Mike Schmidt
Mike Schmidt campaign photo

Mike Schmidt, Multnomah County's district attorney-elect, will take over the role beginning August 1.

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In May, Multnomah County voters elected Mike Schmidt to serve as the county's next district attorney. Schmidt was expected to start in January, when current District Attorney Rod Underhill's term expired. But last month, Underhill resigned early amid a global wave of protests against police brutality and the criminal justice system, leaving the position vacant as of July 31, his last day.

Gov. Kate Brown announced Monday morning that she is appointing Schmidt to start work in August, so he can fill in the gap before his first term officially starts.

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In June, Underhill told his staff he was resigning because it would be "shortsighted of me and unfair to the office and our community" for him to begin overhauling the county's justice system, only to have a change of leadership in six months.

Schmidt ran on a campaign platform of criminal justice reform, which included calling for the release of non-violent prison and jail inmates due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and not pursuing overly long prison sentences like those enforced by Oregon's Measure 11. He told the Mercury last month the protests in Portland largely reflected the philosophy he'll have as the county's top prosecutor.

"These demands we're hearing from the public right now... this is what I campaigned on," Schmidt said. "Shrinking the criminal justice system, giving power back to judges from prosecutors, holding police accountable. These are things I believe in."