Sen. Alan Olsen, Republican from Canby, abruptly announced his resignation from office Monday, telling colleagues it was a “very difficult decision to make,” but his “family always comes first.”
“Sometimes life throws you lemons,” he said in a message to his Democratic counterparts who control the state Senate. “That is the time to hold your head up and make lemonade.”
Olsen’s message did not go into detail about the details of his resignation but said, “Some of you know the circumstances so I hope you understand my motivation.”
“It was a pleasure working with all of you,” he said in the email. “I really enjoyed the job, the research, and the debates. I will miss that.”
Olsen acknowledged the “dire times” facing the state and nation and apologized to his colleagues that he would not be there to help.
He paraphrased Founding Father Benjamin Franklin in saying, “Those who would trade a little liberty for a little security deserved neither and would lose both.”
“Be careful in your decisions as the path you set upon could be very destructive for Oregonians,” he cautioned. “It is time for you to bring Oregon out of the cellar and into the light.”
According to other media reports, Olsen plans to move to Indiana to be closer to family.
Olsen has represented the 20th Senate district since 2010, when he narrowly upset incumbent Martha Schrader, a Democrat, by 227 votes. He won reelection as recently as 2018, when he took 51.8% of the general election vote over Democratic challenger Charles Gallia’s 46.1%.
In 2019, Olsen and his 10 Republican colleagues walked out on the legislative session to prevent a vote over a controversial cap-and-trade proposal, leaving the Capitol Building and — in some cases — the state.
In December, Olsen and other Republican lawmakers signed a letter requesting Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum join a GOP-backed case contesting the results of the 2020 presidential election before the Supreme Court in Texas v. Pennsylvania.
But Rosenblum had already announced she had filed on behalf of the defense, and against Texas, and the high court soon ruled they would not hear the case due to the Republican plaintiffs’ lack of standing.
Nominees to fill the remaining two years of Olsen’s term will be submitted by Republican central committee members in District 20 to the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, who will make the final decision.
Ironically, Schrader is among the commissioners who will weigh in on Olsen’s replacement. However, she is now in the minority, with Chair Tootie Smith and newcomer Mark Shull joining fellow conservative Paul Savas on the five-member board.
By law, commissioners will have 30 days from the date Olsen’s resignation to appoint a replacement, who will serve until the next general election in 2022.