A doctor focused on preventing drug overdose deaths in Salt Lake City now plans to run for Jim Dabakis’ state Senate seat

Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune Jennifer Plumb M.D. talks about Naloxone awareness at the FedUp Rally Utah, on International Overdose Awareness Day at the Utah State Capitol, in August, 2015. On Sunday, she announced her bid for Utah Senate District 2.

A woman who pushed for wider access to Naloxone, a drug that can reverse opioid overdoses, on Sunday announced her candidacy to fill outgoing Sen. Jim Dabakis’ seat.

The race to represent the liberal Avenues district already includes Salt Lake City Councilman Derek Kitchen, retired University of Utah political scientist Tim Chambless, and attorney and community activist Nadia Mahallati.

Jennifer Plumb, a Utah native and single mother to a teenage boy, is seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination in April for the state Senate seat. She is also gathering signatures, she said Sunday night.

Dabakis announced in February that he wouldn’t seek re-election to the seat he held for six years.

“When I heard of Jim’s decision to retire I thought long and hard and decided to enter the race for Utah Senate District 2,” Plumb wrote in a news release.

She’ll file her candidate papers on Monday morning.

Plumb has a master’s degree in public health and has worked as pediatrician and physician. She is a member of the state’s opioid abuse task force.

“I do think it would be a really unique perspective, to have someone who’s not only medically trained but also has a ton of actual, direct community outreach,” Plumb said. “This isn’t all theory to me, I live it, as well as teach about it and make policy about it. It’s every day for me.”

Opioid abuse is an issue Plumb is intimate with. Her brother, Andy, died of heroin overdose in a Salt Lake City basement with he was 22. With an advocacy group she co-founded, Utah Naloxone, she has distributed free anti-overdose kits to addicts. She has interacted with users as part of the state’s syringe exchange program.

She has spent a “fair amount of time literally on the street doing needle exchange and doing overdose-death prevention, as well as in the schools and working with law enforcement to try to help them understand the gravity of this epidemic.”

She plans to continue to prioritize health care and issues relating to poverty and homelessness.

She also intends to focus on women’s representation and rights, as well as LGBT equality, if elected.

Candidates for the seat must declare by Thursday.