Sollman appointed to fill vacant Oregon Senate District 15 seat
State Rep. Janeen Sollman has been selected to fill a legislative vacancy in Oregon Senate District 15.
The Washington County Board of Commissioners appointed Sollman in a 4-1 vote at a virtual meeting on Friday, Jan. 14. Commissioner Nafisa Fai was the only board member to deviate from her colleagues, casting her vote for labor organizer Lamar Wise. Sollman will succeed former Sen. Chuck Riley, who resigned at the end of 2021 for personal reasons. Riley was first elected to the Senate in 2014.
Sollman will serve out the remainder of Riley's current term, which runs through the end of 2022.
Senate District 15 currently occupies the most populated areas of western Washington County, including most of Hillsboro as well as Cornelius, Forest Grove, North Plains and unincorporated areas.
Commissioners chose Sollman over two other candidates, Wise and Hillsboro City Councilor Anthony Martin. The candidates were nominated to fill the vacancy by a group of Democrats in Washington County, called "precinct committee people." State law requires legislative vacancies to be filled by the political party of the former lawmaker.
Sollman was the favorite nominee among Washington County Democrats, with a wide majority of precinct committee people (85%) voting for her as their first choice to take over for Riley.
A number of prominent local Democrats, as well as several Hillsboro School District students, testified in support of Sollman's appointment before commissioners voted Friday to name her to the Senate. Many of Sollman's supporters pointed to her work with schools — Sollman previously served on the Hillsboro school board, and she has worked with Hillsboro's youth advisory council and other student organizations while in the Legislature, such as on a 2019 bill to ban single-use plastic bags from stores and restaurants — and other community engagement initiatives in arguing for her to be appointed to the Senate.
Leading up to the appointment, Sollman also received notable endorsements from community members and elected officials, including the mayors of Hillsboro, Forest Grove, North Plains and Banks.
She was first elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 2016, winning re-election in 2018 and 2020, when she ran unopposed.
Before that, she served on the Hillsboro School District board of directors for eight years from 2009 to 2017.
Sollman works for a Washington County-based education technology company.
In an interview following her appointment, Sollman said she was appreciative of county commissioners and precinct committee people for supporting her to serve SD 15.
"I look forward to working with my fellow appointee candidates Anthony Martin and Lamar Wise, as they are integral leaders in our community," Sollman said. "I will continue to focus on COVID-19 response and recovery, supporting our businesses with workforce development issues, and ensuring the needs of students, staff and families are met within our education system. I am grateful for this opportunity."
Her appointment leaves a new vacancy in House District 30, Sollman's current district, which covers much of Hillsboro and includes a swath of northern Washington County, including North Plains and part of the Banks area
Following the same process to fill the SD 15 vacancy, Washington County Democrats will nominate potential replacements for HD 30, and county commissioners will choose one to appoint for the rest of 2022.
In an interview shortly after Sollman's appointment, Wise said he was grateful for the opportunity to seek the vacant seat, adding that he feels more connected to the community.
"Our campaign is centered around making sure that everyone, no matter your income level or skin color, has the same opportunities as the wealthy folks within the county," Wise said. "We'll continue to work on that."
Asked whether he plans to seek appointment to the House seat vacated by Sollman, Wise said he will discuss all options with his family, supporters and campaign team.
Martin, who is not eligible to be appointed to the HD 30 seat because he lives outside the district, said in an interview he believes Sollman will make a great senator.
He added that he enjoyed the process of running for the seat because it gave him a chance to discuss statewide issues.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with comments from the three candidates.
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