Potential candidates present cases to Democratic Party of Oregon
Oregon House District 22 Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon of Woodburn and former Keizer City Councilor Richard Walsh both announced Monday, June 19, that they will apply with the Democratic Party of Oregon to be candidates for the Oregon Sen. District 11 seat.
The DPO is seeking to fill the Democratic slate for the 2022 election following Woodburn Mayor Eric Swenson's announcement that he plans to run for a third term as mayor in lieu of the senate race. Swenson won the primary election in May with around 45 percent of the vote, outpacing Walsh and Anthony Rosilez, also of Keizer.
Alonso Leon, whose House District 22 footprint steps inside of Senate District 11, opted to run in the crowded race for Oregon's new 6th Congressional District seat during the primary, which was won by Andrea Salinas of Lake Oswego. She will run against Republican Mike Erickson of Clackamas County.
"I am excited to announce that after having a conversation with Eric Swenson last week, I will put my name forward for consideration to serve as the Democratic nominee for Senate District 11," Alonso Leon said in a press release. "Our communities deserve a senator who understands their needs and will stand up for them in Salem.
"I have a track record of fighting for our communities. I'm ready to work together to create opportunities for working families and small businesses, improve our schools, take action on climate change and protect our communities from gun violence."
DPO spokesman Eddie Kurtz said the party planned to publish a formal announcement of the vacancy this 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.
The plan is to have a candidate in place by the end of June.
State Sen. Kim Thatcher of Keizer, who currently serves District 13, is the Republican candidate for the District 11 race after boundary changes displaced her from the district she serves.
The newly aligned District 11 serves Woodburn, Gervais, Brooks, Keizer and most of north Salem.
On Monday, Walsh told the Woodburn Independent he intends to vie for candidacy.
"As the runner-up and as the candidate with the most votes among the remaining candidates that ran for the Senate position in the primary election, I will absolutely be seeking the nomination from the PCPs to run against Kim Thatcher," Walsh said. "More than ever, we need to do all we can to validate the democratic process and honor the value of the votes cast by those citizens that took the time to participate in the election process."
Swenson said earlier that he would support Alonso Leon.
"She is good at being a legislator," Swenson said. "Teresa is a transformational leader with a track record of public service to our community … she has my wholehearted support."
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 the DPO filling the House District 44 seat earlier this year when Tina Kotek resigned prior to running for governor.
Alonso Leon said if she gets the opportunity to run, her campaign and potential service would reflect what she's done as a state representative.
"I was proud to be the first indigenous Latina immigrant elected to the Oregon Legislature in 2016," Alonso Leon said. "In the years since, we dedicated record funding for our schools with the Student Success Act. We protected a woman's right to choose, no matter what happens at the Supreme Court. We passed legislation to make sure that every Oregon child, regardless of documentation status, can access health care. We changed the law so that farm workers are eligible for overtime pay. We have taken strides forward, but there is still so much to be done to build a stronger Oregon that works for everyone in our community."
She described serving in the Oregon House of Representatives as an "honor of a lifetime" and hopes that service will continue in the senate.
"I hope to earn the support of the Marion County Precinct Committee Persons in the coming weeks, and if selected I look forward to building a strong campaign for November," she said.
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