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Two Democrats challenge incumbent commissioners

Reporter for The Canyon Weekly

Two political newcomers are running for Marion County Commissioner as Democratic challengers to the Republican incumbents.

Andrew Dennis (D-Salem) and Mark Wigg (D-Salem) will square off against incumbent commissioners Kevin Cameron (R-Detroit) and Colm Willis (R-Stayton). 

Each candidate was the sole individual to file for their party’s nomination for each position, so they will automatically proceed from the May 17 primary to the Nov. 8 general election.

Dennis does not have a background in public office, but currently works for the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department as a program analyst, helping to develop, implement and support public assistance programs. He also holds degrees in public policy, economics and sociology from Portland State University and Oregon State University, and before working for the state was a licensed realtor.

Cameron is seeking a third term after being appointed in 2014 following the resignation of then-Commissioner Patti Milne. Prior to his appointment, Cameron spent nine years as a member of the Oregon House of Representatives, eventually becoming Republican House Leader until he resigned unexpectedly in 2014.

Cameron has since served as county board chair and vice-chair, and his committee assignments include the Association of Oregon Counties, Association of Oregon and California Counties, National Association of Counties, Marion County Public Safety Coordinating Council, Willamette Health Council, Oregon State Fair Council, and Hood-Willamette National Forest Resource Advisory Committee.

In private life, Cameron is founder and CEO of Cafe Today Restaurants and catering, which has two locations in the Portland area.

Wigg is a former employee of the Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon Department of Transportation and the U.S. Forest Service. He has degrees in forestry and systems science from University of Montana, Oregon State University, Washington State University and Portland State University.

Willis is finishing his first term as commissioner since being elected in 2018, where he now serves on the Marion County Emergency Management Board, Marion County Housing Initiative, Mid-Willamette Valley Homeless Alliance, Willamette Health Alliance and Solid Waste Management Advisory Council, among other committee assignments.

Prior to being elected, Willis was a staffer in the U.S. Senate Joint Economics Committee, and a private attorney representing small businesses, entrepreneurs and nonprofits.

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