Small-business owner tapped to fill Williamson House seat
Akasha Lawrence-Spence was selected by Multnomah County commissioners on Thursday, Jan. 16, to fill the unexpired term of state Rep. Jennifer Williamson.
Williamson resigned from the Oregon House in late December to run for secretary of state.
Lawrence-Spence, who has been a contributing columnist to the Portland Tribune, is the founder and principal designer of Fifth Element, which she described as "a conscientious real estate development firm fortifying small businesses through commercial property ownership."
House District 36 includes parts of Northwest and Southwest Portland. The unexpired term ends in January 2021. The 2020 session of the Legislature begins Feb. 3. Lawrence-Spence will serve through the remainder of the year and candidates will vie for the District 36 seat in this year's primary election.
Williamson had served as House Majority Leader; the job now held by Rep. Barbara Smith Warner of Portland.
On Jan. 12, Democratic precinct people chose five nominees to be submitted to the commission, to make the appointment. Besides Lawrence-Spence, nominees include Chris Beck and three people — Lisa Reynolds, Laurie Wimmer and Rob Fullmer — who are running for Williamson's position.
In December, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said the commission should not choose anyone running for Williamson's seat in 2020. "I am hopeful that the Multnomah County Democrats will nominate an individual who is well qualified to represent the district, but will not use the appointment process as a springboard to run for election in 2020," Kafoury wrote, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting, a news partner of the Tribune.
Smith Warner on Thursday welcomed Lawrence Spence to the House. "I am excited to welcome Akasha Lawrence-Spence to the Oregon House and the House Democratic caucus," she said. "She brings a wide range of experience to the Legislature as a small business owner, non-profit founder and community activist. The people of House District 36 will be well represented."
Smith Warner also praised the woman who lead the House Democrats before her. "I would like to thank Jennifer Williamson for her dedicated service to Oregon and the House Democratic caucus. Her leadership has helped transform our state's criminal justice system, protected us from gun violence, and ensured working Oregonians had the support they needed to thrive."
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