FONT & AUDIO

MORE STORIES


Gallegos, who previously represented House District 30, hopes to be appointed to Chuck Riley's seat.

FILE PHOTOS - CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Rep. Janeen Solman, community advocate Lamar Wise, former Rep. Joe Gallegos, Hillsboro City Councilor Anthony Martin, grocery clerk Ryan Van Domelen and the state seal of Oregon. A number of westside politicos are jostling for the appointment to Senate District 15.

Sen. Chuck Riley announced he would leave the seat a year early in December.

Six candidates have said they want to be appointed by the Washington County Board of Commissioners to fill the vacancy. One of them, Hillsboro attorney Nathan Sosa, has since said he is withdrawing his name from consideration.

The five remaining candidates include Rep. Janeen Sollman, who currently represents Oregon's House District 30; Hillsboro City Councilor Anthony Martin; Former state representative Joe Gallegos; education funding and workers rights advocate Lamar Wise; and Ryan Van Domelen, a grocery store worker and recent Pacific University graduate whose family has owned a dairy farm in Washington County for generations.

Riley's district, 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.

The boundaries of the district will change for the 2022 election, however, months after an appointment to the seat is made.

On Sept. 27, Gov. Kate Brown signed new legislative maps into law.

The redrawn SD 15 maintains most of Hillsboro, as well as the cities of Cornelius and Forest Grove. It cuts out North Plains and unincorporated areas north and west of the city. The new district also adds unincorporated areas south of Cornelius, including the community of Fern Hill, extending all the way to the Yamhill County line.

What follows are short profiles of each candidate:

Joe Gallegos

Gallegos, who will turn 80 next month, said his hope is that the county board chooses someone who wants to carry on Riley's priorities through the end of his term, adding that would be his approach.

He also said commissioners should choose the candidate most likely to win an election in 2022.

"Having a winning candidate in 2022 should be a priority, but also making sure that we're supporting small businesses during this difficult time," Gallegos said.

Gallegos is a former professor at the University of Portland, where he was the director of the university's social work program.

He was twice elected to represent House District 30, which covers most of the northern part of Hillsboro, North Plains and unincorporated areas, serving from 2013 to 2017. The House district makes up half of the current SD 15, which includes parts of Hillsboro as well as most of Forest Grove and all of Cornelius.

Gallegos decided not to run for re-election in HD 30 in 2016, an election won by Rep. Janeen Sollman, who currently represents the district.

Sollman has also said she is seeking appointment to the SD 15 vacancy.

In addition to looking to carry on Riley's goals and supporting small businesses through the pandemic, Gallegos said if he was appointed to SD 15, his priorities would also include boosting support for local mental health and addiction resources as well as finding more alternative housing options for homeless people.

Recognizing the impact homelessness can have on small businesses, Gallegos said once adequate resources are in place, he would support restrictions on camping in public spaces.

He said he would also look for ways to make sure the rise in violent crime seen recently in Portland does spread to Washington County.

Increasing resources for law enforcement would assist that goal, Gallegos said, adding that he thinks criminal justice reform initiatives, which have been a priority of progressive lawmakers recently, could be implemented at the same time.

Gallegos also noted economic development of the Highway 8 corridor through SD 15 would be a priority, saying the area should double down on an identity of possessing both urban and rural amenities.

Lamar Wise

If appointed, Wise would be the only currently serving Black senator from Washington County.

"Washington County is changing and diversifying, and so many of our residents were left so vulnerable by this pandemic,'' Wise said in a statement Monday announcing he is seeking the seat.

The statement noted that nearly 40% of Washington County residents identify as Black, Indigenous or people of color, according to the 2020 U.S. Census.

"I am seeking this appointment because I believe it is time for our representation in Salem to truly reflect the diversity of communities in this district," Wise continued. "I am committed to being a senator who understands the needs of all of our residents, acts to bring people together around our common values and needs, and ultimately gets things done for our community like essential worker pay, affordable housing, and sustainable transportation infrastructure."

The Hillsboro native and Century High School graduate currently works as a political coordinator for Oregon AFSCME Council 75, one of the state's largest employee unions.

He co-founded Washington County Ignite, a political organization working to help people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community and young people be elected to public office in the county.

His community organizing work started at the Oregon Student Association, a statewide, student-led advocacy organization focusing on higher education policy, where he served as executive director.

Washington County is changing and diversifying, and so many of our residents were left so vulnerable by this pandemic,'' Wise said in a statement Monday announcing he is seeking the seat.

The statement noted that nearly 40% of Washington County residents identify as Black, Indigenous or people of color, according to the 2020 U.S. Census.

