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County commissioners to choose replacement for Rep. Gary Leif

Oregon Rep. Gary Leif, R-Roseburg, died of cancer in July, 2021. He represented House District 2 since 2018.
Rachael McDonald
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Oregon Rep. Gary Leif, R-Roseburg, died of cancer in July, 2021. He represented House District 2 since 2018.

Southern Oregon State Rep. Gary Leif died of cancer in late July. Now, three candidates have been chosen by the Douglas County Republican party as potential replacements to fill the vacant seat in the Oregon House.

The commissioners in three southern Oregon counties will vote Thursday for Leif’s replacement. But because most of District 2 is in Douglas County, a weighted majority of votes will go to commissioners there.

“That gives Douglas County 42 votes, Jackson County gets one vote, and Josephine gets five votes,” says Douglas County Clerk Dan Loomis.

Three candidates were narrowed down from a pool of seven on Friday. They include: Steve Loosley, Elias LaLande and Christine Goodwin. All must live in the second district and must have been Republicans for at least 180 days.

“It’s a matter of just the presentation,” says Douglas County Republican Central Committee Chairman Valynn Currie about how the candidates were chosen. “Steve came across as very strong, very pro-life, very pro-Constitution and Second Amendment.”

Currie says possibly the biggest role this interim representative will have will be when Oregon legislators gather this fall for redistricting, the process when legislative boundaries are redrawn based on new Census population numbers. In addition to local districts being redrawn, Oregon is slated to get a 6th Congressional District.

“That’s going to be a very important legislative session,” Currie says.

The public gets to vote on whether to keep the interim representative in next year’s May primary election. At that time any party can put forward a candidate to represent House District 2.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Erik Neumann is a radio producer and writer. A native of the Pacific Northwest, his work has appeared on public radio stations and in magazines along the West Coast. He received his Bachelor's Degree in geography from the University of Washington and a Master's in Journalism from UC Berkeley. Besides working at KUER, he enjoys being outside in just about every way possible.