Jeff Merkley has dedicated himself to fighting for opportunity for Oregon’s families. The son of a millwright, he grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood where – as Jeff says – his mother “stretched a dollar as far as anyone possibly could.” Today, he still lives in that neighborhood and his kids have gone to the same public schools he attended. Jeff has lived the American dream and has focused his whole career – both in elected office and running non-profits – on making sure that all Oregonians have the same opportunity to make a better life for themselves and their families.
Jeff’s work in the Senate is a continuation of a lifetime of working to make Oregon and the world a better place. During his term as Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives, Jeff led a legislative session The Oregonian deemed one of “Oregon’s most productive in a generation.” Under Jeff’s leadership, the state legislature increased education funding, expanded access to affordable prescription drugs, established domestic partnerships and a landmark civil rights law to protect LGBT Oregonians from discrimination, cracked down on predatory lending, and created Oregon’s first-ever rainy day fund. Prior to running for office, Jeff ran several non-profits in Portland, including Portland Habitat for Humanity, which empowers low-income families through homeownership.
Jeff is a member of the Appropriations Committee; the Environment and Public Works Committee; the Budget Committee; and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He and his wife Mary Sorteberg, a nurse, have been married for more than twenty years and have two children, Brynne and Jonathan, and an Airedale terrier, Sadie.