Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba winning state representative seat
Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba appears to have easily defeated perennial Republican candidate Rob Reynolds for the Oregon House District 41 seat that also represents Oak Grove and Sellwood.
Initial counts of voters in the Nov. 8 election by 10:30 p.m. showed Gamba holding onto a commanding lead of 78% of the vote, with little hope for Reynolds that the votes still left to count would have any possibility of swinging the election.
Gamba announced on March 4 his run for the Democratic Party nomination to the legislative district being vacated by the incumbent since 2017. In the May primary election, Gamba defeated Milwaukie resident Kaliko Castille, president of the Minority Cannabis Business Association's board of directors.
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.
Legislative salary increases will be among the top priorities for Gamba, if elected as a state representative.
Milwaukie's mayor since 2015, 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.
"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 said.
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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