Representative Darlene HOOLEY

YEARS 1939-
OFFICE Representative
STATE Oregon
WHICH CONGRESS SERVED 105th (1997-1999), 106th (1999-2001), 107th (2001-2003), 108th (2003-2005), 109th (2005-2007), 110th (2007-2009)

Representative Darlene HOOLEY Biography

A former Oregon public schoolteacher, Darlene Hooley began a long climb in state politics in the 1970s, inspired initially by defective equipment at a local playground. Hooley served in city, county, and state government for 20 years before winning election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996. During her tenure in Congress, Representative Hooley focused on identity theft and data security, education funding, affordable health care and prescription drug coverage, the National Guard, and veterans health care.Darlene Olson was born on April 4, 1939, in Williston, North Dakota, to Clarence Alvin Olson and Alyce Rogers Olson. When she was eight years old, her family moved to Salem, Oregon. Darlene Olson earned a B.S. in education from Oregon State University in 1961, and pursued postgraduate work at Oregon State University and Portland State University from 1963 until 1965. She also taught reading, music, and physical education in Oregon. Darlene Olson married John Hooley, a fellow teacher, and they raised two children, Chad and Erin, before they divorced in 1997. The lack of city response to playground equipment maintenance issues at a local public park, where her son had fallen off a swing onto the asphalt, convinced Hooley to enter politics. In 1976, she was the first woman elected to the West Linn city council. Four years later, she earned a spot in the state house of representatives, where she served until 1987. In the legislature, she chaired the environmental and energy committees where she helped pass energy conservation measures, recycling legislation, and a rewrite of land use planning laws. In her third term, she served on the Oregon house of representatives ways and means committee, chairing its education subcommittee. She focused on establishing public kindergarten, passing pay equity laws, and reforming the states welfare system. In 1987, she became the first woman member of the Clackamas County commission where she served until her election to Congress.1In 1996, Hooley entered the race for an Oregon seat in the U.S. House of Representatives covering much of the northern Willamette Valley from West Linn in the north to the state capital, Salem, and the university town of Corvallis to the south. With backing from major womens political action committees such as EMILYs List, Hooley prevailed in the three“way Democratic primary with 51 percent of the vote. In the general election, she faced Republican Jim Bunn, a first“term incumbent. Her platform contrasted with the Republican Contract with America and was especially critical of Medicare cuts. Hooley defeated Bunn by a 52 to 45 percent margin in a race with two independent candidates. In her subsequent five re“election campaigns, Hooley won by margins of between 53 and 57 percent of the vote.2During the first year of the 105th Congress (1997“1999), Representative Hooley was elected Democratic freshman class president. She was then elected as Regional Representative to the Democratic Steering Committee in the 106th“107th Congresses (1999“2003). Hooley was appointed as Whip“at“Large (106th and 107th Congresses) and then Senior Whip. She received seats on the Banking and Financial Services Committee (later renamed Financial Services) and the Science Committee (later renamed Science and Technology). In the 106th Congress, Hooley took leave from serving on the Science Committee to serve on the influential Budget Committee, but was termed out in the 109th Congress (2005“2007) and returned to the Science Committee. She also served two terms on the Veterans Affairs Committee before receiving a coveted position on the Energy and Commerce Committee in the 110th Congress (2007“2009). During the 110th Congress, she also returned to the Budget Committee.On the Financial Services Committee, Hooley became the leader of ID theft prevention efforts and for increased medical and financial privacy. In the 108th Congress, Hooleys consumer protection legislation providing all Americans the ability to see their credit reports from all three major credit bureaus annually at no cost was enacted. Locally, Hooley secured public investments in her district, including millions of dollars in county timber payments in lieu of taxes on federal lands for local schools and roads, federal funding for transportation, port and infrastructure needs, and agricultural research and biomedical research funding.In 2002, Representative Hooley voted against the authorization of the use of military force in Iraq. During the occupation of Iraq, she was a vocal advocate for the proper training and equipping of troops serving overseas, and worked to correct inequities between the active duty and National Guard. As the Ranking Member of the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Hooley worked to improve veterans health care and increase funding for Veterans Administration medical centers.3On February 7, 2008, Hooley announced her retirement from the House, capping 32 years of public service. At some point in everybodys life you have to decide, how much longer do I want to do this? she said. Its time to move on.4 Hooleys term expired at the conclusion of the 110th Congress on January 3, 2009. Footnotes 1Politics in America, 2004 (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 2003): 847“848; Almanac of American Politics, 2004 (Washington, D.C: National Journal Inc., 2003): 1344“1345; Official Biography of Darlene Hooley, (accessed 24 November 2004). 2Election Statistics, 1920 to Present, 3Official Biography of Darlene Hooley,; Politics in America, 2004: 847“848. 4Rep. Hooley Will Not Run for Re“Election, 7 February 2008, The Oregonian. View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

External Research Collections

Willamette University Archives and Special Collections Salem, OR Papers: 1996-2009, 45 linear feet. The Darlene Hooley papers consist of papers generated and received by the office of Congresswoman Darlene Hooley during her six terms in the United States House of Representatives representing the Fifth District of the state of Oregon. A finding aid is available in the repository and online.


“Darlene Kay Hooley” in Women in Congress, 1917-2006. Prepared under the direction of the Committee on House Administration by the Office of History & Preservation, U. S. House of Representatives. Washington: Government Printing Office, 2006.

Darlene HOOLEY Committee Assignments

Congress divides legislative work into committees where bills usually originate. Committees are specialized by subject and hold hearings, prepare bills for the consideration of the entire House, and regulate House procedure.
House Committee – Banking and Financial Services House Committee – Budget House Committee – Energy and Commerce House Committee – Financial Services House Committee – Science House Committee – Veterans’ Affairs
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