West Linn woman among final SD19 nominees
Rob Wagner, Claudia Black and Daphne Wysham were chosen Saturday, Jan. 6, as the Democratic Party of Oregon's three nominees to replace state Sen. Richard Devlin, D-Tualatin, who was recently appointed to serve on the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.
The three finalists were chosen by Precinct Committee Persons (PCPs) from Senate District 19, who gathered for a nominating convention at River Grove Elementary School in Lake Oswego. They emerged from a roster of candidates that also included former state Rep. Greg Macpherson, Tualatin City Council President Joelle Davis, environmental consultant Gerritt Rosenthal and West Linn resident Tim Loun.
The eventual appointee, who will represent SD19 for the remainder of Devlin's term, will be chosen by the Washington, Multnomah and Clackamas County boards of commissioners at a joint meeting Jan. 29. That meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at Marylhurst University's Flavia Hall, 17600 Pacific Highway in Marylhurst.
The commissioners will interview each of the candidates and then vote to choose the winner, with each commissioner's vote weighted based on the number of registered voters in their respective county's portion of SD19.
The winner will have just one week to prepare for the start of the 2018 legislative session in February. Additionally, Devlin's term ends at the end of 2018, so the SD19 appointee will need to fend off challengers in the May Democratic primary and the general election in November in order to retain the seat beyond this year.
All three finalists have said they will seek a full term if appointed.
The nominating convention began with a town hall debate featuring all seven candidates, followed by a procedural vote in which the PCPs decided to nominate three candidates (state law allows the party to select anywhere from three to five). In the appointment process, PCPs vote on behalf of a portion of their district's residents, so each PCP was able to vote multiple times and could choose to divide their votes between candidates.
The three nomination slots were filled one at a time in a series of ballots. After each round, the lowest-performing candidates were eliminated, and the process continued until one candidate received a majority and secured the nomination. The process then restarted with the remaining candidates vying for the next nomination.
Wagner emerged from the first round of balloting with a substantial lead and secured the first nomination after two more rounds. Black was voted into the second nomination spot after another three rounds. The third nomination came down to Wysham and Macpherson, with Wysham prevailing in the second round of balloting.
Seeking the appointment
Wagner was the first to announce his interest in the position after news of Devlin's appointment broke in October 2017. A Lake Oswego resident and member of the Lake Oswego School Board, Wagner made education a centerpiece in his campaign, casting himself as an advocate for stable state-level education funding as well as improving equity and inclusion in schools.
Wagner also serves as the associate vice president for advancement at Portland Community College and formerly served as a director of political and legislative affairs for the American Federation of Teachers (Oregon). His SD19 campaign received a large number of union endorsements, including one from the federation.
"I'm elated," Wagner said after securing the nomination. "I can't believe how much fun it has been to meet every single person in this process."
Black joined the race in November, declaring that her intention would be to "change the culture of the Senate." The Tualatin resident began her career as a police officer and later served as the public affairs director for the Oregon Department of Corrections.
She worked as a senior policy advisor to former Gov. Ted Kulongoski from 2008 to 2010, helping to develop the Healthy Kids Initiative to extend child health care coverage in the state. She served as director of the Multnomah County Office of Government Relations from 2010 until partway through 2017.
"I'm absolutely honored that so many people put their faith in me to carry their message to Salem," Black said.
Wysham also joined the race in November and focused her campaign on the environmental issues that have been at the center of her career. She serves as an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, where she co-directs the group's Sustainable Energy and Economy Network; she also directs the Climate Justice Program at the Center for Sustainable Economy, an environmental think tank.
At the local level, Wysham has fought to end the shipping of oil by rail through the Pacific Northwest and opposed a proposed oil terminal in Vancouver, Wash. She lives in West Linn and is a member of the West Linn Alliance for Inclusive Community, which works to "ensure that racism and bigotry are not tolerated in (the) community or schools."
"The climate crisis is urgent," Wysham said after securing the final nomination. "It's an existential threat, and I think we shifted the needle (today) toward acting on it."
Though all three candidates have experience working on legislation, none of them have a substantial political history. Wagner is the only one of the three finalists to have held an elected office before, and his experience is limited to his current term on the school board, which began in May 2017.