I write today to share the news of my resignation from the House of Representatives. The week before last I was appointed by Governor Kitzhaber to fill a vacancy on the Oregon Court of Appeals, effective in February 2014. My resignation from the Legislature, effective Dec. 31, 2013, will allow a successor to be chosen in time for the upcoming legislative session in February.

Serving in the Legislature has been an extraordinary privilege. My decision to leave comes only because the opportunity to become a judge is a rare one that I cannot pass up. It fulfills a longstanding professional aspiration and is the right decision for my growing family.Garrett

My departure from the House, while personally bittersweet, is made easier by the great satisfaction I take in what has been accomplished in Salem during the past few years. The Great Recession presented states across the country with enormous policy and budget challenges. Oregon rose to the occasion, enacting a series of major policy changes that will improve the delivery of public services and strengthen Oregon for decades to come. Highlights include:

n The 2009 health care reforms that extended coverage to thousands of previously uninsured Oregonians, including nearly all Oregon children;

n The 2011 restructuring of Oregon’s education system to allow better coordination, integration and funding of education from pre-K through post-secondary;

n The 2011 health care transformation that changed the way Medicaid dollars are spent in order to focus more on keeping people healthy, not just treating them when they are ill;

n The 2013 public safety reform bill that will control the growth of Oregon’s prison system, save hundreds of millions of dollars and shift those resources into drug and alcohol treatment, mental health services and other proven tools that prevent crime and reduce recidivism.

I am especially proud that many of the Legislature’s recent accomplishments were achieved in a spirit of bipartisanship that truly set Oregon apart on the national stage. Democrats and Republicans repeatedly worked past their policy differences in order to find common ground for the good of the state, this past October’s special session on public pension and tax reforms being only the latest example. In 2011, we even passed legislative and congressional redistricting plans with strong bipartisan support — something many thought to be impossible.

In part for these reasons, Oregon is on the right path, well positioned to break out from the pack as the economic recovery continues. Challenges remain, of course. I hope that legislators and the governor will continue to pursue tax reform in order to stabilize and enhance the flow of revenue for education and other critical services. Our financial commitment to education remains inadequate. And we need to find ways to enable hard-hit rural Oregon, particularly timber-dependent counties, to participate more fully in our economic recovery.

My time in the Legislature has convinced me that all of these challenges are within our grasp, but it will now be for someone else to act on behalf of our district. My resignation will create a vacancy that must, by law, be filled within 30 days. Clackamas and Multnomah county commissioners must appoint a person of the same political party as me (Democrat) to serve out the remainder of this two-year term. Voters will have the opportunity to elect a new representative in November 2014 to begin serving in January 2015. Candidates for the May 2014 primary may file up through March 11, 2014.

In closing, I want to express my deep gratitude to the people of Lake Oswego and Southwest Portland for three times granting me the privilege of representing you in the House. Over the past several years, I have personally met thousands of you and exchanged emails and phone calls with thousands more. My successor, whoever that may be, will be fortunate to represent a community of thoughtful, informed and engaged citizens.

Chris Garrett, Lake Oswego, represented Oregon House District 38 until his resignation to assume a position on the Oregon Court of Appeals, which becomes effective in February.

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