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Volume 17, Issue 11
November 2019


We are Oregon House District 33

by Shawna Muckle, CMN intern

Cedar Mill’s district in the Oregon House, District 33, has its first open seat in 18 years. Several new primary candidates have already come forward for the upcoming May 2020 primary election. 

Comprised of urban, suburban, and rural areas, Oregon House District 33 encompasses much of northwest Portland, extending to a chunk of the US-30 corridor in Portland’s northwest industrial district and the Willamette River. It contains several surrounding suburbs, including unincorporated parts of Washington County such as Cedar Mill, Helvetia, and north Bethany. Cedar Mill is located roughly in the center of District 33.

Oregon House District 33 stretches from the Willamette River to Highway 26
Oregon House District 33 stretches from the Willamette River to Highway 26

Mitch Greenlick, District 33’s longtime representative, announced his retirement prior to the 2019 legislative session, launching an open-seat election in District 33 for the first time in 18 years. Greenlick was first elected in 2002 after a district redrawing, which moved his jurisdiction from Oregon House District 7, where he served one term, to House District 33. He took office as District 33’s representative in 2003. 

Greenlick has earned a reputation in the Oregon House for his experience and extensive credentials surrounding healthcare. Prior to legislating, Greenlick maintained a 30-year career in health and medicine research, serving as the director of the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research until 1995. In 2005, Greenlick received the lifetime achievement award from Oregon Public Health Association for his legislative work improving access to adequate healthcare for Oregonians.

In the initial years of his tenure, Greenlick quickly asserted himself as a healthcare-focused reformer, championing and/or authoring several bills focused on fixing flaws in Oregon’s healthcare system and improving public health regulations.

“When I first started, the uninsured rate was about 18%; now it’s about 5%,” Greenlick said. “I had [HB 2116] in 2009 that got health insurance for 100,000 children in one year via the Healthy Kids insurance program. That was a defining moment for me.”

Greenlick ascended to chairmanship for the House Committee on Healthcare in 2007, chairing the committee for 12 years until he stepped down in early 2019. He also sits on the House Judiciary Committee. One of Greenlick’s most publicized efforts throughout his tenure has been lobbying for the adoption of an amendment to the Oregon constitution that categorizes healthcare as a human right.

In 2018, Greenlick introduced HJR 203, a constitutional referral that calls upon voters across the state to amend Oregon’s constitution by identifying “access to effective and affordable health care” as a “fundamental right,” according to a press release from Greenlick’s office. The referral passed the House in 2018, but it stalled in committee in the Senate.  

Mitch Greenlick

“The constitutional amendment has failed four times,” Greenlick said. “I’m going to try once more this next session to affirm healthcare as a universal right. This is something we’re struggling with as we move ahead towards universal access and acknowledging that as a state.”

During the short legislative session in early 2019, Greenlick became the center of controversy for a comment he made while hearing testimony from a representative for a pharmaceutical company arguing against a bill that would require 60-days notice prior to any increase in prescription drug pricing. Greenlick berated the representative, saying, “I’ve been listening to your guys’ comments for 16 years. Generally, you’re not stupid. In this case, you appear to be stupid.”

House Republicans accused Greenlick of abusing his power as chair of the healthcare committee and creating a discourteous legislative environment. Though Greenlick quickly issued an apology, House Speaker Tina Kotek was eventually prompted to remove Greenlick from his chairmanship of the healthcare committee. He still remains a committee member.

Greenlick, who is 84, announced he would not seek a tenth term in late 2018.

Primary elections for House District 33 will occur on May 19, 2020, alongside many other local and statewide primaries. The filing deadline for candidates is March 10, 2020. 

So far, three candidates, all Democrats, have filed for candidacy, and a fourth has announced plans to run. Primaries are segmented by party, meaning only one Democrat will proceed to the general election. 

District 33 is a heavily Democratic district and hasn’t voted a Republican into office since Vic Backlund, who ran unopposed in 2000. Upon Greenlick’s entry into office in 2002, voters have swung heavily to the left, with Greenlick consistently garnering over 65% of the vote since 2012. In 2018, Greenlick trounced Republican candidate Elizabeth Reye 75.86% to 23.97%.

This article is the first in a series educating Cedar Mill voters on the upcoming open-seat District 33 election. Future articles will include features on candidates and their platforms, major events in the race, and additional information on the May primary elections.



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Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
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Portland, Oregon 97291
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