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County Commissioners To Choose Replacement For Rep. Gary Leif

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

Southern Oregon State Representative 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 choice largely falls on the Douglas County commissioners.

The commissioners in three southern Oregon counties will vote this Thursday for Leif’s replacement. But since 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.

Erik Neumann is JPR's news director. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.