Smith won't seek re-election
The Republican legislator, who inherited Jefferson County constituents after redistricting, leaves the seat wide open this November after failing to move within district boundariesNews Editor
State House Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, has failed to move within District 59 boundaries and cannot seek re-election to represent his newly acquired Jefferson County constituents.
Legislative redistricting made Smith Jefferson County's House representative on Dec. 15. The redrawn lines moved the county's former House representative, Republican Ben Westlund of Tumalo, south into the new District 53, which includes most of Deschutes County sans Bend.
Smith, 33, made only one official visit to the area on Dec. 10, where he told a small gathering at the Madras-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce that he would move into the redrawn boundaries by Jan. 1 and begin fighting in Salem on behalf of area residents.
However, in a Feb. 5 statement, Smith said he no longer believed moving was "in the best interest of District 59 or Jefferson County."
Smith did not return several phone calls placed to his Salem and district offices. But his short statement went further to explain: "Oregon is a great state because we have a citizen legislature comprised of Oregonians representing districts they have lived and worked in for many years. It is incumbent upon me to honor this principle."
House District 59 now includes all of Jefferson, Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam and Wheeler counties, plus a portion of Grant County that extends east to John Day.
Smith lives in Morrow County in the redrawn District 57 but had said he was moving to Fossil in Wheeler County.
An official with the secretary of state's office said Smith, who gained his seat through a landslide victory in 2000 by a 70 percent margin, has not filed to run for the House District 57 seat. It is held by House Speaker Mark Simmons, R-Elgin, his close friend and colleague.
Smith's departure leaves District 59 up for grabs this November with no incumbent. John Mabrey, R-The Dalles, is the only individual so far to file for the seat.
Smith's announcement comes at a crucial time in state affairs. The Legislature is currently in a special session -- the first since 1996 -- attempting to rebalance the state's budget in light of a projected $715 million shortfall.
Smith, who represents Jefferson County until Jan. 1, is Assistant Majority Leader in the House. In the 71st Legislative Assembly, he was the only freshman to serve on two Ways and Means Committees: the Subcommittee on Economic Development and Transportation and the Subcommittee for Public Safety.
On the Senate side, redistricting brought Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, into the newly created District 30, which now includes all of Jefferson, Wasco, Sherman, Wheeler, Grant, Baker, Harney and Malheur counties plus a small portion of Deschutes County. No individual in this district so far has filed for the May 21 primary.
Sen. Bev Clarno, R-Bend, now represents Senate District 27, which includes most of Deschutes County.