Two veteran moderate Republican legislators have announced they won't run for re-election. Their retirements will be a loss for the legislature.
Rep. Bill Garrard, R-Klamath Falls, who owned radio stations, served three terms in the House after a stint as a county commissioner — where he became the first Klamath County commissioner to win re-election in more than 100 years. Senator Dave Nelson, R-Pendleton, came to the legislature in 1996 with a background as a wheat rancher with a law degree.
From geographical extremes — Southern and Eastern Oregon — Garrard and Nelson carved out moderate reputations in Salem. They accomplished the tough feat of representing conservative districts while finding a way to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, including more liberal colleagues from urban Oregon. Their ability to find middle ground on tough policy is a hallmark of their legislative service.
Garrard and Nelson found status in Salem as members of the Joint Ways and Means Committee where they worked across party lines to craft compromises on thorny budget issues.
Garrard was best known for his work on land-use during controversy over ballot measures dealing with property rights. His experience running a radio station in a rural area made him sympathetic to the plight of other small business operators — and underdogs in general.
Nelson battled to build electronic infrastructure, not only in Eastern Oregon but throughout the state. One of his accomplishments — the "Nelson Technology and Opportunity Partnership” —rightfully bears his name. On Ways and Means, he led efforts to pinpoint appropriate investments for the State Radio Project, a major effort to provide interoperable public safety communications capabilities throughout the state.