Oregon Legislative Coastal Caucus Economic Summit: Meet our Members


Oregon Coastal Caucus Economic Summit 

Leaders from communities up and down the coast will meet to discuss strategies for economic revitalization

LINCOLN COUNTY—State legislators from Oregon’s Coastal Caucus are bringing together leaders from academia, government and industry for a two-day summit to assess the economic viability of our region. The Oregon Coastal Caucus Economic Summit, now in its seventh year, is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, August 22 and 23, at Chinook Winds Casino & Resort, Lincoln City.  

“We have put together an exciting two-day event, packed with informative panels and discussion opportunities, to bring together Oregon’s coastal leaders to develop strategies that will improve our region’s economy,” Rep. Caddy McKeown, D-Coos Bay, said. “The time and energy invested from those who attend creates a powerful force around potential legislation and helps us determine the impacts on rural and coastal economies.”


This year’s summit is being presented in partnership with the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians an Charter Communications. As members of the nine federally recognized Indian tribes native to Oregon and one of our state’s largest employers, the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians have made significant contributions to improving the quality of life for residents, particularly in rural areas. Oregon Indian tribes have a special interest in – and a unique perspective on – the health of rural and coastal Oregon’s economy.

“We are excited to host this important regional summit for the second time, and are honored to have some top-notch speakers again this year,” Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians Chairman Dee Pigsly said. “I think the event will be educational for all who attend.”

In addition to capping carbon emissions and fixing Oregon public schools – both priorities for the upcoming 2019 Legislative Session – Coastal Caucus members also are looking to take the lead on a number of initiatives to address regional economic issues, such as housing, workforce development, transportation, water, broadband, building codes and cannabis policies. Rep. David Gomberg, D-Otis, hopes the Summit will lead to clear alternatives to drilling off the Oregon Coast.

“Our coastal communities are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of offshore drilling,” he said. “That’s why it’s crucial that we have important discussions on clean energy for the sake of both ourselves and future generations.”

Who:               Invited Members of Oregon’s Congressional delegation –           including Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Congressional Representatives Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader and Suzanne Bonamici – this year’s Coastal Caucus members, local government and tribal officials, state agency directors and community leaders from all parts of the Rural-Coast

What:             7th-Annual Oregon Coastal Caucus Economic Summit

When:             Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 22 and 23

Where:         Chinook Winds Casino and Resort in Lincoln City



Senator Betsy Johnson, Chair, Oregon Legislative Coastal Caucus

Senator  (D- SD16), Oregon State Legislature

Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) is serving her third term in the Oregon Senate. In the 2017​​ Legislative Session, Senator Johnson served as the Vice Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, Co-Chair of the Ways and Means Transportation and Economic Development Subcommittee, and member of the Ways and Means General Government Subcommittee. Senator Johnson also served on the Joint Committee on Transportation ​Preservation and Modernization ​and on the Joint Legislative Policy and Research Committee​.

Senator Johnson received her undergraduate degree in History from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota and her Law degree from the Northwestern School of Law, Lewis & Clark College.

A licensed commercial pilot of both fixed and rotor-wing aircraft, she founded Transwestern Helicopters, Inc. in 1978. The helicopter division of the firm was sold in 1993 and the company, now known as Transwestern Aviation, Inc., is managed by her husband, John Helm. In September 1993, Senator Johnson was selected as Manager of the Aeronautics Division of the Oregon Department of Transportation, a position she held until September 1998. During the 1999 Legislative Session she was Vice President for Legislative Affairs for the Oregon Pilots Association, where she successfully championed legislation that created the Oregon Department of Aviation.

Senator Johnson has served on numerous local, regional and national boards and commissions, including the Oregon Health Sciences University Foundation, Doernbecher Children's Hospital, the Oregon Public Broadcasting Foundation and the High Desert Museum. Senator Johnson currently serves on a number of regional boards, most recently elected as a member of the Board of Visitors, Northwestern School of Law of Lewis and Clark College. She also serves as the President of the Samuel S. Johnson Foundation.


David Brock Smith, Vice Chair, Oregon Legislative Coastal Caucus

Representative  (R- HD1) Oregon State Legislature

Oregon State Representative David Brock Smith, House District 1, is from Port Orford and is a third generation Southwest Oregon resident of the area he now represents.  A former Chair of the Curry County Board of Commissioners and the elected Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) District 4 Chair are just two of the positions he has held in his extensive history in local government. 

David has been blessed to serve on four House Committees, as well as one Joint Committee working with the Oregon State Senate.  All of which involve critical work for our District in Southwest Oregon. Vice Chair - Economic Development & Trade, Vice Chair – Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction, Agriculture & Natural Resources, Energy & Environment, Early Childhood & Family Support.

David is also on key State Legislative Task Forces and Commissions. Some of those are: Vice Chair- Oregon Legislature's Coastal Caucus, House Republican State Delegate- (PNWER), House Republican - Opioid Task Force, House Republican- Maritime Workforce Task Force, Chair- Oregon-China Sister State Relations Council’s Southern Oregon China Connection, Global Warming Commission, and Co-Convener Task Force on Sudden Oak Death with Senator Merkley.


