by: SUBMITTED - Shemia Fagan celebrates her Nov. 6 victory over State Rep. Patrick Sheehan (R-Happy Valley) with her husband, Richard, and their son Alton at McCool's Irish pub at 122nd and Sunnyside Road in Clackamas.Shemia Fagan, a Democrat from Southeast Portland, maintained her lead over incumbent State Rep. Patrick Sheehan, R-Clackamas, in House District 51, in one of the pivotal races that shifted control of the Oregon House of Representatives to the Democrats.

Fagan led 10,250 to 9,699 on Wednesday morning, with most of the votes counted. The district includes parts of East Portland, Happy Valley, Boring, Damascus, unincorporated Clackamas County and Gresham.

Fagan, 31, is a business lawyer for the Ater Wynne law firm in downtown Portland, and an elected member of David Douglas School Board. This is her first run for the Legislature.

“The truth is that the real work begins now,” she said when the results became clear. “I’m so happy that the priorities that I laid out are the priorities of the district.”

With folks such as John Huffman (R-The Dalles) and Bob Jenson (R-Pendleton), she wants to look for a “sustainable way” to irrigate rural Oregon by taking water from the Columbia River during high-water times of year. In her two biggest priorities, helping the economy will help schools and vice-versa, she said.

“As a legislator my first priority is to reach across the aisle to Republican lawmakers who, given their minority status, will be anxious to advance their agendas,” she said. “We have to get the whole state back to work, not just the metro area.”

Sheehan, 38, is a Realtor and design company owner, serving his first term in the Oregon Legislature.

Sheehan is one of six freshman Republicans who won Democrat-held House seats in 2010 and was heavily targeted by Democrats this year, when the party had reason to think its voter turnout would be higher than last time.

Each of the swing seats were hotly contested, as Republicans and Democrats each hold 30 seats in the House, and a gain of one seat will give the prevailing party control of the chamber.

Democrats won back four of those seats, including two in Hillsboro and one in Gresham, plus Fagan's victory.

District 51 boundaries shifted after last year’s redistricting following the 2010 Census, giving the seat more constituents in Democrat-leaning East Portland and fewer in Republican-heavy areas of Clackamas County.

Registered Democrats now outnumber Republicans in the district 12,743 to 10,444, giving Democrats 2,300 more regular voters than the Republicans have in the district. Two years ago, under the old district boundaries, Democrats had a 925-voter edge over Republicans.

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