Lebanon School Board chair gets House District 17 seat

Scott Swanson

Of The New Era

Sherrie Sprenger, chair of the Lebanon school board, was appointed Friday as the new state representative for Oregon House District 17. Sprenger, of Scio, was appointed to the seat vacated by Sen. Fred Girod (R-Lyons).

The three nominees for the District 17 seat, made by the Oregon Republican Party, were Sprenger, Bruce Cuff of Mehama and Marc Lucca.

With the Legislature scheduled to begin meeting Monday, Feb. 4, for a month-long session, commissioners from Linn and Marion counties met Friday to select one of the three nominees to replace Girod.

“Sherrie Sprenger is an outstanding addition to our caucus, and she’ll be a strong voice for House District 17,” said House Republican Leader Bruce Hanna (R-Roseburg). “With experience in business, government and education, Sherrie is very well-qualified to represent her constituents in the House of Representatives.”

Sprenger is chair of the Lebanon Community School Board and has been a member of the Oregon School Board Association’s Legislative Policy Committee. She has also served as chair of the Linn County Compensation Board, and as a governor’s appointee to the Oregon Fair Dismissal Appeals Board.

Sprenger will be ceremonially sworn in Monday, Feb. 4 in the House Chamber at the State Capitol, prior to the start of the 2008 special session.

Girod held the House seat until Tuesday. He stepped down to take the Senate seat formerly held by Roger Beyer, who resigned Jan. 18 to take a job with the Oregon Seed Council.

Sprenger, 42, was elected in November to a second four-year term on the Lebanon school board, which she chairs.

She has served on the Linn County Compensation Board for just over 10 years and chairs that body, which makes recommendations to the Budget Committee on salaries for elected officials.

She has also served on the Legislative Committee for the Oregon School Boards Association and was appointed in 2005 to the state Fair Dismissal Appeals Board, which holds hearings for teachers and school administrators who have been dismissed.

Sprenger lived in the Lacomb area as a child before moving away, she said. After living in other parts of Oregon, she returned to the area six years ago.

“It was kind of like coming home,” she said. “I went to Lacomb Grade School as a child.”

She said she’s not sure if she will continue serving on the school board.

“The last two or three days have unraveled rather quickly,” she said. “The decision that has to be made is what is best for the school district and what is best for the Legislature.”

She said she is “excited” to take on the responsibility, but it came fast.

“‘All of a sudden’ is a key word there,” Sprenger said. “I couldn’t be more thrilled, but sitting in that room, hearing the votes as they were called, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelming humility and responsibility. There’s a lot of trust being put in my hands.”

She said she isn’t sure what her emphases will be as a first-term legislator, though she said “public safety is on the front burner. It’s fundamental to lots of areas in our lives. It’s about feeling safe.”

She said another area that she has heard a lot about from constituents is “natural resources.”

But, first things first.

“I want to accomplish parking my car in the right spot Monday morning, getting to the right desk, getting on the floor and helping the people of District 17,” Sprenger said.