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Leaders react to Kitzhaber's resignation

Suzanne Bonamici, Ted Wheeler, Mike McLane, Earl BlumenauerOregon leaders were quick to react to Gov. John Kitzhaber's announcement that he will resign, effective Feb. 18. Most expressed sadness at the turn of events that will end Kitzhaber's 35-year political career next Wednesday.

Oregon U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley said, “John Kitzhaber loves Oregon deeply and has contributed enormously to making our state a better place. Today, he did what was right for Oregon by resigning.

“I know that our incoming Governor, Kate Brown, will continue the fight for our Oregon values, from clean air and clean water to a robust economy, and I look forward to working with her.”

Third District Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer said, “While I am saddened by the governor’s resignation, I fully understand and support his decision.

"I have worked with John Kitzhaber for over three decades. His commitment to Oregon is deep and his record of accomplishment is strong. Today’s action is consistent with that. As a friend, my thoughts are with John at this difficult time.

"Going forward, my commitment is to work with the leadership in Salem to move past this tragic circumstance to provide Oregon the support necessary to meet our challenges.”

First District Oregon Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici said, "Governor Kitzhaber has been a dedicated public servant to the State of Oregon. I applaud his decades of service and thank him for his work to improve the lives of all Oregonians. The priority now should be to maintain the strength and stability of our state. I am confident in Secretary Brown's abilities and commitment, and I hope for a smooth and expeditious transition.”

Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown, who will replace Kitzhaber, said, "This is a sad day for Oregon. But I am confident that legislators are ready to come together to move Oregon forward."

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, whose office is investigating Kitzhaber and his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, said, “Today is a sad day for Oregon. I want to thank Governor Kitzhaber for his service to our state. The governor’s decision to resign will not affect our ongoing criminal investigation into allegations of his and Ms. Hayes’ conduct. Oregonians deserve nothing less than a full and fair investigation of all the facts, as well as the opportunity to reach a resolution that will truly allow our state to move forward.”

Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler, who is thought to be interested in running for governor, said, “The events of the last several months have tested the confidence of Oregonians in our government at a time when we need to focus on the challenges facing our state. I know there is much more that I can – and must – do at this critical time to help our state realize its full potential. In the immediate-term, this means ensuring that Governor Brown is as successful as possible during her transition. I have offered to help in any way I can.

“I have been around long enough to know that the resignation of Governor Kitzhaber and the constitutional mandate for an election in 2016 will set off a flurry of speculation about what happens next. There will be a time for politics, but now is not that time. In the coming days, Oregonians should pull together to support Governor Brown and her team in their efforts to bring stability to the Governor’s office.

“I thank Governor Kitzhaber for his many years of service to our state. I wish him the very best in the years ahead. Oregonians are a resilient people, and I am certain that we will emerge from this difficult period as a stronger and more unified state.”

Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian reacted by saying, "Today, we learned that John Kitzhaber will step down as Governor after a career of public service that’s improved people’s lives and helped expand opportunity to thousands around the state. It is my hope that we view his legacy not just through the narrow prism of these recent months, but the full scope of his decades of service.

"As Secretary of State Kate Brown takes the helm of Oregon government, I know that her colleagues and I stand with her as we embark on a new chapter for our state.

"The Bureau of Labor and Industries and I stand ready to help Kate Brown with the challenge of putting working families on stronger economic footing in the weeks and months ahead. Oregon has a bright future and we will do all we can to see that our state and new governor be successful as we move forward."

Oregon House Speaker Tina Koteck (D-Portland) said, “Governor John Kitzhaber has accomplished much for Oregonians in his 35 years of public service to our state. As a physician, as a legislator, and as our Governor, he has been a distinguished leader.

“In 2011, I worked closely with the Governor during his signature effort to transform how health care is delivered to low-income Oregonians under the Oregon Health Plan. That work fundamentally changed health care in Oregon, and will benefit families throughout our state for years to come.

“I support his decision to resign because it is the right decision for Oregonians.

“Moving forward, I will continue to champion the priorities we have shared in the areas of equity in educational outcomes, quality early childhood education, and rural economic development.

“The Oregon Legislature will meet the challenges facing Oregon and stands ready to show that even in the most trying times, we are committed to doing the right thing for the people of our state.”

Oregon House Majority Leader Val Hoyle (D-Eugene, Junction City) said, “In his many years of public service, Gov. Kitzhaber has accomplished great things, and Oregon is a better place to live thanks to his leadership. My hope is that John Kitzhaber finds peace and that he’ll be remembered more for those accomplishments than for this latest chapter.

“As legislators, we’re here to get things done. I’m looking forward to working with Kate Brown in her new role and doing the work we were sent here to do.

“This has been a disappointing and challenging process. Now is a time for healing, for looking to the future, and for continuing the work of Oregon’s people.”

Oregon Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day) said, "This is an unprecedented situation for Oregonians. I expect our leaders to work together to lead a thoughtful transition that respects Oregon citizens. We need to restore trust and accountability with the Governor's office and the executive branch."

Oregon House Republican Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) said, “Today is a sad day for Oregon. I take no delight in John Kitzhaber's resignation but understand his decision. House Republicans have remained focused on working for the people of Oregon and that’s where our focus will remain moving forward.”

Mayor Charlie Hales said, “I am saddened by the news of Gov. John Kitzhaber’s resignation from office. However, the scandal has rocked Salem at the start of an all-important legislative session. Today, the governor acted in the best interests of Oregonians, and of state government.

“The scandal of the last few months has dominated the news, but I hope that people remember his accomplishments as a legislator, as Senate President and as governor. His work in the realms of health care was remarkable. We, as Oregonians, owe him a debt of gratitude for his service.

“I wish him the best of luck in all his endeavors.”

Multnomah County Chairwoman Deborah Kafoury told the Portland Tribune, "I think it's sad, very sad," as she drove to Salem for a long-scheduled meeting ask lawmakers for funding for a new Central Courthouse. "I think Kate (Brown) is ready for the job. I think she's had a lot of experience working in Salem. She's had the really hard job of being the caucus leader. She knows how to get things done."

Kafoury said she doesn't anticipate any problems with the transition. "We have a really good relationship with Kate. I was House minority leader when she was Senate Democratic leader so we've worked closely together. I think it's great for the county."

Regarding Kitzhaber, Kafoury said, "I'm really saddened by the whole situation. He's done really great things for the state of Oregon. It's sad it had to end like this."

The Republican Governors Association took a harder line, however, saying, “John Kitzhaber is right to resign. The plainly unethical conduct he allowed to persist stands as an inexcusable betrayal of the trust invested in him by the people of Oregon."

The RGA also took a shot at Secretary of State Kate Brown, who will succeed Kitzahber, by saying," Making matters worse, even as Governor Kitzhaber’s glaring wrongdoing became increasingly clear, Kate Brown and other Oregon Democrats stayed silent for months on the matter, demonstrating they cared most about their allegiance to their Party, not the constituents who elected them. Oregon is in critical need of new leadership, and their current leaders have made it clear they are unfit to govern effectively.”

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