Meet Ted Kulongoski

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Governor Ted R. Kulongoski was born in rural Missouri on November 5, 1940, and grew up in St. Louis in a Catholic boys’ home. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. When he returned from duty in Southeast Asia, he spent a few years as a truck driver and a bricklayer in a steel mill in Alton, Illinois. Those experiences, and the availability of the GI Bill, gave Ted the impetus and the financial ability to pursue higher education. Governor Kulongoski put himself through the University of Missouri, where he earned both his undergraduate and law degrees.

Governor Kulongoski obtained a job as a judicial clerk in Eugene and then established his own law firm there. The firm earned a reputation as Oregon’s largest labor-law firm, representing labor organizations throughout the Pacific Northwest. The law firm served as general counsel to the Oregon AFL-CIO, the Teamsters’ Union, and numerous other labor organizations in the public and the private sectors. During one Oregon legislative session, Ted took time away from his law practice to author the Oregon Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act. Ted was selected as one of the top 71 Oregon lawyers in the 1987 edition of Best Lawyers in America.

While he was practicing law, Ted also served in the Oregon House of Representatives (1975-1978) and the Oregon State Senate (1978-1983). He was appointed Oregon Insurance Commissioner in 1987 and served until 1991. As Insurance Commissioner, Ted led the reform of the Oregon Workers’ Compensation system, which is recognized nationally as a model for reducing costs to employers and raising benefits for workers. In 1992, Ted was elected Oregon Attorney General, where he reformed the Oregon Juvenile Justice system, which now provides certainty and accountability for juvenile offenders. In 1997, he was elected to the Oregon Supreme Court as associate justice and served until mid-2001. He was inaugurated as Oregon Governor in January 2003 and is serving his first term.

Ted is the only governor in Oregon’s history to serve in all three branches of government at the state level: legislator, supreme court justice, and governor.

In his 30 years of public service, Ted has brought together the people of Oregon to solve some of our state's most difficult issues, from protecting older Oregonians from fraud and abuse, to improving minimum wage and worker safety laws, to ensuring that Oregon's children are well-educated, healthy, and safe.

As Governor, Ted entered office faced with a $3 billion deficit in the state budget – a more than 20 percent loss in revenue. Changing the way Oregon budgets, the Governor built a principle-based budget to pave the path to a prosperous future. After nearly three years, Governor Kulongoski continues to lead Oregon out of the recession– creating jobs and expanding business opportunities in rural and urban areas – while protecting the environment. Governor Kulongoski has also opened the doors to college for more Oregonians by ending the disinvestment in post-secondary education to keep Oregon's brightest here at home.

Governor Kulongoski and his wife, Mary Oberst, have three grown children. They enjoy backpacking and hiking. Ted is an avid fly-fisherman, and throws a fly in any puddle or stream of water in Oregon.

Posted on September 12, 2005