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House District 17: Cate has lead in GOP primary

House District 17: Cate has lead in GOP primary

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Jami Cate and Scott Sword have moved ahead of the rest of a crowded six-Republican primary field in Oregon House District 17.

Early unofficial returns Tuesday showed Cate with 2,415 votes to 2,126 for Sword. Timothy Kirsch was in third place at 1,211, Bruce Cuff fourth with 1,090, Susan Coleman at 835 and Dylan Richards at 800.

Cate could not be reached for comment on the early trend, while Sword said that he was hoping that a second batch of returns from his home base of Marion County might be enough to put him over the top.

The winner will face off with Paige Hook of Stayton in the general election. Hook ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. The new state rep replaces Sherrie Sprenger of Lacomb, who chose not to seek re-election in order to run for a seat on the Linn County Board of Commissioners.

House District 17 includes Lebanon, Sweet Home, Scio, Lyons, Mill City and other towns in Linn and Marion counties.

Cate is a farmer who has served as the chairwoman of the Lebanon Strawberry Festival Board of Directors, among other volunteer work. The Lebanon resident is a crop and soil science graduate of Oregon State University.

A member of a fifth-generation farm family Cate said she wants to be a champion of rural interests and added that the coronavirus has shown her that Oregon needs to make stronger efforts in senior health care.

Sword, of Sulbimity, owned and operated Sword Logging and served on city councils in Vernonia and Silverton. He said his top priorities are addressing climate change and environmental issues responsibly; defending small businesses from unreasonable taxes and regulations; and providing dignity and care to our seniors.

Coleman is a Sweet Home councilor and former legislative assistant to Sprenger. Coleman also received Sprenger’s endorsement. She emphasized her legislative experience and said she is used to battling daily in connecting to constituents, reaching out to agencies and representing district interests.

Cuff, of Mehama, is a real estate broker and property agent as well as an Army veteran. He has participated on numerous boards that relate to real estate issues and was a candidate for governor in 2014, 2016 and 2018. He describes himself as a Christian, constitutional Republican.

Kirsch, a small-business owner and the long-time mayor of Mill City, noted his long history in government, community service and economic development. He said his government experience and school budgeting experience will help with expected state shortfalls stemming from the coronavirus.

Richards, 22, is a Sweet Home resident and Oregon State University student. He expects to graduate in June 2021 with a degree in political science. He served the late Secretary of State Dennis Richardson in citizen engagement and data analysis as well as in the role of deputy field director.

He describes himself as pro-Trump, pro-life, pro-timber and pro-Second Amendment.

Hook, who will represent the Democrats in November, works as an office manager in the Legislature. A Scio High School graduate, she earned a bachelor’s in social science with a criminal justice emphasis at Western Oregon University.

Hook has served on the Stayton City Council and Planning Commission and on the precinct committee for the Marion County Democrats.

Contact reporter James Day at or 541-812-6116. Follow at or


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