Legislator Photo


Jeff Merkley
District 47


For the fourth time since 1998, Representative Merkley works for the people of House District 47 in Portland.

Jeff grew up in his district and attended David Douglas grade schools and David Douglas High School. At David Douglas High School Jeff ran cross-country, played tennis, and competed in public speaking. He spent a summer in Ghana as an exchange student and was elected Student Body President by his classmates.

Jeff earned his undergraduate degree from Stanford University and pursued his Masters Degree in Public Policy on a full scholarship at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. He was selected as a Presidential Management Intern in 1982. He tackled various assignments in the Office of the Secretary of Defense including coordinating a committee on technology transfer, developing a computer model to study the proposed “small ICBM”, generating a verification strategy for theater arms agreements, and assisting the US delegation to NATO. Jeff then served Congress as a budget and policy analyst in the Congressional Budget Office, generating studies on the nation’s options for strategic weapons.

Jeff returned to Oregon in 1991 to “live in God’s land.” He returned to his love of community development and became Executive Director of Portland Habitat for Humanity. At Habitat he coordinated community volunteers to build homes for sale to very low-income families. He also started the Walk for Humanity, launched development of the Habitat Home Building Center, and initiated a pilot project for “YouthBuild” in which gang-affected youth learn construction and life skills while building homes in their own neighborhoods. He then served as Director of Housing Development at Human Solutions, working to create affordable housing complexes and launching Oregon’s first Individual Development Account (IDA) program that helps low-income families save money to buy homes, attend college, or start businesses. Most recently Jeff was President of the World Affairs Council of Oregon for seven years and continues to serve on the Board of Trustees.

In September, 2003, Rep. Merkley was elected by his peers to the position of House Democratic Leader. He was re-elected to this post by acclimation in 2005. In this capacity he is responsible for the legislative activities of the Democratic caucus. His top legislative goals include guaranteeing a full school year and reasonable class size for all Oregon students, stabilizing Oregon’s revenue system, and investing in higher education. All three of these goals are essential if we are to create an environment in Oregon where businesses can thrive and more job opportunities can be created.

Jeff Merkley and his wife, Mary, have two children, Jonathan and Brynne.


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