- Oregon State Representative, 1973-1979.
- Oregon House Minority Whip, 1977.
- Oregon House Minority Leader, 1979.
- Director, Government Relations, US West, 1980-1996.
- Legislative Staff (Special Assistant, Chief of Staff), 1997-2012.
About Rep. Wilhelms
Gary Wilhelms’ contributions to state government have come in many forms. He first served as an elected official, then worked as a lobbyist and finally as a legislative staff member.
Wilhelms entered politics at a unique moment in Oregon history, when representatives and senators were elected to “the first single-members districts election. The boundaries of each district were actually new in the 1972 election.” As one of 26 freshman representatives, Wilhelms had a steep learning curve, but one that he relished and learned from. “Part of my learning curve was learning to appreciate that legislative process.” He made certain his constituents understood the ramifications of land use planning and a new concept in 1973: urban growth boundaries.
In 1980, Gary took the opportunity to move into a new role, that of lobbyist for US West. He continued in that role for 17 years. After a brief “retirement”, Wilhelms returned to the legislature in various staff positions. He worked as special assistant and chief of staff to several Senate and House leaders: Brady Adams, Lynn Snodgrass, Karen Minnis and Kevin Cameron. Wilhelms also worked as an unpaid intern for House Speaker Karen Minnis to fulfill one of his college course requirements. He fulfilled a life-long goal of earning a college degree in 2010.
– Interview recorded June 20, 2017