PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Rod Underhill, the longtime Multnomah County District Attorney, will step down at the end of July to make way for DA-elect Mike Schmidt.

In an email to his staff, Underhill said he spoke with Schmidt on Monday and will retire July 31 in a move the puts “the interests of this office and our community first and follows significant personal and professional reflection.”

Underhill, who’s been with the DA’s office for 32 years, announced in 2019 he would retire at the end of this year. That set up a competitive race in the May primary between Schmidt and Ethan Knight.

Mike Schmidt wins Multnomah County DA’s race

He said he also spoke with Governor Kate Brow and recommended she appoint Schmidt to serve as district attorney for the remainder of Underhill’s term, effective August 1.

Schmidt’s elected term will begin in January.

Mike Schmidt won the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office race in 2020. Credit: Mike Schmidt 2020

“We are in the midst of what I hope and believe will be monumental and lasting societal change,” Underhill wrote to his staff. “My term expires in six months; it would be shortsighted of me and unfair to the office and our community to spend my remaining time advocating for and enacting that strategic vision, and then looking to DA-Elect Schmidt to begin that process anew, and potentially differently, in January. I have always been guided by the principle of doing what is right for our
community and putting the office in that position would not be right.”

Underhill left with praise for the lawyers and staff at the DA’s office.

“I count my blessings each day that I have had the good fortune to spend my career working in and then being elected to lead the best law firm in the State of Oregon.”

In a statement, Schmidt said, ““Rod Underhill has served Multnomah County for over 30 years, and he deserves our thanks for his advocacy on behalf of victims – and especially victims of domestic violence, child sexual abuse, and human trafficking. Rod has dedicated his life to protecting public safety, and I know few public servants more dedicated.”

He said they will work closely together on a smooth transition.