Hooley, Darlene, 1939-Variant names
Darlene Kay Olson Hooley (born April 4, 1939) is an American politician and former Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Oregon who represented the state's 5th congressional district from 1997 to 2009. A high school teacher by profession, she served as a city councilwoman, state legislator, and county commissioner in Oregon before being elected to the House in 1996. In her post-congressional career, she remains engaged in civic life in Oregon and works as a strategic planning consultant.
Born Darlene Kay Olson in Williston, North Dakota, she moved with her parents to Salem, Oregon at the age of 8 where she attended Salem Academy. From an early age, Hooley was determined to go to college, and she followed an older sister to California’s Pasadena Nazarene College in 1957. Two years later, Hooley transferred to Oregon State University in Corvallis where she graduated in 1961. She began teaching high-school reading, music, and physical education in Oregon. Later she pursued postgraduate work at Oregon State University and Portland State University. In June 1965, she married John Hooley; the marriage ended in divorce in 1997.
Hooley became interested in politics after her son was injured on a playground in West Linn, Oregon. She was appointed to a parks advisory committee, and in 1976, became the first woman elected to serve on the West Linn City Council. In 1980, Hooley was elected to the Oregon State Legislature and served as a State Representative until 1987. In the legislature she served in the lower chamber (Oregon House of Representatives) as a Democrat representing Clackamas County (District 27), succeeding Republican Ted Achilles. She chaired the environmental and energy committees, helping to pass energy conservation and recycling legislation and worked on rewriting land use planning laws. In her third term, she chaired the education subcommittee of the ways and means committee. As subcommittee chair, she is credited with leading reforms to Oregon’s public kindergarten, pay equity laws, and welfare system. Hooley left the legislature in 1987 to accept a position on the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners.
In 1996, Hooley ran for the U.S. House of Representatives against one-term incumbent Republican Jim Bunn, who had been voted in as part of the Republican Revolution of 1994. In her first term in the U.S. House, Hooley was elected House Democratic freshman class president. Local political observers reported that she solidified support in her closely divided district, by staking out moderate positions, avoiding controversy and scandal. In later terms, she was appointed to leadership positions in the House Democratic Caucus.
Following the September 11, 2001 attacks Hooley, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, advocated adapting banking laws and acting to disrupt the financial foundations of terrorist networks. She also focused on methamphetamines and ecoterrorism legislation, and supported the Oregon Death with Dignity Act. As a member of the Veterans' Affairs committee, she focused on issues of veterans' health care and deployment of National Guard troops to the Iraq War. She was also successful in directing federal funding to her district, including millions of dollars for transportation, timber, and agricultural interests.
In February 2008, Hooley announced that she would not seek a seventh term. After leaving Congress, Hooley joined former Multnomah County Commissioner Lisa Naito in founding Hooley & Naito, a strategic planning and legislative advocacy firm.
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