Another Oregon House member resigns before term ends
State Rep. Brian Clem is the latest member to announce he will leave the Oregon Legislature before the end of his elected term.
Clem, 49, is a Democrat from House District 21 in Salem. He unseated Republican incumbent Billy Dalto in 2006 and has been re-elected seven times since. He announced during the Legislature's special session on Sept. 27 that he would not seek another term, but on Oct. 29, he said he would leave before the official end of his term Jan. 9, 2023.
His mother, who has Alzheimer's disease, is living with him, his wife Carol Suzuki — who works in the Senate Majority Office — and their daughter. He is a small-business owner.
His interim successor will be chosen by Marion County commissioners from three to five candidates nominated by Democratic precinct persons within his current district — not the district that will be redrawn for the 2022 elections.
In a statement released by the House Majority Office, Clem did not specify a date, but said his replacement should be chosen in time to serve in the 35-day session in 2022, which is scheduled to start Feb. 1.
From the statement:
"At this time, I have decided it is in the best interest of my constituents that I step down and focus on some immediate needs for my mother in her journey as an Oregonian living with Alzheimer's disease.
"This decision was by no means easy, but in the end I want my constituents to have a legislator who is able to make their needs their complete focus for the 2022 session and I won't be able to do that until we have the support my mom needs in place. I will do everything to make this a smooth transition so Salem has a strong advocate who can hit the ground running.
"I want to thank my family for allowing me to serve in public office, which has not always been easy on them, and I also want to thank my colleagues in the Legislature, both Democrat and Republican. From them I have learned a great deal about what it means to serve and work together to deliver for Oregonians."
During the 2021 session, Clem led a special House committee focused on recovery from the 2020 Labor Day wildfires that swept Oregon. All the bills that emerged from it passed the committee and the full House without dissent. He led the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in four previous legislative cycles and sat on it two other cycles.
State Rep. Bill Post also will resign his seat on Nov. 30. He had announced on Sept. 7 he would not seek another term.
Post, 61, is a Republican from Keizer who was elected to the House District 25 seat in 2014 after Kim Thatcher vacated it after 10 years to win a seat in the Senate. He and his wife have moved to Fallon, Nevada, so he would be ineligible to continue in office. He was a radio talk-show host between 2009 and 2014, and an internet talk-show host since then.
His interim successor will be chosen by commissioners from Marion and Yamhill counties from three to five candidates nominated by Republican precinct persons within his current district.
From the statement released Oct. 12 by the House Republican Office:
"My intent was to be open with my constituents about my move out of state and the steps I'd be taking to continue to fulfill my duties for the rest of my term to the best of my knowledge and ability.
"After further discussions with an elections attorney and talking it over with my wife, it appears that the best action I can take for my district and my family is to resign before my term is over and give my successor a chance to serve during the 2022 short legislative session."
Senators who have already left the Legislature early are Chuck Riley, a Democrat from Hillsboro in District 15, and Ginny Burdick, a Democrat from Portland in Senate District 18.
The nominating process is underway for Riley, now 82, a retired computer systems consultant who unseated Republican Mary Gallegos of Cornelius in a 2004 rematch in House District 29. He lost to Republican incumbent Bruce Starr of Hillsboro for the Senate District 15 seat in 2010 but won a rematch four years later. He was re-elected in 2018.
Riley had announced during the special legislative session he would leave his seat early.
Washington County commissioners will appoint someone from among three to four candidates nominated by Democratic precinct persons within his current district. Riley's elected term ends with the 2022 election.
Burdick, who turns 74 in December, resigned from the Senate on Nov. 1 to accept an appointment as one of two Oregon members of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. She was first elected to the Senate in 1996. Her 25 years makes her the longest-serving woman in that chamber, although Mae Yih of Albany has a total of 26 years of legislative service, counting Yih's six years in the Oregon House.
Commissioners from Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties will choose Burdick's interim successor from among three to five candidates nominated by Democratic precinct people within her current district. Burdick's district was split among four other Senate districts in the 2021 redistricting — which is under challenge in the Oregon Supreme Court — and there are three years left in her elected term. Much depends on what happens to the redistricting plan, but the proposed Senate District 18 is now within Washington County — and there would be an election in 2022 for the two years remaining in Burdick's term.
Three more in House
Three House members have been replaced since the 2021 session opened on Jan. 11:
• Democrat Andrea Valderrama of Portland took the District 47 seat on April 1. Three-term member Diego Hernandez of Portland resigned on the eve of a expulsion vote based on multiple accusations from a House Committee on Conduct investigation into sexual harassment.
• Republican Anna Scharf of Amity took the District 23 seat on July 12. Four-term member Mike Nearman of Polk County was expelled from the House on a June 10 vote in connection with his aiding anti-lockdown protesters, some of them armed, into the then-closed Capitol during a Dec. 21 special session. Nearman pleaded guilty on July 26 in Marion County Circuit Court to one count of first-degree official misconduct in connection with the incident.
• Republican Christine Goodwin of Roseburg took the District 2 seat on Aug. 25. Two-term member Gary Leif of Roseburg died of cancer on July 12. Goodwin's appointment made her the 33rd woman in the current 60-member House.
NOTE: Corrects error about which counties take part in the replacement of Sen. Ginny Burdick.
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