Commissioners from three counties select Lawrence-Spence to fill Senate District 18 vacancy

November 29, 2021

[Updated Dec. 2, 2021] Multnomah County’s Board of Commissioners joined commissioners from Washington County in selecting Akasha Lawrence-Spence to fill the vacant seat for State Senate District 18 at a Nov. 29 public hearing. Commissioners present voted unanimously to appoint Lawrence-Spence to fill the term of former State Senator Ginny Burdick, who resigned at the end of October to take a position on the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, after being appointed by Governor Kate Brown. 

A screenshot of Akasha Lawrence-Spence addressing commissioners at the Nov. 29 virtual public hearing

District 18 includes portions of west Portland and Tigard. The district includes parts of Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties. Oregon law requires that a legislative vacancy be filled by county commissioners representing the district in which the vacancy exists. Clackamas County commissioners were invited but did not attend the hearing. Multnomah County commissioners ratified the appointment at their Dec. 2, 2021 meeting.

Lawrence-Spence is the founder and principal designer of Fifth Element, a real estate development firm. She has served as an interim State Representative for House District 36 (January 17, 2020 to January 11, 2021) and on the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission. 

The process for appointing a replacement for a state legislator is for the former legislator’s political party to nominate three to five candidates that county commissioners select from. The state Democratic Party nominated Lawrence-Spence and two nominees who later dropped out of the running.

  • Healthcare administrator Sarah Lemley
  • Family physician Martin Mendelson

At the Nov. 29 hearing, Lawrence-Spence made an opening statement and answered questions from county commissioners before commissioners voted.  Oregon State Senator Kayse Jama (District 24-Portland) spoke in support of the nomination during public comment.

Lawrence-Spence will serve through 2022. The May 2022 primary election and November 2022 general election will be held to fill the 2023-2027 term for District 18.