Panel to consider Oregon statues in U.S. Capitol
State now represented by John McLoughlin, Jason Lee.
Gov. John Kitzhaber has stepped into a debate about who should represent Oregon in the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
He issued an executive order creating a nine-member panel to consider whether the current statues should be replaced, who should be substituted instead, and what to do with the statues that may return to Oregon.
He appointed five of the members, including its chairman.
Jerry Hudson, chairman, former president of Willamette University.
Margaret Carter of Portland, the first black woman to be an Oregon legislator and also a retired state official.
Gale Castillo, a business owner and president of the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
Patsy Smullin, president of California Oregon Broadcasting Inc. in Medford.
Brigette Whipple-Scott, a member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.
House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, and Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, will each name two members. Neither had done so by Friday.
A nonvoting member is Kerry Tymchuk, executive director of the Oregon Historical Society.
In 2013 and 2014, the Oregon House passed bills sponsored by Rep. Vic Gilliam, R-Silverton, to replace the statue of Jason Lee with one of Mark Hatfield. Gilliam once worked for Hatfield, a former governor and U.S. senator who died in 2011.
But the bills died in the Oregon Senate.
Kitzhaber referred to those debates in his announcement of the new panel.
There has been significant legislative interest in recent years about who would best represent the Oregon spirit in our nations capital, Kitzhaber said. This is a forum for Oregonians to have a conversation about which historic and modern pioneers to showcase to Washington, D.C., visitors. It also presents an opportunity to bring a statue of an honored Oregonian back home.
The 2014 House debate centered on whether it was too soon to honor Hatfield, who held public office for 46 years.
No one spoke in the 2014 House debate on behalf of Lee, although his supporters say he represents religious roots in the founding of Oregon.
Each state may be represented in the National Statuary Hall by two statues. Oregon designated Lee and John McLoughlin in 1953. Lee was a Methodist missionary; McLoughlin, acknowledged as the father of Oregon, was the chief trader for the Hudsons Bay Company at Fort Vancouver.
Some states have started to replace their statues. Three recent presidents Dwight Eisenhower (Kansas), Gerald Ford (Michigan) and Ronald Reagan (California) are now represented in the hall, although none of them was born in the state that his statue now represents.
The hall was the chamber for the U.S. House of Representatives from 1807 to 1857.