Canby Planning Official Appointed to Replace Drazan in Legislature

A Canby resident and Planning Commission member has been selected to represent the community and surrounding areas in the Oregon Legislature.

James Hieb, a former City Council candidate and current vice chair of the planning board, was the pick of Clackamas and Marion county commissioners Monday morning to fill the unexpired term of former Representative Christine Drazan, who is running for governor.

Hieb was one of three nominees for the position selected by Republican officials in Clackamas and Marion County last week.

The slate also included Canby businessman Paul Carlson, of Oregon City, and disabled Navy veteran Don Hedlind, of Eagle Creek.

“My biggest reason for getting involved politically is because I care for our community and I want to be there for people,” Hieb told commissioners in his opening statement. “I want to be a true representative of the public and I want to be able to engage everybody from different demographics.”

All commissioners present expressed admiration for the three candidates, as well as appreciation for the military service and sacrifice of Hedlind and Hieb, a Marine combat veteran who served in the Iraq War, including during the bloody Second Battle of Fallujah in 2004.

Hieb, in particular, seemed to impress the panel with his demonstrated ability to collaborate and listen to his neighbors and constituents, including those of other ideologies or political persuasions.

“My biggest concern is to be a representative of the public,” he said. “I want to be able to meet with people, know their concerns. I want to be able to represent our district with the ongoing projects we have.”

He was also the only nominee to address Laurie Kimmel, a Clackamas County resident who had expressed concern that three men had been nominated to replace Drazan, a woman who had twice been elected to serve House District 39.

Last week, the district’s Republican precinct committee persons had passed over three women who had applied for the vacancy, all of whom Kimmel felt possessed more organizational and leadership experience than the three finalists.

Hieb is the director of Building Blocks Early Learning Center in Wilsonville, a facility owned and operated by his mother, Gina Hieb, and he said he would relish the chance to work in the Oregon House — in which a majority of the seats are held by women for the first time in Oregon history.

“I happen to live under a matriarch,” he said. “My mother is head of the family these days. I happen to work with a lot of women, and I value their perspectives.”

Hieb cited several major area projects he vowed to continue to partner with and help push through at the state level, including the widening on Interstate 205 and the new Clackamas County courthouse.

He also promised to promote greater transparency and accountability for state leaders and to revisit land use laws and policies in light of the county’s growing population.

“I would like to keep Clackamas County separate in the state and not be tied into the metro area as we have during the coronavirus,” he said. “Liberty for our county. And I also want to be there for our small business community.”

Clackamas County’s five commissioners each had a vote that was strongly weighted due to that county comprising the vast majority of HD 39. Chair Tootie Smith and commissioners Sonya Fischer and Mark Shull voted for Hieb.

Kevin Cameron, the only Marion County commissioner to attend Monday’s joint meeting, also cast his one-third of one vote for Hieb. Clackamas County commissioners Paul Savas and Martha Schrader supported Carlson. All expressed that it was a tough decision.

Hieb will serve in the seat through January 2023, including during the 2022 legislative short session, which started last week.

Due to redistricting, Canby will be part of the new House District 51 starting next year, and its representative will be selected by voters in the November midterms.

After the vote, Hieb confirmed to the Current that he will run for the HD 51 seat in November.

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