- Associated Press - Thursday, December 15, 2016

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - Lane County commissioners appointed James Manning as the new state senator for much of Eugene and Junction City.

The Register-Guard reports (http://bit.ly/2h5nf9h ) Wednesday’s 3-2 vote was a shock because Manning had been the third choice of local Democratic Party officials. One of his competitors was outgoing state Rep. Val Hoyle, who has been in the Legislature since 2009 and served as House majority leader,

Manning, meanwhile, ran unsuccessfully this year for House District 14, which makes up half of Senate District 7. He was defeated in the May primary.

The board debated the appointment for nearly two hours, including candidate interviews, with no clear indication of who would get it. After the vote, Harris Hall briefly fell into silence.

Manning, a U.S. Army veteran and former Eugene Water & Electric Board commissioner, said he was honored to joining the Legislature. “The process was fair and very intense,” he said. “I had a knot inside of my stomach. (The board) seemed to be going back and forth.”

Hoyle applauded a process she described as open and transparent.

“I don’t think anyone is entitled to the seat,” she said.

Manning replaces state Sen. Chris Edwards, a Democrat who is resigning to take a job at the University of Oregon. Manning will serve out the last two years of Edwards’ term.

Under state law, the board was required to nominate a fellow Democrat to replace Edwards from a list of candidates selected by local party officials.

During their interviews, Manning and Hoyle shared many priorities, including passing a state transportation funding plan and preventing the proposed closure of the Junction City psychiatric hospital.

Asked about the Legislature’s biggest failure in 2015, Manning pointed to the absence of additional cost-curbing reforms to the Public Employees Retirement System.

Commissioners Pat Farr, Pete Sorenson and Faye Stewart voted for Manning, while Commissioners Jay Bozievich and Sid Leiken favored Hoyle. Sorenson is the only registered Democrat on the nonpartisan board.

The lead-up to the appointment was marked by a deluge of anti-Hoyle emails to the commissioners from gun rights activists, few of whom live in Senate District 7.

Commissioners said those emails didn’t factor into their decisions.

___

Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com

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