Q&A: Democratic candidates for Oregon attorney general answer our questions

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum’s term ends in January, opening up the race for Oregon’s top law enforcement official. 

She was the first woman to fill that role which leads the Department of Justice, with a staff of about 1,300 people. The attorney general represents the state in court actions and legal proceedings of interest to the state. 

Although the attorney general doesn’t have to be a lawyer, the governor, lawmakers or state agency officials may call on them to provide legal advice on an issue of interest to the state or another jurisdiction. The job also includes writing ballot titles for measures.

The department is also mandated to protect all residents and carry out other responsibilities as prescribed by law, such as enforcing antitrust laws, assisting state district attorneys, investigating organized crime and public corruption and administering the state’s Crime Victims’ Compensation Program.​

Two Democrats – Dan Rayfield and Shaina Maxey Pomerantz – are running, as are two Republicans: Will Lathrop and Michael Cross. The winners of the primary will square off in November.

The person who wins that will serve a four-year term and will not be subject to term limits. 

Here are the answers from the Democratic candidates.

What in your background makes you the best candidate to be Oregon’s top enforcer?


I believe there are three areas of my background that have prepared me to be a good attorney general.  The first is a solid legal background, with nearly 18 years as a practicing attorney in Oregon, focusing on general civil litigation, consumer protection and representing people with claims against the insurance industry and large corporations. I got my first trial experience during law school, clerking in the Benton County District Attorney’s Office and prosecuting DUIs and misdemeanors. 

Dan Rayfield

The second is my record as a legislator and speaker of the Oregon House, where I delivered for Oregonians by passing laws to expand access to health care, increase funding for public schools, increase the minimum wage, protect our environment and help address the climate crisis, and pass the strongest reproductive health care and abortion protections in the country. I have also worked to make our justice system more accountable and effective. 

The third is more personal. Growing up, I saw up close how physical abuse and addiction impacts families – and what it is like to struggle to make ends meet. That is why I have worked hard to bring law enforcement and criminal justice reform advocates together to address the drug addiction and crime that are impacting our communities, and protect Oregonians from predatory lenders and insurance companies. This unique set of experiences equips me with the vision and expertise required to be an attorney general who can protect all Oregonians no matter your background or where you live in Oregon. 


As a community advocate, educator and lawyer, I bring a wealth of experience and dedication to public service to this race. Throughout my career, I have had the privilege of working alongside elected officials in three state legislatures, including the Oregon Legislature. My commitment to public service began at a young age, serving on various community boards and commissions, shaping me into a dedicated public servant. 

Shania Maxey Pomerantz
 Shania Maxey Pomerantz

Most notably, I had the honor of serving as the vice chair on both the Portland Police Bureau’s Equity Advisory Council and the Citizen’s Review Commission, where I actively worked to improve community relations and promote equity within law enforcement. These experiences have provided me with a deep understanding of the importance of community engagement and collaboration. 

As a first-time political candidate and a proud working-class individual, I have had the opportunity to live and work in diverse environments, including rural, suburban, urban and inner-city settings, building a strong network within these communities. This extensive life experience has equipped me with a unique perspective on community building and creative problem-solving. 

With over 30 years of experience in mediation and conflict resolution, I bring a collaborative and pragmatic approach to addressing challenges. I believe in the power of dialogue and compromise to find sustainable solutions, drawing upon my legal background to navigate complex issues effectively. 

My goal is to leverage my diverse background and extensive experience to serve as a unifying force, bringing people together to tackle our community’s most pressing issues with innovative and inclusive solutions

Please name three areas that you consider to be the most important for laws to be enforced and why?


Three key legal areas that I consider paramount for focused enforcement and vigilant oversight to ensure justice and equality for all: 

First and foremost, safeguarding equal rights and justice for every individual is a fundamental priority. I am particularly impassioned about upholding equitable access to employment, housing and health care, as these areas are pivotal in ensuring that every Oregonian has the same opportunities and protections. Additionally, making the Attorney General’s Office more approachable and consumer-friendly is pivotal to serving and assisting all members of our community. Recognizing Oregon’s diversity, it is crucial to collaborate closely with local communities to address region-specific issues, particularly in the realms of gun safety, criminal justice reform and incarceration. 

