Multnomah County Commission on March 23 appointed Andrea Valderrama as state representative for House District 47 in outer east Portland, passing over union nurse and former union president Adrienne Enghouse, and one other applicant, climate activist Robin Castro. The three were put forward by Democratic Party precinct committee persons as potential replacements for Democrat Diego Hernandez, who resigned March 15 following sexual harassment allegations. Valderrama herself filed a restraining order against Hernandez last year for threatening behavior.
Valderrama is board chair of David Douglas School District, policy director at ACLU Oregon, and a former policy adviser to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. Her campaign for the legislative appointment had the backing of Service Employees International Union Local 49, but some members of the Northwest Oregon Labor Council’s Executive Board representing education unions expressed concerns about Valderrama’s stance as school board chair favoring the elimination of seniority rights for workers.
Of the three finalists, only Enghouse sought support from the Labor Council. The Board consensus was to lobby for her appointment to HD 47.
However, the Oregon AFL-CIO is the body that makes official endorsement decisions for state-level office, and it made no endorsement among the candidates, though it did earlier call for Hernandez to resign.
Enghouse, a nurse at Kaiser Permanente, lost her re-election bid as president of Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals last April. A graduate of the union-backed Oregon Labor Candidates School, she sought appointment to the Senate District 24 seat last year after it was vacated by Shemia Fagan. The appointment went to former Unite Oregon director Kayse Jama.
County Commissioners spoke highly of all three nominees, but in the end voted unanimously to appoint Valderrama.