’ve had people try to dox me, you know, saying we need to go to Senator Manning’s home and demonstrate out in his front yard, things like that,” Manning says. 

“Doxxing” someone is to publicize their private information. Manning says he believes there is a way to offer the public access to necessary information on how to reach candidates without leaving them and their families vulnerable to harassment. 

Asked to clarify his thoughts on balancing elected officials’ need for protection and privacy with the public’s need for transparency and accessibility, Manning says phone numbers and email addresses for the public to contact provide necessary transparency, but adding home addresses is a different level.

He says everything that goes on and off the Oregon Secretary of State website needs to be transparent and audits will help ensure the office is being both transparent and accountable.

“There has to be an accountability level in everything we do. For me, first off, I’m accountable to everyone, everyone in the state, and I’m also accountable to myself,” Manning says.

Manning is endorsed by more than 25 current elected or former officials, including Congressman Peter DeFazio, Oregon Senate President Rob Wagner and Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis.

He is running against Oregon Treasurer Tobias Read, Paul Damian Wells, James Crary and Dave W. Stauffer in the May 21 Democratic primary. Brent Barker, Dennis Linthicum and Tim McCloud are running in the Republican primary.

 ORESTAR shows Manning has raised more than $200,000 for his campaign since September 2023. Read, his main opponent, has raised more than $600,000. 

Manning’s campaign contributors include Greenhill Reload LLC, an Oregon company that manufactures and delivers wood utility poles, which contributed $5,000. The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde contributed $2,500. Andmore than $15,000 in in-kind contributions came from Imagine Black, a business based in Beaverton that advocates for increased Black political participation.