Chris Edwards now a State Senator; House seat up for grabs

Carla Axtman

EdwardoathChris Edwards (D-Eugene) was sworn in today as Oregon Senator to replace Vicki Walker. Walker resigned in July to take the reins at the Oregon Parole Board.

(Photo courtesy of Senate President Peter Courtney's office)

From the Senate President's Office press release (no online version yet that I can find):

(SALEM) Eugene Democrat Chris Edwards officially took the oath of office Wednesday to become the newest member of the Oregon State Senate.

Edwards, who was in his second term in the Oregon House, replaces former Senator Vicki Walker. Walker resigned in July to become the Chair of State Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision.

“Taking the oath of office to become an Oregon State Senator is an honor that I will never forget,” Edwards said. “I was especially grateful to have my family at my side this morning as we embark on this new journey of service to the people of District. 7.”

Governor Ted Kulongoski, himself a former State Representative and Senator from Eugene, administered the oath of office in a ceremony in the Senate Chambers.

Senate President Peter Courtney welcomed Edwards to the Senate.

“Senator Edwards is devoted to his family; devoted to his state; and devoted to serving his constituents. He has the education and professional experience to do well here,” Courtney said. “He’s willing to work with members from both sides of the aisle and reach consensus. He’s definitely got a talent for this job. He was made for the Senate.”

Edwards leaves an open seat in House District 14. The Eugene Register-Guard speculated a few weeks ago about who may be seeking the appointment:

At least two candidates have stated publicly that they seek the appointment: Rich Cunningham, a commissioner on the Eugene Water & Electric Board, and Carol Horne Dennis, a Lane Education Service District Board member. Both live in west Eugene.

Cunningham, 51, briefly campaigned in 2006 for the same House seat before stepping aside in the race that Edwards won.He and Horne Dennis, 56, saideducation is a top priority.

Other names surfacing as possible candidates include: Eugene City Councilor Andrea Ortiz; Val Hoyle, director of United Way of Lane County’s health care initiative; and Lane Community College instructor Greg Evans. Ortiz could not be reached for comment. Hoyle, former chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Lane County, said she is not interested at this time, having just been hired as director of United Way’s 100% Access Health Care Initiative. Evans said he is weighing his options, having previously taken steps to seek election to an open Eugene City Council seat before the House seat came into play.

Once local Democrats have nominated replacements, the Lane County commissioners would have up to 30 days after Edwards’ resignation to pick his replacement. If Democrats forward fewer than three names to the county board, the board could choose a replacement from beyond that list.

Update, 4:36 p.m.: Val Hoyle emailed me to let me know that the Register-Guard article on those who seek to replace Chris Edwards is out of date... Here's the current situation:

The campaign to replace Rep. Chris Edwards in his House District 14 seat becomes official Wednesday when he’s sworn in as a state senator and his House seat is officially vacant. But the field appears to have sorted itself out already.

Two candidates — Val Hoyle and Carol Horne Dennis — are actively seeking the nomination from Democrats in the district, which encompasses west and north Eugene, and outlying Lane County.

A third Democrat, Rich Cunningham, had expressed interest previously but is now out, saying he wants to focus on his duties as a commissioner on the Eugene Water & Electric Board.


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    It was a touching ceremony, with President Courtney being entertaining and welcoming, despite his recent hip replacement surgery, Gov. Kulongoski providing grandeur and history (if I remember the story right, Kulongoski was from the Edwards district and was also appointed to the Senate to take the place of someone going off to chair the Parole Board), Sen. Devlin welcoming people in style, former Sen. Walker being herself, and Senator Edwards being gracious, thoughtful, and touching, especially towards his family.

    He'll bring a lot to the Senate.

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    Congratulations, Senator Edwards!

  • SF (unverified)

    Val Hoyle would be a GREAT replacement. She spent the whole 2009 session at Sen. Prozanski's right hand. She is the perfect combination of fresh energy and experience in the building.

  • Joey (unverified)

    Yay for Carol Horne Dennis! She would be fabulous... I'm sure Val would be too, but Carol has the spunk of a good, liberal Democrat.

  • Val (unverified)

    I am very proud to have Chris Edwards as my new Senator, he is smart, strategic, ethical and just generally a good guy. His appointment was well deserved and he will be an asset to the Senate. I have no doubt that he will do great things for District 7.

    I will miss Vicki Walker but know that she is going to put her creativity and focused energy to do great work on the State Parole board.


  • James mattiace (unverified)

    Congratulations to now Senator Edwards. Senator Walker has left some big shoes to fill but Chris is a very capable and intuitive man. He has a passion for people and their issues that will make a good fit for the district. Vicki Walker will be remembered in Oregon history as a voice for those who don't sit at the table. Chris has the same ethos.

    And Val Hoyle as a replacement for Chris brings yet one more voice for Oregon workers and families to Salem. For those who are not familiar with her (yet) I look forward to the time when you get to meet her and realize, as I did, "wow, this is a woman who has the tenacity, smarts, ENERGY, and compassion to really shake up the status quo." Val really embodies a spirit of Oregon, even if she speaks with a funny Boston accent.

    The other candidate, Carole Horne Dennis, is a dynamic woman in her own right and deserves to be looked at for future political office. She is passionate, savvy, and holds a real insight into the values of the district.

    It should be noted, that in declining to stand for nomination, City Councilor Andrea Ortiz is doing two things 1) she is fulfilling her promise to serve the people of her ward, and 2) helping to maintain a critical balance on the Eugene City Council. I've known Andrea for a number of years, and while I hope that she would someday gain a higher profile position, so that Oregonians can see just how hard she works to improve day to day lives, I am glad the city of Eugene will have the benefit of her hard work for a little longer. She is definitely needed where she is.

    James Mattiace

  • AdmiralNaismith (unverified)

    Fortunately, I'm not in that district and don't have to agonize over a choice between those two great candidates. Either will serve us well.

  • Joy Marshall (unverified)

    I met Val Hoyle about 5 years ago as we sat around the table planning a campaign to help Eugene schools. She is a worker, a do-er, and a passionate champion for kids and schools. She can build a team to work together, a critical skill we need more of in Salem. She has worked for years to help our community, and will be an effective voice in Salem.

    Val has my enthusiastic endorsement.

    Joy Marshall Eugene

  • gj (unverified)
    <h2>Carol Horne is a very nice woman, but could not be a poorer fit for the district.</h2>

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