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Boone seeks the Senate District 16 seat that was left open last week by Betsy Johnson.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Deborah Boone seeks senate seat being vacated by Betsy Johnson.
Deborah Boone, a Democrat with a political history stretching from her days as a Clatsop County commissioner to the Oregon Legislature in Salem, says she wants to fill the Senate District 16 seat that has been vacated by Betsy Johnson.

After serving for nearly 21 years as a Democrat in the Oregon Legislature, Johnson, who was known as a moderate Democrat, announced in October she is running for governor as an unaffiliated candidate.

Johnson resigned last Wednesday, Dec. 15, to focus on her campaign for governor.

Boone, who is from Hamlet — an unincorporated community in Clatsop County, southeast of Seaside — represented District 32 as a state representative from 2004 to 2019. Boone was originally appointed to the House of Representatives in August 2004.

Boone told Pamplin Media Group she is interested in returning to Salem as an appointed senator, serving out the rest of Johnson's unexpired term.

"I'm throwing my hat in the ring for the appointment to fill out the remainder of her term," Boone said Monday morning, Dec. 20.

Johnson was last elected in 2018. While she's no longer affiliated with a political party, she was elected as a Democrat, so state law requires county commissioners in SD 16 to select a Democrat to fill out the remaining year of Johnson's term.

Asked if she would run next November to retain the Senate seat, Boone said she isn't.

"I'm only interested in running for the interim, to fill out the rest of that term," said Boone.

Boone praised Johnson's years as a state senator.

"She has been an exemplary senator for this district and for Oregon," Boone said. "She always goes the extra step. She always made me feel like I had to step up a little bit more. I knew I could never keep up with her."

Boone continued, "Betsy will dig into the issues, she'll call the people. She usually gets things finished with a couple of phone calls."

While Johnson is often described as a moderate or even conservative, at least relative to the Democratic Party of Oregon, Boone describes herself as a "moderate progressive."

"I'm not conservative," Boone said. "I believe in people's freedoms, and if that makes me a conservative — I think it more makes me an American."

Boone remarked, "I try to be reasonable. I try not to just go with the pack just because the pack is going there. I really research the issues."

Asked about her goals should she be appointed to Johnson's seat, Boone said, "One of my goals is maybe help bring people together. I looked over the list of people, and there are a lot of new people that I don't know. That's going to be my first thing, go meet these people."

County commissioners within Senate District 16 — namely from Clatsop, Columbia, Multnomah, Tillamook and Washington counties — will decide who will fill the remainder of Johnson's term. However, under state law, they will be choosing from a list of three to five Democrats submitted by local party leaders.

Melissa Busch of Warren has also said she will seek to be appointed. Unlike Boone, Busch says she is running for Senate in 2022.


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