Governor Victor G. Atiyeh's Administration
Victor G. Atiyeh served as Oregon's governor from January 8, 1979 to January 12, 1987.
Atiyeh was born on February 20, 1923 in Portland, Oregon. After attending the University of Oregon in Eugene for two years, Atiyeh joined Atiyeh Brothers, the Portland rug and carpet firm his father had established at the turn of the century. Atiyeh was actively involved with the Boy Scouts, where he holds the highest council and regional adult leadership awards. He served in the Oregon Legislature representing Washington County as a member of the Oregon House of Representaives from 1959 to 1964 and as a state senator from 1965 to 1978.
Atiyeh ran unsuccessfully for Governor in 1974 but won against incumbent Governor Robert Straub in 1978, attracting 55 percent of the vote. He was reelected in 1982 by Oregon's largest gubernatorial margin in 32 years. Among his accomplishments were improving state management, reforming workers compensation, and energy and economic development programs. His administration's priorities included property tax limitation, land use planning reform, renewed aid and commitment to higher education, continued emphasis on economic development, and establishment of special programs for public safety in Oregon's fishing and lumber industries. This administration was successful in creating thousands of diversified jobs and attracting new industries to the state. The Oregon State Lottery, created by initiative petition in 1984, contributed to this success.
Atiyeh took several measures to diversity and strengthen Oregon's timber-dependent economy. These included reducing worker's compensation premiums that were the nation's highest; streamlining Oregon's land-use laws; winning legislative repeal of Oregon's controversial unitary-tax formula; launching a worldwide tourism initiative; leading successful international and domestic trade missions; opening Oregon's first overseas trade office in Tokyo; signing a sister-state agreement with China's Fujian and Taiwan Provinces.
Governor Atiyeh fought for and supported federal legislation designating the Columbia River Gorge as a national scenic preservation area. Atiyeh also showed strong support for historic preservation and the Oregon Arts Commission. New laws against drunken driving were passed during Atiyeh's administration. His Advisory Committee on DUI was effective in heightening public awareness of the seriousness of the drunk driving problem. The Governor's Commission on Aging sponsored the passage of the Senior Services Division which created a more supportive environment to Oregon's older citizens in getting necessary care and services. Atiyeh was instrumental in establishing Oregon Food Share, the nation's first statewide food bank. Because of his successful efforts to enact laws against racial harassment, Atiyeh won the Distinguished Public Service Award of Oregon B'nai B'rith and the highest honor for public service from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Atiyeh died on July 20, 2014.