By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Ernst has District 24 seat in her sights

Victoria Ernst
Victoria Ernst

[Editor's Note: The print version of the candidate profiles in the race for House District 24 that appeared in Friday's News-Register inaccurately attributed some candidate background and policy statements between Lucetta Elmer and Victoria Ernst. The corrected versions appear online, and a correction will be printed in the Tuesday issue. The News-Register regrets the error.]

When Linfield University hosted a forum earlier this week, featuring the two candidates for District 24 in the Oregon Legislature, Victoria Ernst referenced comments she said Lucetta Elmer made at an earlier event related to seeking the office: in part, because Elmer’s four children were grown and time was now allowing her to seek a political office.

“This is what I have dedicated my life to, service to others,” Ernst told the attendees. “This is not an afterthought. It's important to give back to a community that raised me."

It’s Ernst the Democrat Ernst versus Elmer the Republican in the November general election. They both reside in McMinnville. Elmer grew up between Sheridan and Willamina. Ernst was raised in Newberg.

Ernst, however, not only is the Democratic Party nominee, she’s the Independent and Oregon Working Families Party choice to hold the position vacated by former McMinnville Police Chief Ron Noble, who made an unsuccessful run for the state’s Sixth Congressional District in the May primary.

She characterized herself earlier in the campaign as a the candidate with a broader appeal to the citizenry. She said she understands different perspectives, including issues related to lower incomes.

“I’m not tied to party politics,” Ernst told the forum gathering. “I’m just a girl from Yamhill County. I’m able to work with all people to find common ground.

“People are tired of the divisiveness (in Salem),” Ernst said. “District 24 has been held by the Republicans most of my life. There has not been effective leadership.”

A University of Oregon undergraduate, Ernst worked in hazelnut and nursery operations for a few years, which led to her serving on the Willamette Chapter Board of the Oregon Association of Nurseries as its secretary.

“Volunteerism has shaped who I am,” she said. 

To that end, she did an 11-month AmeriCorps service term with the Montana Legal Services Association, and aligned herself with their Native American Service Group.

American University in Washington, D.C. is where she received her master’s degree and went to law school.

Her résumé includes working for the European Parliament, United Nations International Law Commission, General Court of the European Union and an international pro bono law firm specializing in areas that include peace negotiations.

Now that Ernst has settled in the Willamette Valley, she is ready to go to work in Salem.

Her primary hope is to do whatever she can for the good of the county, but Ernst cares greatly for the District 24 community as a whole. It’s not just about McMinnville and Newberg.

Long-term, she wants people to grow up and stay in the local area.

“There’s a lot on the line in this election,” she said. “Yamhill County is falling through the cracks, and basic services are not being met. There’s been a lack of using resources over the years.”

Leading up to the election, Ernst pointed to a significant amount of need in the county. Solutions to problems such as mental health/addiction, public safety and homelessness are not the same as they are elsewhere, like Portland, for example.

Ernst acknowledged the need for more funding to go toward mental health challenges and public safety, which she values greatly for a very personal reason.

It was her cousin, 30-year-old Austin Smith, a volunteer with the St. Paul Fire Department, who died last February while responding to a three-alarm blaze in north Marion County.

Ernst pointed to a recent spike in local criminal activity, including a rash of gun-related  incidents, that point out the need for enhanced public safety. She knows the funding is lacking at the law enforcement and fire/emergency medical service levels.

“The McMinnville Police and Fire Department do not have adequate funding,” Ernst said. “Rural fire districts have fallen through the cracks. We have to get serious about how we fund public safety. I’m a domestic violence and sexual assault violence advocate. There is a lot we have to do if we are going to keep our communities safe.”

She said people are apathetic about politics. She wants them to know government can make a difference in their lives, and she wants to be the voice for Yamhill County and beyond.

Her endorsements also include the Womens’ Investment Network, Planned Parenthood of Oregon, International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Oregon League of Conservation Voters.

Early in the campaign, her intention was to spend about $80,000, half as much as Elmer said she would spend.

“It’s a family and friends operation,” Ernst said. “A lot of small individual donors. Money should not be able to buy politics.”




E.J. Farrar

This is race is a no-brainer. Victoria Ernst will serve us best.


Abortion is murder, pure and simple. Ernst is pro choice, Elmer is pro life. Elmer has my vote. (BTW, Elmer has a lifetime of service to her church and community, not clearly stated in this article)


The law in the United States does not classify abortion as “murder”.
So your statement isn’t “pure & simple”, it’s only your opinion.


The sub-headline in Friday’s article did a real disservice to Ernst. It made it sound like her desire to serve was for the purpose of bolstering her resume while Elmer called for increased public safety. I hope you changed it!!!!

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