SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) has announced that he plans to retire at the end of his current term. His office confirmed the news, and shared a text message he sent to colleagues on Wednesday afternoon.
"I am not going to be running again for the Legislature," he wrote. "I will serve out the remainder of my term. It has been an honor and a privilege to have been allowed to serve locally on the Salem City Council and for all these years in the Oregon State Legislature. I hope I’ve helped.”
Courtney, 78, is the longest-serving lawmaker in the Oregon legislature and the longest-serving presiding officer in the history of the Oregon Senate, having led the body since 2003. He began serving in elected office in 1974 as a member of the Salem City Council.
In a July interview about the 2021 legislative session, Courtney expressed support for the budget and several bills that had passed, but said he was tired and described it as "a really draining, difficult session."
He also spoke about the evolution of the legislative process in Oregon during his career, and lamented what he characterized as a shift away from compromise and engagement over political disagreements.
Courtney's departure means that both chambers of the Oregon Legislature will be under new leadership next year. House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) announced in September that she will run for governor this year, seeking to succeed Governor Kate Brown, who is prevented from running again due to term limits.
This story will be updated.