(State of Oregon)

Rep. Denyc Boles, R-Salem, will soon switch chambers at the state capitol after she was named on Tuesday to take the Senate seat vacated by Jackie Winters.

Commissioners from Marion and Polk counties named Boles, on her second stint as a state representative, during a special meeting Tuesday morning.

Marion County Commissioner Sam Brentano said Boles' experience — she has also held staff roles prior to becoming a lawmaker — gave her the edge over the other two finalists, Becky Mitts and Kevin Chambers.

"We are fortunate to have three well-qualified candidates to choose from. Denyc Boles' experience in the legislature and knowledge of the district set her apart," Brentano said. "I have appreciated Denyc's perspective as a member of the Marion County budget committee. I am confident she will continue the work of Jackie Winters in representing Senate District 10."

Boles' public experience includes two separate stints in the House.

She was first appointed in 2014 to replace Kevin Cameron, for whom she was chief of staff until he left to join the Marion County Board of Commissioners. Boles did not seek re-election. Boles then filed but did not ultimately run for a seat on the Marion County Board of Commissioners, according to staffers.

Boles was appointed again to the House in 2018 to serve the balance of Jodi Hack's term after she left to run the Oregon Home Builders Association.

Boles' day job is working in government affairs for Salem Health. Polk County Commissioner Craig Pope said Boles' experience in healthcare has been key to help the region's problems with behavioral health and addiction.

"It's something she's aware of and versed in," said Pope. "I know she's working on that and she'll be more engaged as a Senator."

To replace Winters, who spent two decades as a state lawmaker before her death last month following treatment for lung cancer, Pope said he based his decision on who she would pick.

"I stated 'What would Jackie say?' That helped me frame my decision," Pope said. "I worked with senator Winters for eight-and-a-half years. We had a pretty good relationship and a pretty good sense of what she supported, what her principles were.

"I got a good sense of a kind of candidate she would support," he said.

Senate District 10 encompasses most of Salem, stretching into Marion and Polk counties. Winters, a Republican, won the seat in 2002.

At the House, Boles sat on the committees of Business and Labor, Health Care and Rules.

Boles' appointment leaves another vacuum — this time for House District 10, which sits entirely in Marion County. When Boles resigns to move to the Senate, Marion County Commissioners will have another 30 days to appoint her replacement.

Have a tip? Contact reporter Troy Brynelson at 503-575-9930, troy@salemreporter.com or @TroyWB.

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