The nearly two decades of late Oregon Secretary of State and longtime legislator Dennis Richardson’s public life is the topic of a book, which was scheduled for release Labor Day.
“Our Friend Dennis” is the latest work by author W. Scott Jorgensen, who released a book about late former Governor Vic Atiyeh in 2014. Jorgensen met Richardson while working as a newspaper reporter in Richardson’s hometown of Central Point in 2002. He then served as his legislative aide during the 2005 session and remained a supporter and friend until Richardson passed away in February 2019.
“Dennis dedicated the last phase of his life to serving his community and the people of Oregon,” Jorgensen said. “I think he definitely earned his place in the state’s history and I decided to try and tell the tale.”
Published by Carlton-based Ridenbaugh Press in Yamhill County, Our Friend Dennis follows Richardson from his days on the Central Point City Council through his six terms as a member of the Oregon House of Representatives, his run for Governor in 2014, the Secretary of State’s Race two years later and his stint as the state’s second highest ranking elected official. It is formatted as an oral history, and includes account of Richardson’s career from 20 different perspectives, including those of former legislators Rep. Jeff Kropf (R-Sublimity), Rep. Mike Schaufler (D-Portland), Sen. Doug Whitsett (R-Klamath Falls), Rep. Peter Buckley (D-Ashland), Rep. Julie Parrish (R-West Linn) and Rep. Patrick Sheehan (R-Happy Valley).
Also interviewed for the book are Sen. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer), Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Nigel Jaquiss and many of those who worked closely with Richardson throughout his political career.
“There are many of us whose lives and careers were directly shaped by Dennis through his guidance and mentorship,” Jorgensen said. “He set a positive example for all of us to follow, and I just hope this book pays him proper tribute.”
Jorgensen, 40, began his career as a small-town newspaper reporter and as a news director and talk show host for the Grants Pass Broadcasting Corporation. He went on to work for various legislators in the Oregon Senate and House of Representatives and is now a local government administrator.