Oregon state Treasurer Ben Westlnd is being remembered Monday as a dedicated, witty and charismatic politician.
Westlund died Sunday at the age of 60 after his second bout with lung cancer. Colin Fogarty reports.
Ben Westlund was always an enthusiastic talker. He seemed to end every conversation – with reporters, fellow lawmakers and his family – with the phrase “Down the trail.”
He began his political career as a Republican state lawmaker, representing Bend. He was an entrepreneur who served 12 years in the legislature and rose to be one of its top budget writers.
Westlund broke with the party over spending and social issues. He pushed his colleagues for civil unions for gays and lesbians and health care reform.
In 2006, Westlund made a brief bid governor as an independent. Later, he switched to the Democratic party and was elected state Treasurer in 2008.
He survived one battle with cancer in 2003 but it returned last fall.
Governor Ted Kulongoski issued a statement saying, “Oregon lost a leader” and “a friend.”
A statement from his office and family announcing his death ended, “Down the trail, Ben, Down the trail.”