Secondly, I advocate for holding accountable large employers who repeatedly violate laws and regulations. By closely examining the practices of entities like the state of Oregon and setting exemplary standards, we can encourage responsible and lawful conduct from all organizations operating within our state. 

Lastly, I anticipate a societal shift towards conservative values that may pose challenges to longstanding civil rights protections. It is imperative to uphold Oregon’s laws and values that cherish and respect the humanity of every individual, irrespective of race, gender or sexual identity. Our commitment to ensuring safety and inclusivity for all members of our society remains unwavering. 

By focusing on these critical legal areas and upholding the principles of justice, equality and accountability, I am dedicated to serving as a steadfast advocate for the people of Oregon, championing their rights and working towards a state where every person can live, work, and thrive in safety and dignity. 


Because I believe the most important area of law enforcement is the protection of people from criminal victimization, this is a question that reaches beyond the role of the attorney general. However, I do believe that the attorney general can assist state and local law enforcement to ensure that current laws are properly enforced, and I will certainly do so. The Attorney General’s Office does have a direct role in the next two areas I believe are important. Defending the rights of Oregonians is critical, whether it is standing up to discriminatory practices based on one’s identity, protecting reproductive rights and access to abortion, or opposing efforts to harm our democratic process either through restricting access to the ballot or disinformation. 

Every one of these rights is under national attack, and these attacks must be stopped at Oregon’s border.  Finally, we need aggressive enforcement of laws that protect consumers from fraud, our environment from polluters, our communities and schools from gun violence, and vulnerable Oregonians – whether they are children, seniors or those who live with disabilities.

What are the gaps and shortcomings in Oregon’s consumer protection laws and system and how would you address them?


I recognize the critical role of consumer protection within the Department of Justice and understand the importance of working closely with advocacy groups that support our vulnerable communities. I am dedicated to enhancing our approach to consumer protection by fostering a community-based and consumer-friendly strategy that prioritizes inclusivity and engagement. 

The challenges brought about by the pandemic have underscored the need for innovative solutions in our daily operations. I am committed to introducing fresh ideas that center on a community-based approach, reimagining how the Attorney General’s Office can better serve the diverse population of Oregon. A key first step is to increase awareness among Oregonians about the vital work of the AG’s office and the DOJ, ensuring transparency and accessibility to all. 

I believe that a proactive problem-solving approach is essential to prevent costly litigation and settlements. By reshaping the AG’s office to function as a mediator and problem-solver, we can address conflicts efficiently and effectively before they escalate. It is my vision to transform the state’s law firm into a proactive entity that resolves disputes between state agencies and the individuals they serve, promoting harmony and understanding. 

Oregon has the potential to lead by example in embracing innovative and community-driven strategies within the justice system. I am confident that with collaboration, creativity and a commitment to serving all Oregonians, we can reimagine the role of the Attorney General’s Office and the DOJ to better meet the needs of our communities and foster a more just and equitable society for all. 


One of the primary deficiencies in Oregon’s consumer protection laws is that the Department of Justice does not have enough capacity to investigate and prosecute all of these claims. With the growing wealth inequality in our society, making sure consumer protection laws are being enforced is critical. When someone is scammed into buying a lemon car, is mistreated by an insurance company, or falls prey to an identity theft robocall it can completely disrupt their life; it can also jeopardize their ability to get to work, pay rent, and provide for their family. When attorneys aren’t taking these kinds of cases, we must have an attorney general who is proactively working in these areas. 

As attorney general, we will be working to expand the Civil Enforcement Division and take a more proactive role in investigating – and enforcing – consumer protections.

How would your administration be different from Ellen Rosenblum’s tenure?


Building on Attorney General Rosenblum’s tenure, our administration will look for additional opportunities to proactively investigate and prosecute when Oregonians are being harmed. I would particularly focus on the most urgent needs of our time: environmental protection, civil rights and consumer protections. 

First, we will increase the ongoing work to hold corporations accountable, especially those contributing to climate change. Second, through the expansion of the Civil Enforcement Division, we will bolster the Department of Justice’s capacity to ensure our civil rights and consumer protection laws are being enforced, and hold bad actors accountable when they’re not. 

