Oregon leaders react to the passing of Rep. Mitch Greenlick

Long-time Oregon legislator Rep. Mitch Greenlick passed away on Friday after battling health issues in the last year. Greenlick served in the Oregon House of Representatives since 2003, representing House District 33 in Portland.

During his time in office, and throughout a distinguished career outside of politics, Greenlick was a tremendous thought leader for Oregon public health and health care.

As news spread of his passing, leaders in Oregon offered their remarks, reflecting on Greenlick’s distinguished career.

 

 

Governor Kate Brown:

“Representative Mitch Greenlick dedicated his career to fighting for Oregonians to have a better life,” said Governor Brown. “A fierce advocate for expanding health care, he championed initiatives that helped push our state forward, including extending the Oregon Health Plan for low-income and underserved communities. His tireless efforts around justice reform were critical to the passage of key legislation through the years to bring equal treatment under the law to all Oregonians. He was a professor, an educator, and a citizen legislator. Smart as a whip and with a heart of gold, he was a true Lion of the House. We will all greatly miss him. Dan and my hearts are with Harriet and his family as they mourn his passing.”

US Sen. Ron Wyden:

“No state legislator was more popular with the Gray Panthers than Mitch Greenlick. For decades he has been the go-to person on health care as a basic human right. Literally an irreplaceable voice. He will be hugely missed.”

Becky Hultberg, President & CEO, Oregon Association of Hospitals & Health Systems:

“We mourn the loss of Mitch Greenlick, a passionate champion of public health and health coverage.

As a member of the legislature, Representative Greenlick used his vast knowledge of health policy to improve access to care. He played a key role in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the creation of Coordinated Care Organizations, and the establishment of the Oregon Health Authority, all of which have helped extend coverage via the Oregon Health Plan to nearly one million Oregonians.

Before becoming a state representative, Mitch already had worked tirelessly for decades in a variety of public health service roles. In 2019, OAHHS nominated him for a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oregon Public Health Association. In our nomination statement, we wrote “Mitch Greenlick’s contribution to public health policy is so vast that it may never fully be appreciated in Oregon.”

We are saddened by the passing of our friend. Mitch was a public servant in the best sense, someone who used his tremendous intellect, commitment and compassion to improve the lives of his fellow Oregonians.

We at OAHHS extend our deepest condolences to Mitch’s wife Harriet and to the entire Greenlick family.”

House Speaker Tina Kotek:

“It is with deep sadness that I announce that Representative Mitch Greenlick passed away at his home last night. Representative Greenlick had been battling a number of health issues over the last year and was serving his last term in the Oregon House. He died while serving in office, doing what he loved. Oregonians lost a champion for fairness, justice, and health care as a human right. His work and legacy will benefit Oregonians for years to come.

“My heart goes out to his beloved wife, Harriet, and his entire family. In accordance with the Jewish tradition, there will be a small, private family service within a few days. A public celebration of his life will be considered when the time is appropriate.

“Representative Greenlick was one of my closest colleagues in the Legislature. I will miss his moral compass, his intellect, and his sense of humor. I will miss my friend.”

Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick:

“I am incredibly sad. Mitch Greenlick was a true genius. He used his vast intellect to serve humanity, first in public health and for two decades in the Oregon Legislature. He was an unwavering advocate for health care and his tireless efforts ensured hundreds of thousands of Oregonians have the coverage they deserve. He saved lives. He was always purposeful with his passion. He cared deeply about critical issues such as protecting our environment, providing quality public education and reforming our justice system. In addition to his great wisdom, he was warm. He was compassionate. He cared deeply for others. He cared so deeply for others that he was often regarded as the conscience of the Legislature. Mitch always acted in good faith and always did was right and best for Oregonians.”

House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner:

“I am deeply saddened to learn that our friend Mitch Greenlick passed away last night. Mitch dedicated his life to serving Oregonians, always standing on principle and fighting for what he knew was right and just – and he always did it with unmistakable candor and humor.

“I first met Mitch 20 years ago as the director of the House Democrats’ campaign arm. Though he didn’t win that first race, I can’t help but think how lucky we are that he came back to win the next one. His dedication and love for service made us all a little better in the work we do. Oregon is a better place because of him.

“On behalf of myself and the Oregon House Democrats, I extend the deepest condolences to Harriet, the love of Mitch’s life, his children, Phyllis, Michael and Vicki, and the entire Greenlick family. May we all be fortunate enough to have a life so well lived.”

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan:

“Representative Greenlick was deeply committed to his values, his community, and his family. He devoted years of his life to serving his constituents in the legislature, and he will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Harriet, his family and his friends at this time.”