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Albany, Ore., straw farmer Shelly Boshart Davis long believed that one day she would serve her community in a public forum. She just didn’t think it would happen this fast.
Davis, 38, has announced she has filed to run for Oregon House District 15.
Her filing was precipitated by the announcement in late February that seven-term Rep. Andy Olson, R-Albany, would not seek re-election. With Olson’s encouragement, Davis decided it was time to make the leap.
“I’ve been talking to Andy about this for a while, and when I was asked to consider representing our district in the Legislature, I knew it was time to step up to the plate,” Davis said.
“I knew that someday I would give back to the community in some form of public office, but I thought that would be further down the road,” she said.
Davis, who is running unopposed in the May primary, said that if elected, she believes she can juggle her legislative duties with her responsibilities with Boshart Trucking, which bales over 20,000 acres of straw each summer, and as vice president of Bossco Trading, which negotiates straw sales internationally.
“The timing is good,” Davis said. “The long (legislative) session (held on odd-numbered years) ends around the Fourth of July, which is typically when we start baling. And I am only twenty minutes from the Capitol.
“If I had lived in Malheur County, this wouldn’t be an option,” she said.
Also, she said: “The Legislature is not a full-time job, and Oregon is meant to have a ‘citizen Legislature’ made up of ordinary people. Most in the Legislature have other jobs and many still run businesses. It is all about priorities.”
House District 15 has a long history of supporting Republican candidates, but Republicans hold only a 2.5 percentage point advantage over Democrats in the largely blue-collar district, and winning the seat isn’t seen as a sure thing. Davis, a Republican, said she plans to run a full-scale campaign, with the big push coming in September and October, after harvest.
She added that while she has never run for office, she is no stranger to campaigns, having been involved in campaigns to defeat Measure 92, the GMO-labeling measure that voters rejected in 2014, and Measure 97, the gross-receipts tax measure that voters rejected in 2016.
Davis also is no stranger to the Capitol. “I have probably testified on anywhere from 20 to 25 different issues over the past few years, from diesel to emissions to labor, manufacturing, pesticides — all of these multiple issues that have hit us (in agriculture) over the past few years. And I am very involved in the Oregon Seed Council, Oregon Aglink, Oregon Women for Agriculture and Farm Bureau.”
She also has served on the Government Affairs Committee for the Albany Chamber of Commerce, on an advisory committee for the Agriculture Transportation Coalition and, since 2016, on the Linn County Budget Committee.
Davis, who is married and has three daughters, said she has received tremendous encouragement and more than $15,000 in campaign donations since she announced her plans.
“People have been calling, asking how they can support,” she said. “I think it is encouraging and humbling, and I hope it keeps going.”