John West et. all sue to keep Rep. Christine Goodwin from running for senate

The lawsuit, filed Friday in Josephine County Circuit Court, alleges that Goodwin’s listed address is actually a wine tasting room

Julia Shumway
Oregon Capital Chronicle

A group of Josephine County voters are suing to keep Rep. Christine Goodwin from running for the state Senate, alleging that she doesn’t live in the district she wants to represent and that the address she lists on campaign paperwork is actually a vineyard’s tasting room.
Goodwin, R-Canyonville, has served in the state House since 2021, when she was appointed to replace state Rep. Gary Leif after his death. She’s running for the Senate district now represented by Art Robinson, one of 10 Republican senators barred from running for reelection because they participated in a six-week walkout in 2023, after Oregon voters passed a constitutional amendment barring lawmakers with 10 or more unexcused absences from serving another term.
Robinson’s son Noah is also running in the Republican primary. The 2nd Senate District has nearly twice as many registered Republicans as Democrats, so the winner of the Republican primary is all but certain to represent the district in Salem.
The lawsuit was filed Friday in Josephine County Circuit Court against Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade by Josephine County Commissioner John West and Grants Pass residents Edgar Pelfrey, Winnie Pelfrey, Victoria Marshall and Cathy Millard. They allege that Goodwin lives in Myrtle Creek, not in her current House District or the Senate District she hopes to represent. The lawsuit, first reported by the conservative southern Oregon publication the Oregon Eagle, further alleges that the home Goodwin lists on her candidate paperwork is actually the tasting room of Falk Estate Vineyards.
The complaint seeks to remove Goodwin from her current position in the House and keep her off the May 21 primary ballot.
“Irreparable injury will occur if Christine Goodwin’s name is placed on the ballot for the May 21 election because votes for other candidates will be diluted by votes for Christine Goodwin, who is not qualified to represent Senate District 2,” the plaintiffs’ attorney Stephen Joncus wrote in a motion for a preliminary injunction. “The primary campaign would also unnecessarily cost her competitor money that could be reserved for the general election, thus weakening the Republican nominee for Senate District 2. Christine Goodwin could conceivably win the nomination for Senate District 2, a seat that she is not qualified to hold, leaving Republicans without a candidate for the Senate District 2 seat.”
Goodwin, a retired teacher and former Douglas County commissioner, flatly denied the allegations, telling the Capital Chronicle that no vineyard or tasting room existed and that she lives in a house on the Falk Ranch in Canyonville.
“This baseless attack from Noah Robinson’s minions, led by John West, does not faze me,” she added. “I trust the voters of southern Oregon to elect me to the Senate like they have to the House – with overwhelming support.”
Her November filing with the Secretary of State’s Office lists her home and mailing address in Canyonville.
West told the Capital Chronicle he drove by that address on Sunday and spoke to someone who told him Goodwin was in Salem and has a studio on the Falk property. He said he finds it hard to believe Goodwin lives there instead of in the Myrtle Creek home, which he described as a $1 million house with a swimming pool.
“For some reason, she don’t want to run in her own district,” West said. “She either didn’t think she could win or whatever the reason was, but she thought, ‘Well, they won’t know. They won’t know that I actually don’t live in my district. I’ll put down a phony address, and the Secretary of State won’t check it,’ and voila, we didn’t. Nobody thought anything for the first two years she was state rep.”
Documents attached to the lawsuit include Douglas County property tax records showing that Christine and Lynn Goodwin have owned a home in Myrtle Creek since 1991, as well as her voter history that shows she updated her residential address to the Canyonville home in December 2021. Candidates for legislative office typically have to prove they’ve lived in a district for at least one year prior to the general election, but candidates running in 2022 only had to prove residency by Jan. 1, 2022, because of redistricting in 2021.

The Myrtle Creek home is in the 1st Senate District and 2nd House District, represented by Sen. David Brock Smith, R-Port Orford, and Rep. Virgle Osborne, R-Roseburg. The Canyonville address is in the 2nd Senate District and 4th House District, represented by Art Robinson and Goodwin.
The lawsuit also includes a copy of a business registration in Goodwin’s name from July 6, 2022 that lists her address as the home in Myrtle Creek. Goodwin Properties Inc. dissolved in September 2023, according to state business records.
Goodwin’s first campaign finance account, which was active for just over one week in November 2021, listed the Myrtle Creek home as her address. Since then, she’s used the Canyonville address.
Laura Kerns, a spokeswoman for Griffin-Valade, said the Secretary of State’s Office had no comment on the lawsuit. Kerns added that the office received an anonymous letter about Goodwin’s residency in December, but is barred by state law from investigating anonymous complaints.
The office has a mixed record when it comes to investigating candidates’ residency. Days before the March 12 filing deadline, the Secretary of State’s Elections Division disqualified Republican Senate hopeful Shannon Monihan, who owns a condo in the 28th Senate District outside Bend and rents an apartment in the 27th Senate District, where she hoped to run to replace disqualified Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp, R-Bend.
In instances in which candidates maintain two or more homes, the Secretary of State’s Office determines which one counts for residency purposes by looking at where a candidate votes, pays taxes, registers licenses and works, rather than statements about the area a candidate considers home, election officials told Monihan in a letter about her disqualification.
Last year, the office declined to investigate a complaint about state Rep. Hai Pham, D-Hillsboro, who insisted that he lived with his parents in a three-bedroom home in the 36th House District rather than the $1.3-million, five-bedroom home where his wife and young son resided in the 31st House District. Pham still owns the home in the 31st House District but has since bought a new home in the 36th District, county property tax records show.