PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Republican state Sen. Jackie Winters passed away on Wednesday.
Winters had been battling lung cancer and other health issues. She was 82 years old and lived in Salem for over 40 years.
She was elected in 1998 to serve in the House of Representatives, making her the first black Republican to serve in the Oregon Legislative Assembly. In 2002, voters promoted her to the Senate.
In November 2017, Winters became the first African-American legislator to lead an Oregon legislative caucus. She was elected as Senate Republican leader to succeed Sen. Ted Ferrioli of John Day.
Last week, she released a statement that she intended to return to the Capitol.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown released a statement praising Winters after her death:
“Senator Jackie Winters has been a bastion of integrity, justice, and common sense in the Oregon Legislature since she first took her seat in 1999. Her commitment to service knew no bounds. It shone through in every project she took on and every issue she tackled. I feel lucky to have had the privilege to call her my friend as well as my colleague for so many years.“
“I will always remember her courage in moving forward on Senate Bill 1008 just this session. Her legacy will live on through her family and in her community through the legislation she spearheaded to improve the lives of all Oregonians.”
Other politicians reacted to her death as well, many releasing statements about the impact she had on the Legislature.
The Portland Tribune contributed to this report.