Shirley Huffman

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Shirley Huffman
Shirley Huffman in 1998, aboard MAX train.jpg
Huffman in 1998
Mayor of Hillsboro, Oregon
In office
Preceded by Jim Darr
Succeeded by Gordon Faber
Member of the Hillsboro City Council
In office
Personal details
Born 1928 (age 88–89)
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Thomas Huffman (d. 1999)
Children 2
Residence Hillsboro, Oregon
Religion Lutheran

Shirley Todd Huffman (born 1928)[1] is an American politician and legal secretary in the U.S. state of Oregon. Raised in Dayton, Oregon, she settled in Hillsboro, Oregon, where she served on the city council before serving two terms as mayor from 1985 to 1993. During her time as mayor, plans for the Westside Light Rail were approved, with Huffman receiving credit for the extension into downtown Hillsboro. After leaving office, she served on the board of directors for TriMet and as a development coordinator for the city.

Early life[edit]

Shirley Todd was born in 1928. Shirley met Thomas A. Huffman (July 22, 1928 – March 27, 1999) when growing up in Dayton, Oregon, when both were seven years old. They married in 1949 and had two children, son Tom, Jr. and daughter Julie.[2] The Huffmans moved to Hillsboro in 1954 after Thomas graduated from Willamette University College of Law in Salem.[3] Tom had been a student of later U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield, who taught at Willamette’s undergraduate school.[4] In Hillsboro, Shirley joined the Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown,[5] and worked as a legal secretary for her husband until 1989.[6]

Political career[edit]

Huffman’s political career began in 1978 when she joined the Hillsboro City Council.[7] She had been asked to join the council, and agreed to what she planned to be a short-term involvement in city government.[3] She served on the council from 1979 to 1985.[8] In 1984, she ran for mayor, winning the November election after running unopposed and becoming Hillsboro’s first woman mayor.[3]

During her first term that was to be two-years long, she worked to have the city charter revised to extend terms of the mayor to four years.[3] The city council and city voters approved the change, with mayors now holding office for four years, though still limited to two-consecutive terms.[3] In 1988, she was again unopposed and won re-election, this time to a four-year term.[3] As mayor, a part-time and un-paid position, she worked in the position between 35 and 40 hours each week.[3] This work included representing the city at official events as well as lobbying on behalf of the city.

Hillsboro Central MAX Station

Huffman is credited with getting MAX light rail extended to downtown Hillsboro from its originally planned terminus at 185th Avenue.[4][9] Her lobbying included an episode when she spoke roughly to the head of the Federal Transit Administration in a phone call ("I had to get a little stern with him," said Huffman), as well as trips to Washington DC.[4] TriMet’s general manager Fred Hansen stated, "We wouldn't be standing here [Hillsboro Central Station] if it hadn't been for Shirley, we'd be back at 185th looking to the west."[4] For her role, TriMet added a plaque in 2000 at the Hillsboro Central Station honoring her work on the project.[4] The plaque, dedicated on February 22, 2000, reads: "Shirley's vision and leadership brought MAX to Hillsboro, linking the region and its people together."[9]

As mayor she was an opponent of the regional government Metro, with actions that included introducing a city resolution calling for Metro to be kept to its existing powers and duties.[10] The resolution was later passed by the city council.[11] She had helped develop a similar resolution for a group representing the county and ten other cites, with both resolutions sent to a task force created by the Oregon Legislature that was examining the role of Metro.[11] She and county leaders later battled Metro on proposed garbage transfer stations as well.[12]

Huffman traveled to Fukuroi, Japan, in 1988 to sign an agreement that created a sister-city relationship with the Japanese city.[13] Fukuroi officials had visited Hillsboro in June 1987.[13] During her time as mayor, many Japanese-based companies opened facilities in Hillsboro.[13] Also as mayor she proposed a city ordinance to ban ferrets as pets after an infant died after being bitten more than 200 times in its crib in 1991, but later dropped the proposal after public support emerged for allowing ferrets.[14]

While mayor she served on the board of directors for the League of Oregon Cities, including one year as president of that organization in 1987.[3] Also during her time as mayor, Operation Picture Perfect started to assist in beautifying the city.[15] Huffman was mayor from 1985 to 1993.[16] She was praised for her work on behalf of the city by other elected officials in Hillsboro. "I think her power lies in her ability to get people to agree without conflict, she defuses any situation and is able to make things happen," said councilman Jim Lushina,[3] while incoming mayor Gordon Faber said, "Shirley has done incredible things for our city. What a great mayor that woman has been."[17] While she was mayor Hillsboro grew from around 29,000 residents to approximately 40,000.[6]

Later years[edit]

I care about people, and I think it shows. What I've done, I've done with sincerity.

