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Akasha Lawrence Spence will serve out remainder of Ginny Burdick's Senate term

Lawrence Spence will serve out the remainder of former State Sen. Ginny Burdick's term
Credit: Akasha Lawrence Spence

PORTLAND, Ore. — Former State Rep. Akasha Lawrence Spence (D-Portland) has been appointed to represent Oregon Senate District 18, serving out part of the remainder of former State Sen. Ginny Burdick's term.

Gov. Kate Brown appointed Burdick to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council in April, and Burdick announced that she would resign her Senate seat at the end of the 2021 legislative session.

District 18 is geographically split between Multnomah and Washington Counties, along with a tiny sliver of Clackamas County, and includes the City of Tigard and a large portion of Southwest Portland.

The Multnomah and Washington County boards of commissioners held a joint meeting on Monday to select a replacement (no Clackamas County commissioners attended), with their votes weighted based on the portion of the district's population in each county.

Lawrence Spence was the only candidate interviewed and was the unanimous choice of all the commissioners present.

Burdick's term runs through 2025, but multiple commissioners and Lawrence Spence herself noted on Monday that her tenure in the seat will be shorter than that because she will no longer be a resident of the district after its boundaries are adjusted in the redistricting process next year.

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Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson said that although the appointment could be thought of as a "caretaker" position, she was confident that Lawrence Spence would not approach it as such.

"You have a knack for stepping in and getting things done," Multnomah County Commissioner Sharon Meieran added.

Several commissioners also noted that this is the second time the tri-county panel has voted to appoint Lawrence Smith to fill a vacancy; she was previously appointed to represent Oregon House District 36, filling the seat vacated by former House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson.

Williamson resigned in late 2019 to run for Secretary of State. Lawrence Spence served for nearly all of 2020, finishing out Williamson's term, but did not run for reelection to the seat.

Lawrence Spence separately announced last month that she will run for the Portland City Council next year, challenging incumbent Commissioner Dan Ryan. If elected, her council term would begin after the redistricting process ends her Senate term.

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

The Multnomah County Commission still needs to officially ratify the vote to fill the vacancy later this week, according to the agenda packet for its Dec. 2 meeting.