Board chooses Michael Dembrow as new state senator

November 18, 2013

State Rep. Michael Dembrow was chosen Monday by the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners to fill the vacant seat in Senate District 23.

Dembrow, elected to represent Oregon House District 45 in 2008, replaces Jackie Dingfelder who announced on Oct. 16 that she was resigning the Senate District 23 seat to work for Portland Mayor Charlie Hales.

The board chose Dembrow for the Senate seat representing parts of east Portland after taking opening statements from Dembrow and fellow contenders Enrique Arias and CM Hall and then questioning the trio on issues.

All three finalists told the board about their deep histories of public service and activism. Dembrow also stressed in his presentation that his legislative experience in the House and his accomplishments there made him the best qualified to make an immediate impact in the Oregon Senate.

County commissioners’ questions covered a wide range of issues, including the transformation of healthcare and workforce strategies, re-entry of former inmates into the community, legislative priorities, commercial sexual exploitation of children, concerns for elderly residents and emergency response in the case of an earthquake.

Commissioners all praised the three hopefuls sent to the board for its consideration by the Democratic precinct committee people in Senate District 23. Since Dingfelder is a Democrat who represented a Senate district entirely in Multnomah County, state law says the nominations to fill that vacancy be made by that same party in that legislative district.

“The quality of finalists sent,”” said county Commissioner Loretta Smith, “was excellent.”

“You are all very fine folks that I would want representing me,’’ Commissioner Smith said, “All of you have a bright future in public service.”

Dembrow, who lauded his fellow finalists and thanked the board for his appointment, joked that his Senate appointment means the county board now must go through a similar appointment process to fill the House vacancy his appointment creates. That schedule is yet to be determined.

“You’re going to have to go through this again,’’ he said with a smile.

Dembrow said he will run in the May primary election to fill the remainder of Dingfelder’s four-year term through 2016.