Salem – AARP Oregon honored state legislators with “Down the Trail” awards for developing bi-partisan solutions to help older adults.

Oregon’s former State Treasurer and legislator, Ben Westlund, was known as a statesman who brought people together to find bipartisan solutions to problems facing Oregon. “Bipartisan solutions can help us create policy that’s in the best interest of all Oregonians,” said Jerry Cohen AARP Oregon State Director. To honor Westlund’s bipartisanship, AARP Oregon named our top legislative award after his favorite phrase, “Down the Trail.”

Legislators this year were chosen for efforts in transportation, budget and being champions for older adult issues. Awardees are selected by AARP Oregon’s Volunteer State President, Elaine Friesen-Strang; State Director, Jerry Cohen, and Director of Government Relations Jon Bartholomew. In 2017, awardees were selected for their work on the state budget for long term care supports and services and transportation options including safer streets and mobility options.

Sen. Lee Beyer, Sen. Rod Monroe, Sen. Brian Boquist, and Rep. Cliff Bentz will be honored for their leadership on the 2017 Oregon Transportation Package, advocating for a significant investment in transit services statewide that older Oregonians rely on and help older adults remain in their own homes and communities.

Sen. Richard Devlin, Sen. Jackie Winters, and Rep. Nancy Nathanson will be honored for their work on the state budget during the 2017 legislative session. Facing potentially deep cuts in services that older Oregonians rely on to remain in their homes, such as family caregiver training, Oregon Project Independence, and Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services, they worked diligently to preserve funding for these services.

AARP Oregon also created the “Tribute to Champions,” award to recognize former public servants were champions for older adults during their legislative services.

“Tribute to Champions” awards will be presented to the families of Rep. Vic Gilliam and Sen. Alan Bates in honor of their long history of fighting for older Oregonians Thursday as well.

Representative Gilliam co-founded the Elder Abuse Prevention Task Force in the Oregon legislature with Rep. Val Hoyle, and fought for multiple bills to protect older Oregonians from fraud and abuse. Rep. Gilliam left the legislature two years ago after a diagnosis of ALS. AARP Oregon will donate $500 to the Bart Valentine Scholarship at Warner Pacific College in his honor.

Senator Alan “Doc” Bates served as co-chair of the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Services from 2009 to his passing in 2016. His leadership of this committee paved the way for wise investments in long term supports and services for vulnerable Oregonians and helped to stabilize the budget at Oregon’s Department of Human Services. AARP Oregon will donate $500 to the Alan C. Bates Scholarship at Western University of Health Sciences in his honor.