Decision Time



Rep. Michael Dembrow 
NE Portland, Maywood Park & Parkrose

District Phone: 503-281-0608


Twitter: @michaeldembrow



Friends and Neighbors,

As you’ve probably heard, our state senator, Jackie Dingfelder, is leaving her position in the Legislature to become policy director for Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. She will take up her new position with the City on November 4. Her resignation will create a vacant senate seat.

After taking several days to think it over, I’ve decided to file to replace her as Senator for SD 23.

Jackie has served us in the Legislature extremely well for the last 12 years. She is smart, high-energy, loyal to her colleagues and her district, has a very strong work ethic, and is just plain fun to be with. For me, she has been a good friend and in many ways a mentor. Her decision to leave—which makes good sense for her and for the city at this time—comes as a blow for many of us. Senate President Peter Courtney put it very well: “This is a staggering loss for Oregon’s environment. Jackie Dingfelder has been the Legislature’s go-to person on the environment for more than a decade.  It’s a tremendous boost for the quality of life in the City of Portland. I’ve never seen a legislator who was more prepared. I know she will serve Portland well. I will really miss her.” Sunday’s Oregonian also gives a good sense of how Jackie has contributed to the state, and also how much good she will be able to do for the city.

As you can see, Jackie leaves very big shoes to fill (speaking only metaphorically). Although I’ve had a long-standing interest in environmental issues and serve on the House Committee on Energy and Environment, I cannot match her breadth and depth of experience and expertise in this area. I’m more of a generalist, and would bring a strong background in education, human services, and workforce development. I’ve learned how to get important legislation passed and have worked closely with senators of both parties. So, I feel comfortable that if selected I will be able to represent the district solidly and well.

Jackie, Alissa (and Ben Cannon before her), and I have been a great team, probably the most effective House/Senate combination in the Oregon Legislature. We have joint town halls regularly. Our staffers work closely together (they have even shared office space here in Portland), which makes it easier for them to team up on solving problems and answering questions for the residents of the entire SD23. Be assured that Alissa and I will do everything we can to make sure that this continues and make sure that you receive the service, communication, and representation that you deserve, whatever the outcome of this appointment process.

The Process Ahead

When a legislative seat becomes vacant mid-term, the position is filled through a 2-stage appointment process that must occur within 30 days of the effective date of Jackie’s resignation (which will probably be November 3). In this case, the appointment will be made through a vote of the Multnomah County Commission from a list of 3-5 candidates supplied by the Multnomah County Democratic Party (since Jackie was elected as a Democrat).

First, the candidates will be determined at a nominating convention that includes the Democratic Precinct Persons (PCPs) for HD45 and HD46. Those who have filed to fill the vacancy will introduce themselves to the PCPs and engage in a debate. Then, the field will be narrowed to 3-5 candidates through a secret ballot election in which only HD45 and HD46 PCPs can vote. The party will then forward the names to the Secretary of State, who will forward them to the County Commission.

Next, the County Commission will take up the question at a regular Commission meeting, during which the candidates will most likely be asked to introduce themselves and answer questions from the commissioners. Normally, the commissioners vote immediately to select the new senator.

This process could be concluded as early as the first week of November and as late as the first week of December. If I’m the person selected, then the same process begins again to replace me as HD45 representative, except that of course it’s only HD45 PCPs who will vote on candidates.

The senate appointment is only to fill out the remainder of the first 2 years of Jackie’s 4-year term. Whoever is selected for the interim appointment will need to file and run in the next primary (May 2014) and general elections (November 2014) for the final two years of her term. Since SD23 is on a 2012-2016 cycle, he or she will then need to run again two years later (May and November 2016) for the next 4-year term.

Let me know if you have any questions about this process.


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