• Oregon State Representative, 1981-1985.
  • Secretary of State of Oregon, 1985-1991.
  • Oregon State Governor, 1991-1995.

About Gov. Roberts

Barbara Roberts’ political career began when she became an advocate for her son, Mike, and other children with disabilities. She worked as a lobbyist for the Portland Chapter of the National Society for Autistic Children in 1971. While lobbying for disabled children’s rights, she used her own money to advocate for equal access to education. In 1973, she served on the Parkrose School Board, and also served on the Mount Hood Community College Board.

Roberts became a Multnomah County commissioner in 1978. In 1980, she was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives. During her service, her Democratic colleagues chose her as House Majority Leader, the first woman in Oregon to serve in that position.

After serving in the legislature, Oregon citizens elected Roberts as Oregon Secretary of State in 1984. She was the first Democrat elected to that post in over 100 years, and Oregon citizens then re-elected her in 1988.

Halfway through her second term as secretary of state, Roberts announced her campaign for governor of Oregon. Oregon citizens elected her in 1991 as Oregon’s 34th governor, and the first woman governor of Oregon. In 1992, Roberts became the first Oregon governor to face a recall petition. However, all three recall attempts failed. 

Roberts did not run for a second term as governor. Since her time in office, she has served in multiple leadership roles. She continues to advocate for women in politics, LGBTQ rights, Special Olympics, housing, education, the environment and equity. 

– Interview recorded May 24, 2006