Jason A. Atkinson: Welcome
Jason Atkinson. It’s a name quickly gaining recognition and respect throughout the state. He is no ordinary "politician," which is probably one of the major reasons for his growing popularity. Those who meet him are surprised by his candor, contagious energy, and genuine desire to serve the people of Oregon.
For Jason Atkinson, being an elected member of the Oregon Senate means having the privilege to influence local change and the lives of hardworking men and women he knows and respects. It also means taking Oregon back to its roots and a time when ideals and dreams were tangible if you had the courage to say them out loud. His inspiration comes from the people of Oregon and their stories of trial and hardship, sadness and joy, success and failure. Although not quite invincible, as his gun-shot accident in July of 2008 proved, Jason Atkinson is a force to be reckoned with. And his political locomotive is just beginning to pick up speed.
Jason Atkinson: The family man.
Jason embodies the term "family man." From all appearances, the quaint Atkinson family of three is what some might call "ordinary." Jason and his wife Stephanie, who is a dental hygienist, met while Jason was racing bicycles and married six years later in 1996. Their curious and energetic little boy, Perry "Pomp" Atkinson is now six. Pomp enjoys frequent visits to Dad in his Senate office and is undoubtedly beginning to acquire the behaviors of a gentleman and a scholar. The three share a modest, tidy home in Central Point. Strategically placed mementos appear occasionally throughout the home, documenting conversations with politically elite individuals and high profile meetings. Other than these items, there is little evidence that a Senator and his family live there. The valiant mountain peaks surrounding their home and the Rogue Valley serve as their backyard and pride and joy.
Then, on a warm afternoon in July, 2008, an unexpected accident caused the Atkinson family to momentarily shift their attention away from work and politics. Collapsed and bleeding heavily on the cement floor of his garage, Stephanie tended to his .38 caliber derringer gunshot wound by fitting a rubber tire as a tourniquet. She pressed straight into his bullet-hole wound, just a few inches below his right knee and straight through his femoral artery. Her quick action played a large role in saving his life. But the accident would bring months of hard rehabilitation and profound frustration that can only be understood by those who have learned to walk for a second time. Letters and messages of support from the community and across the state poured into the Atkinson home as news of the story spread. Not inconsistent with Jason’s personality, he exceeded his doctor’s expectations for recovery in astounding time. Six months later, although still on a cane and with a new swagger, the accident serves as a heroic story of a determined survivor. He is even the back on the road, on his Landshark bicycle, of course, and looks forward to the day he will return to his pre-accident level of fitness.
As frequently as life allows, Senator Atkinson and the family steal away to the outdoors. A strong addiction to steelhead fishing keeps Jason from staying in the office too long. Escapes to international destinations, pursuing restaurants with homemade dishes worth traveling for, and skiing are also among their hobbies.
Jason Atkinson: The businessman
Pursuing a business challenge is a bit like pursuing steelhead, or so Jason would say. It takes patience, level-headedness, preparation, and the ability to outwit your opponent. Jason’s breadth of professional talent is impressive given his still sandy, brown hair. International business, finance, real estate corporate communications, and coalition building are all notes on his resume. He has even taken a couple shots as an entrepreneur. Allmand Tree Creative, a consulting firm based in the northwest but with domestic and international influence, has seen great success under his guidance.
His knack for international business developed after his first visit to the Middle East in 2004 with the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL). Jason began working for the Kurdistan Regional Government to establish a Leader-to-Leader Exchange program, the first of its kind. He linked prominent business and political leaders in the U.S. with likeminded leaders in Kurdistan.
A unique and effective management style has allowed Jason the opportunity to make bold business turnarounds of companies with gross revenue of $3-5 million. He has also managed private equity raising for projects ranging from $1-10 million. These are clients drastically in need of new direction and individuals who have seen Jason’s proven strength as a businessman. You can call him a creative capitalist! At times this has required him to step in as temporary CEO and undertake corporate re-branding. His passion and skill with public and private non-profits has also been a major component of his professional career. During the start-up phases, Jason has assisted non-profit foundations by managing the legal, tax, and capitalization requirements and negotiating complex real estate transactions.
These experiences have given Jason a diverse business portfolio and have prepared him to take on all kinds of challenges, whether they are financial, structural, or fighting for a bill on the Senate floor.
Jason Atkinson: The Public Servant
With a desire to influence the change he wished to see, Jason leapt into public service in 1998. After defeating his opponent despite being outspent four to one, it was obvious this young man of 27 years was born to shine. His first two years in the state legislature were spent representing the people of Jackson and Josephine counties in the raucous caucus, better known as the Oregon House of Representatives.
Again, after only two years in the House and setting his goals high, Jason was elected to the Oregon Senate in 2000. Since then, Senator Atkinson has been selected as Deputy Majority Leaders, Majority Whip, and Committee Chair. He won reelection in 2004 by winning both the Republican and Democrat primaries and was recently reelected to a third Senate term in November 2008. He continues to serve the people of southern Oregon.
While Senator Atkinson has a rugged and ruthless mentality when it comes to pursuing policies and legislation beneficial to those he represents, there are a few fundamental areas where Jason has been a tireless advocate. In his book, What We All Wish Politicians Understood, he shared some of his thoughts on those issues. These bold ideas chip away at some of the institutional inefficiencies of the legislature, such as the way k-12 education is funded and the abuse inflicted onto the taxpayer as a result of an unreformed Public Employee Retirement System (PERS). As an influential Member of the Natural Resources and Environment Committee, Jason has gained expertise in the areas of renewable energy policy and natural resource conservation. The Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards for Oregon, co-authored by Senator Atkinson and passed in the 2007 session, is one of the most aggressive renewable energy citing bills in the country. Reverence for the natural beauty of our state and common sense have always guided his approach to the environment. Tax reform, international trade development, and Oregon businesses are also areas Jason has displayed leadership and skill.
Although Jason’s proposals are bold, they are not overly complex. Others have used complexity as a means to exclude the people from the process.
He operates based on the theory that "if ordinary people don’t understand what government is doing, then what government is doing probably isn’t right." Your elected representatives should be doing all they can to include you in the public process.
The past nine years in the Senate have gained him a reputation as an unyielding and outspoken leader, as well as a man possessed with a love for history. This particular passion has brought liveliness and love of state to the Capitol building. Whether adorned in a vintage Jefferson costume, proposing brass polishing parties, or teaching an informal history class to Capitol interns and pages, it’s always with the intent to honor those who fought to make Oregon a part of the United States.