PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Although Marie Gluesenkamp Perez and Lori Chavez-DeRemer likely don’t have a lot of things in common politically, they do have one thing that will forever link them: They were among the newly elected legislators brought to Washington DC for what amounts to freshman orientation.
Perez, 34, will represent Washington’s 3rd Congressional District while Chavez-DeRemer, 53, will represent Oregon’s 5th Congressional District. Both take over from incumbents who were ousted in the primary, Jaime Herrera Beutler and Kurt Schrader, respectively.
Though they are both DC newcomers, they both seem more than ready to jump in once they are sworn into office on January 3, 2023.
Perez said she intends to be an independent voice for Southwest Washington after winning a tight race against GOP nominee (and Trump-endorsed) Joe Kent. She said she want to work on helping small businesses and said she will work for all the voters in her district.
Watch: Marie Gluesenkamp Perez full interview in DC
“I think voters are looking for a change. They want a Congress that looks like them. I’ve never bought a new car, I’m someone who understands the same financial pressures we all feel,” Perez said Monday in DC. “Voters are looking for a more representative body. I think they’re looking for people who are willing to work in the middle and get away from the extremes and the kind of clickbait politics that we’re all really tired of. “
Chavez-DeRemer, the former mayor of Happy Valley, defeated Jamie McLeod-Skinner in a tight general election in the redrawn 5th Congressional District of Oregon. She said crime and the economy are key issues and she said she intends to represent everyone in her district, frequently coming back to the state.
“It’s about going back and being in the district. That’s what I promised on the campaign trail for 16 months that I wouldn’t forget who sent me here,” Chavez-DeRemer said Monday in DC. “I want to make sure that I am going back and presenting what we’re talking about and see if we’re headed in the right direction.”
Watch: Lori Chavez-DeRemer full interview in DC
The new members of Congress are learning everything from protocol to new computers, getting around the Capitol and everything else that comes with the first day on a new job.
McLeod-Skinner conceded her race to Chavez-DeRemer on Sunday. But at this time, Kent has not conceded to Perez. During the campaign he said he would accept the results of the vote.
“I hope that when the ballots are all counted on Tuesday that he will keep his word and contribute to a smooth transition,” Perez said.
Both new congressional members are eager to get to work.
“I’m really, really deeply honored by all the independents, all the moderate Republicans and all the Democrats who made this happen,” Perez said. “I feel a deep sense of obligation to support the interests of our district and not be a cheerleader for any political party.”
“The next 45 days are going to be important,” said Chavez-DeRemer. “We’ll do the hard work and be ready to go on January 3.”