Oregon Republican Party Treasurer John Lee files for District 39
Longtime Clackamas County Republican Party leader John Lee has announced his candidacy to replace retiring Rep. Bill Kennemer for Oregon House District 39.
Lee, who is active in the Boring Community Planning Organization in unincorporated Clackamas County, is the treasurer of the Oregon Republican Party and CEO of Stumptown Sales Success LLC, a company that provides sales strategy consulting and infrastructure for small businesses.
"I need think we need leadership in Salem; we need people who can help other people," Lee said. "We need to have a conservative voice, even if we are in the minority asking the hard questions and messaging to the people of Oregon a different vision."
As a former member of the Boring Water Board for eight years, Lee is the only candidate for HD39 so far to have held elected office, except mental health technician Seth Allen, who was elected as a Republican Precinct Committee Person in 2016.
Other candidates in the Republican primary election for HD39 include Cultural Advocacy Coalition Executive Director Christine Drazan and retired U.S. Army Capt. Ken Kraft of Redland (who has announced but not officially filed). Once the crowded Republican primary race is over in May, the winner will likely face active Beavercreek resident Elizabeth Graser-Lindsey, so far the only Democratic Party nominee, in the general election Nov. 6.
Lee was on vacation in Sedona, Arizona, when Kennemer called him, just prior to the retirement announcement being made public. Kennemer asked Lee whether he would consider filing for the seat, and Lee said he hadn't considered running for paid public office before. After calling around to others who are active in the local Republican Party, Lee said no one could give him a reason not to run.
Lee was chair or vice-chair of the Clackamas County Republican Party when there were three successful citizen-initiated petitions launched by active party members. Due to their efforts, votes of citizens are now required if the county ever wants to start a new urban-renewal district or use public funding to pay for light rail. After they referred the issue to the ballot, Clackamas County voters in 2011 rejected a plan by county commissioners to raise local vehicle registration fees to help pay for a new Sellwood Bridge.
"I will bring this same leadership to Salem fighting for lower taxes, fees and regulations so that we can keep more of our hard-earned income and help grow our small businesses," Lee said.
Republicans outnumber Democrats by 35 to 30 percent in the largely rural HD39 area that includes Barlow, Barton, Boring, Canby, Carus, Charbonneau, Eagle Creek, Estacada, Fischers Mill and Mulino.
"It's the most conservative district in the Portland metro area," he said.
Lee says he's prepared to ask difficult questions for Oregon to start implementing best practices used successfully in other states and businesses. He points out that an efficient government is less expensive, an effective government gets more done, and a transparent government allows helps hold public officials accountable.
"I am willing to tackle the 500-pound gorilla in the room — PERS," he said. "Sooner or later this $25 billion-plus bill will come due and it is immoral to leave this for our children and grandchildren. As an example, allowing 'spiking' to significantly increase retirement payouts for years is currently allowed and I will fight to stop this practice as well as including endorsements/ticket sales as part of salaries.
Lee has already been endorsed by many existing as well as former state political leaders including:
• State Sen. Chuck Thomsen
• State Sen. Fred Girod
• State Rep. Mike Nearman
• Former State Rep. Patrick Sheehan
• Former State Rep. Vic Gilliam
• Former State Rep. Scott Bruun
• Candidate for State Rep. Andre Wang
• Candidate for State Rep. Dan Mason
• Oregon City Mayor Dan Holladay
• Boring Community Planning Organization Chairman Mike Fitz
• CCRP past chairs: Ron LeBlanc, Casey Flesch, and Tom Devanney
• State treasurer candidate and Lake Oswego Councilor Jeff Gudman
• Mt. Hood Republican Women President Clarice Moss
Lee is also planning to solicit endorsements from chambers of commerce and others active in county politics, but he won't be stopping there.
"I don't believe you can run without going door to door," Lee said.
Lee is having a campaign kick-off event 5 p.m. Monday, March 5, at Langdon Farms.