Meet Betsy Johnson
Betsy Johnson is running for Governor as an independent leader unaffiliated with any party and loyal only to the people of Oregon. She believes Oregonians deserve better than the excesses and nonsense of the extreme left and radical right and that Oregon is ready to move to the middle where sensible solutions are found.
The decision to run independent of any party requires Betsy to give-up her Democratic Party registration in Spring 2022 before being nominated for Governor next summer by the people of Oregon through the power of their signatures. While she is losing a party label, her bedrock values will not change. Betsy was raised in a moderate Republican family and became a Democrat when the Republican Party moved too far right. For the past twenty years, she has been an independent-minded pro-choice, pro-jobs Democrat proudly serving the people of Northwest Oregon in the Oregon legislature.
Betsy was first elected to the Oregon House in 2000 where she served until 2005 before being appointed to Oregon Senate and later elected in 2006. She is currently serving her fourth term in the Oregon Senate. In her 2018 re-election, in addition to being the nominee of the Democratic Party, Betsy also earned the Republican and Independent Party nominations through write-in votes.
Serving in the state legislature, Betsy is known as a fierce advocate for her constituents, enjoys a mastery of the state budget and has a well-earned reputation as a plain-spoken moderate willing to buck her party to find bipartisan solutions. One of her proudest accomplishments is her years-long leadership to create an education workforce training center in Columbia County in partnership with Portland Community College. The center combines classroom learning with on-the-job training focused on advanced manufacturing.
Born in Redmond in 1951, public service runs deep in Betsy’s family. Her father Sam served in the Oregon House in the 1960’s and 70’s and her mother Becky served on the State Board of Higher Education and many other community organizations.
In addition to serving in the legislature, Betsy has served on the boards of numerous local, regional, and national organizations, including the Oregon Health Sciences University Foundation, Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, Oregon Public Broadcasting Foundation, and the High Desert Museum in Bend. She is currently on the Board of Visitors of Northwestern School of Law and serves as President of the Samuel S. Johnson Foundation, named for her late father.
Betsy is a licensed commercial pilot of both fixed-wing and rotor-wing aircraft. She founded Transwestern Helicopters, Inc. in 1978. It was flying helicopters – especially over Mount St. Helens before and after the May 1980 eruption – that honed Betsy’s ability to focus when the going gets tough. Today the aviation company is managed by John Helm her husband of 35 years. Betsy’s business experience in aviation led to her being selected as the Manager of the Aeronautics Division of the Oregon State Department of Transportation, a position she held from 1993 until 1998. In 1999, as Director of Legislative Affairs for the Oregon Pilots Association, she helped pass legislation creating the Oregon Department of Aviation.
After graduating from Oregon Episcopal School in 1969, Betsy earned her undergraduate degree in History from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota and her law degree attending night classes at Northwestern School of Law, Lewis & Clark College. Betsy and her husband John work side-by-side serving her Northwest Oregon constituents and they live in Scappoose.