Republican Officials Select 3 Finalists to Replace Olsen as Senator

Clackamas County Republican officials have selected three candidates to replace former state Sen. Alan Olsen, from Canby, who announced his mid-term resignation earlier this month: Steve Bates and John Lee, from Boring, and former state Rep. Bill Kennemer, who’s also from Canby.

Olsen, who was first elected in 2011, cited family reasons as his motivation for stepping down and plans to move out of state. His district, Senate District 20, includes Canby, Aurora, Barlow, Charbonneau, Mulino, Oregon City, Estacada, Eagle Creek, Boring and Redland.

Steve Bates

Bates is a longtime Boring community leader, the former chair of the Boring Community Planning Organization, founder of the Boring Oregon Foundation, chief sponsor of the annual Boring and Dull Day, and president of the Oregon Vietnam War Memorial Fund.

He is the founder of Oregon Fire Equipment Company and Stephen L. Bates Enterprises. He had previously worked with Sen. Olsen on several projects and said he has developed relationships at the Capitol by virtue of his advocacy as a citizen leader, including requesting 17 bills that have been introduced for consideration.

Bill Kennemer

The only candidate with previous experience as a member of the state Legislature, Kennemer retired in 2018 after nearly 10 years representing House District 39, a seat now represented by House Minority Leader Christine Drazan.

Kennemer had previously served two terms as a state senator (representing what was then District 12) and a Clackamas County commissioner. His professional experience includes working as a licensed psychologist from 1975 to 1997.

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John Lee Jr.

Lee, a longtime leader in the Clackamas County Republican Party, was one of the candidates seeking to replace Kennemer in the House back in 2018. He finished second in the Republican primary that year to the ultimately victorious Christine Drazan.

He has also served as treasurer of the Oregon GOP and worked in various roles providing sales strategy consulting for small businesses. He has also been active in the Boring Community Planning Organization

The three finalists’ names will now be forwarded on to the county commissioners for Clackamas and Marion counties, who will make the final determination as to who serves the remaining two years of Olsen’s term.

The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners has announced it will consider the nominees at a virtual session Monday, Feb. 1, from 2-5 p.m. Marion County commissioners are expected to join in the discussion, as a small sliver of Senate District 20 lies in their jurisdiction.

Eight other candidates had requested consideration for the position including two from the Canby area — former city councilor and businessman Paul Carlson and Canby School Board Vice Chair Sara Magenheimer — but did not advance beyond Saturday’s convention.

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