"I am seeking this appointment because I believe it is time for our representation in Salem to truly reflect the diversity of communities in this district," Wise continued. "I am committed to being a senator who understands the needs of all of our residents, acts to bring people together around our common values and needs, and ultimately gets things done for our community like essential worker pay, affordable housing, and sustainable transportation infrastructure."

The Hillsboro native and Century High School graduate currently works as a political coordinator for Oregon AFSCME Council 75, one of the state's largest employee unions.

He co-founded Washington County Ignite, a political organization working to help people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community and young people be elected to public office in the county.

His community organizing work started at the Oregon Student Association, a statewide, student-led advocacy organization focusing on higher education policy, where he served as executive director.

Stacy Chamberlain, director of Oregon AFSCME, said Wise's work to pass the Healthcare Interpretation Accountability Act, which ensures healthcare interpreters are provided with personal protective equipment and that Oregon Health Authority provides free and reduced cost training, is one example of Wise's efforts to bolster workers' rights.

"Lamar has shown time and time again he is a champion for working people and is dedicated to fighting for working families," Chamberlain said.

Janeen Sollman

Sollman 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.

{img:317356}Sollman works for a Washington County-based education technology company.

"I listen to the ideas and concerns of my constituents with my full heart and mind. I learn about solutions that serve their needs and my actions speak louder than those words," she said in her Facebook post announcing she would seek appointment to SD 15.

In an interview Friday, Sollman said she would continue to let the voices of her constituents drive her priorities at the legislature if she were appointed to the seat, adding that she would be excited to represent new areas of Washington County, including Forest Grove, where she has roots.

Sollman posted a photo of her as the Viking mascot of Forest Grove High School in 1987, when she graduated.

"The work that we do is all about relationships," she said. "I will continue to work on that. It's relationships within the building, building relationships in the Senate, continuing that with the House, but also I (would) have a new district of folks to meet."

She said more than 80 community conversations since she became a legislator have shown her that people want to see the legislature address climate change and continue to support behavioral health initiatives and public safety.

Sollman said she is proud of her work in the House to pass the Student Success Act, the Recycling Modernization Act, and legislation preventing people convicted of domestic violence to own firearms.

Ryan Van Domelen

Van Domelen said watching Oregon lawmakers fail to adequately support working families during the pandemic motivated him to seek the SD 15 seat.

"There is just this huge disconnect between our regular working families that were running the check stands and the government," said Van Domelen, who works as a cashier at New Seasons Market in Hillsboro.

{img:317358}Van Domelen, 23, graduated from Pacific University in 2020.

He grew up on his family's generations-old dairy farm in North Plains.

Van Domelen said his interest in politics came after watching his family members struggle to keep the farm afloat following the economic crash in 2008 and subsequent recession.

"It felt like déjà vu, being a grocery worker during COVID," Van Domelen said.

He said he has been disappointed with state leaders' handling of COVID-19 vaccine prioritization, which left essential workers ineligible to receive vaccines for months after they were first available.

He added that lawmakers' inability to pass a bill creating hazard pay for essential workers who worked during the pandemic, while the state received massive federal relief packages, further shows the Legislature is out of touch with working people.

If he was appointed, he said supporting workers, boosting availability of affordable housing and decreasing homelessness would be among his top priorities. He added that funding education and tackling climate change would be high priorities.

"How do we make an economy in Oregon that working family can afford to live in?" Van Domelen asked rhetorically.

Van Domelen said he's active in local and state politics, is working to start a local retailers advocacy association, and has plans to attend Oregon Labor Candidate School.

Anthony Martin

Martin said he chose to seek appointment to the SD 15 seat because of a passion for serving his community and making people's lives better.

"I think there is a lot of work for the state to do," he said. "I will use my policy background, lived experience, and passion for getting the community involved to help chart a new path for the state."

Martin was first elected to the Hillsboro City Council in 2016. He was re-elected in 2020 after running unopposed.

{img:317458}The Banks High School graduate grew up on a goat farm in the community of Buxton and has lived in Hillsboro since 2015.

Martin holds a bachelor's degree in Spanish and political science from the University of Oregon and a master's degree in public affairs from the University of Texas at Austin, where he focused on local government.

He has worked as a financial and economic consultant for cities in the Pacific Northwest and currently works as a financial analyst for the City of Portland.

Martin told Pamplin Media Group one of his top priorities if he is appointed to the seat will be "ensuring we recover equitable from the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 and addressing the structural issues that became even more prevalent during the pandemic."

Another priority for Martin will be sustainability, he said, noting the need to create a state that is both sustainable environmentally and economically "so future generations can live in a better state."

Martin added that he will focus on making sure everyone has access to a transparent government in which people feel welcome and empowered to affect change.


You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.


Have a thought or opinion on the news of the day? Get on your soapbox and share your opinions with the world. Send us a Letter to the Editor!