Margaret Carter

Margaret Louise Carter[1] (née Hunter; December 29, 1935) is an American politician who was a Democratic member of the Oregon Legislative Assembly from 1985 to 1999 and 2001 to 2009 and was the first black woman elected to the state's legislature. She served in the Oregon House of Representatives until 1999, and then in the Oregon State Senate from 2001 to 2009. She served as President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Vice Chair for Ways and Means, and as a member of both the Health and Human Services and Oregon State Hospital Patient Care committees. She announced her resignation from the Senate effective August 31, 2009, and took a post as Deputy Director for Human Services Programs at the Oregon Department of Human Services.[2] In 2015, she was reportedly considering a return to the senate.[3]

Margaret Carter
Keynote speaker Margaret Carter (8113364377).jpg
Member of the Oregon Senate
from the 8th, then 22nd district
In office
January 8, 2001 – August 31, 2009
Preceded byThomas A. Wilde
Succeeded byChip Shields
Constituencyportions of Portland and Multnomah County
Member of the Oregon House of Representatives
from the 18th district
In office
January 12, 1985 – January 13, 1999
Preceded byEd Leek
Succeeded byDeborah Kafoury
Constituencyportions of Portland and Multnomah County
Personal details
Born (1935-12-29) December 29, 1935 (age 85)
Shreveport, Louisiana, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
ResidencePortland, Oregon, U.S.
Alma materPortland State University
Oregon State University
Professioneducator, counselor
WebsiteState Senate website

Early lifeEdit

Born Margaret Hunter in Shreveport, Louisiana, on December 29, 1935, her parents were Hilton and Emma Hunter.[4][5] She was raised there in a family of nine children by her father, a Baptist minister, and her mother, a cook at the school cafeteria.[6] After earning the honor as salutatorian in high school, she received scholarships to Grambling State University where she then briefly attended before meeting who would become her first husband.[5] After getting married she had five daughters by the age of 28, but moved to Oregon to escape abuse by her then husband.[6] She arrived via train on December 1, 1967, and began working odd jobs.[5] In Oregon, she re-married, adding four stepchildren, but divorced after a few years to Elvis.[5][6] In 1970, she enrolled at Portland State University where she then graduated from in 1972 with a bachelor of arts degree in education.[5] Carter then earned a masters of education in psychology from Oregon State University in 1973.[4][5] In 1973, Carter began working for Portland Community College as a counselor.[6]

Political careerEdit

Republican leaders recruited Carter to run for a seat in the Oregon House of Representatives in 1983.[6] They hoped to unseat the incumbent in a heavily Democratic district in Northeast Portland.[6] Carter won as a Democrat in 1984 and began serving at the 1985 legislative session representing District 18.[6][7] She became the first African-American woman elected to the Oregon Legislative Assembly.[6][8] In the House she worked to pass legislation that ended state controlled investments in South Africa during apartheid and legislation to observe Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday as a state holiday.[6] In 1989 she advocated for Blacks to join the Urban League of Portland.[9]

In 1998, she was a candidate for the office of Oregon Superintendent of Public Instruction, but lost to Stan Bunn.[6][10] Carter was a member of the Oregon House until January 1999, when term limits prevented her from seeking additional terms.[11] In November 1999, she became the president of the Urban League of Portland, serving until May 2002.[12] Also in 1999 she retired from Portland Community College.[8] She was then elected to the Senate in November 2000.[13] In 2005, she became president pro tempore of the Oregon State Senate[6] and was unopposed in the 2008 election.

In 2010, she was awarded the Legislator of the Year Award from the Oregon Library Association.[14]

Later lifeEdit

She resigned from the Oregon Senate in 2009 in order to take a job at the Oregon Department of Human Services.[8] The hiring was criticized since the new position paid $121,872 annually, which, along with other similar moves to the public sector by other legislators, led to the introduction of several bills to curtail such practices.[8] None of the bills ever became law.[8] Carter became director of community engagement in 2012 and saw her salary decreased.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Margaret Carter Oral History Interview". Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project. Oregon State University. Archived from the original on February 2, 2019.
  2. ^ Sen. Margaret Carter leaving Senate to take state job[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-06. Retrieved 2016-02-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ a b "Senator Margaret L. Carter (OR)". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 2008-12-24. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b c d e f Carter, Steven (October 11, 1998). "Margaret Carter". The Oregonian.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Cole, Michelle (June 26, 2006). "Senate 'matriarch' undaunted by dissent". The Oregonian. pp. A1.
  7. ^ Oregon Legislators and Staff Guide: 1985 Regular Session (63rd). Oregon State Archives. Retrieved on December 24, 2008.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Cole, Michelle (January 19, 2012). "Former state Sen. Margaret Carter gets a new state job, takes pay cut". The Oregonian. Retrieved January 19, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ Bundy Smith, George (July 21, 1989). "CARTER CALLS FOR SUPPORT OF URBAN LEAGUE". The Oregonian.
  10. ^ Carter, Steven (November 4, 1998). "Bunn leads Carter in race for school superintendent". The Oregonian. pp. B1.
  11. ^ Leeson, Fred (April 18, 2000). "Common threads run in Senate District 8 hopefuls". The Oregonian. pp. B2.
  12. ^ Chuang, Angie (March 5, 2003). "Urban League selects new president". The Oregonian.
  13. ^ Kenning, Chris (1999-01-11). "She is the first African-American Republican to serve". Statesman-Journal. Salem, Oregon: Gannett. pp. 1A. Retrieved 2006-12-28. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^

External linksEdit