Officially, there are no candidates for Oregon House District 38 — and there can't be until after state Rep. Ann Lininger resigns from her position on Tuesday.
But in reality, the race is already on to succeed the Lake Oswego lawmaker, who was appointed last month to a judgeship on the Clackamas County Circuit Court. Lininger told The Review this week that her resignation will take effect on Aug. 15, and she is scheduled to be sworn in to her new job on Aug. 28.
In the meantime, seven declared applicants are openly vying for Lininger's HD 38 seat and campaigning for consideration by the Democratic Party's Precinct Committee Persons (PCPs) in the district.
The PCPs will vote at a nominating convention on Monday, selecting a list of three to five finalists whose names will be forwarded to the Boards of Commissioners for Clackamas and Multnomah counties. Those boards will then have 30 days following Lininger's departure to vote for a new state representative.
As of Wednesday, the list of applicants included Lake Oswego City Councilors Theresa Kohlhoff and Joe Buck; political consultants Andrea Salinas and Moses Ross; public relations executive and former government spokesman Neil H. Simon; restaurateur Daniel Nguyen; and Alex Josephy, secretary of the Democratic Party of Oregon.
The nominating convention will give the candidates a chance to make their case and answer questions from PCPs before the voting begins, but it's not their only chance. The group Independents for Progressive Action is hosting a candidate Town Hall tonight; it's scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Lake Theater & Cafe, 106 N. State St. in Lake Oswego.
Last week, The Review profiled candidates Simon, Ross, Nguyen and Salinas in a front-page story; it's available online here. This week, The Review spoke to Buck, Kohlhoff and Josephy. Here's what they had to say:
Buck was raised in Lake Oswego and currently operates two restaurants in the city, Gubanc's Restaurant and Babica Hen Café, as well as a second branch of Babica Hen in Dundee and a boutique inn in Oregon's wine country. He has served on the Lake Oswego City Council since 2014.
Buck, a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, received a degree in business administration from the University of Portland. He initially worked in public accounting and also helped manage Gubanc's, his family's restaurant. He eventually took over operations at Gubanc's and subsequently opened his other three businesses.
"I worked side-by-side with my father, Mike Buck, at Gubanc's in Lake Grove," he says, "learning how to operate a business rooted in values that promote equality and respect for all, caring deeply for our family of employees and being active stewards of the community."
Buck's tenure on the City Council has focused on advocating for a range of progressive policies, including environmental protection, public transportation and engaging youth in local politics. He helped found Lake Oswego's Youth Leadership Council in 2016 and serves as the group's liaison to the council.
"I will deliver the same passionate yet effective diplomacy that has served me well on the Lake Oswego City Council to Salem," he says, "to fight effectively for you and for the current and future health of our district and state."
His campaign has received endorsements from a number of public officials in Lake Oswego, including City Councilors John LaMotte and Jackie Manz, former Councilor Jon Gustafson, School Board members Sara Pocklington and John Wallin, and former Mayor Judy Hammerstad.
Buck says he is committed to helping working Oregonians, and says his record as a small business owner shows he has pursued policies that promote wage equality, healthy work environments and respect for all. He also lists health care, education and affordable housing as priorities for his campaign.
"I have been a strong advocate for programs and policies that promote public health and a sustainable future," he says. "And I will fervently advocate for the changes all Oregonians deserve to ensure bright and prosperous years ahead."
Kohlhoff, who has built a 37-year career as a private practice attorney and small-business owner, became involved in politics when she ran for a seat on Lake Oswego's City Council last year. Her campaign platform emphasized affordable housing and public transportation, and she's become a vocal advocate for those causes during her first seven months on the council.
"The voters were right to trust me," she says. "One of my issues, economical housing, went on to become a council goal for 2017, and I am at the forefront of working out strategies with council and staff."
Kohlhoff graduated from Portland State University and later received her law degree from Lewis and Clark College's Northwestern School of Law. Her law career has included work on a wide range of cases, including personal injury, criminal law, domestic relations, real estate, commercial lien foreclosure and probate. She has also served on the Board of Governors of the Oregon State Bar.
"It is my profession to be a formidable advocate for my clients, no matter how mighty the corporation or adversary," she says, "but also to be a plain speaker, clearly outlining the state of play."
As a candidate for the HD 38 seat, Kohlhoff has been eager to tout her progressive credentials. But she says her time on the council has shown a record of collaborative accomplishments, even though a majority of the council falls to her ideological right.
"While municipal issues are different than state-level ones, the ability to do the homework required, to listen patiently to experts and citizens, to communicate clearly and to vote thoughtfully are the same," she says. "A true progressive can make things happen that would be unheard of otherwise, and I am doing that."
She has called for a "Medicare for all" system for Oregon and a progressive income tax to increase revenue and solve the impending PERS financial crunch. She's also continuing her push for affordable hous-
ing and improved public transit.
"Few really doubt that climate change is happening," she says, "and all probably know in their hearts that it is due to fossil fuels. Yet they don't want to face not being car-centric, and leaders are dawdling on funding transit."
Josephy is a native Oregonian who graduated from Linfield College with a degree in International Relations. He grew up in the eastern Oregon town of Joseph before moving to Oregon City at age 15. He has remained in the Portland area since then.
Josephy says his own experiences give him a personal connection to many of the challenges facing Oregon. He grew up in a family below the poverty line, he says, and has been homeless on two different occasions — once in Portland, and once in Beijing. He says his own experiences give him an ability to empathize with the people that the state should be helping.
"There are a lot of state issues that I have a personal connection to," he says. "When we talk about how to help these people out, I've lived through these issues — it's not foreign to me."
He says he didn't start off with political aspirations, but became involved in politics during the 2016 presidential primaries when he served as a national delegate for Bernie Sanders at the Democratic Party Convention. He says he was inspired by the experience, and came back to Oregon determined to keep pursuing a role in politics. He got his chance when he decided to run for DPO secretary.
"I think politics inherently is supposed to be something you do for other people," he says. "I want to be able to actually make an impact."
Josephy is open about the fact that he's an underdog in the house race, but he says that was also true when he ran for the positions of DNC delegate and DPO secretary — both of which he won despite the odds.
At 25, Josephy is also the youngest candidate in the race, and he says he hopes his age doesn't become a major reason for people to vote either for or against him. But it did factor into his own decision when he first considered running for the seat, he says, because he wants to increase the representation that younger Oregonians have in the state Legislature.
"(I've been told), 'You are not District 38 — the majority of the district is older voters with older issues,'" he says. "My mindset is, 'What am I going to do for the entirety of the state?'"