PENDLETON — Republican state Rep. Greg Barreto of Cove is not seeking re-election in 2020. He said the time has come to turn his attention toward family and his growing manufacturing business.
“It has been an honor and privilege to be elected and to serve as the state representative for Oregon House District 58,” he said in a news release. “The past six years have been an adventure and time of learning. I have enjoyed helping my constituents, passing legislation that is for the good of all Oregonians, and working for the great people of HD58. Thank you for this opportunity to serve and for the strong support I have received from so many.”
Barreto during a phone conversation said he is a firm believer in a citizen legislature and the role of lawmaker should not become a profession. After three terms, he said, it was time for someone else to step up and serve the people of House District 58.
The district consists of Union and Wallowa counties and a portion of Umatilla County. Barreto won his first term in 2014 after defeating current Pendleton Mayor John Turner in the Republican Primary and Democratic nominee Heidi Van Schoonhoven in the general election. Barreto was unopposed in 2016 and in 2018 he defeated Skye Farnam, an independent, in the general election.
Barreto is the founder of Barreto Manufacturing Inc. in Cove, and serving in the Legislature required easing away from the business. He said his children and employees asked him to come back and run the company. He feels it is time to return to that focus.
“I left the business in the hands of my family and employees and since then our volume of business has doubled,” Barreto said. “That is what happens when you hire excellent people.”
His announcement to not run again comes on the heels of losing his spot in House Republicans leadership.
The caucus in September elected Rep. Daniel Bonham, The Dalles, to replace Barreto and voted out Carl Wilson of Grants Pass from minority leader in favor of freshman Rep. Christine Drazan of Canby. Barreto said losing the leadership spot made stepping away an easier choice.
“If I would have stayed in leadership, I would have stayed another term,” he said.
When Wilson lost, Barreto said he felt no obligation to hang on as deputy.
Barreto is a staunch conservative, and despite being in the political minority, he said he succeeded in reaching across the aisle and got along with members of both parties. He said there is definitely partisanship in the Legislature, but basic courtesy can help overcome it.
“If you respect them, they will respect you,’’ he said.
He alluded to the fact Republicans have less influence as Democrats get more control of the Legislature. The Democrats picked up three seats in the 2018 House elections, giving them the supermajority they need to help raise taxes.
“The party in power dictates the ultimate future of the state,” he said.
Fellow Republican Rep. Greg Smith of Heppner said Barreto “was a good representative of the conservative Republicans of District 58.”
Republican state Sen. Bill Hansell of Athena said he and Barreto worked together on a number of issues.
“I will miss him,” Hansell said. “Greg was a good legislator and a good friend.”
Barreto still has a year and two months to serve. He said a big part of working in leadership was recruiting candidates and that’s something he will turn his attention to for the district.
The candidacy filing deadline is not until March 10, 2020.