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Former State Rep. Akasha Lawrence Spence announces Portland City Council run, challenging Dan Ryan

Lawrence Spence was appointed to the Oregon Legislature in 2020, serving out the remainder of former Rep. Jennifer Williamson's term.
Credit: Akasha Lawrence Spence

PORTLAND, Ore. — Former state Rep. Akasha Lawrence Spence, D-Portland, is running for the Portland City Council, challenging Commissioner Dan Ryan. Willamette Week first reported the news on Tuesday.

“I’m running for Portland City Council because I see both an urgent need and an opportunity to make sure that our city’s recovery is just, centering those who have been most impacted by the health and economic crises of the last two years,” Lawrence Spence said in a statement. “I have proven firsthand what we can accomplish when our actions are moral, our resolve is strong, and our policies put people first.”

RELATED: Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty announces re-election campaign

Lawrence Spence’s campaign announcement described her as a small business owner and activist, and said if elected, she would “focus on community resilience and an equitable recovery” and prioritize housing and houselessness, community safety, transportation and climate justice.

Her campaign announcement touted endorsements from State Sen. Kayse Jama, climate advocate Oriana Magnera, former State Sen. Avel Gordly, Gresham City Councilor Vince Jones-Dixon and civic leader Rukaiyah Adams.

Lawrence Spence was appointed to the Oregon House to fill the District 36 seat vacated when former House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson resigned in late 2019 to run for Secretary of State. She served for nearly all of 2020, finishing out Williamson’s term, but did not run for reelection to the seat.

RELATED: Jennifer Williamson ends campaign for Oregon secretary of state

She announced in April that she was interested in filling the District 18 seat vacated by State Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, who was appointed by Gov. Kate Brown to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council and stepped down at the end of the 2021 legislative session.

Lawrence Spence’s city council campaign announcement said she will continue to seek the District 18 appointment, but with the intention of only finishing out the current term. She noted that the redistricting process will change the geographical boundaries of the district in 2022, placing her outside of it.