Policy disagreements, partisanship and the walkouts can give Oregonians a distorted picture of what their Oregon Legislature is like. Journalists — and certainly this editorial page — tend to highlight conflicts, not the places of accord.
Recently, however, what state Rep. Daniel Bonham said during a committee hearing struck us regarding a resolution to honor former state Rep. Mitch Greenlick.
Bonham is a Republican from The Dalles. His district includes a large part of Central Oregon — Sisters, Culver, Madras and the Warm Springs Reservation. Plot Bonham and Greenlick along an ideological line and there would be a big gap between them in how to solve many of Oregon’s challenges. Bonham would be on the right. Greenlick, a Democrat who represented Multnomah and Washington counties beginning in 2002, was on the left. Greenlick died while serving in office on May 15, 2020.
They became friends.
Commissioners of several Central Oregon counties appointed Bonham to the Legislature in November 2017 to fill a vacancy. He came into the session in 2018 trying to find his way in the new role.
He happened to stay in the same hotel for the session as Greenlick and his wife, Harriet. They fell into the habit of exercising together in the gym and joining each other in the pool. And talking.
“I got to know Rep. Greenlick more on a personal level than anything else,” Bonham said. “What really impressed me was just his care and concern for helping somebody brand-new to this role that truly was trying to find their way. And despite the fact that we were not of the same party affiliation or shared the same views on how to solve health care problems, we had many wonderful conversations.
“I will say we probably talked more about the kids, the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren than we did about public policy. But his care and his compassion for others was just evident in his approach to life. And we saw it come through in very passionate ways both on the floor and in committee and even over lunch.
“I wanted to take the moment to stop by your meeting here today and to offer my words of just gratitude to the Greenlicks. Again, I don’t know how you talk about Mitch without talking about Harriet. I don’t know how, at least from my experience. They were such a team. I am grateful for their friendship and for the kindness that they showed me. I give my absolute support to SCR (Senate Concurrent Resolution) 3 and encourage everyone else to take a moment and read through it and remember and honor our good friend Mitch Greenlick.”