Third, I would create a Working Families Unit in the Department of Justice; this unit would consist of attorneys and investigators focused on enforcing key labor protections like wage theft, misclassification, and child labor. We have some of the strongest protections in the country, but if they are not being enforced, they don’t mean anything. This new unit will be able to escalate the enforcement and punishment of labor violations when bad actors’ behavior is not changing. 

Finally, I am committed to conducting a comprehensive review of the internal processes at the Department of Justice to identify and implement improvements to things like state agency third-party contracting, procurement processes, and litigation review. This will ensure that state services are getting to Oregonians effectively and efficiently – and state agencies are getting the best legal counsel to deliver those services. 


I hold immense respect for the legacy left by Attorney General Rosenblum during her 12-year tenure in Oregon. Building upon her foundation, I aim to further enhance the impact of the Attorney General’s Office by elevating the Civil Rights Office to an independent division and fortifying the internal functions of the Department of Justice. 

My background as an organizational consultant has equipped me with valuable expertise in optimizing internal operations and fostering positive relationships within diverse work environments. Through my work with various private and municipal organizations, I have focused on enhancing employee engagement, promoting work-life balance, and driving organizational effectiveness.

In my role as the executive director and chief operations officer of RACE TALKS over the past eight years, I have had the privilege of collaborating with a wide array of community-based organizations dedicated to advocating for and serving their communities directly. This experience has built a strong network of partnerships that I believe can be instrumental in expanding access to the DOJ for proactive collaboration in mitigating potential litigation risks. 

I am committed to leveraging these community connections to engage in preventative approaches to conflict resolution, reducing the need for costly lawsuits and settlements that burden taxpayers. By enhancing communication and collaboration between the DOJ and grassroots organizations, we can work together to address issues at their root, foster greater understanding, and improve outcomes for all Oregonians. 

I am dedicated to building upon AG Rosenblum’s legacy and introducing new initiatives that promote transparency, efficiency and equity within the Attorney General’s Office. Through strategic partnerships and a focus on preventive measures, I am confident that we can create a more responsive, effective, and community-centered DOJ that serves the needs and interests of all individuals across our state. 

What three goals would you like to accomplish during your term and why?


As the prospective Oregon attorney general, I am committed to pursuing several key objectives that will advance justice, equality and community well-being across our state. My primary goals include: 

Firstly, I am dedicated to bolstering assistance for victims of crime and individuals who have experienced injustice. It is essential to provide unwavering support to survivors, ensuring that their voices are heard, their rights are protected and they receive the resources and care they rightfully deserve.

Secondly, I am focused on enacting comprehensive reforms to address systemic racism and discrimination within our society. By implementing meaningful changes at the systemic level, we can strive towards a more just and inclusive Oregon where every individual is treated with dignity, respect and fairness.

Lastly, I aim to foster collaboration between law enforcement agencies and community advocates to advance community-centered policing practices. By working hand in hand with stakeholders from law enforcement and local communities, we can cultivate policing strategies that prioritize mutual trust, transparency and the well-being of all community members. 

Through these initiatives, I aspire to serve as a proactive and responsive attorney general who advocates for the rights of all Oregonians, champions social justice and builds bridges between diverse groups to create a safer, fairer, and more equitable state for everyone.


The principal role of the attorney general is to serve as the legal representative of the state, which is why it is important that they have hands-on, Oregon legal experience.  But while the attorney general is not directly a law enforcement agency or prosecutor, they assist state and local law enforcement to ensure that current laws are properly enforced, and file cases that protect Oregonians in issues ranging from consumer protection to threats to their rights. 

With that role in mind, there are three overarching goals that will focus our work.  First, we will work to protect Oregonians’ values and policies from national threats. Examples of this include national threats to our reproductive health care, collective bargaining and vote-by-mail system. The second focus is to expand the work of the Civil Enforcement Division to ensure enforcement of the laws that protect our values and protect vulnerable Oregonians. This would include creating the Working Families Unit mentioned above and strengthening the support for folks – like my single mom – who relied on child support showing up on time. Finally, we will focus on partnering with law enforcement and criminal justice reform advocates to keep our communities safe, protect our communities from gun violence and help combat homelessness and substance abuse disorder. Many positive steps were taken in (House Bill) 4002 (2024) but the crisis will not be fixed overnight, and we’re committed to continuing these efforts to improve community safety.  

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