PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal resigned on Wednesday — announcing her bid to represent Oregon’s Third Congressional District.

Jayapal says she will be a “strong progressive voice” fighting for abortion rights and climate policies while standing up to big polluters and election deniers.

“We’re at a pivotal point in our country and in our district. With the Republican majority beholden to extremist ideologues attacking our democracy and our rights in ways we’ve never seen before, it’s more important than ever that we have an unwavering progressive voice in Congress to stand up for our values and bring us together to create the thriving, equitable community we need,” Jayapal said in a statement.

She continued, “I’m ready to continue that work, as someone with a proven record of accomplishments, passion for service, and the ability to get things done. And I’ll do it in partnership with our community. I’ll bring my experience as an immigrant, a person of color, a woman, a mom – experience of what it’s like to navigate systems that weren’t created for everyone, and in fact often were created to exclude so many.”

Oregon’s Third Congressional District is held by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, who announced on Oct. 30 he will not seek reelection in 2024.

Thanking Blumenauer for his service, Jayapal said, “we are so fortunate to have benefited from his leadership for the past 50 years, including 27 years representing Oregon’s Third District in D.C. He’s been a steadfast advocate for a healthy planet, a vibrant democracy, and a fair shot at opportunity for every American.”

Jayapal has a handful of endorsements from elected officials and community members including Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson, State Senator Kayse Jama, and Metro councilors Duncan Hwang and Mary Nolan.

“I strongly believe that we cannot have enough people in Congress who understand at the local level the homelessness, drug and mental health crises we are facing – I trust that whoever is elected to represent our community leads with those issues,” County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson said. “Susheela has, and continues to hold, powerful space as a leader, policymaker and advocate for the needs of everyone at Multnomah County, but especially those vulnerable members of the District 2 community and our broader communities. She will be missed, and I wish her well.”

Representing north and northeast Portland since 2019, Jayapal highlighted her work during the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing wages for frontline workers and advocating for equitable access to health care.

She also pointed to her work in housing, securing a community safety grant for the Cully neighborhood and leading climate policy.

“It has been an absolute honor and privilege to serve these past five years,’’ Jayapal said. “We have worked together through a series of unprecedented crises with a shared mission of moving Multnomah County in a more resilient and equitable direction.”

She added, “while the work has been difficult, I have been inspired by you every day – the mission driven, dedicated public servants I have had the pleasure of working with.”

County commissioners are slated to declare the District 2 seat officially vacant at the next scheduled board meeting and will set an election to fill the duration of the term ending Dec. 31, 2026.

Board-approved Jesse Beason — who is the president and CEO of the Northwest Health Foundation — will serve as interim commissioner in Jayapal’s place.

“I’m honored to continue the great work of Commissioner Jayapal representing North and Northeast Portland,” said Beason. “The work of the County is vital to the health and well-being of our community in so many ways. I look forward to representing the people of District 2—my home for twenty years—in this capacity. I feel lucky to be retaining Commissioner Jayapal’s team so our important work can continue uninterrupted.”

Jayapal was born in India and grew up in Singapore and Indonesia before coming to the United States when she was 16 years old. Jayapal attended Swarthmore College for economics and later earned a law degree from University of Chicago Law School and was a litigator in San Francisco and Portland. She later became general counsel at Adidas America.