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Sen. Margaret leaves the Oregon Senate
Photos and Story by James Hill
(Margaret Carter pictured during the 2007 dedication of the Margaret Carter Skill Center with, from left, then-Sen. Gordon Smith, his wife Sharon and Peter Courtney, Oregon Senate president. Photo by James Hill)
Sen. Margaret Carter today announced her resignation from the Oregon Legislature.
Carter served for 27 years as a counselor and faculty member at Portland Community College’s Cascade Campus. In 2007, PCC named the Skill Center at that campus in her honor.
She leaves to take on the newly created position of deputy director of Human Service Programs with the Oregon Department of Human Services.
“I am excited to be in a position where I can continue to make a difference for the people who need it the most,” she told PCC Public Affairs earlier today. “This is my area of passion and where I have spent many decades of dedicated time and energy. I can’t think of a better place to be of service.”
Carter began serving Oregon in the House of Representatives, winning her seat in 1985 and being re-elected six times. She moved to the Senate in 2001 and ran again in 2005.
“This November would have marked a quarter century for me in the Oregon Legislature,” she said. “Today, however, I am saying farewell to an institution that I love deeply and respectfully.”
She serves Senate District 22, which includes portions of North Portland including the Cascade Campus.
During the 2009 Legislative session, Carter served as one of two co-chairs for the powerful, budget-writing Ways and Means Committee. By law, Oregon’s budget must be in balance; a difficult task during the worst recession in decades.
“Margaret Carter is a legislative giant,” said Peter Courtney, Senate president and currently the longest-serving Oregon legislator. “Someone will be named to succeed her, but no one will ever replace her.”
Courtney also praised her decision to move to DHS. “The good news for the state of Oregon is that she will continue to be a tireless champion for the underprivileged, our senior citizens, the disabled and families whose struggles are mighty.”
A native of Louisiana, Carter was the first African-American woman in the Oregon Legislature – one of many “firsts” for her. She was the first African-American woman to be elected president pro tempore of the senate; first to co-chair Ways and Means; and first to head a major state political party in the American West, the Oregon Democratic Party. Carter is the current national president of National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women (also known as NOBEL Women).
“She has done so much for our college, our students and for all of Oregon,” said Preston Pulliams, district president of PCC. “She will truly be missed in the Legislature.”
Carter has received numerous awards including the Elliott Human Rights Award; the Legislator of the Year award from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators; the Portland Observer Community Award for service to youths; the Mary Rieke Award from the Oregon Women Political Caucus; the Friend of Nursing Award from the Oregon Nurses Association; the 2006 Statesman of Year Award from the Oregon Business Association; and the 2008 Heart of the Community Award from the Portland Trail Blazers and Hands On Greater Portland.
She also is a past president of the Urban League of Portland and served as a board member of the local chapter of the American Red Cross.