In Short

Multnomah County taps registered nurse Travis Nelson to finish Kotek’s House term

By: - January 27, 2022 5:51 pm

Travis Nelson/Submitted

Multnomah County Commissioners on Thursday unanimously picked registered nurse Travis Nelson to finish the term of former House Speaker Tina Kotek, who resigned to run for governor.

Nelson, who was already running for election in the 44th House district in north Portland, will officially take office at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, just ahead of the start of the 2022 legislative session. He told the Capital Chronicle he feels somewhat prepared because of his prior legislative advocacy and an active role in the Democratic Party.

“I’m familiar with a lot of the players,” he said. “I don’t think you’re ever ready for something like this until you jump in and start doing the work, so I’m looking forward to doing the work.” 

It’s late for Nelson to introduce his own bills for the session, but he said he’s looking at some measures Kotek prepared to see if he’d like to adopt them. 

Several Oregon Democrats cheered the news of Nelson’s appointment, saying his career in health care and his background as a Black man in the LGBTQ community will bring a valuable voice to the Legislature. 

Nelson is a registered nurse who now works full time as a union representative with the Oregon Nurses Association. He’s the grandson of sharecroppers, and he worked in restaurants, and as a janitor and landscaper while working toward his college degree. 

“I think there will be a unique lens that I will have when actually looking at legislation as somebody who is, not heterosexual, and as somebody who’s a person of color, specifically African American,” he said. “I think I’ll bring a unique life experience as somebody, who, to be frank, the founders of this state never intended to ever be in that building making laws.”

Multnomah County commissioners also considered appointing college counselor Eric Delehoy and retirees Rita Moore and Marc Koller. Delehoy is running for election as well.

After a year full of resignations and retirements, the Oregon House still needs to fill two more vacancies. Republican Rep. Christine Drazan, R-Canby, will resign Monday, and Democrats have a northwest Oregon seat to fill after Hillsboro’s Janeen Sollman was appointed to fill a Senate vacancy.

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Julia Shumway
Julia Shumway

Julia Shumway has reported on government and politics in Iowa and Nebraska, spent time at the Bend Bulletin and most recently was a legislative reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times in Phoenix. An award-winning journalist, Julia most recently reported on the tangled efforts to audit the presidential results in Arizona.