Influential education-focused legislators are leaving Legislature
Wednesday, December 4, 2019
From left, Sen. Arnie Roblan, Rep. Nancy Nathanson, Sen. Mark Hass and Rep. Barbara Smith Warner were recognized at OSBA’s 73rd Annual Convention for their visionary leadership on the Student Success Act.(Photo by Rachel Baker, OSBA)
With more than a dozen legislators not running for reelection next year, Oregon public schools will lose some strong voices.
In the past few weeks, Rep. Caddy McKeown, D-Coos Bay, and Sen. Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, have joined Rep. Carla Piluso, D-Gresham, and Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham, in announcing they would retire.
Rep. Sherrie Sprenger, R-Scio; Sen. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario; and Sen. Mark Hass, D-Beaverton, are also leaving the Legislature, opting to seek other elected positions. Sprenger will run for a seat on the Linn County Commission. Hass will run for Oregon secretary of state. And after U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Oregon, announced his retirement, Bentz filed to run for Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District seat.
Piluso is a member of the Gresham-Barlow School Board. McKeown, Sprenger, Monnes Anderson and Bentz are former school board members. Roblan was an educator and administrator. Hass was the longtime chair of the Senate Education Committee. Hass and Roblan were among four legislators honored with a special “Student Success Visionary Award” at the OSBA 2019 Annual Convention to recognize their efforts in the passage of the Student Success Act.
These legislators have made lasting impacts in Salem. Their causes have varied in scope, from relatively targeted projects such as increased attention to nursing and health care services and school transportation funding to the most ambitious investment in public education in decades, the Student Success Act.
Despite the election being nearly a year away, the primary calendar forces decisions to be made now. It is customary for legislators to declare their intentions relatively early in the process so potential candidates in their districts have time to decide about running.
These departing legislators have all said they plan to serve out their current terms through the 2020 session. In 2021, however, the Legislature will look significantly different. Although there will continue to be strong legislative champions for public education, more than a half-century of institutional knowledge and experience will leave the Capitol when these legislators give up their seats.