By Jan Jackson
As a staff member for U.S. Sen. Mark O. Hatfield in the 1970s, Vic Gilliam got a glimpse of the challenges and rewards of public service.
Gilliam now has the opportunity to put those lessons to work. On Dec. 28, 2007, Gilliam was appointed to replace the late Rep. Mac Sumner. In November, Gilliam, a republican, was elected as a member of the Oregon House of Representatives and along with his peers, he feels honored to be of service.
“Because of my work with Sen. Hatfield, I was ready for much of the legislative process, but times are tough,” Gilliam said. “Oregonians are hurting. We’ve got to get them back to work.”
Gilliam, who was born in the Midwest, was 13 years old when his family moved to Portland. He earned his undergraduate degree in religion from Warner Pacific College in Portland and holds a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration. Part of his 25-year fundraising career was spent working for Willamette University raising money for the Mark O. Hatfield Library.
900 Court St., N.E. H389
Salem, Or. 97301
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Gilliam, who is divorced and remarried, moved to Silverton nine years ago to be close to his children.
“When I first moved to Silverton a decade ago, I rented for a year to see if I could live in a small town,” Gilliam said. “I fell in love with the place and purchased a home. Within a very short time-span I can be at city council meetings and chambers all over my district and listen to groups who need to voice their concerns.
“My wife’s situation on the other hand, requires her to spend every other week in Seattle with her high-school-aged son and every other week here in Silverton. I am fortunate that she is so supportive and dedicated – not only to her son, but also to our district.”
The largest cities in Gilliam’s district, which includes parts of Clackamas and Marion Counties, are Molalla and Silverton. Gilliam listed several priority issues including public safety (specifically keeping the Legislature’s promise for 24/7 trooper coverage); funding for vulnerable seniors and disabled citizens; and funding for kids and schools (with an emphasis on money going directly to the classroom).
Former Silverton Mayor Ken Hector works closely with Gilliam on many issues.
“I worked a lot with Vic both last legislative session and this one and I find him straightforward, approachable and easy to work with,” Hector said. “Unlike some who are unrealistic, if he knows something isn’t going to get any traction, he tells you right up front.”
An average day finds Gilliam serving on one or more of four House committees – Consumer Protection, Environment and Water, Sustainability and Economic Development and Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural communities. Of the four, he favors Agriculture because of the spirit of bi-partisanship to help Oregon’s farmers.
“I’m most grateful for being assigned to the Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Communities committee,” Gilliam said. “It is not just because it has turned out so vital to issues in my district, but also because working with House Committee Chairman Brian Clem (D – 21) has given me new faith in the system. We need to put our trust in each other to prove that Republicans and Democrats can get along. It is important to me to be a part of that trust building.
“Though it is easy to be overwhelmed in painful economic times, I am encouraged by the businesses and hard-working families in our district,” Gilliam said. “Our community and our charitable organizations are rallying around those in need. They are eagerly going back to work and they are creating new jobs. I look forward to working together with them toward the turn around.”