Update Posted at 4:15 p.m. Jan. 14

Rachel Armitage was selected to fill Oregon's open Senate District 16 seat.

Armitage is scheduled to be sworn into office at 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 21, by Chief Justice Martha Walters. The ceremony will take place in the Senate Chamber of the Oregon State Capitol in Salem.

Previous coverage posted at 9:15 a.m.

Clatsop, Columbia, Multnomah, Tillamook, Washington and Yamhill County Commissioners will hold a joint meeting at 9:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 14, to interview candidates and select a replacement for the Oregon Senate District 16 position.

The county commissioners have received the following list of Democratic nominees from the Oregon Democratic Party seeking the appointment. They are:


The three nominated candidates are Melissa L. Busch, Rachel L. Armitage and Nadia E. Gardner.

  • Melissa L. Busch
  • Rachel L. Armitage
  • Nadia E. Gardner

Oregon law require that a legislative vacancy be filled by county commissioner’s representing the district in which the vacancy exists. Senate District 16 includes voters in Clatsop, Columbia, Multnomah, Tillamook, Washington and Yamhill Counties.

Melissa Busch

Melissa Busch

Columbia County resident Melissa Busch lives in Warren, Oregon with her partner and three children. Busch is a home health nurse who travels the county visiting patients in their homes and long-term care settings, providing care and connection before and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. She has also volunteered at numerous vaccine clinics in the county.

“I know the challenges our community faces because I see my patients navigating those challenges every day,” Busch says. “Parents lack affordable childcare, schools lack crucial resources, and families are regularly confronted with impossible choices like whether to buy groceries or pay for prescription medications. As a working mother and a union member, I understand how important it is that we have family wage jobs, good benefits, and safe working conditions. This was true before the COVID-19 pandemic. As our next State Senator I will stand up for our community just like I stand up for my patients.”

Busch announced her intention to run for Johnson’s seat in November, 2021. Her endorsements include the Oregon Nurses Association and Chair of the Oregon House of Representatives Committee on Health Care, Representative Rachel Prusak.

Rachel Armitage

Rachel Armitage

Columbia County resident Rachel Armitage lives in Warren, Oregon with her husband and stepdaughter. She previously worked as a Legislative Assistant in the 2016 and 2017 legislative sessions, focusing on constituent service and issues such as education, and rights for foster youth. If appointed, Armitage's legislative experience will allow her to hit the ground running in the Legislature with a focus on jobs and housing.

“As a lifelong Oregonian and the daughter of a teacher and a pastor, I know that community is often what gets us through hard times," said Armitage. "That's why I'm seeking this appointment. Our community needs a leader in Salem who brings us together even when we have strong disagreements—who will be an independent voice for rural Oregonians.”

Nadia Gardner

Nadia Gardner

Nadia Gardner is a 20-year North Coast resident, who has always been very active in local politics. She lives in the unincorporated Clatsop County community of Arch Cape with her partner and six year old son. She is the Chair of the Clatsop County Planning Commission. She is elected as a Director on the Arch Cape Domestic Water Supply District Board. In addition to providing critical governance and financial oversight, the Board is leading the acquisition of Arch Capes’s 1,500-acre forested drinking watershed.

“I am a scientist with expertise on our forests, rivers, estuaries and ocean and how they contribute to human health and community livability. My scientific background leads me to find proven solutions to tough problems,” Gardner says. “I am running because this is a critical moment, and I am the dedicated, knowledgeable, and experienced candidate to bring forward the right solutions.”

The county commissioners are making the selection to replace Sen. Betsy Johnson who recently resigned her District 16 position to run for Oregon governor.

The term for that Senate seat runs through 2022.

The Tillamook Headlight Herald contributed to this report.


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