A former member of the Oregon Legislature who stood up for cycling issues on several occasions has thrown his hat into the ring to replace outgoing U.S. Congressman Greg Walden.
Jason Atkinson announced this week that he wants to represent Oregon’s 2nd congressional district, the largest of Oregon’s five districts that encompasses nearly 70,000 square miles from the Columbia River Gorge to the California border.
Atkinson, a 49 year-old who grew up in Ashland, is an interesting candidate because of his legacy of supporting cycling bills during his time in the legislature where he served as a senator from 2001 to 2013. During his tenure, Atkinson was a staunch ally of bike advocates. He joined us for a group ride during the 2009 Oregon Bike Summit and threw his weight and voice behind several bills including: an attempt to legalized fixed gears (he once testified for the bill in a “Ride a Fixed Gear, Go to Jail” t-shirt), a new funding mechanism that would have built velodromes statewide (Atkinson wanted Oregon to develop Olympic-caliber cycling stars), and he was an early adopter of the “Idaho Stop” law that finally passed last session.
“People would say, ‘You know, you were going to be a great statewide candidate until you went all liberal and got with the bicycles.'”
— Jason Atkinson in 2012
In an exit interview with BikePortland in 2012, Atkinson said his forays into cycling issues probably cost him support from some constituents. “I got a tremendous amount of angry email from all over Oregon every time I involved myself with a bike issue. People would say, ‘You know, you were going to be a great statewide candidate until you went all liberal and got with the bicycles.'”
It was notable in Atkinson’s campaign announcement that they referred to him as a “longtime conservative” and mentioned the hiring of a former “Trump senior strategist” to be on his team who, “shares the Atkinson campaign’s vision of values and ideals.”
Politics has gotten even more partisan since Atkinson left office six years ago and it remains to be seen whether Atkinson will continue to embrace his love and appreciation of cycling.
Read more about Atkinson’s announcement and watch a video from KDRV in Medford here.
(NOTE: I’ve reached out to Atkinson via his consulting business website but have yet to hear back. If anyone out there has current contact information for him or his campaign, please connect us. Thanks.)
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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