Rep. Jeff Barker in 2017. (Jaime Valdez/Pamplin Media Group)
Rep. Jeff Barker will call it quits after almost two decades in the Oregon House from a district centered on Aloha.
Barker, now 76, was elected as a Democrat in 2002 after a 31-year career in law enforcement. He was with the Oregon State Police and Portland Police Bureau, where he retired as a lieutenant.
He also spent four years in the Marine Corps and earned a bachelor’s degree at Portland State University.
In his official statement, released Monday by the House Democratic Office, he said: “I'll miss it, and many of my colleagues, but it's time for me to move on and give someone else a chance to serve our great state.”
Barker said he had decided on Saturday to make it official.
He will serve out his ninth term, which ends in 2020.
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Barker had no Republican opponent and defeated a Libertarian to win in 2018.
District 28 has almost twice as many registered Democrats as Republicans — 16,000 to 8,522, according to June registration figures — but voters not affiliated with any party total 15,244.
Barker is the second Washington County representative who will not seek re-election in 2020. Rep. Mitch Greenlick, a Democrat from Portland whose district cuts into northeast Washington County outside Beaverton, said even before his election to a ninth term in 2018 he would not run again.
They are the two most senior Democrats in the Oregon House.
Barker led House committees on veterans, the judiciary and business and labor during his 18-year tenure. From 2009 until 2019, he led the Judiciary Committee, which reviews most criminal and civil legislation. He moved to chairman of the Business and Labor Committee in 2019, although he retained a seat on Judiciary.
Although known for his leadership on Judiciary, and his willingness to forge relationships with Republicans, Barker also was an outspoken supporter of education and health care programs.
“Oregon’s schools are better funded, more Oregonians have access to affordable health care, and a woman’s right to choose is more secure in our state than when I arrived,” he said.
House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner of Portland said Barker will be missed.
“Jeff Barker’s distinguished record of public service, long list of legislative accomplishments and commitment to fighting for the underdog have built a better Oregon for everyone,” she said. “I can say confidently that his knowledge, experience and good nature will be missed by both our caucus and the entire legislature. I wish Jeff and Vicki the long and happy retirement they deserve.”
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