PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Democratic Party’s nominee for Oregon State Senate District 11 announced a sudden and unexpected withdrawal from the race on Friday.

Woodburn Mayor Eric Swenson. (Courtesy/City of Woodburn)

Eric Swenson, who serves as the mayor of Woodburn, said his sudden decision to drop out of the state race was motivated by his admiration for his city — and he plans to run for a third term.

He said it was a difficult choice that came after knocking on thousands of doors and preparing for the general election, but that he is “someone who tries hard to follow his heart.”

“And mine is in Woodburn,” Swenson said.

Instead, Swenson said he is encouraging Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon to run in the election that would have been his.

He released the following statement to KOIN 6 News:

Campaigning for the Oregon State Senate in the Democratic primary taught me many things, particularly in Woodburn, where I was reminded of how much I appreciate the chance to serve as our mayor. To that end, I have decided to step down as the nominee for Senate District 11, file to run for a third term as mayor and continue to dedicate my energy to serving the people of my city. This wasn’t an easy decision to make, the chance to serve as a state senator was also calling. 

Earlier this week, I asked my friend, Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon, if she would consider running for the Oregon Senate. Teresa is a transformational leader with a track record of public service to our community and she has my wholehearted support.

Senate District 11 is the most diverse district in Oregon, and there are currently no Latino/a members of the Oregon Senate. In a representative democracy, representation matters. It will be up to the Democratic precinct committee persons of Marion County to select our next nominee. I can think of no one more qualIfied to step up and lead the communities of Woodburn, Keizer and North Salem forward than Representative Alonso Leon. I hope that you will join me in supporting her.