Oregon’s first couple will officially marry

By The Associated Press August 05, 2014 08:47 am

SALEM — Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and his longtime partner, Cylvia Hayes, are engaged.

The governor’s office confirmed Monday that Kitzhaber, who is running for re-election, and Hayes have been engaged “for a couple of weeks.” Spokeswoman Melissa Navas says she doesn’t know details, but “the governor and first lady could not be happier or more excited.”

No wedding date has been set.

The marriage will be the third for both Kitzhaber, 67, and Hayes, 46.

Kitzhaber refers to Hayes as the “first lady,” and she’s embraced the role of political spouse. She regularly appears with Kitzhaber in public and works on her own initiatives, which include battling hunger and poverty.

The couple met when Hayes ran unsuccessfully for the Legislature in 2002, against then-Republican Rep. Ben Westlund, of Tumalo (who later was elected state treasurer as a Democrat).

The engagement was first reported by The Oregonian, which has previously reported that Hayes arranged to meet with Kitzhaber, then the outgoing governor, to talk about whether she should try to run again and about how to grow her environmental group. Hayes made her mark in green energy and sustainability circles, particularly in Bend, which was then her home base. She helped start a well-received solar and green home tour in Bend. Hayes has said they ran into each other a few times after that, and a relationship slowly blossomed.