Two longtime political consultants with extensive experience on both the state and national level, a restaurateur whose family immigrated from Vietnam and a Southwest Portland community activist have all announced that they will seek appointment to the House District 38 seat being vacated by Rep. Ann Lininger.
Andrea Salinas, the Oregon vice president for Strategies 360, and Neil H. Simon, a partner with Bighorn Communications, made their intentions public Friday; Daniel Nguyen, the owner of Bambuza Vietnam Kitchen, and Moses Ross, the owner of a political call center and communications consulting business, announced their candidacies on Saturday.
They join a growing list of candidates for Lininger's job in Salem. Just last week, Lake Oswego City Councilors Joe Buck and Theresa Kohlhoff both publicly announced that they, too, will seek the job, and Clackamas County Democratic officials told The Review that they have been approached by at least five potential candidates.
Lininger was appointed by Gov. Kate Brown earlier this month to a judgeship on the Clackamas County Circuit Court. She is expected to officially resign from her role as a state representative sometime in August, kicking off a monthlong process in which Democratic Party officials will submit a list of finalists to commissioners in Clackamas and Multnomah counties for a final vote. (For more on the process, go to pamplinmedia.com/lor/48-news/366805-248354-who-will-replace-lake-oswegos-lininger-in-house-district-38.)
Salinas, who lives with her husband and daughter in Lake Oswego, is one of the founding organizers of LO for LOve, a grassroots organization that advocates for diversity, awareness and kindness in the community. Her father immigrated to the United States from Mexico.
"I have always believed that we have a responsibility to do our part," she said. "I am honored to have the opportunity to be considered to serve the people of our community in Salem and proud to have the endorsement of so many respected neighbors and organizations."
Those endorsements include former state Rep. Greg MacPherson; Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson; Lake Oswego School Board member Rob Wagner; Doug Moore, executive director of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters; Grayson Dempsey, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon; and Mary Nolan, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon.
Salinas currently is the Oregon vice president of Strategies 360, a consulting firm with offices in a dozen states and in Washington, D.C. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, she has owned her own legislative campaign consulting business, managed the legislative agenda for the Oregon Environmental Council and worked in a variety of roles for U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, U.S. Rep. Pete Stark and U.S. Rep. Darlene Hooley.
"For more than 20 years, I have been working to protect and pass policies that help women and children, working people, seniors and the environment," Salinas told The Review. "I am the only candidate with a proven record of bringing state elected leaders together. I have successfully worked to pass laws that increase the statewide minimum wage, reduce vehicle pollution and provide all women equal access to affordable reproductive health care."
If appointed to the state Legislature, she says her priorities will include stabilizing school funding, lowering prescription drug prices and working on environmental issues.
"I am ready to fight to fully fund public education, hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable to lower drug prices and make polluters pay for the harm they are imposing on our health, our children's health and our environment," Salinas said.
Neil H. Simon
Simon is a third-generation Oregonian who graduated from Northwestern University and initially pursued a career in journalism "with the romantic notion that if I told people's stories well, we could inspire civic participation."
An award-winning documentary filmmaker, he says he transitioned to political advocacy so that he could take even more of a stand. As a communications director for U.S. senators, for example, he helped write "Russian sanctions to defend human rights, environmental legislation to hold energy companies accountable and laws to add transparency to our democratic election process that is eroding beneath us if we don't stand up to protect it."
Currently a partner at Bighorn Communications, Simon's policy work on the state and national level has emphasized increased transparency in the fields of energy, port and homeland security and electoral governance. His recent work includes advising Ted Wheeler during his campaign for mayor of Portland.
Simon now lives in Hillsdale with his wife and three children, but he's quick to point out that he worked at a Kienow's grocery store in Lake Oswego as a teen.
"As an advocate for social justice, I'm proud of the work Clackamas and Multnomah County Democrats are doing to lead the resistance to this sham presidency, and I stand with those leading the effort to block the GOP agenda that would roll back the clock on progressive gains," he told The Review. "But I am seeking this appointment to do more than resist. I want us to reimagine politics.
