State Senator Joanne Verger is joining another coast lawmaker, Rep. Jean Cowan, in announcing she will not seek re-election. Here’s the news release her office just issued.
COOS BAY – State Senator Joanne Verger announced today that she will not seek reelection to District 5 in the 2012 election. Looking back on a career in public service that included a decade in the Legislature and nearly 20 years of local service, Verger reflected on her work for worthwhile causes and her reputation as a fair, accessible, and moderate voice in the Legislature and in local government.
“It has truly been an honor for me to serve coastal communities for over three decades. My district stretches from Coos Bay to Lincoln City and inland to Elmira and covers parts of six counties. It is big and it is beautiful. As a Representative and a Senator, I’ve been a strong advocate for the unique needs of these coastal communities,” said Verger. “I am proud of my reputation as a moderate voice on public policy and my conservative approach to spending. As a key swing vote on major legislation, I have always been a fierce defender of the Central and South Coast.”
Verger highlighted her commitment to issues as diverse as education, public safety, help for seniors and people with disabilities, support for community colleges and local governments, resources for veterans, significant transportation projects, and economic development assistance. While in the Legislature she chaired numerous committees, including the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development in 2011, the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Public Safety in 2009, the Senate Emergency Preparedness and Ocean Policy Committee in 2007, and served as chair of the Coastal Caucus in 2007.
“Oregon is grateful for Senator Verger’s ten years of legislative service,” said Governor John Kitzhaber. “She has devoted three decades to the people of the Oregon coast. She is a model public servant, setting an example for all of us who strive to make our community, our state, and our nation a better place.”
During her public service in the Legislature, Verger took on many projects of regional and statewide importance, including championing the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay’s purchase of the Coos Bay rail line, securing funding for the expansion of the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport, and supporting long‐term navigation system improvements for the Coos Bay harbor. For her focus on infrastructure projects that help the private sector create jobs, she has repeatedly been recognized as a tireless advocate for economic revitalization throughout southwest Oregon.
“I’ve had the privilege of knowing Senator Verger since she first became involved in public service, and I’ve witnessed first‐hand her dedication to our community and to the state, but also to individuals. She’s not afraid to take on any issue. She listens. And she always works to find consensus,” said Martin Callery, Chief Commercial Officer of the Port of Coos Bay. “I’ve always been impressed by Senator Verger’s dedication to the people she serves. Her leadership is a valuable asset for Oregon.”
Other community leaders joined in commending Verger’s legislative service and ability to deliver results for the people of Senate District 5.
“Senator Verger has been a tremendous asset for the people of the Oregon coast and has been instrumental in helping coastal community colleges secure funding for buildings and expansion,” said Pat O’Connor, President of Oregon Coast Community College in Newport. “She has always given us exemplary representation in the Legislature for the needs of economic development and community colleges.”
In addition to her years in the Oregon Legislature, Verger served in many local government roles, including her election as the first female mayor of Coos Bay in 1992, a position she filled for four terms. She was also a Coos Bay City Councilwoman from 1990‐1992 and sat on the Coos Bay‐North Bend Water Board for three years. Senator Verger became a League of Oregon Cities Board Member in 1995, was President of the League of Oregon Cities in 1999, and received the Legislative Leadership Award from the League of Oregon Cities in 2002.
“I have known and admired Senator Verger since she was first elected to the House in 2000,” said Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum. “Serving as the first female mayor of Coos Bay, and later the first female senator from the South Coast, she’s been a trailblazer for women in politics and an inspiration to many. Her dedication has set a high bar for any Oregonian who enters public service.”
Legislative leadership pointed to her reputation as a voice of reason, skilled at working across the political spectrum and building consensus around important issues.
“Joanne Verger has been an effective moderate voice in Salem for more than a decade. But there’s more to Joanne than a Legislative record. She has always conducted herself with class and dignity. We will miss her style. We will miss her poise. We will miss her leadership. Her retirement will leave a void in the Oregon Senate,” said Senate President Peter Courtney.
Verger moved to Coos Bay in 1969. She raised her four children in the area, owning and operating a local business for most of that time with her late husband. Reflecting on future plans, Verger said she would stay in the Coos Bay area close to family.
“Being in good health, I look forward to retirement and finishing my term in the Legislature,” said Verger. “I consider myself blessed to be a part of our close‐knit community.”