Salem will see more Republicans in Legislature, new judge in Marion County

The latest ballot tallies from Marion and Polk counties show most local races effectively settled, with no changes from election night and a more conservative delegation representing Salem at the Capitol.

Marion County posted an updated tally at 5 p.m. Thursday. County Clerk Bill Burgess estimated Friday about 17,000 ballots remain to be counted, plus whatever ballots arrive in the mail over the coming days.

Polk County posted its latest ballot tally Wednesday around 5 p.m., which includes all ballots received in the office by Election Day. Still to be counted are ballots returned to another county.

Both counties will still count any ballots returned by mail that were postmarked by Nov. 8 and arrive at elections offices before Nov. 15. 

Voters whose ballots were rejected due to a missing or mismatched signature have until Nov. 29 to correct the issue and have their votes counted. Polk County didn’t have an estimate of how many ballots were affected Thursday. Burgess said about 2,500 Marion County ballots face signature challenges.

But the margin in local legislative races as of Thursday means outcomes are unlikely to change even as more ballots are counted. The Oregonian has called both state senate races and House District 19 and 20 as of Wednesday. The races for House District 21 and 22 are closer, but still unlikely to change.

Here’s where Salem-area races landed.

Senate District 10

Democrat Deb Patterson won re-election to a second term, defeating Rep. Raquel Moore-Green to represent south and west Salem.

As of Thursday evening, Patterson had 53.8% of the district’s vote, 27,741 people, to Moore-Green’s 23,803 votes.

Patterson, 66, narrowly won the seat in 2020 against Republican Denyc Boles, having no prior experience as an elected official. As a freshman legislator, she chaired the Senate Committee on Health Care and said she’d continue to focus on health care affordability, along with securing money for projects addressing homelessness and affordable housing in Salem and across the state.

“We have a lot of work to do in Salem, Monmouth and Independence to tackle some of the issues facing our community: tackling prescription drug and health care affordability, housing and homelessness, supporting our small businesses and working families and protecting our environment. I am looking forward to continuing to serve our community in the Capitol and work on these issues,” Patterson said in a statement declaring victory Wednesday.

Moore-Green, 67, has lived in Salem for 30 years and ran a consulting business, rmg consulting, before becoming a state legislator. She represented House District 19 but opted to run for Senate after redistricting pushed her out of that district.

The race was one of the most expensive in the Legislature, with both candidates spending over $2.2 million on their campaigns, according to Secretary of State campaign finance records.

Senate District 11

Keizer Republican and longtime legislator Sen. Kim Thatcher won the race for the seat long held by Senate President Peter Courtney, a Salem Democrat. Redistricting put north Salem and Keizer in the same district.

Thatcher, 57, garnered 52.5% of the vote over newcomer Democrat Richard Walsh with 47.2% as of Thursday evening.

Thatcher currently represents Senate District 13. She has served several terms in the Oregon House and Senate since 2004 and owns a highway contracting firm. Thatcher also made headlines following the 2020 election as one of the Oregon lawmakers who supported a lawsuit overturning the results of the presidential race. 

Her platform focused on upping public safety investments, reallocating funding for homelessness toward addiction and mental health services, and more school choice in education such as vouchers to pay private school tuition. 

“I am honored to have been chosen by the people of SD 11. The people of the district want schools fixed, prices to go down, crime to stop spreading and the homeless crisis to be solved. It’s time to work together on the most vexing problems for people of this state.  I am ready to get to work and will always strive to put the people of my district front and center,” Thatcher said in an email to Salem Reporter.

Walsh conceded to Thatcher in a statement shared with Salem Reporter. 

“The voters have spoken and have picked Senator Thatcher as the next senator for District 11. I congratulate Senator Thatcher on her victory, and I wish her the very best over the next four years serving in the senate,” Walsh said, and thanked his family and supporters for their help. 

“I threw my hat in the ring because I cared deeply about the community and because of my family value of doing the best I can, with what I have, while I have it,” he said. “This election loss is not going to change any of that. I will continue to fight for those issues that residents of District 11 care about the most, including the homelessness and health care crisis and the need for campaign finance reform. I still believe that if we could just find a way to work together, that we can still make a difference.”

House District 19

Former Salem City Councilor Tom Andersen, a Democrat, is headed to the Legislature, defeating Republican T.J. Sullivan with 54.9% of the vote as of Thursday.

