Brad Avakian

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Brad Avakian
Brad Avakian 2008 Color.jpg
Commissioner of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries
Assumed office
April 8, 2008
Governor John Kitzhaber
Kate Brown
Preceded by Dan Gardner
Member of the Oregon Senate
from the 17th district
In office
January 2, 2007 – April 8, 2008
Preceded by Charlie Ringo
Succeeded by Suzanne Bonamici
Member of the Oregon House of Representatives
from the 34th district
In office
January 2, 2003 – January 2, 2007
Preceded by Charlie Ringo
Succeeded by Suzanne Bonamici
Personal details
Born (1961-02-04) February 4, 1961 (age 54)
Fresno, California, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Deborah Lynn Avakian
Alma mater Oregon State University
Lewis and Clark College
Website Official website

Bradley Paul "Brad" Avakian (born February 4, 1961) is the Commissioner of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. He was appointed by Governor Ted Kulongoski on April 8, 2008 and subsequently elected statewide on November 4, 2008.[1] He was re-elected in 2012 and 2014.

While the Commissioner of Labor and Industries has been a nonpartisan position since 1995,[1] Avakian previously served in both houses of the Oregon Legislative Assembly as a Democrat.

Early life[edit]

Born in Fresno, California, he is the son of Larry and Catherine Avakian, who now reside in Thousand Oaks, California. He is of Armenian descent. His grandfather was Avak Avakian, who came to America from Muş in 1898. His grandmother, Sirpoohi Antoyan, came from Bitlis in 1900.[2]

Avakian was raised in Washington County, Oregon.[3] He was educated in Oregon’s public schools and earned an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Oregon State University in 1984 and a Juris doctor from Lewis & Clark Law School in 1990.[3] He helped create the YMCA's Juvenile Restitution Program while in law school.[3]

Avakian then worked as a civil rights attorney.[3] He co-founded the Oregon League of Conservation Voters' (OLCV) Washington County chapter,[3] and he was appointed by Governor Barbara Roberts to lead the State Board of Psychologist Examiners.[3] He serves as Honorary Chair of the Oregon Business Leadership Network, a coalition of employers committed to hiring the disabled.[3] Avakian lives in the Portland metropolitan area in the city of Beaverton.

Political career[edit]

Avakian ran for the Oregon State Senate in 1998,[4] losing to incumbent Republican Tom Hartung.[5]

Avakian at opening of 2009 legislature

Avakian was elected to represent District 34, on Portland's west side, in the Oregon House of Representatives in 2002.[6] He defeated Portland police officer John Scruggs,[7] the only Republican to lose in Washington County that year,[6] with 53 percent of the vote.[8]

Avakian was elected to the Oregon State Senate, representing District 17, in 2006.

While in the legislature, Avakian was honored by both the Oregon AFL-CIO and the SEIU Local 503 for his work on behalf of working families.[3] In the state Senate he chaired the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, and in 2007 the OLCV named him the "Consensus Builder of the Year," recognizing him for passing an extension of the Oregon Bottle Bill and a renewable energy act.[3] In 2008 he led a coalition to approve water supply development for rural communities.[3]

In July 2007, Avakian announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Oregon Secretary of State.[9] He later withdrew from the race when he was appointed by governor Ted Kulongoski to be Commissioner of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries in early 2008 after Dan Gardner announced his resignation.[1] Gardner was the first Commissioner of Labor and Industries to leave mid-term for a new job.[1]

In April 2011, Avakian announced that he would seek the Democratic nomination for Oregon's 1st congressional district in the United States House of Representatives.[10] The seat was held by fellow Democrat David Wu, who resigned from Congress before the end of his term due to allegations of sexual misconduct.[11] Avakian lost in the Democratic primary to Suzanne Bonamici, who succeeded him in both the Oregon House and Senate.


  1. ^ a b c d "New labor leader hopes to boost job training in Oregon". Statesman Journal. April 9, 2008. 
  2. ^ Brad Avakian for Oregon: Meet Brad, from Retrieved 2008-04-17.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j About Oregon's Labor Commissioner: Meet Commissioner Brad Avakian, from Retrieved 2008-04-09.
  4. ^ Don Hamilton (October 19, 1998). "Avakian, Hartung war chests fuel fierce senate seat race". The Oregonian. 
  5. ^ Courtenay Thompson (November 7, 1998). "GOP gains, loses in the legislature". The Oregonian. 
  6. ^ a b Laura Gunderson and David R. Anderson (November 7, 2002). "Vote trends show stronger division from east to west". The Oregonian. 
  7. ^ Richard Colby (November 6, 2002). "Washington County legislative races tight". The Oregonian. 
  8. ^ "How Oregon voted: ballots counted -- 95%". The Oregonian. November 7, 2002. 
  9. ^ Avakian jumps into secretary of state race, The Oregonian. July 31, 2007
  10. ^ Mapes, Jeff (April 18, 2011). "Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian will run in Democratic primary against Rep. David Wu". The Oregonian. Retrieved April 18, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Rep. David Wu announces he will resign after accusations of sexual misconduct". The Oregonian. July 26, 2011. Retrieved July 26, 2011. 

External links[edit]