Salem City Councilor Chris Hoy. (Courtesy/ Chris Hoy)

The Marion County Board of Commissioners in a split vote Wednesday afternoon selected Salem City Councilor Chris Hoy to fill a vacant seat in the state Legislature.

The House District 21 seat, which represents central and east Salem, was vacated after Rep. Brian Clem on Oct. 29 stepped down from his seat. Clem, a moderate Democrat who was first elected in 2006, had previously announced he would not seek re-election so he could care for his aging mother.

Hoy was one of four nominees put forward by local Democrats, along with fellow Salem City Councilor Virginia Stapleton, retired midwife Nancy MacMorris-Adix and attorney Kasia Quillinan.

Commissioners Colm Willis and Kevin Cameron voted for Hoy to fill Clem’s seat, while Commissioner Danielle Bethel voted for MacMorris-Adix.

Hoy said because the Salem City Council is an unpaid volunteer position he intends to continue in his role as councilor, which is allowed under statute. 

When asked by Salem Reporter about his priorities for the new office, Hoy said, “Obviously homelessness is a passion. It’s not just something I do on city council.”

He serves as vice chair of the Mid-Willamette Valley Homeless Alliance.

He added the Covid pandemic was something he wanted to help constituents navigate and get past.

“We’re in the middle of a crisis and we’ve got to get through it,” he said. 

Hoy will take office after being sworn in, which he expects to happen in the coming days. He will serve the remainder of Clem’s term, which expires at the end of 2022.

Hoy said he will not seek re-election to the seat in the Legislature because he won't live in the redrawn district boundaries which take effect in 2023.

“He helped us in a tremendous way with fire recovery and the efforts that went through the legislature (for) the Santiam Canyon, and his shoes will not be easy to fill,” Cameron said of Clem.

Hoy graduated from Willamette University in 1987 with a bachelor's degree in political science and a minor in English. He spent 30 years working in law enforcement, and previously worked as undersheriff in the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.

Hoy won election to the Salem City Council in 2017. His current term expires at the end of 2022.

“I feel like he has a more specific understanding of some of the challenges that we’re facing, and he will be a good partner for us over the next several months as we’re trying to rebuild the canyon, as we’re trying to work on this homeless crisis,” Willis said at the meeting.

During the meeting, Hoy said his experience on city council taught him the importance of working together at all levels of government. 

“Local government needs a larger voice at the Capitol. Through my career experience and my time as a city councilor, I can bring that voice so that local governments can be a strong partner with the state rather than an afterthought,” he said. “In the upcoming session, I can play a critical role in public safety policy, how we address homelessness, and other vital areas, bringing local values and a local perspective to conversations where that voice is often missing.”

Correction: This article originally misstated the nomination process. Candidates were nominated by the local Democratic Party, not the state party. Salem Reporter apologizes for the error.

Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected] Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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