By Rachel Janfaza, CNN
(CNN) -- Former New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof announced Wednesday that he is running for governor of Oregon.
"I've never run for political office in my life, but I have spent a lifetime shining a light in the darkest corners of the globe, and it broke my heart when I returned from crises abroad only to find crises here at home, and that's why I'm running for governor," Kristof, a Pulitzer Prize winner, said in a video posted on social media and his campaign website.
Kristof, who grew up outside Yamhill, Oregon, previously worked as an opinion columnist at The New York Times and was among the newspaper's most prominent journalists. He traveled across the world reporting on international and humanitarian crises and had been on leave at the Times since July as he explored whether to run for the office. He announced his resignation from the news organization earlier this month.
The former journalist enters a crowded Democratic primary to succeed current Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, who is term limited. Oregon state House Speaker Tina Kotek and state Treasurer Tobias Read have also announced gubernatorial campaigns.
In his announcement, Kristof made the case for new leadership, citing "unaffordable housing, weak mental health support, inadequate education and a politics that has treated addiction not as a disease but as a crime" as issues plaguing his home state.
"It's time to do something about a system that's rigged against so many ordinary Oregonians. But nothing will change until we stop moving politicians up the career ladder year after year even though they refuse to step up to the problems Oregon faces," Kristof said in the video posted online.
His decision to run for governor comes after Portland, Oregon, last year received national media attention when the city became an epicenter of demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism, amid the reckoning that took place after George Floyd was murdered by a Minnesota police officer. The events ranged from peaceful Black Lives Matter marches to violent riots including arson and vandalism. Some became a target for hate groups seeking to antagonize those who came out to defend the rights of marginalized communities.
Earlier this month, Kristoff announced his resignation from the New York Times.