Khanh Pham, an organizer with Opal Environmental Justice, trounced former Multnomah County Chair and non-profit director Jeff Cogen to win the open seat in House District 46, representing a swath of Northeast and Southeast Portland.
As of 10 p.m., Khan had won about 86% of votes cast, versus Cogen’s 10%.
Pham has focused her advocacy on climate change and housing and health equity. She helped lead the effort to pass a clean energy tax on large Portland retailers to fund energy retrofits, clean energy job training and other help geared to people of color. But she also demonstrated her independence when she publicly opposed Democrats’ cap-and-trade bill because she felt it was not a productive or equitable way of achieving carbon reductions.
Cogen, meanwhile, was trying to resurrect a political career that went off the rails in 2013, when he resigned as county chair after his affair with a county employee and his use of county funds to travel with her were made public. Oregon’s Department of Justice investigated the matter and did not file charges, and Cogen subsequently served nearly three years as executive director of Impact NW, a local antipoverty non-profit.
No Republican filed to run for the seat in the overwhelmingly Democratic district.
Pham says she hopes to lead future efforts in the Legislature to advance environmental, economic and social justice. The district is one of the most diverse in Oregon, and she says its time an Asian American represented it in Salem.
— Ted Sickinger; [email protected]; 503-221—8505; @tedsickinger