Paul De Muniz will be awarded First Citizen at a banquet Saturday night. (Courtesy/Willamette University)

Former Oregon Supreme Court Justice Paul De Muniz will take the top award at Saturday’s First Citizen banquet.

First Citizens are nominated for improving the lives of those in the community through business, volunteering and philanthropic efforts.

De Muniz will be honored at the First Citizen Awards Banquet at the Salem Convention Center on Saturday at 7 p.m.

De Muniz was the first Hispanic person elected to statewide office in Oregon in 1990 on the Oregon Court of Appeals. A decade later, he successfully ran for  the Oregon Supreme Court.

De Muniz couldn’t be reached for comment, but in nomination documents for First Citizen, Dick Withnell, a businessman and philanthropist who serves on the board for the De Muniz Legal Clinic, said De Muniz has helped the underdog.

“In everything that he has done that I’ve worked with him in, he’s always helped the person to come back and be whole. When he retired, he decided not to leave town. He stayed in this community, and made a difference in this town,” Withnell wrote.

In 2011 Marion County opened a resource center named after De Muniz to help former inmates find housing, jobs, transportation and other services.

De Muniz told the Salem Reporter in February he became aware of how such services are important to public safety and helping formerly incarcerated people become good members of the community.

“It seemed that one aspect that had been overlooked when talking about reentry services was legal advice,” he said.

Before becoming a justice, De Muniz worked in private practice for more than a decade.

Since retiring he has served as an adjunct professor at the Willamette University College of Law where he earned his law degree. He speaks to both national and international audiences on the importance of maintaining independent state judiciaries and the need for adequate state court funding.

“Paul De Muniz is a gem,” said Gerry Frank, a local community leader. “He loves Oregon. He knows what’s right and what’s wrong. We need more people today like Paul De Muniz.”

There are three categories at the annual banquet: First Citizen, Outstanding Young Professional and the Distinguished Service Award.

DISTINGUISHED SERVICE

Wallace Long, a music professor at Willamette University, is one of the Distinguished Service Award winners.

Ron Peters, manager of Salem Aviation Fueling, said in nominating documents that Long has the ability to speak into the lives of those seeking musical careers and put them on a path of artistic distinction.

“Formulated future musicians and teachers to be effective music leaders in their respective communities is his passion! Dr. Long can be tied directly to the success, thru excellence, of many a conductor,” Peters wrote.

Scott Hossner, co-owner of Allied Video Productions, also got the distinction for distinguished service.  

Jeff Hart, one of the owners of the production company who retired in 2017, said nonprofits like Family Building Blocks, Liberty House, Salem Leadership Foundation and the Boys and Girls Club have benefitted and grown as a result of Scott’s generosity.

“Scott believes in giving back to the community. For that reason, he has firmly embraced the philosophy of donating and discounting when working with area non-profit organizations. With this approach the ripple effect of success for all eventually develops,” Hart wrote.

OUTSTANDING YOUNG PROFESSIONAL

The Outstanding Young Professional award will go to Brenna Baucum, a financial planner at The H Group.

Renee Campbell, an account executive at Select Expressions and fellow rotarian, said Baucum helps give women financial planning skills.

“She co-founded Women of Worth with attorney Stephanie Palmblad where they present seminars twice a year to this end. Brenna is a great example of the reasons we can feel good about the future of Salem,” Campbell said.

Nick Williams, who works with commercial real estate firm SVN Commercial Advisors, said he’s known Baucum for seven years and has seen her make several life transitions.

“In that time she has effectively managed a career transition from Allied Video to The H Group, become a mom, and been a tireless advocate of Salem through her work as a board member of the Rotary Club of Salem and other deserving causes. At the end of the day, Brenna shows up. She doesn't seek the spotlight. She understands well how to find a need and align her strengths to serving the need,” Williams said.

The first First Citizen was Charles Sprague in 1950. For a list of past award winners, visit the Salem Chamber website.

Correction: De Muniz was first elected to statewide office in 1990. An earlier version misstated that.

Have a tip? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected] or @daisysaphara.