Local activist, advocate begins state House campaign

Tiffiny Mitchell, center, stands with supporters during a kickoff to her state House campaign at Buoy Beer Co.

When Melissa Ousley dropped out of the state House race to replace retiring state Rep. Deborah Boone, Tiffiny Mitchell said she felt like there was no longer a candidate quite representing her views.

So Mitchell became the third to file in the Democratic primary in May for state House District 32, along with Tillamook County Commissioner Tim Josi and local attorney John Orr. She kicked her campaign off Monday amid a packed taproom at Buoy Beer Co.

“When she dropped out of the race, I felt this void that really needed to be represented,” Mitchell said of Ousley. “I listened to the other two candidates, and it’s not that they’re not good people. They just didn’t represent my values or the values of so many other people that I had talked to that had also expressed that same regret that Melissa dropped out.”

Mitchell is a case management coordinator for the state Department of Human Services who moved to Oregon from Utah in 2015 with her husband, who works for Pacific Power. She is an organizer with progressive activist group Indivisible North Coast Oregon and has focused her campaign on broader social policies such as affordable housing, health care, reproductive health, stable education funding and equal pay. She has received endorsements from a variety of labor, education, women’s and conservation groups.

“I believe that my vote will always fall on the side of the working-class person, because that’s who I am,” she said. “I have believed for a long time that we all deserve fairness in the way that we’re treated. We all deserve health care. We all deserve the things that are supposed to make our nation great.”

When she withdrew, Ousley said she was concerned about splitting the vote among three Democratic candidates and that her base was not strong enough to prevail. Both Mitchell and Orr, running more grassroots campaigns, face an uphill battle against Josi. The former state representative has broader name recognition and more political contributions, including from a multitude of large companies, Boone, D-Cannon Beach, and state Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose.

Seaside teacher Vineeta Lower has filed as a Republican, and Brian Halvorsen as an Independent.

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