Washington County Democrats on Saturday, Jan. 8, nominated three candidates who hope to take over from Chuck Riley in the Oregon Senate.
Riley, who was first elected to the Senate in 2014, resigned at the end of 2021 for personal reasons. The Hillsboro Democrat's term runs through the end of 2022, so county commissioners are tasked with naming someone to fill out the remainder of his term.
Democrats selected Hillsboro City Councilor Anthony Martin, state Rep. Janeen Sollman and lobbyist Lamar Wise as their three nominees for the vacancy in Senate District 15. All three are Hillsboro residents.
Washington County commissioners will hold a virtual meeting at 1:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14, to interview candidates and select a new senator.
When a state legislator leaves office early, state law tasks the former lawmaker's political party with putting together a list of three to five nominees for county commissioners to consider. Commissioners then make an appointment from that list of nominees.
Sollman is the party's favorite for the appointment, with a majority of Democratic precinct committee people voting for her as their first choice to take over from Riley. But the choice will be up to the county commission, which is officially nonpartisan.
"This vote, along with the endorsements of over 50 Washington County local leaders, labor and women's organizations sends a clear message: Washington County deserves a senator with experience — ready to serve on day one, with deep roots and a long history of understanding the needs of everyone who call this place home," Sollman said in a statement after the Democratic PCPs selected their nominees.
If Sollman is appointed, that will create a vacancy in House District 30. The process would then repeat itself, with Washington County Democrats nominating potential replacements for Sollman in the House and county commissioners choosing one to appoint for the rest of 2022.
Whomever is appointed to the Legislature will have the opportunity to run for a full term in 2022.
SD 15 was held by a Republican before Riley unseated then-Sen. Bruce Starr in 2014. But Washington County has shifted dramatically to the left over the past decade, and the seat has been redrawn into a somewhat more compact urban district starting with the 2022 election, too. Democrats should be favored to hold it in the November election.
Along with most of Hillsboro, the district also includes Forest Grove, Cornelius and North Plains, although the latter community was redistricted into a neighboring district and won't be represented by SD 15's senator starting in 2023.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from Janeen Sollman.
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