Legislative budget writers start reviewing cuts, hearing from public

Oregon State Capitol.

Rachel Armitage will represent Senate District 16 in the Oregon Legislature for the rest of 2022, replacing Betsy Johnson, who resigned the seat last month in order to run for governor as an independent.

County commissioners from Clatsop, Columbia, Multnomah, Washington, Yamhill and Tillamook counties voted for Armitage on Friday out of a slate of three nominees selected by local Democrats. Armitage beat out Melissa Busch, a home health nurse from Warren, and Nadia Gardner, a Clatsop County planning commissioner and environmental consultant.

County commissioners said Armitage's past experience in the Legislature, working as a legislative assistant for two state lawmakers, made her well-suited to jump into the short session starting in just a couple weeks.

In her closing statement after answering questions from commissioners, Gardner encouraged the commissioners to vote for Busch "because continuity is critical in a time of crisis."

Busch is the only candidate of the three who is running for a full term. She said before the appointment that she planned to run regardless of the results of Friday's vote.

Armitage received all the votes of Columbia and Tillamook county commissioners.

Columbia County commissioners Casey Garrett and Henry Heimuller both expressed frustration with the process.

Heimuller said the process seemed to lack "pure competition" because both Armitage and Gardner expressed support for Busch in the election.

Garrett said he was "disappointed" to not have "a broader range" of candidates to consider.

Local Democrats could have selected up to five nominees for county commissioners to consider.

Four out of five commissioners from Clatsop County voted for Armitage; Commissioner Pamela Wev voted for Gardner.

All of Multnomah County's commissioners voted for Busch.

Three Washington County commissioners — Kathryn Harrington, Nafisa Fai and Pam Treece — voted for Busch, while Jerry Willey and Roy Rogers voted for Armitage.

In Yamhill County, Lindsay Berschauer and Mary Starrett voted for Armitage, while Casey Kulla voted for Busch.

Because votes were weighted by the number of Senate District 16 voters within each county, Columbia County had the biggest say of any county.

Weighted for proportional representation, Armitage received 87.62 votes; Busch received 16.13 and Gardner received 6.20.

Armitage also shared her top priorities for the upcoming short session.

"Any bill that makes it easier to build affordable workforce housing in the district is my top priority, far and away," said Armitage. "I think my second priority would be making sure that federal dollars — particularly for pandemic relief, but also infrastructure — are making their way to this district."

Armitage told commissioners she would host a town hall in each county of the district "at least once" and "attend as many grange, rotary, union and church meetings as possible, to meet constituents where they're at."

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