Andersen, 71, is an attorney in private practice and served two terms on the Salem City Council representing Ward 2. He resigned in August to focus on his legislative campaign. He said he would focus on affordable housing, fighting climate change and racial and social justice.

“I am proud of the campaign we ran. I had an excellent staff, I had excellent volunteers, we had people out knocking on doors, stuffing envelopes, making phone calls, all of whom wanted to see a better future for Salem and Oregon and House District 19,” Andersen told Salem Reporter. “I look forward to working with both my Democratic and Republican colleagues in the upcoming Legislature to move the state of Oregon forward.”

Sullivan, 49, is an insurance broker who wanted to bring a business-friendly approach to legislating in Salem. He served on the Salem City Council from 2004-2010 and has been out of politics since.

House District 20

Democrat Paul Evans of Monmouth has won a fifth term representing the district, which includes west Salem and portions of south Salem.

Evans had 54.4% of the vote Thursday, over opponent Dan Farrington’s 44%. 

Evans, 52, is an Air Force veteran and instructor at Chemeketa Community College, and said he wants to focus on constituent services, modernizing the state’s education system to address workforce needs, and continuing to bolster emergency management.

His opponent, Dan Farrington, 62, owns Sunrise Medical Consultants in Salem and lives in south Salem.He campaigned on improving Oregon’s business climate and reworking state educational standards and curriculum to focus on core subjects, rather than what he described as social issues.

Evans on Thursday declined to claim victory, saying he wanted to wait until all votes were counted but said if the outcome holds, he would enter a new term with “humility and hope.”

“Overall, what I think is clear, is that Oregonians sent a message in 2022. Many folks are frustrated — so frustrated they nearly handed the levers of government to a party led by Trump. In the end, they gave Democrats a last opportunity to demonstrate both aspirations as well as improved governance with greater accountability and transparency,” he said in an email. “I hope our leaders — leaders of both parties — recognize that the People of Oregon are frustrated with toxic politics and will not accept a circus. They want us to do what we need to do for the public good without unnecessary drama or distraction. I hope to play a part in the renewing of our civic spirit through pushing for better, more effective government.”

House District 21

Attorney and former state legislator Kevin Mannix, 72, is likely headed back to the Capitol after a long break from politics.

Mannix ran on a tough-on-crime platform, teaming up with fellow Republicans Kim Thatcher and Tracy Cramer to appeal to north Salem voters. As of Thursday, he had 51.2% of the vote to opponent Ramiro Navarro’s 45.9%. Mannix said Navarro had called him to concede.

The seat is currently held by Chris Hoy, a Salem Democrat who is also the city’s mayor. 

Mannix served five terms in the House from 1988 to 1997 as a Democrat, and then a partial term in the Senate as a Republican by appointment. Mannix also ran as the Republican candidate for attorney general in 2000, but lost to Hardy Myers and ran for governor in 2002, losing to Democrat Ted Kulongoski. 

He was the author of Oregon’s Measure 11 minimum sentencing requirements.

Mannix told Salem Reporter Friday he’s been working all summer to draft concept legislation to improve the state’s criminal justice system, listing priorities including fixing the public defender system, adding more court space and judges, funding local jails and increasing funding for the state hospital so more Oregonians can receive treatment there.

Democrats remain in control of both chambers of the Legislature, and Mannix said he’s determining which of his ideas have the best chance of success given the makeup of the Legislature.

“There’s so many things we can do to improve things in Oregon that should be bipartisan,” he said.

Navarro, 32, ran a campaign emphasizing his own experience as a veteran who experienced post-traumatic stress disorder. His top issues were around providing better support for veterans, promoting access to child care and funding for education, and creating sustainable, affordable housing.

House District 22

Newcomer Republican Tracy Cramer looks likely to win having received 52% of votes by Thursday. Challenging Democrat Anthony Medina, a Woodburn School Board director, received 47.8%. 

Cramer, 33, is a local business owner and had a campaign largely focused on crime and reducing the increased rate of homelessness. She supports allowing families to use state education money to send their child to a school of their choice, public or private.

“I truly just feel very honored to be able to represent this incredible community,” Cramer told Salem Reporter. “I worked very hard in my campaign and I’ll continue to work hard for the betterment of this district. I’m excited to get started.”

Medina, 31, is a senior policy analyst for the state and the Higher Education Coordinating Commission and has been a Woodburn School Board member since 2017. He was running on the platform of investing more in public education and postsecondary opportunities, as well as more collaboration for solutions around homelessness. 

