Sen. Chuck Riley says he'll step down early
State Sen. Chuck Riley says he will leave his seat a year early after 13 years in the Oregon Legislature, the past seven in the Senate.
"I have made a lot of good friends here," Riley said after the Senate voted to adjourn its special session on redistricting.
Riley, 82, is a retired computer systems consultant. The Democrat from Hillsboro was elected to the Oregon House in 2004 by unseating Republican Mary Gallegos of Cornelius after one term. It was a rematch of their 2002 contest, which Gallegos won narrowly. Riley was re-elected twice.
Riley lost a bid for the Oregon Senate to Republican incumbent Bruce Starr of Hillsboro in 2010, and his wife, Katie, lost her bid to win the House seat he vacated. He also made a losing bid for the Portland Community College board of directors in 2011.
In 2014, Riley unseated Starr in an expensive race that awaited the counting of nearly all ballots before it was called in the Democrat's favor. Riley was re-elected to District 15 easily in 2018.
During the 2021 session, Riley led the Senate Labor and Business Committee and co-led the Joint Committee on Information Management and Technology. He also sat on the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee and the Joint Committee on Tax Expenditures, which reviews tax credits.
Reached for comment, Riley said he's proud of his work to curb the practice of "predatory towing," in which companies tow vehicles with little warning and require sizable payments to release them from impoundment.
"A lot of my work was on revenue revenue reform, trying to get it done," Riley added. "There is still a lot of work to do, but I'll let somebody else do that."
The Senate will meet a couple more times before the end of the year to confirm appointments by Gov. Kate Brown. Lawmakers also have interim committee meetings this week and in mid-November.
"I've been doing this since 2005, and it just seemed like it's time," Riley told Pamplin Media Group, explaining his decision to step down now. "My wife and I are both painters, and we're hoping to have a two-person show next summer, and that's a lot of work getting ready for that.
"It just seemed like the right time. It's a decision that's been in the works a long time."
Riley's seat will be filled by appointment of Washington County commissioners after Democrats within his district nominate three to five candidates. Democrats can choose to have precinct committee people do it, or as in the case with a recent vacancy in House District 47, Democratic voters could cast ballots by mail for their preferences.
House districts 29 and 30 are within Senate District 15. All are within Washington County.
The current Democratic representatives are Susan McLain of Forest Grove, who has been in the House four terms, and Janeen Sollman of Hillsboro, three terms.
Pamplin Media Group reached out to McLain and Sollman for comment.
"I am focused on redistricting and Legislative Days committee meetings this week," McLain told Pamplin Media Group. "I will need a week or so to consider this opportunity."
Democrats are not limited in their nominations, other than nominees having to have been residents of the district and registered in the party for one year.
The seat is up for election in November 2022. Redistricting will shift its boundaries — several Washington County districts have too many people as a result of the 2020 Census — but it is expected to remain a strongly Democratic district.
Beyond the immediate appointment, Riley said it will be up to Senate District 15's voters to decide on their future representation.
"I worked hard to get the voters of the district to know me, and I think they have over the years," said Riley. "I'm hoping somebody will replace me who has similar values, but again, it's up to the voters — that's who they'll have to please, not me."
Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional comments from Chuck Riley, as well as comment from Rep. Susan McLain, D-Forest Grove.
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