SALEM - With Gov. Ted Kulongoski conducting the ceremonies, Debbie Boone was sworn in as the new representative for Oregon House District 32 Wednesday in Salem.
Last month, the Democrat from Hamlet was chosen unanimously by the commissioners of Clatsop, Tillamook, Columbia and Washington counties, who appointed her to replace former Rep. Elaine Hopson.
"It was great. Almost all of my family was there, from all over Oregon," Boone said of Wednesday's ceremony. "It's a humbling experience."
Boone, formerly a legislative assistant for Hopson, was appointed to serve the rest of her former boss's term, which ends in December. She is the Democratic nominee for the post in the November general election, where she faces Republican Doug Olson of Pacific City.
Boone is a familiar face in Salem, where she's worked for several years as an aide to local lawmakers including Sen. Joan Dukes and Rep. Tim Josi. As the new District 32 representative she'll remain in the same office - "I just get to move over one chair, the one with the arms on it," she joked.
Boone will learn about committee assignments later, she said. For the rest of this year, she's hoping to take over Hopson's seat on the Education Committee, which has some meetings planned for September and October.
If she wins in November, Boone said she'll try for seats on the Natural Resources Committee and Health and Human Services Committee. Newly elected lawmakers from the minority party rarely get more than one committee assignment, but her five months as "incumbent" might help, she said.
Boone said one of her top priorities is ensuring employment for local residents, including those in the wood-products industry. During the selection process last month, she told the county commissioners she supported the Oregon Forestry Department's management plan for the Clatsop and Tillamook state forests, and opposed the "50/50" ballot measure facing voters this November that would set aside large tracts of the forests.
"Our people need jobs," she said. "We need an aggressive, long-term program of forest management to make sure loggers, sawmills and wood-products manufacturers can expand their operations and put people to work."
Boone said she's also worried about the growing methamphetamine problem, a concern that was reinforced during a lengthy talk with a sheriff's deputy at the Clatsop County Fair Wednesday, she said.
"Nearly 85 percent of all property crimes involve meth use in one way or another," she said. "The cost to law-abiding, taxpaying Oregonians is staggering. Meth pollutes our environment, ruins the lives of young people and imposes a heavy burden on the criminal justice system."
Boone said she also intends to support new laws to halt the steep rise in the cost of prescription drugs and medical services.
"Decent, hard-working families face the cruel choice of buying groceries or prescription medications, paying the rent or paying for visits to the doctor," she said. "This is wrong."
Boone said she plans to hold a series of town hall meetings to introduce herself to district residents. Local constituents can contact her by calling (503) 717-4655, a message line, or writing to P.O. Box 657, Cannon Beach, OR 97110. Her e-mail address in Salem is (email@example.com)