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Woodburn Mayor Eric Swenson will seek a third term in lieu of running for the Senate seat.

Woodburn Mayor Eric Swenson, who won the Democratic nomination for the Oregon Senate District 11 general-election candidacy, announced that he will seek a third term as Woodburn mayor instead.COURTESY PHOTO - Woodburn Mayor Eric Swenson, Woodburn Independent - Opinion  Swenson: Community leaders stand at the ready

Swenson's decision leaves a vacancy in the race that will be filled by the Democratic Party of Oregon through votes cast by precinct committee representatives.

DPO spokesman Eddie Kurtz said the party will publish a formal announcement of the vacancy next week, along with information about applying to run, the deadline to apply and time and date of the convention held to fill it. Precinct representatives will vote in a runoff format until one candidate remains.

Kurtz said the DPO plans to have the entire process completed and a candidate in place by the end of June.

Swenson said he would support a well-suited candidate to serve the Senate district, including current legislator state Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon, whose House district borders fall within Senate District 11.

"She is good at being a legislator," Swenson said of Alonso Leon, indicating he would support her.PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Woodburn Mayor Eric Swenson and state Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon address Cinco de Mayo celebration attendees from the gazebo in the Downtown Plaza.

"Campaigning for the Oregon state Senate in the Democratic primary taught me many things, particularly in Woodburn, where I was reminded of how much I appreciate the chance to serve as our mayor," Swenson said. "To that end, I have decided to step down as the nominee for Senate District 11, file to run for a third term as mayor and continue to dedicate my energy to serving the people of my city.

"This wasn't an easy decision to make; the chance to serve as a state senator was also calling."

The mayor said he spoke with Alonso Leon about his decision and asked her if she would consider applying with the DPO to run for the seat. In this past primary she filed to run in the crowded field for the new 6th Congressional District. Andrea Salinas of Lake Oswego won the Democratic nomination and is running against Mike Erickson in the fall.

Alonso Leon has not formally expressed interest in the Senate race, but there are indications that she is considering it.

"Earlier this week, I asked my friend (Alonso Leon) if she would consider running for the Oregon Senate," Swenson said. "Teresa is a transformational leader with a track record of public service to our community, and she has my wholehearted support."

Other potential candidates could include Richard Walsh of Keizer, who was the Democratic runner up in the District 11 May primary.

Kurtz said the process for determining a candidate is similar to that of filling a vacant seat when a candidate leaves in the middle of a term. He cited a recent example of filling the House District 44 seat earlier this year when Tina Kotek resigned prior to running for governor.

Swenson described Senate District 11 as the most diverse district in Oregon and stressed that there is a dearth of Latino or Latina representation in the Senate, something Alonso Leon could change.

"It will be up to the Democratic precinct committee persons of Marion County to select our next nominee. I can think of no one more qualified to step up and lead the communities of Woodburn, Keizer and North Salem forward than Rep. Alonso Leon," he said.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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