Keizer leaders announce candidacies for Senate District 11

(Left) Richard Walsh and (right) Anthony Rosilez. (Submitted photos)

Two more prominent Keizer figures announced this week that they would be running in Senate District 11, joining current state Senator Kim Thatcher in the race to represent Keizer and much of Salem. 

“I have spent decades taking on and prevailing against some of the largest and most powerful insurance companies in the nation to find justice and fairness for my clients. I now want to take what I have learned and advocate for the people of District 11,” local attorney Richard Walsh said in a statement on Feb. 10.

Anthony Rosilez, who was recently elected as chair of Keizer’s Community Diversity Engagement Committee, joined Walsh last week in filing in the district on Feb. 9. The two Keizer residents are both Democrats. Thatcher, the only other person that has filed in District 11, is a Republican. 

Walsh has had his own law firm in Keizer since 1994 and has been heavily involved in the community during his almost 30 years. He was elected to Keizer City Council in 2000 and served until 2011. 

“I’ve watched Rich take on one project after another to improve our community. His energy and vision have made Keizer a better place,” current Keizer City Councilor Roland Herrera said in Walsh’s statement. Former Salem state representative Brian Clem was also listed as having endorsed Walsh. 

Walsh was best known during his time on the council for being instrumental in the creation of Keizer Rapids Park, which has since named a road and boat landing after him. Walsh was also given the Keizer Chamber of Commerce President’s Award at the 2012 First Citizens banquet.

“I am running because too many politicians focus their time and attention on whipping people up to create division and hatred instead of getting things done,” Walsh said. “I cannot just stand by when there is so much that still needs to be done, like finding a workable solution to our homeless problem now.”  

Rosilez is newer to the area than Walsh, having moved here in 2018, but has made a substantial impact in the area in his short time. He said he made the decision to file in the district after driving home from the first Community Diversity Engagement Committee meeting on January 25.

“I’m sitting there and hearing (the committee) talk about so many things that they want to do. And I thought if we’re gonna do this we really need to come together and have a strong foundation,” Rosilez said in an interview. “After that meeting, I remember driving home and I’m saying, you know what, maybe I could do more to contribute to my community.”

Rosilez had been a superintendent in California before moving to Oregon in 2016 to work as a vice president at Klamath Community College. In 2018, Rosilez was then appointed as the executive director of Oregon’s Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, the state’s licensing agency for all state educators.

“I’ve been blessed in the last four years to be able to work inside and very closely with state government. I see what’s happening and I see where things work and where they don’t work. And I see the continued divide in politics and the straight line party votes,” said Rosilez.  

Rosilez, who has a law degree from UCLA, said he struggled to find affordable housing when he first got to Keizer and one of his focuses if elected would be to lower housing costs. In addition, with years of experience in education, Rosilez thinks changes need to be made in schools. 

“Here’s how I describe the education system. We are working in a system that was built in the days of the Model T. What we’ve been doing the last 80 to 100 years now is we’ve been tweaking. We’ve been changing out parts on the Model T and maybe upgrading some of the parts,” said Rosilez. “But the reality is that no matter what you do to that Model T, it’s not gonna work for today’s highways. Our education system is the same.” 

Senate District 11 is currently represented by Senate President Peter Courtney, who has held the seat since 2003. Courtney is Oregon’s longest serving lawmaker and announced that he will retire in January of 2003 after his term ends. 

The district won’t look the same as it has during Courtney’s time as redistricting shifted the district to now represent Keizer, the portion of Salem north of State Street and the Interstate 5 corridor to Woodburn. 

Keizer had previously been a part of Senate District 13, which has been represented by Thatcher since 2015. Thatcher announced early in January that she plans to run for the vacant seat in District 11. The primary election in Oregon will be held on May 17.

News tip? Contact reporter Joey Cappelletti at [email protected] or 616-610-3093.