(R, D-56) Retired
Oregon House of Representatives,
2013-2017, District 56 Including Klamath Falls and surrounding sections of southern Klamath County and southern Lake County. Chief of Staff for her husband, Sen. Doug Whitsett, 2005 to 2017.
Gail Whitsett grew up on a large sheep ranch in Montana that her family later converted into a cattle ranch. She graduated from Oregon with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in geology and worked in the oil industry. “I saw what was happening in agriculture even though I was doing geology at the time,” she says about her work for the oil industry in the Rocky Mountains. Later, she and her husband, a large-animal veterinarian, raised warmblood horses on an internationally recognized farm in Klamath County for 15 years. With her experience in geology and agriculture, once she joined the Oregon House of Representatives, she was quickly assigned to the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Whitsett fought throughout her career in the House for water usage rights. She and her husband testified for and against a series of bills to keep water flowing for farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin. Her efforts resulted in amendments to bills to keep water available for agriculture in the upper and lower Klamath Basin. She also worked with her husband in the 2015 session on SB 864A , a law protecting ranchers and farmers who inherited land that crosses state borders from larger inheritance taxes. And she fought to make people aware of how wolves affected ranchers. “I felt like my job was to help inform the public and my colleagues that this is what farming and ranching really entails: water, predators. Basically, that we can use our property to farm and ranch. I felt like I had a big responsibility to make two-thirds of the state be heard regarding agriculture.”
As for the future of agriculture in Oregon, she says, “It’s critically important that Oregon maintain a place in the world for food production. It’s up to the Legislature to not overly regulate the ability to produce food through farming and ranching.”