- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 9, 2015

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Eldon Johnson, a longtime Republican state lawmaker from southern Oregon, died last week after sustaining a stroke. He was 85.

Johnson died Sept. 4 in a Medford hospice center, his daughter, Karen Okada, confirmed.

Johnson, who served more than two decades in the Legislature, was widely hailed by human services organizations for his efforts to limit budget cuts following a 1990 ballot measure that limited property tax revenue.

Steve Vincent, a former legislative aide, said Johnson, as a member of the Human Services subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee in 1991, joined forces with a Democrat to “basically hold the DHS (Department of Human Services) budget hostage” through most of the legislative session until the cuts were reduced. In the end, Vincent said, about 80 percent of the cuts were rescinded.

First appointed in 1977 to fill a vacancy, Johnson was elected to 10 additional terms before being forced out of office by term limits in 1999, the Mail Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/1LkSpk6 ). The term-limits law was later found unconstitutional.

At one time or another, his district included parts of Medford, Jacksonville, Central Point, western Jackson County and a portion of Josephine County.

Vincent remembered his former boss as a bipartisan representative who was willing to listen to both sides of an issue.

“Sitting on the other side of the desk from him, I saw that he was always fair … regardless of disagreement,” Vincent said. “He really demonstrated that fairness better than anyone else in the Legislature.”

Johnson founded a company now known as Grover Electric and Plumbing and served on numerous boards, including the Medford School Board.

Johnson was born Aug. 16, 1930, in West Point, Nebraska. His family was impoverished, and he only attended school to the 10th grade. He was with the U.S. Air Force from 1953 to 1957, stationed in Germany and England. It was in England in 1957 that he met his future wife, Barbara, and they married later that year.

In addition to Barbara, he is survived by a daughter, Karen Okada, of Keizer; a son, Robert, of Napa, California; four grandchildren; and a sister, Velma Woods of Alaska.

A service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2, at the Rogue Valley Manor Auditorium. It is open to the public.


Information from: Mail Tribune, https://www.mailtribune.com/

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