Marion County Circuit Court Judge

In a rare contested race for judge, prosecutor Amy Queen has unseated Judge Erious Johnson Jr., winning 54.6% of the vote to Johnson’s 45%.

Queen, 47, will take the bench in January.

She has worked as a Marion County deputy district attorney since 2004, representing the state in criminal cases. She has worked under three district attorneys and is the trial team leader of the district attorney’s office’s domestic violence team, as well as the agency’s public information officer.

She told Salem Reporter she focused her campaign on her “demonstrated experience in leadership and decision-making in Marion County.”

“After spending four months kind of getting out there and talking to voters, it seems the message mattered and resonated with them,” she said. “I’m very humbled, I’m very honored but I’m excited for what’s around the corner now to sort of get back to doing hard work and learning my new role and joining the people that are on the bench that I’ve worked with my whole career.”

Queen recalled feeling proud the day before election results dropped that she had entered the race for judge, a seat she said she’s wanted to hold since she was 10 years old.

“I stand here not by just the work of myself, all of the people personally and professionally who gave me chances to demonstrate, you know, why I’m here, which is just to serve people, to help solve problems and to do it with kindness and compassion.”

Johnson told Salem Reporter Tuesday night, “The people have spoken,” after seeing initial ballot counts.

Gov. Kate Brown appointed Johnson, 55, on Feb. 2 to fill a vacancy in the Marion County Circuit Court created after Judge Susan Tripp retired in October 2021. He was sworn to the bench on Feb. 14.

He was previously a Salem-based discrimination and civil rights attorney in private practice.

Marion County Commissioner

Commissioners Kevin Cameron and Colm Willis, both Republicans, easily won reelection over Democratic challengers Mark Wigg and Andrew Dennis.

Cameron had 60.51% of the vote to Dennis’ 39.49%. 

Cameron, 66, has served two terms on the board and spent nine years as a legislator in the Oregon House, representing House District 19 until 2014. He told Salem Reporter he was seeking a third term to continue the work he started as a commissioner, such as replacing the Scotts Mills Bridge, building a new Interstate 5 bridge over Ehlen Road, rebuilding houses destroyed in the Santiam Canyon wildfires and expanding high-speed internet to rural residents.

Dennis, 32, has worked for over four years as an operations and policy analyst for the state and said his experience made him better equipped to oversee the county’s budget.

Willis had 57.3% of the vote to Wigg’s 42.7%.

Willis, 36, was first elected to the board in 2018. He was hired in 2008 to the U.S. Senate Joint Economic committee, was formerly the political director of Oregon Right to Life and also works as a small business attorney in Stayton. He told Salem Reporter he intended to complete his work to provide building and septic permits for hundreds of homes damaged by wildfire in 2020 and build a sewer system in Mill City and Gates. 

Wigg, 70, was an environmental manager for major projects at the Oregon Department of Transportation and managed software projects for the state Department of Forestry. He said Marion County’s government should more proactively spend the money it has available on needs such as housing services and mental health treatment.

Salem City Council – Ward 4

Deanna Gwyn retained her lead following Thursday’s count, with 3,846 votes (51.2%) to Dynee Medlock’s 3,584.

The race was the sole contested city election after the May race ended with the candidates just six votes apart, triggering a runoff. Neither woman has claimed victory or conceded.

The ward covers the south central part of the city, the areas surrounding Southeast Commercial and Sunnyside streets south of Kuebler Boulevard.

Council seats are nonpartisan, but races in recent years have often had supporters and donors fall along more partisan lines. Regardless of who wins the ward 4 seat, the majority of the council will remain liberal.

Gwyn, 59, is a principal broker with Blum Real Estate and treasurer for the Mid-Valley Association of Realtors and said she was motivated to run by the worsening homelessness problem in Salem. She said better collaboration with Marion County was one way she’d address the issue as a councilor.

Gwyn raised substantially more money in the campaign, with major support from real estate and housing firms and political action committees, and was endorsed by former Mayor Chuck Bennett and the city’s police and firefighter unions.

Medlock, 43, is a network specialist and web developer with Mac A to Z who said she would leverage public-private partnerships to address homelessness and use her previous experience as a neighborhood association board member to get answers to resident concerns.

She was endorsed by Councilor Jackie Leung, who currently holds the ward 4 seat and did not seek re-election, as well as Mayor Chris Hoy and other progressive members of the city council.

Ardeshir Tabrizian contributed reporting.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.

Jordyn Brown is an Oregon journalist who formerly worked for the Eugene Register-Guard.