Deborah Boone, Representative (D- HD32) Oregon State Legislature

Deborah Boone has served seven terms in House District 32, which includes Clatsop County, half of Tillamook County and a bit of western Washington County. She has been appointed to most of the House committees over the years but focused on Emergency Preparedness, Ocean and Fisheries, Renewable Energy and Hydrokenetic Ocean Energy, Veterans Services and Human Services. 

Many of the bills she championed were minor enabling legislation to move ocean energy issues forward. Her work in emergency preparedness drove her to sponsor bills that would support ocean and tidal energy devices so the coastal communities would have a source of power after a disaster. Some of her legislation includes the award winning HR3, the Oregon Resilience Plan.  Once a plan had been developed and an implementation plan designed she shepherded another bill to create the Office of Resilience within the Governor’s cabinet. A bill to utilize unwanted species by-catch that had been thrown overboard was written and passed providing a way to use the fish and stop wasting it. It now goes to food banks.  

Her last full session in 2017 was challenged when her husband was battling brain cancer and she became his full-time caregiver. She is forever grateful to Sen. Betsy Johnson who selflessly picked up the slack and was instrumental in helping get votes in the Senate including a bill to allow volunteer firefighters a tax check-off in the ninth attempt for passage. It was especially important as her husband spent more than 20 years as a local volunteer fire chief. She will retire at the end of the current term. 


Senator Arnie Roblan, Senator (D-SD5), Oregon State Legislature

Senator Arnie Roblan represents the scenic and rugged central Oregon coast comprising the 5th Senate District, which includes the Oregon coast from Coos Bay to Oceanside and parts of Polk and Yamhill counties, including Neskowin, Otis, Blachly, Grande Ronde, Siletz, Eddyville, Swiss Home, Ada, Pacific City, and parts of Fall City, Willamina and Sheridan.

A long-time public servant, Senator Roblan brings with him 34 years as an educator – having worked as a math teacher and ultimately elevating to the role of principal at Marshfield High School – as well as four terms as a state representative, including two terms as Co-Speaker, and one term as a state senator.

He has received the Milken Education Award and recognition as a Distinguished Alumnus by the UO. The Oregon Business Association named him the Statesman of the Year in 2011. Arnie is also President of the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER) a public/private non-profit created by statute in 1991 by the states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Washington, the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon and Northwest Territories.


David Gomberg, Representative (D- HD10), Oregon State Legislature

Serving his third term in the Oregon Legislature, David Gomberg represents House District 10 on the central coast, ranging from Tillamook to Yachats and inland to Sheridan.

Representative Gomberg currently serves as the chair of the House Economic Development and Trade Committee, is co-chair for the Ways & Means Transportation & Economic Development subcommittee, and is a member of the Oregon Innovation Council and the Governor’s Commission on Senior Services.

David is a graduate of Oregon State where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, served as student body president, and earned a Masters in Political Science, Economics, and History. He then earned his MBA at Willamette University.

Gomberg is also co-owner of Gomberg Kite Productions, an internationally recognized designer and manufacturer, and a business ideally suited to the Lincoln County economy as well as its natural surroundings. He has performed for Walt Disney, the Super Bowl, and in 40 different countries. In 2005, David was inducted into the Kite Hall of Fame.

Among his “awards and accomplishments”, he lists 30 years of marriage to Susan Gomberg.

Caddy 2

Caddy McKeown, Representative (D- HD9), Oregon State Legislature

Representative Caddy McKeown represents House District 9 that includes Coos Bay. Representative Caddy McKeown is a 4th generation Oregonian, born and raised in Coos Bay. Her public service began on the Coos Bay school board, where she served for 11 years. She went on to be appointed to the Board of Commissioners of the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay, where she served for nine years and worked to acquire and rehabilitate the Coos Bay rail line.

In 2012, she was elected to represent coastal portions of Coos, Douglas, Lane and Lincoln counties in the Oregon House of Representatives. Current committee assignments include the House Agriculture & Natural Resources committee as well as the House Economic Development and Trade committee. She continues to serve as Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation Preservation and Modernization, a role in which she and a bi-partisan, bi-cameral 14 member committee successfully designed an historic state-wide transportation package in 2017. She is also proud to be a member of the Legislative Commission on Indian Services, the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, as well as serve on the Oregon Coastal Caucus.

When she can, she enjoys being home with her husband and two Labradors


Dallas Heard, Senator (R- SD1), Oregon State Legislature

Senator Heard has the pleasure of representing Oregon Senate District 1. This southwestern district of the state includes our coastal communities from the California boarder up through just south of Coos Bay, extending east to the cities of Roseburg, Riddle, Glendale, Winston, Myrtle Creek, and Canyonville!

Born and raised in Roseburg Oregon, Senator Heard has had the honor of serving his community in the Oregon State Legislature since 2014. A small business owner in Douglas County since 2004, Senator Heard has worked hard to protect small business interests in our state. He has served on the House Business and Labor Committee, House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee, and House Energy and Environment Committee. He currently serves on the Senate Education Committee and Vice-Chairs the Senate Human Services Committee.