Shirley Huffman[6]

After leaving office, the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce named her as its distinguished citizen for 1993.[18] Huffman then took a position with the organization as economic development coordinator later that year, with the city paying half the salary.[19] She also became the chairperson for the Washington County Community Action Organization’s capital campaign in 1993 to raise $1.3 million for a new building.[20]

In 1992, she joined the TriMet board of directors and spent eight years on the board, leaving in January 2000.[4] Huffman was also honored that year when the auditorium at the county and city’s jointly owned Public Services Building was named in her honor.[21] In 1994, the League of Oregon Cities gave her their Jim Richards Memorial Award.[22] Huffman later led the campaign to approve a levy to build two new libraries and convert the Shute Park branch into a recreation center in 2002.[23] The measure was defeated by voters in May 2002. She also worked to develop the Hillsboro 2020 Vision plan adopted by the city.[24]


  1. ^ Leone, Hannah (December 31, 2014). "Hillsboro Civic Center Auditorium to be renamed for Shirley Huffman, the city's first female mayor". The Oregonian/ Retrieved May 19, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Obituaries: Thomas A. Huffman". The Oregonian. March 30, 1999. p. B8. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Potter, Connie (March 1, 1990). "West Zoner: Shirley Huffman puts in full weeks as the part-time mayor of Hillsboro". The Oregonian. p. 1. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Hamilton, Don (February 23, 2000). "Shirley Huffman, fiery lobbyist, earns praise; Hard work and a sharp phone call put light-rail trains into downtown Hillsboro". The Oregonian. p. E2. 
  5. ^ Corcoran, Elizabeth (June 16, 1996). "Long Hours in an Oregon ‘Clean Room’ Offer Glimpse of What's Ahead for Region". The Washington Post. p. H5. 
  6. ^ a b c Potter, Connie (January 11, 1993). "Hillsboro’s likable mayor calls it quits". The Oregonian. p. B2. 
  7. ^ Yi, Matthew (March 12, 2002). "Intel inside and out; Small Oregon town’s growth embodies chipmaker’s expansion". San Francisco Chronicle. p. B1. 
  8. ^ City Council: City Councilor History. City of Hillsboro. Retrieved on August 23, 2009.
  9. ^ a b Gordanier, Susan (September 12, 2008). "Shirley Huffman's legacy: Hillsboro's MAX line". The Hillsboro Argus. 
  10. ^ Steineger, Melissa (January 20, 1988). "Hearing set in Hillsboro on Metro plan". The Oregonian. p. B4. 
  11. ^ a b Steineger, Melissa (February 17, 1988). "Hillsboro opposes expansion of Metro’s powers". The Oregonian. p. D16. 
  12. ^ Green, Ashbel S. (November 23, 1990). "Metro, Washington County feud over garbage plan". The Oregonian. p. E2. 
  13. ^ a b c Potter, Connie (December 1, 1988). "Hillsboro, Fukuroi sign sister-city pact". The Oregonian. p. MW9. 
  14. ^ Potter, Connie (March 29, 1991). "Hillsboro drops ban on ferrets". The Oregonian. p. C4. 
  15. ^ Campillo, Linda (November 28, 1989). "Hillsboro mayor lauds effect of beautification awards". The Oregonian. p. B2. 
  16. ^ City Council: Mayor History. City of Hillsboro. Retrieved on August 23, 2009.
  17. ^ "Faber enters race for Hillsboro mayor". The Oregonian. July 9, 1992. p. D2. 
  18. ^ "West Zoner: Greater Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce hails ex-mayor Huffman as ’93 outstanding citizen". The Oregonian. June 10, 1993. p. 7. 
  19. ^ "West Zoner: Hillsboro ex-mayor Shirley Huffman named to chamber’s economic development post". The Oregonian. August 19, 1993. p. 3. 
  20. ^ "Huffman takes on fund-raising effort". The Oregonian. August 20, 1993. p. C2. 
  21. ^ "Auditorium named for Huffman". The Oregonian. August 27, 1993. p. D2. 
  22. ^ "West Zoner: Shirley Huffman may be gone from elected office; Winners". The Oregonian. January 27, 1994. p. 1. 
  23. ^ Anderson, David R. (March 7, 2002). "Hillsboro will vote on $29.9 million library bond". The Oregonian. p. B2. 
  24. ^ Hillsboro 2020 Vision Implementation Committee 2002-2003. City of Hillsboro. Retrieved on August 28, 2009.

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