New Oregon state senators to be sworn in Friday
Two Democrats will officially join the ranks of the Oregon Senate on Friday, Jan. 21.
Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, confirmed Wednesday, Jan. 19, that both Sens.-designate Rachel Armitage and Janeen Sollman will be sworn into office at 1 p.m. Friday. The two senators-designate were appointed last Friday, Jan. 14, to fill the vacant seats of two longtime Democratic lawmakers who resigned late last year.
Armitage, who works as an administrator at Reed College in Southeast Portland, lives in Warren. She will complete the unexpired term of Betsy Johnson, who resigned in December to focus on her campaign for governor.
While Johnson has since left the Democratic Party, she was last elected in 2018 as a Democrat. State law tasks the party that last won election to a vacated legislative seat, such as Armitage's Senate District 16, with nominating three to five candidates for county commissioners to consider.
Sollman, who lives in Hillsboro, has served since 2017 as state representative for House District 30. She quickly announced her intention to succeed Chuck Riley after the veteran Hillsboro Democrat announced last fall that he would step down from Senate District 15 at the end of 2021.
Sollman's departure from the House creates another vacancy that will need to be filled.
The chair of the Washington County Democratic Party, Patrick Maguire, said Wednesday that Democrats plan to select their nominees as soon as Friday, although if they receive interest from more candidates than the number they intend to submit to Washington County commissioners for consideration, that decision could come Sunday, Jan. 23, or Monday, Jan. 24.
Both Armitage and Sollman received overwhelming support from the county commissioners tasked with choosing replacements for Johnson and Riley.
While Multnomah County commissioners and three of five Washington County commissioners favored Melissa Busch, who is running in the 2022 election, the majority of commissioners among the six counties that Senate District 16 includes — in whole or in part — backed Armitage for the appointment. Armitage has said she does not plan to run for a full term.
Senate District 15 is wholly contained within Washington County, so the decision was up to Washington County commissioners only. Four of five commissioners voted to appoint Sollman, with the fifth, freshman Commissioner Nafisa Fai, casting her vote for Lamar Wise instead.
Wise is now seeking appointment to House District 30.
Democrats hold 18 of the 30 seats in the Oregon Senate, including the seats that Armitage and Sollman will be filling Friday.
The swearings-in will take place in the Senate chamber of the Oregon State Capitol in Salem. They will be livestreamed on the Oregon Legislature's website.
Chief Justice Martha Walters of the Oregon Supreme Court will administer the oaths of office, according to Courtney's office.
The Legislature is set to begin a short session on Feb. 1. While legislative sessions can run for as long as 160 days in odd-numbered years, under state law, sessions in even-numbered years should not exceed 35 days.
By Mark Miller
Editor-in-Chief, Washington and Columbia counties
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