"That means championing health care for all, strengthening education, addressing income inequality and assuring affordable housing," Simon said.
If he's appointed to the HD38 seat, Simon said he will also focus on transportation issues beyond the $5.2 billion package that passed the Legislature earlier this month.
"If we can create more commuter options with mass-transit, bike lanes and express lanes, we can shorten commutes, give people more time with their families, reduce carbon emissions and combat global warming," he said. "We love our pocket of Oregon for the quality of life it brings. Now it's up to us to work to conserve it for the next generation."
Nguyen is a Lake Oswego resident and the owner of Bambuza Vietnam Kitchen, which employs more than 80 people at six restaurants throughout the Portland metro area. He says his experiences as the child of Vietnamese immigrants, a small-business owner and a parent all informed his decision to seek the HD38 seat.
"As a child of Vietnamese refugees, I know what it feels like to come to a new country risking everything in hopes of finding a brighter future. My mom and dad did just that when our family came to the Portland area with the first wave of Vietnamese refugees," he says. "Our family was given an opportunity to start over with a new life as Americans, and I am passionate about immigration and preserving this nation's heritage of welcoming all people just like we were welcomed."
Nguyen earned a bachelor's from the University of Puget Sound and an MBA from Marylhurst University. In addition to operating his chain of restaurants, he has served as a delegate on the governor's Asia Trade Mission to Vietnam and on the Port of Portland Workplace Initiative Working Group.
"As a small business owner, I experience the everyday challenges of keeping up with the demands of growing a business and promoting living-wage employment for our employees," he says. "Being responsible for the livelihood of over 80 families and seeing them on a daily basis gives me a unique perspective on how the decisions made at the state and federal levels affect us all at the local, personal level."
That experience has also prompted Nguyen to get deeply involved in the community. He has worked with the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation and with parent groups at his children's elementary schools. He is also a volunteer with the Pink Eraser Project, helps to provide simple meals for the homeless through Dinner with Friends and serves as a board member for WaterAfrica.
"As a parent of two little girls — 6 and 10 years old — I care deeply about the future that we will leave to the next generation," Nguyen says. "We have an obligation to make decisions today to protect the quality of life we enjoy for our children and grandchildren. Investing in education, pre-K through college, and health care is key to ensuring that every child in Oregon grows up to their full potential.
"I want to represent our community in Salem," he says, "with a new voice that delivers a message of hope and opportunity."
Ross, a resident of the Multnomah neighborhood in Southwest Portland, is making his second run at an appointment to the HD38 seat. He also sought the position in 2013, when then-Gov. John Kitzhaber appointed Rep. Chris Garrett to the Oregon Court of Appeals. The vacancy was instead filled by Lininger.
Ross is the founder and president of PoliticalRobocalls.com, which offers live and automated calls and telephone town halls for Democratic candidates and progressive causes. He has a long history of political involvement, including stints as treasurer and communications secretary for the Multnomah County Democratic Party.
In 2006, he formed and chaired the Latino Caucus within the Democratic Party of Oregon and was elected to represent Oregon as a national delegate for Hillary Clinton at both the 2008 and 2016 Democratic National Conventions. He's currently an alternate delegate to the Democrats' State Central Committee.
A single father to a 12-year-old daughter, Ross has also served as chair of the Maplewood Elementary School PTA and as chair of the Multnomah Neighborhood Association. He says he believes that all Oregonians, regardless of their age, race, gender or economic status, must have access to health care, free college tuition, a livable planet and a job that pays a living wage.
Toward that end, he says his goals if appointed to the HD38 seat would be to:
• Ensure universal access to health care in Oregon through a single-payer system;
• Ensure that everyone pays their fair share toward full funding for public education (with a strong emphasis on K-12 and community colleges). "This means gaining increased revenues from big businesses," he says;
• Emphasize renewable energy solutions that are comprehensive and cost-effective, with an end goal of making Oregon a 100-percent renewable energy state;
• Create lasting economic opportunity for all Oregonians, with an emphasis on small businesses and working families; and
•Help the most vulnerable community members achieve independence "with compassion, dignity and respect."