Dallas Heard started his legislative career as the Oregon House’s youngest representative. As of Monday, he’s the youngest member of the state Senate.
A group of commissioners from southwestern Oregon counties voted Monday to appoint Winston Republican Dallas Heard to temporarily fill the seat recently vacated by former state senator Jeff Kruse.
If he wins the November election, he’ll stay on longer. Heard had already been selected at a March convention to appear as the Republican Senate District 1 nominee on the November ballot. The Democrats will also nominate a candidate, at a May convention.
At the March convention, Republican precinct committee persons from around the district selected a slate of four Republican candidates for the interim appointment — Heard, Winston realtor Valynn Currie, Coos Bay veteran Karl Shank and state Rep. David Brock Smith, R-Port Orford. Brock Smith subsequently withdrew his name from consideration, leaving three names for the commissioners to choose from Monday.
Only Republicans were eligible because Kruse was a Republican. Kruse stepped down in March following sexual harassment allegations.
The commissioners’ decision Monday to appoint Heard clears the way for Douglas County Commissioner Gary Leif to seek the Republican nomination for Heard’s current House seat in the May primary. Because it’s too late to withdraw, however, Heard’s name will also appear on that ballot.
Leif noted he had a potential conflict of interest because of his run for Heard’s seat; however, he voted for Heard anyway. So did nearly every other commissioner who attended Monday’s meeting, either in person or by phone.
All three Jackson County commissioners attended the meeting in person at the Douglas County Courthouse in Roseburg Monday afternoon. They all voted for Heard. So did all three Douglas County commissioners. Curry County Chairman Tom Huxley and Josephine County Commissioner Dan DeYoung participated by teleconference and also voted for Heard. The lone dissenter was Curry County Commissioner Sue Gold, who participated by teleconference and voted for Shank.
Commissioners who did not participate, either in person or by teleconference, did not get to vote.
Following the vote, the commissioners congratulated Heard and some also thanked the other candidates for being willing to put their names forward.
Commissioner Tim Freeman, who chaired the meeting, thanked all those who participated and the candidates who put their names forward. Freeman told Heard, “We sure appreciate you being willing to take on that work.”
Heard said after the meeting he’s looking forward to a new beginning in the Senate.
“I’m thrilled to death to have this opportunity to serve the people of southwestern Oregon in this capacity,” he said.
He said the appointment was a “phenomenal honor.”
“I’m kind of blown away that I have this opportunity at this point in life,” he said. “I’m going to make the most of it.”
His selection Monday will make him the senate’s youngest member, at 33. He was first elected representative for House District 2 in 2014, at the age of 29.
“I’ll be the first millennial to enter the Senate. I was the first millennial to enter the state House. I take that responsibility quite seriously,” Heard said.