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Governor John A. Kitzhaber, M.D. - Biography

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber was born in 1947 in Colfax, Washington.  He grew up in Oregon and graduated from South Eugene High School in 1965.  After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1969, he attended the University of Oregon Medical School, earning a medical degree in 1973.  He practiced emergency medicine in Roseburg, Oregon for 13 years.  Kitzhaber is married to the former Sharon LaCroix of Saskatchewan, Canada.  They have one son, Logan, born in October 1997.

Kitzhaber first ran for public office in 1978 and was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives.  In 1980 he was elected to the first of three terms in the Oregon Senate representing Douglas County and parts of Jackson County.  He was elected Senate President in 1985 and served in that position until 1993.  Kitzhaber was elected governor November 8, 1994, and was sworn into office January 9, 1995.  He was re-elected on November 3, 1998 and inaugurated for a second term on January 11, 1999.

As Senate President, Kitzhaber was recognized nationally for authoring the ground-breaking Oregon Health Plan.  He is credited both with crafting the plan itself and for bringing together diverse interest groups to pass the law, which took effect in February 1994.  Kitzhaber also received recognition for his many accomplishments in the field of environmental stewardship, including the prestigious Neuberger Award given by the Oregon Environmental Council.

During his first term as governor, Kitzhaber oversaw the expansion of the Oregon Health Plan, which reduced the rate of uninsured Oregon children from 21 percent to eight percent.  In addition, Kitzhaber's welfare reform plan, known as the Oregon Option, has reduced the number of welfare caseloads more than 50 percent, saved more than $200 million in the state budget, and helped nearly 20,000 Oregonians find work.

Preserving Oregon's environment remains a priority for Kitzhaber, and during his first term he developed and implemented the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds.  This is a collaborative plan that encourages federal, state and local government agencies to work with private landowners to restore watershed health and recover endangered salmon species.

Education and opportunity for Oregon's children also has been a centerpiece of Kitzhaber's administration.  He has fought for stable education funding, implementing the Education Act for the 21st Century, increasing investment in Oregon's colleges and universities, including freezing tuition, and juvenile crime prevention.

Kitzhaber is an accomplished fly fisherman and enjoys Oregon's wild rivers.

Fishing Fly


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