House Rep. Jeff Barker (D-Aloha) won't be seeking re-election in 2020. As the longest currently-serving Democrat in the House, he's ready for a break.
"After 18 years in the Oregon House, 31 years in Oregon law enforcement, and four years in the United States Marine Corps, I've decided to end my career in public service," Barker said in a statement Saturday.
An former Portland cop, Barker was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 2002. Since then, he's served as Chair of the Committees on Judiciary, Business and Labor, and Veterans. For many terms, he earned among the highest scores on WW's biennial survey of lawmakers, "The Good, the Bad and the Awful."
In the halls of the Capitol, he's best known for moderate stances and quietly effective lawmaking—although he's come under fire in recent years for rejecting more progressive policy changes.
House leadership stripped him of his longtime chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee before the 2019 session began.
Barker had expressed concern that any changes to Oregon's death penalty should be sent to the voters for approval and he was generally less enthused about criminal justice reform than then-House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson (D-Portland), who assumed the chairmanship Barker had held.
But in a statement, Barker concentrated on the positive.
"I am very grateful to the people of House District 28 for honoring me with the opportunity to represent them in Salem for all of these years," 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."
House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner (D-Portland) said in a statement that Barker has "built a better Oregon for everyone," and that he will be missed in both the Democratic caucus and the entire Legislature.