Voters give Janeen Sollman two more years as state rep
State Rep. Janeen Sollman, D-Hillsboro, won re-election Tuesday, Nov. 6, and it wasn't a close call.
Unofficial election results have Sollman winning 61.3 percent of the vote, more than 30 percentage points better than her next-highest opponent, Hillsboro Republican Dorothy Merritt, who won 30 percent. Kyle Markley, who ran as a Libertarian, took 7.6 percent.
Sollman, a Hillsboro School Board member at the time, was first elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 2016. That election wasn't particularly close, either, but the margin was relatively closer: Sollman beat out Republican Dan Mason with 52.2 percent to Mason's 39.1 percent.
Merritt was significantly out-fundraised by Sollman during the campaign, and she received little support from state Republicans in the strongly Democratic House District 30. Democratic voter registrations outnumber Republicans by about 5,500 in the district, according to the most recent data from the Oregon secretary of state's office.
Even still, Sollman said, she was wowed by her margin of victory.
"I'm excited about the numbers, especially given the fact that I represent a very diverse district," said Sollman.
HD 30 covers most of Hillsboro, also taking in North Plains and part of the Banks area.
Sollman said she worked hard to get her message out during the campaign, canvassing door-to-door across the district. She thinks that effort paid off in the election result.
But Tuesday was a good night for Democrats across the state, particularly in western Oregon. House Democrats picked up three seats — two in Portland's Westside suburbs and one in the Columbia River Gorge east of Troutdale — and are slated to enter the 2019-20 biennium with a supermajority. Gov. Kate Brown also won re-election more easily than some prognosticators expected, turning aside a challenge to claim her first full four-year term.
Sollman, however, downplayed the impact of the election on Democrats' agenda for the next legislative session.
"I don't think that our focus changed because of the fact that we are now a supermajority," Sollman said.
As a former school board member, Sollman has made education a top priority in her work as a lawmaker. Oregon's public education system has come in for heavy criticism in recent years, with graduation data and other metrics showing it to be among the worst-performing in the country.
Sollman said she plans to meet with school district officials in Hillsboro, Beaverton and Banks to hear their concerns. She is worried, she said, about what impact an economic recession may have on their budgets.
"We need stable, sufficient funding, from early education to higher education," Sollman said, adding, "I'm hoping that's going to be a real top priority."
Sollman will return to Salem alongside most of her immediate legislative neighbors, including state Rep. Susan McLain, D-Forest Grove, and state Sen. Chuck Riley, D-Hillsboro. Riley won an easy victory in Senate District 15, which contains both Sollman and McLain's districts.
Immediately south of HD 30, House District 26 will send a new face to the Capitol. Rep.-elect Courtney Neron, D-Wilsonville, is one of the three Democrats to flip Republican-held House districts in Oregon this year. Neron ousted state Rep. Rich Vial, R-Scholls, to win her seat.
Janae Easlon contributed to this report.
By Mark Miller
Editor, Forest Grove News-Times
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