Mary Alice Ford - Political Career

Political Career

A pro-choice Republican, Ford was a member of the party's central committee for Washington County from 1973 until 1979. In 1979, she was appointed to the Oregon House of Representatives representing Garden Home in the eastern part of Washington County. Ford was appointed to the office after House member Mike Ragsdale resigned in order to be appointed to the Oregon State Senate. Ford won the seat in the next election and was re-elected six times, serving a total of eight terms, through the 1993 legislative session. As a legislator, she worked to promote social services and health care and was appointed to the Architectural and Transportation Barrier Compliance Board in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan. She served as chair of that board.

The 1992 Republican primary was a close election for Ford. The strength of her opponent, Sandra Nelson, reflected a changing Washington County Republican electorate that would sweep Ford out of office in the 1994 primary. At a debate at the Washington County Public Affairs Forum on Monday May 4, 1992 Ford and Nelson explained their differing views on various issues involving government interference in individual lives, and on the controversial Oregon Citizens Alliance. Nelson stated that if elected, she would roll back laws requiring helmets for motorcycle riders and also author legislation to allow parents the right to determine if their children need to wear seat belts in cars, stating "government decisions can cause children to suffer". Ford disagreed with Nelson, stating: "A lot of people choose not to be responsible, society pays for their indifference through indigent care and higher insurance premiums". On the Oregon Citizens Alliance, the candidates also differed in their approaches to the group. Nelson supported the group, even though she questioned some of its specific policies. Ford again found herself opposite of Nelson, believing that such groups with narrow goals are not good for the state. In the general election she defeated Dennis Doyle, a computer consultant, to win what would be her final term in the legislature.

Ford lost her seat in the 1994 primary to Eileen Qutub, who went on to win the seat in the November election. She said of her opponents on the religious right after her defeat: "Quite frankly, I don't consider them Republicans, I consider them religious opportunists." In 1996, she ran to reclaim her House District 8 seat. The Oregonian endorsed her in the Republican primary saying, "she was respected by lawmakers from both parties and thus was able to deliver quality service to her constituents even when a member of the minority party. That, in essence, defines the role of a good legislator." She would go on to lose to conservative Bill Moshofsky.

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