Four Democrats seek Hernandez's House District 47 seat
Four Democrats have submitted their names as potential appointees for the House seat to be vacated soon by state Rep. Diego Hernandez of Portland.
One of them has a history with Hernandez, who resigned amid accusations of sexual harassment.
Tuesday, March 2, was the deadline for the party to receive nomination papers.
The Democratic Party of Oregon will list the candidates on a mail ballot to precinct committee people in District 47, which covers portions of East Portland. Ballots must be returned to the state party office by March 14, and they will be tallied March 15, the day Hernandez's resignation takes effect.
The party will forward nominees to Multnomah County commissioners, who have the final say in the appointment for the 21 months remaining in the term. The commissioners are not bound by any rankings from the mail voting. State law requires that Hernandez's replacement be a Democrat.
The commissioners must complete action by April 15. In the unlikely event they do not, Gov. Kate Brown can appoint any Democrat who meets residency and other requirements for the seat.
In alphabetical order, Democrats hoping to be appointed to the seat are Robin Castro, who ran for the Portland City Council last year; Adrienne Enghouse, a nurse who was a candidate for the Senate District 24 vacancy that went to Kayse Jama; Cayle Tern, a mental health counselor who is active in Service Employees International Union; and Andrea Valderrama, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon.
Valderrama is chairwoman of the David Douglas School Board and was a candidate for the Portland City Council seat that Jo Ann Hardesty eventually won in 2018. She also had sought a restraining order against Hernandez in 2020, but withdrew it in Multnomah County Circuit Court.
Hernandez, who was in his third term, resigned Feb. 22 ahead of a potential expulsion vote in the House. Its conduct committee recommended the ultimate penalty of expulsion — never invoked in Oregon's 162-year history — on grounds of multiple violations of a legislative rule against sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment.
The rule was broadened in 2019 to extend to anyone who does business with the Legislature, not just members and staff.
The committee concluded there were 18 violations drawn from the accusations brought by three of five women, none of whom were named in the committee report. Hernandez identified them as a lobbyist and two aides to local elected officials. The committee turned aside allegations brought by Teressa Raiford of Portland — who testified to the committee at a public hearing — and an unnamed chief of staff to Hernandez who also testified.
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