By Peter Toll, Chair, Clackamas Democrats Campaign Committee
Clackamas County’s May primary election will show some non-races, some surprisingly challenging races and lots of campaigning as local Democrats do their best to create their own version of The Blue Wave sweeping west from Washington, D.C.
Appointed County Commissioner Sonya Fischer, a solid Democrat doing a solid job, failed to draw an opponent. Partially attributed, no doubt, to the fact she raised $100,000 by the filing deadline. That’s an intimidating number.
Long-time Congressman Kurt Schrader got a different surprise — a Democratic primary opponent in retired Lake Oswegan Peter Wright, a regular contributor to the local newspaper’s opinion pages. He also got three Republicans wanting his seat; none appear prominent.
Also picking up surprise opponents with last-minute filings are three freshmen State Representatives. They are Janelle Bynum, D-Happy Valley, who goes against Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer; Rick Lewis, R-Silverton, faces two Silverton Democrats, Doug Culver and Barry Shapiro. Mark Meek, D-Gladstone, has a Republican and an Independent challenger.
Getting free rides with Commissioner Fischer are newly appointed State Rep. Andrea Salinas, D-Lake Oswego; State Rep. Karin Power, D-Milwaukie; and Brian Nava, who filed against the incumbent County Treasurer, Shari Anderson, who chose not to run again.
With Mark Johnson leaving the legislature, Democrats figure they can take that seat away from the appointed State Rep, Jeff Helfrich, R-Hood River. Two women want his slot in Salem. They are Aurora Del Val and Anna Williams. Both are residents of Hood River.
The departure of Republican State Rep. Bill Kennemer, R-Oregon City, prompted four wannabe Republican replacements but only one Democrat, Elizabeth Graser-Lindsey, of Beavercreek, to seek election. Rep. Jeff Reardon, D-E. Portland, drew Republican Sonny Yellott looking for another drubbing.
On the Senate side, new Senator Rob Wagner, D-Lake Oswego, has one opponent: Republican David Poulson, a Lake Oswego engineer. Incumbent Sen. Rod Monroe, D-SE Portland, has drawn two Democrats for his primary. They are Kasye Jama of SE Portland, and former State Rep. Shemia Fagan, of Happy Valley.
NOTE: This particular Senate District 24 race will be decided in the primary as no Republican filed for the nomination.
Two other Senate races will find Charles Gallia, D-Carver, tackling Sen. Alan Olsen, of Canby. In one of the biggest Senate districts, that’s District 26 stretching from Hood River to Gresham and down into Happy Valley, incumbent Republican Chuck Thomsen meets Democrat Chrissy Reitz. Both are Hood River residents.
In another big Senate District, District 13 which goes from King City south to Keizer and from Wilsonville west to near Hillsboro, incumbent Republican Kim Thatcher, of Keizer, will have a go with two Democrats: Paul Diller, of Wilsonville, and Sarah Grider, of Newberg.
Three non-partisan county races are drawing attention, too. All of them are well contested.
Incumbent County Clerk Sherry Hall is being challenged by Sherry Healy, of Clackamas, and Pamela White, of Oregon City. County Commissioner Paul Savas is facing Peter Winter, of Oak Grove, and Louise Lopes, of Mulino. In each case the incumbents are Repubs and the challengers are Dems.
Looking for the appointment to the vacant Metro seat for District 2, which encompasses most of the northwestern portion of Clackamas County, are Democrats Joe Buck, of Lake Oswego; Betty Dominguez, of Milwaukie; Christine Lewis, of West Linn, all Democrats, and Carol Pauli, of Oak Grove. That appointment is fairly imminent and the incumbent will have to stand in May for the seat.
Also looking at a non-partisan race is former Clackamas Commission Chair Lynn Peterson, of Lake Oswego. Metro honcho is open with Chair Tom Hughes being turned loose due to term limits. Peterson, of Lake Oswego, has picked up one Michael Langley, of Northeast Portland.
Unlike party elections, non-partisan races can be decided in the primary by one candidate achieving a 50 percent plus one vote margin (or more) over the other(s). If there are three (or more) candidates and none achieve the majority, the two leading vote getters face off in November.
For a complete list of filings and information on contacting the candidates, please see