State Rep. Andy Olson said Tuesday that he won’t seek an eighth term in the Oregon House.
Olson, 65, a Republican who represents the Albany area, said he never planned to serve seven terms and that counting his nearly 30 years with the Oregon State Police, he has devoted almost 44 years to public service.
“I plan to serve out the remainder of my term and then enjoy some sunshine in Arizona for a few weeks,” he said. “The time is right.”
Olson said he is “extremely thankful to have had the opportunity to serve this area and, in all honesty, serve all Oregonians.”
Olson said he planned to serve three terms, but by the time he had gotten to that point, he had risen into leadership roles in Salem and felt like he needed to continue.
“On paper it says I’m supposed to be in the minority, but I’ve never felt like I’ve been in the minority when I walk through this building,” he said.
Olson joined the Oregon State Police when he was 21 years old.
“It was a dream fulfilled,” he said. “Growing up, I had always wanted to protect others and being a law enforcement officer was one of my top priorities in life. After 29 years with OSP and having gained enough memories for a lifetime, it was time to move on.”
Olson said his wife, Pam, was opposed to his running for political office when he was asked to do so in 2004, but his daughter believed it was something he was meant to do. He and Pam studied their daily devotional and that day's message was about getting out of one’s comfort box. Pam said she would support his decision and he “took a leap of faith.”
“I haven’t always been able to make everyone happy regardless of political affiliation, but I certainly tried to make a difference," he said.
Olson said he plans to continue pushing to develop an intermodal transload facility at the former International Paper site at Millersburg.
The Millersburg site and a site at Brookings are in the running for $25 million in Connect Oregon funding to develop such a project in the mid-valley.
Linn County Commissioner Roger Nyquist has worked closely with Olson on several projects, most recently on the transload project.
“Andy has done an incredible job representing the constituents of this district in both Linn and Benton counties,” Nyquist said. “In all honesty, for those of us who have had the chance to work with him on a regular basis, today is a difficult reality.”
Nyquist said he wishes Olson the best, adding, “I’m sure he will continue to stay involved in his community and the Legislative process in some way going forward.”
Nyquist said Olson represents “what a citizen legislator ought to be.”
“His bipartisan attitude was able to get things done for the residents of his district that is too often absent from the legislative process,” Nyquist said.
Olson has an Associate of Arts Degree in Law Enforcement from Chemeketa Community College and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Human Resources Management from George Fox University.
During his career with the Oregon State Police he was stationed in Albany, McMinnville and Beaverton and rose to the rank of lieutenant and station commander.
Olson serves on the Governor's Task Force on DUII, the Sexual Assault Evidence Kits Testing Task Force, the Administrative Hearings Oversight Committee and the Asset Forfeiture Oversight Council.
He also serves as the vice chair of the House Committee on Human Services and Housing, is a member of the Joint Committee on Marijuana, the Joint Committee on Transportation Preservation and Modernization and vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
During the current legislative session, Olson was a chief sponsor of House Bill 4055, which closed a loophole in the state’s hit-and-run statutes. The bill was passed by both the House and Senate.
The bill will require drivers to take specific actions once they learn they have been involved in a collision, even after leaving the scene. Previously, drivers leaving the scene were not required to return.
The bill resulted from the deaths of two sisters who were playing in a pile of leaves and died after a vehicle, its driver unaware of the children's presence, struck the pile.
Olson also served on the transportation committee, which spent a year traveling around the state to gather information about transportation needs. Their work and the input they gathered led to the passage of House Bill 2017, a $5.3 billion package of taxes and fees to fund highway and bridge improvements and transit projects statewide.