October 22nd, 2009 5:33 pm | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Multnomah County, Legislature

House District 43: It's Lew Frederick


The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners today chose Lew Frederick, a Democrat, to represent parts of North and Northeast Portland in the state House of Representatives.

Frederick, a former TV reporter and current member of the state Board of Education, will fill the House District 43 seat vacated last month when the county board selected then-Rep. Chip Shields, also a Democrat, to fill a vacant state Senate seat.

The board voted unanimously to approve Frederick after it became clear he had the support of three commissioners on the five-member board. Commissioner Deborah Kafoury, who previously spent three terms representing District 43, had voted initially for Karol Collymore. So had Commissioner Jeff Cogen, who is Collymore's boss.

Cogen pointed out he faced a "difficult decision" since Collymore is one of Cogen's three staff members. Cogen also pointed out that he knows Frederick well because the two men ran against each other in 2006 for the county seat Cogen now holds.

Cogen said he consulted with the county attorney about whether to recuse himself from the vote. Cogen said he was told there was no requirement to do so, because there was no financial conflict of interest.

"As I thought about that and considered the importance of this decision, it was clear to me that I can't do that (recuse myself)," Cogen said. "I was elected to make difficult decisions."

Frederick, meanwhile, had the support of commissioners Diane McKeel and Judy Shiprack. The final decision was left to Chair Ted Wheeler, who lent his support to Frederick after praising Collymore and the third candidate, Eddie Lincoln, head of the faculty union at Portland Community College.

“I have not seen the last of any of you, and I would be terribly disappointed if anyone took today's action to mean you should not pursue your dream to be a leader in this state,” Wheeler said to the candidates.

After the candidates spent more than an hour answering questions from the commissioners, Wheeler said the issue of economic development was what led him to support Frederick. It was also the No. 1 issue touched on in the commissioners' questions. Equality in schools also came up repeatedly, including two references to this week's WW cover story.

The chain of events that led to today's decision was set off last summer, when state Sen. Margaret Carter (D-North/Northeast Portland) announced she was resigning to take a job at the state Department of Human Services.

The board of commissioners last month appointed Shields, a Democrat representing District 43, to take Carter's seat. That in turn opened up today's contest to fill Shields' old seat.
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