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Former House representative is willing to come out of retirement to bring legislative experience to Senate District 20

PMG FILE PHOTO: KRISTEN WOHLERS - Mark Callahan, center, debates as a Candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives at Clackamas Community College's Harmony Campus in 2018.Eleven candidates are seeking to fill the Oregon Senate District 20 seat vacated mid-term by Alan Olsen. Among them is retired politician Bill Kennemer of Canby.

Olsen cited family concerns as the reason for his resignation and will be moving to Indiana to be closer to relatives. His resignation was effective Jan. 10, one day before the start of organizational days for the 2021 legislative session.

Now, the Oregon Republican Party will hold a convention via Zoom at 8 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, to begin the process of finding a replacement for Olsen in the district that includes Canby, Estacada, Eagle Creek, Boring, Damascus, Gladstone and parts of Happy Valley and Oregon City.

There, Republican Precinct Committee Persons of the district will hear from the candidates and will select 3-5 nominees to put forward to the district's county commissioners. Then the commissioners will appoint one of the nominees to fill Olsen's seat.

Kennemer is willing to emerge from retirement to seek the seat because he is "concerned" that none of the other candidates appear to have Oregon elected legislative experience.

Kennemer retired in 2018 as the Oregon House District 39 representative, a post he had held since 2009. Rep. Christine Drazan won his seat and now serves as the Republican caucus leader. Prior to serving for House District 39, Kennemer was a state senator and a county commissioner. He also practiced as a psychologist for almost 25 years.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Bill Kennemer"With the 2021 session already underway, we need someone experienced and ready to hit the Senate ground running … someone who knows the process and the issues," Kennemer said in a letter to the precinct committee people.

Kennemer pointed out that this legislative session is particularly important as it falls after a census year. This is when reapportionment occurs, or the redistribution of seats based on changes in population.

"And the fear in reapportionment is gerrymandering," Kennemer said. "I would bring knowledge and critical experience to the process, having served during two previous reapportionments. I certainly can't control all that is done by the D super majority, but my experience and the relationships established over the years will enable me to be a key and immediate legislative and reapportionment player."

He said he wants to stop the potential for "gerrymandering" and "Portlandizing our Clackamas County and our Oregon."

Kennemer's key legislative priorities include speeding up the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, reopening businesses, opposing new taxes and excessive spending, family home tax deferral for spouse or disabled heirs, prohibiting I-205 tolling, opening schools, expediting wildfire recovery efforts, election integrity, opposing the carbon tax and working hard for constituents.

For those who have asked, Kennemer said yes, he would run for reelection to hold onto the seat.

Kennemer will go against two other Canby candidates for the position — Sara Magenheimer and Paul Carlson.

COURTESY PHOTO - Sara MagenheimerMagenheimer, the sole woman candidate, is the vice chair on the Canby School District Board of Directors. She grew up in Canby and seeks to serve on behalf of the community she loves. Magenheimer's focuses are improving the situation for struggling small businesses and supporting the success of K-12 students.

"One of the biggest reasons I'm seeking this nomination is because there is a need in this legislature for people who understand the real dynamics of how school districts operate and how to make meaningful changes that would benefit students and parents," Magenheimer said. "As a mother of four children, I want to make sure we not only educate students but also prepare them to succeed after graduation."

Paul Carlson, though technically holding an Oregon City address, has long been involved in the community of Canby. He is the owner at 4:8 Financial in Canby, has served on the Canby Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors and as a Canby city councilor. In 2011, he co-founded the Canby Dahlia Run, a half marathon and 10K race for charity, and he served as the race director until 2019. Paul lives in the Canby area with his wife, Stefani.

Another candidate is Mark Callahan, an IT system administrator from Oregon City, who has sought several elected positions, most recently running against Rep. Kurt Schrader for Oregon's 5th Congressional District.

While not successful in that pursuit, he has won two Republican primaries — in 2016 for U.S. Senate and then in 2018 for House District 5. He also served as vice chair of the Clackamas County Republican party from 2018-2020. He took a break in the 2020 election cycle.

He is returning now, in part, to defend Oregon citizens against government overreach.

"I see the tyranny being imposed on small businesses, and individuals, all in the name of a supposed response to a pandemic, that is more about control than public health," Callahan said. "As Americans, and as Oregonians, we are supposed to be able to live in a free country and free state, not have our rights trampled upon by the overreaching control of government."

Outside of the Canby and Oregon City candidates, others include Grant Sharp of Beavercreek, Steve Bates of Boring, Tim Lussier of Damascus, John Lee Jr. of Boring, Chris Morrisette of Milwaukie, Steven Newgard of Milwaukie and Les Poole of Gladstone.

Kristen Wohlers
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