A new candidate with a familiar last name is joining the race for Multnomah County District Attorney.
Kirsten Naito, an assistant attorney general with the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ), has formed a political action committee for the 2020 race to replace current DA Rod Underhill, who announced his retirement plan in June. Naito is the granddaughter of Bill Naito, a prominent late Portland businessman and civic leader for whom SW Naito Parkway is named.
Naito's action committee filed with the Oregon Secretary of State's office on Tuesday, and has not yet announced any donations.
Prior to taking her position with the DOJ last year, Naito spent three years as a deputy district attorney in Deschutes County, and was a practicing criminal defense attorney before that. She graduated from law school at the University of Washington in 2011, and has never held elected office before.
Naito is quoted often in Bend Bulletin coverage of criminal cases. In 2013, she and her partner were also interviewed by the Source Weekly about there experience as a same-sex couple, and the then-heated debate over same-sex marriage in Oregon.
She joins three other candidates in the 2020 DA race: Ethan Knight, an assistant US attorney; Mariel Mota, a deputy district attorney for Multnomah County; and Mike Schmidt, a former Multnomah County prosecutor and the director of the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission.
Naito was also among 36 women to be trained last year by Emerge Oregon, a nonprofit that helps democratic women prepare to run for office. Candace Avalos, a 2020 Portland City Council candidate, also graduated from Emerge's training program.