Four-term Umatilla County Commissioner Dennis Doherty told the Hermiston Herald this week that he will not seek a fifth term in the 2012 election.
Doherty, a Hermiston resident, has served on the Board of Commissioners since 1997 and has been a staunch advocate for the west side of the county.
He will be 70 when his current term ends at the end of next year.
Doherty admitted the decision not to run has been "very difficult," particularly as Umatilla County enters what he termed an "exciting and important era."
But with a son, Ben, battling cancer, he ultimately decided that being available for his family on a full-time basis was most important.
"It's not that I don't want to run again," Doherty said. "But to make a four-year commitment is more than I can do at this point. My next four-year term wouldn't begin until January 2013, and I can't guarantee that kind of commitment at this point."
Doherty has played an integral role in a number of major Umatilla County projects since being elected to the board. He wrote charters for the CSEPP Governing Board and Critical Groundwater Task Force; was instrumental in helping the county meet permit conditions for the Umatilla Chemical Depot; has been a driving forced behind helping resolve water issues; and was integral to the construction of the Stafford Hansell Government Center in Hermiston.
"The Stafford Hansell Center would not exist without Dennis Doherty," fellow commissioner Bill Hansell said. "He has been absolutely committed to family and his community, and whenever issues came before us, he made sure Hermiston wasn't getting the short end of the straw."
Doherty has also played an integral role in helping develop plans for the proposed Eastern Oregon Trade and Events Center a facility that won't be finished before he leaves office.
"I'd love to be the commissioner when we start to wrap up some of the things we've started," he said. "I'll feel like I'm leaving a fair amount of business unfinished. That's what I'll feel bad about.
"Things don't sustain themselves. You always have to have your shoulder to the wheel at the same time the next issue is presenting itself.
Doherty and his wife, Anne, have four children. They have both been active in the community since moving here from Morrow County. A graduate of the University of Oregon and Willamette Law School, he practiced law for 26 years, including a five-year stint as Morrow County District Attorney.
"Circumstances preclude me from making a commitment for another full term," Doherty said. "Right now, our family will focus on assisting Ben's family in whatever way possible."
Doherty did stress that he will not leave office early, but will serve out the remainder of his current term.