Betsy Johnson has filed to retain her seat in the state Legislature.

The Scappoose Democrat represents the North Coast. Her district includes the Columbia River portions of Clatsop and Columbia counties and all of Sauvie Island.

She was elected to take the position after Jackie Taylor of Astoria retired and has served two two-year terms.

She said service on the Joint Committee on Ways and Means - which crafts the state budget - has given her a greater awareness of political realities.

"Business as usual will eventually bankrupt Oregon," she said. "We have to spend more wisely and we have to completely overhaul Oregon's tax structure."

Johnson is the daughter of Oregon state legislator Samuel Johnson. She developed her own company, TransWestern Helicopters, based at the Scappoose Airport in the late 1970s. In 1993, after a spell in Salem lobbying on behalf of aviation interests, she was hired to lead the Oregon Department of Transportation's Aeronatics Section, overseeing more than 30 airports around Oregon.

She said urban legislators too often forget rural Oregon. "Often the needs of the metropolitan areas of our state and the needs of the rest of us are compatible, but frequently rural Oregon gets lost in the shuffle," she said. "A significant part of my job is to make sure that my urban colleagues understand the needs of the rest of Oregon."

She said reform of the state retirement system (PERS) and the $2.5 billion program to repair Oregon highways and bridges are among the Legislature's recent accomplishments.

Among disappointments, she said, is the inability of the Legislature to come to grips with financial reality, "I am sure that many Oregonians are bewildered how a majority of the Legislature could support spending $150 million for a baseball stadium while cutting education, corrections and senior service programs," she said.

Johnson's volunteer activities have included serving on the board of commissioners of the Port of St. Helens, the Columbia County Economic Development Committee, the Oregon Public Broadcasting Foundation, Doernbecher Children's Hospital and Oregon Health Sciences University foundations, the Oregon Symphony board and the Portland branch of the Federal Reserve Bank board of directors.


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