Posted: Thursday, March 15, 2012 11:00 AM
Mitch Lies/Capitol Press
Oregon Farm Bureau member Mary Grimes, left, discusses farm policy with Sen. Fred Girod, R-Stayton, Feb. 6 during Oregon Farm Bureau's Day at the Capitol. Behind them, retired Josephine County farmer Connie Young discusses issues with Sen. Jason Atkinson, R-Central Point.
Oregon Farm Bureau calls decision 'a significant loss for the Capitol'
By MITCH LIES
Veteran Oregon Sen. Jason Atkinson, R-Central Point, has announced he is not seeking re-election to a fourth term.
"I believe it is best for my family for me to take a break and not be on the ballot in 2012," Atkinson said in a prepared statement issued March 6, moments before the state's candidate filing deadline.
Atkinson was elected to the state Senate in 2000. Prior to that he served two terms in the Oregon House.
In 2006, Atkinson ran for governor.
Atkinson is the second veteran Republican state senator to announce in recent weeks he is not seeking re-election. Four-term Sen. Dave Nelson, R-Pendleton, announced Jan. 23 that he is not seeking re-election.
"(Losing both) is a significant loss for the Capitol and for the agricultural community," said Shawn Cleave, governmental affairs specialist for the Oregon Farm Bureau.
Two candidates have filed for Atkinson's Senate District 2 seat.
Republican Herman Baertschiger is a Grants Pass rancher and part-time instructor at Rogue Community College. Baertschiger is a past chairman and current manager of the Fort Vannoy Irrigation District and president of H.B. Co., which provides assistance on forest stewardship projects.
He also is a former member of the Josephine County Forestry Board of the Josephine County Farm Bureau board of directors.
Democrat Jim Diefenderfer of Cave Junction is a retired security company employee. He lists no government experience on his candidate filing.