Government, politics, Salem

County to fill vacant state senate seats Friday

Washington County Commissioners are meeting virtually Friday, January 14 at 9 a.m. to interview candidates to replace District 16 Sen. Betsy Johnson who resigned Dec. 15 to focus on her run for Oregon’s governorship, and at 1:30 p.m. to interview candidates to replace Sen. Chuck Riley (D-Hillsboro) who announced last September he is stepping down after serving seven years in the senate and 13 years overall in the state legislature.

Oregon law dictates that when a state representative resigns their seat – in Riley’s case District 15, contained inside Washington County and encompassing almost all of Hillsboro, as well as Forest Grove, Cornelius, and North Plains – the county commissioners representing that lawmaker’s district are required to fill the position.

In Senate District 16, Johnson’s replacement will be appointed by commissioners from all counties Johnson’s former district covered, which includes Clatsop, Columbia, Multnomah, Tillamook, Washington and Yamhill Counties

Oregon law also requires the state Democratic Party to nominate three to five residents of the district for consideration to fill the vacancy, in District 15’s case, Hillsboro City Councilor Anthony Martin, Rep. Janeen Sollman (D-Hillsboro), and Lamar Wise, a labor organizer for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 75.

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For the Senate District 16 seat, Rachel Armitage, Melissa Busch, and Nadia Gardner are the candidates.

Gardner is a conservation consultant, Busch is a nurse, and Armitage is a former Oregon legislative staffer who now works at Reed College and is studying for her master’s degree, the Oregonian reported.

The SD 16 appointment will be hosted virtually out of the Columbia County Courthouse, according to an agenda for the meeting. The GoToMeeting platform will be used at

The Senate District 15 appointment meeting will be held virtually via Zoom and the public also will be able to watch live on YouTube at

Those who wish to provide written comments about the nominations of Martin, Sollman, and Wise for inclusion in the public record must email them by 12:00 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12 to Washington County Clerk Kevin Moss at [email protected].

Those who want to publicly provide comments at this Friday’s meeting are required to first fill out a form available on the county’s website ( and to label their testimony “Senate District 15 Appointment.”

The deadline to sign up to make comments is 12:00 p.m. on Jan. 12. Statements are limited to one minute per person.

To participate in the Zoom meeting go online to Participants also may access the meeting by dialing 346-248-7799 or 669-900-6833.

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