Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
October 29, 2013
WEST SALEM -- Vicki Berger never envisioned herself as a "professional" politician.
After serving in the Oregon State House of Representatives since 2002, Berger decided Oct. 23 that she had served District 20 to the extent she could and it was time to retire.
Berger, a Republican whose district includes Monmouth, Independence and West Salem, will continue her current term but will not seek re-election in the 2014 midterm election.
In the world of politics, things take time -- passing legislation, running for office, fundraising and even announcing a retirement don't happen overnight.
"I never thought of this as a political career, so much as I thought it was a chance to serve," Berger said. "Every two years, I make an affirmative decision to seek re-election. Two years ago, I thought 10 years might be enough."
When she leaves office in 2015, Berger will rank among the longest serving representatives in the Oregon Legislature.
During her time in office, Berger has committed herself to tax policy and other fiscal matters.
Berger has had numerous successes in her decade-plus of service, but a few issues remain just out of reach.
With the upcoming special session in February, Berger will try to tackle those lingering issues.
"Legislature and government, in some sense, is process," Berger said. "There's nothing ever complete. You don't get something done, particularly big changes, in one session. It's two, or three, or four sessions."
One of the first calls Berger received after news started spreading of her announcement was from Paul Evans.
Evans, a Monmouth resident and former Monmouth city councilor and Central School Board member, mounted an unsuccessful bid for the Oregon Senate in 2006, but with a vacant District 20 seat in the November 2014 election, he jumped at the chance.
For now, Evans remains the only person to file for Berger's soon-to-be-vacated seat.
"At the end of the day, my job isn't to convince the voters of House District 20 that I'm better than an incumbent," Evans said. "My job is to present a vision, showcase leadership and demonstrate experience. They can decide which path they want to go."
With retirement still more than a year out, Berger is now planning what to do with the bountiful free time she will have.
An avid golfer, Berger is looking to spend more time with her already retired husband, Jerry, and her four grandchildren.
"I'm 64. You get to retire don't you?" Berger said with a laugh. "It's time for me to make an alternative career decision. It's pretty simple, there's no great mystery."