D - Portland
Rod Monroe was born August 20th, 1942. He grew up in Southeast Portland and graduated from Franklin High School in 1960. He began college at Warner Pacific College where he met his wife, Billie, who he married in 1961. He transferred to Portland State University (although in those days, it was called Portland State College) where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in 1965 and a Master’s Degree in 1969.
In the fall in 1965, Senator Monroe became a teacher at Tigard High School. After developing curriculum he began teaching advanced placement classes in History and Government. At the beginning of each school year, he’d tell his students, “If you’re here because someone forced you to be, transfer out now. This is the hardest class you’ll ever take.”
Monroe believes that if you push kids while giving them the attention and tools they need, they will succeed. So, later in his career when he served on the David Douglas School Board, he helped David Douglas to have the highest graduation requirements in the state - a distinction they still carry. Since becoming semi-retired, Senator Monroe has had the pleasure to run into his former students all over Oregon. Several of his former students have worked at the Capitol as committee administrators, State Representatives, and State Senators.
Senator Monroe has been a lay leader in his church for 25 years. In 1995, he was elected to the Board of Deacons. He and his wife work in a ministry for senior adults and he even earned his commercial drivers license so he could drive the church bus. The ministry takes seniors to community events to help build the fellowship and to get seniors out and about. He fought to provide the Pastor of the church health care benefits, raised money for the bus used for senior ministry, and most recently worked to raise the money for a new sanctuary.
Besides his obvious commitment to public service, Senator Monroe is also an advocate for physical fitness. When he was called up for the draft at the age of 25, he failed the physical exam because his blood pressure was too high. He then made a commitment to do something about his health and began running. Since then, he has run 20 marathons and still runs about 5 miles a day.
When Senator Monroe was first entering public life in the 1970s, many of his and his wife’s friends were in politics. The Monroes were quick to see the effect the strenuous lifestyles had on marriages. When he was first elected to the legislature in 1976, Billie gave up her job to become her husband’s legislative assistant in Salem. It was a great sacrifice for her, but it has apparently paid off. They will celebrate their 48th wedding anniversary on September 1.
In his previous tenure in the Oregon Legislature, Senator Monroe was particularly proud of the following achievements:
- Chief sponsor for Oregon’s tough drunk driving law in 1983
- Chief sponsor of the child restraint law
- Author of a law that requires all apartments to have smoke detectors, saving thousands of lives.
- Chief sponsor of the Oregon Indoor Clean Air Act in 1981, which prevents smoking in most public building
- Chief sponsor of a law that put kindergartens in all school districts
After serving in the Oregon Legislature, Senator Monroe spent 12 years on the Metro Council. While serving on the Council, he served on the transportation committee. At Metro, he served on the Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation and chaired it for 5 years as well as leading the region’s delegation to Washington D.C., working to get Congressional support for light rail, street cars, bikeways, and highway projects. Portland has been called the “Best Bicycling City in America” in no small part to Senator Monroe’s work. He pushed for the Springwater Trail, Oaks Bottom, and Gresham-Fairview bike trails. He also helped to create the three bike bridges across McLoughlin Blvd, the rail yard in Southeast Portland, and Johnson Creek, which connect these trails.
Senator Monroe also served 15 years on the Board of Trustees of Warner Pacific College including a stint as acting Chair and several years as Vice-Chair. He is currently Vice-Chair of the Warner Pacific Foundation Board.
In 2005, Rod was elected to the Board of Mount Hood Community College where he served as Vice-Chair in 2006. During the 2007 Legislative Session Senator Monroe was instrumental in getting State funding for a new Head Start facility to be build on the campus of Mount Hood Community College. This will allow single parents to get a good education while their child is well cared for.
Going forward into 2009, Senator Monroe wishes to thank his district for electing him and hopes that he can continue to advocate for the interests of East Multnomah County.