Milwaukie Mayor may win race for state-rep nomination
Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba is currently winning the race against Milwaukie resident Kaliko Castille for the Democratic Party nomination to the Oregon House district representing the city, Oak Grove and Sellwood.
"We need someone who's going to hit the ground running in Salem on climate change, since we only have eight years to solve climate change," he said. "My north star is climate change, and as my main task as a state rep, I would be working to get substantive changes to help stop climate change."
Gamba's substantial lead against Castille may hold even though there are many more ballots left to count in Clackamas County. On election night, Gamba was winning 74% of Multnomah County's early voters, compared to 24% for Castille.
Milwaukie residents Elvis Clark and Rob Reynolds filed for the Republican nomination to the Oregon House district where Democrats have won every election since the year 2000.
Milwaukie's mayor since 2015, Gamba said that legislative salary increases will be among his top priorities, if elected as a state representative.
In a joint announcement in February, Rep. Karin Power, D-Milwaukie; Rep. Rachel Prusak, D-West Linn; and Anna Williams, D-Hood River, announced they would not run again for their seats in the Oregon House of Representatives. The lawmakers cited the difficulty of balancing their legislative work and separate careers on a legislative salary of less than $33,000 annually.
Gamba said that Power was "arguably the best state rep in Oregon," and they reportedly saw eye to eye on almost every issue. While no big policy shift is expected if voters choose Gamba in November, he considers himself a bit more aggressive than she's been as a state rep.
Prior to serving as mayor, Gamba was elected as a city councilor in 2012, serving on the city's Planning Commission before that. He served as the League of Oregon Cites energy and environment subcommittee vice-chair; he was chair of the Metro Policy Advisory Committee, along with various regional committees such as the task force that led Metro's effort to pass a housing bond in 2020.
In addition to legislative pay and climate change, Gamba said his first term as state representative would tackle a provision in Oregon law that allows people who own affordable housing complexes to convert them to market rate after 30 years.
Gamba knows of two complexes, in Tigard and Gresham, hitting the 30-year mark this decade, and the problem will compound exponentially during the 2030s. Gamba said he would be willing to consider allocating state funding to the problem, as the only way to prevent homelessness might be for the state to pay property owners for the differential between affordable and market-rate housing.
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