The Oregon Legislature will return to Salem next week for one last pre-election batch of meetings, with a new face.
Lori Kuechler, a nonprofit consultant from Sandy, was appointed last week to replace Rep. Anna Williams, D-Hood River, and expects to be sworn in before legislative meetings begin Tuesday. Williams, one of three Democratic legislators who chose not to seek re-election because of a low salary and unsustainable schedule, resigned in August to direct a state health care policy council.
Kuechler isn’t running for election and will only be in the state House until January. She told the Capital Chronicle she plans to spend her few months in office helping any constituents who contact the office and advocating for requests for state funding from Clackamas, Hood River and Multnomah counties. The 52nd House District, which she represents, includes portions of each county.
“It’s not the usual way that someone serves in the Legislature, but I’m going to use everything at my disposal to make sure that the House District 52 people have someone to go to if they need something,” she said. “That’s basically the role that I’ll be filling for the next few months.”
The Legislature will have one more week of committee meetings in December, but there aren’t any plans for the full House to meet. Kuechler may serve her entire term as a legislator without casting a single vote from the House floor.
Kuechler has been active in local liberal politics, including organizing the Women’s March in Sandy beginning in 2017. Her professional work has been mostly with nonprofits, as an in-house grant writer at the Oregon Historical Society and Portland’s Morrison Child and Family Service, as well as a grant-writing consultant at a firm she founded in 2018. She also teaches online courses for Southern New Hampshire University.
Kuechler said her initial goal was to make sure the district had at least three good Democratic candidates willing to take on the remainder of Williams’ term, but as she learned more about the position she became interested in taking it on herself. County commissioners from the three counties selected her during a meeting last week.
Oregon Capital Chronicle
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