Happy Valley rising in Oregon politics as Bynum seeks House Speaker
Oregon's newly drawn legislative redistricting map will likely mean big changes for Happy Valley politics. The city now has a large enough population to have a more vocal seat in the legislature.
Happy Valley's population burgeoned from 13,903 to 23,733 between 2010 and 2020, according to state census takers. That nearly 71% increase was largely spurred by an influx of both new housing development and land annexations by the city.
For years, Happy Valley has been split between two legislative seats, which it shared with parts of East Portland, Damascus, Gresham and Boring. Now, if the recently approved maps passed by the Oregon Legislature stand up to legal challenges, whoever represents Happy Valley starting in 2023 will also serve the Clackamas Town Center area and areas west of Interstate 205 to Milwaukie's Linwood Avenue.
Redrawing the legislative borders will impact current elected officials. State Rep. Janelle Bynum (D-Happy Valley) currently represents House District 51, but will reside in House District 39 under the new maps. Bynum has indicated she hopes to be reelected in the area and will run to serve as speaker of the house. If selected for that position, Bynum would replace current House Speaker Tina Kotek who is resigning that position to run for governor.
"If the session proved anything, it's that we need a reset," Bynum said. "I'm not saying it has to be puppies and lollipops, but I think there's lots of room for us to do better in terms of how we interact with one another. We are all here to move the ball forward for all Oregonians."
Milwaukie's population went up 4.1% from 20,291 to 21,119 and will remain in Rep. Karin Power's district, which also will remain the district for unincorporated areas near McLoughlin Boulevard. In these unincorporated areas, Oak Grove's population grew 4% from 16,629 to 17,290 while Jennings Lodge saw a moderate increase of 2.6% in going from 7,315 to 7,503 people during the past decade.
Oatfield, the area of North Clackamas that includes Alder Creek Middle School along with Bilquist and View Acres elementary schools, also saw slow growth, rising only 4.2% with its population rising from 13,415 to 13,977.
Meanwhile, Gladstone's population went up 4.5% from 11,497 to 12,017 and remains in the Rep. Mark Meek's district.
A big asterisk on the new legislative lines is that the Oregon Supreme Court could have the final say before the maps are set in stone next February.
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