• Mayor of Hood River, 1959-1960 and 1989-1990.
  • Oregon State Representative, 1967.
  • Oregon State Senator, 1969-1989.

About Sen. Jernstedt

Sen. Ken Jernstedt grew up on a farm near Carlton, attended Linfield University and received a degree in business administration. After graduation, he attended the U.S. Marines Flight School and volunteered for the American Volunteer Group Flying Tiger Squadron, part of the U.S. Marine Air Corps, during World War II. During his time in the U.S. Marine Air Corps, he earned the “ace” status.

In 1945, Jernstedt returned to Oregon and worked in Hood River at the Bottling Company. He served as president of the Coca-Cola Bottlers of Oregon and the Oregon Soft Drink Association. Due to his prominence in Hood River, citizens elected him as mayor in 1958, and he served until 1967, when he began serving in the Oregon State legislature.

After one term in the Oregon State House, Jernstedt was elected to the Oregon State Senate. During his time in the legislature, he was part of a group of Republicans known as the “Phone Booth Caucus”, a reference to the small number of Republicans in the 1977 Senate – so few they could fit in a phone booth. Jernstedt also had a leading role in mitigating the impact of the Rajneeshees on Oregon politics in the 1980s. 

Jernstedt’s legacy lives on. The Port of Hood River named its airfield in his honor in 2001, and the Oregon Air National Guard named their entry gate for him in 1981. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1996 and the Oregon Aviation Hall of Fame inducted him in 2003. Governor John Kitzhaber appointed Jernstedt to the Oregon Commission for the Blind in 1998, after he developed glaucoma and became legally blind.

– Interview recorded August 31, 2005