Oregon elects youngest-ever state senator, Wlnsvey Campos

Oregon elected its youngest-ever state senator on Tuesday when voters elected state representative Wlnsvey Campos, D-Aloha, to represent Senate District 18.

And this is the second time Campos has reached a political milestone regarding age.

She was elected Oregon’s youngest female legislator in 2020 at the age of 24. Now, two years later, at 26, she is the state’s youngest senator, she said. Campos defeated Republican Kim Rice (52) and 68-year-old independent candidate Rich Vial.

However, she is not the first member of Gen Z in the state senate. Born in November 1995, Campos describes himself as a millennial. 2000 then State Rep. Ryan Deckert, D-Garden Home, won an Oregon Senate seat at the age of 29.

In an interview Saturday, Campos said she would bring her lived experience to her work at the Capitol. Raised mostly on a low income in Bandon, she was the first in her family to go to college. In 2017 she graduated from Pacific University.

“Growing up and going to the food banks, going to the low-income community meals, getting free and discounted lunches — I recognize how critical these issues are,” Campos said.

Her Latina heritage and a lack of diversity in the Senate — in addition to age — motivated her to run, she said.

“I grew up in a place where community was very important,” Campos said. “These people have really been there for me and my family. I want to do what these people did for me and do that for others.”

District 18, which encompasses much of Washington County, is very diverse, Campos said. According to census data, nearly 18% of Washington County’s population identifies as Hispanic or Latino and 12.2% as Asian.

During her first campaign, Campos said her opponents tried to use her age against her and said she lacked experience – a problem she didn’t address this time. To this she would say: “I have lived much more than some might think.”

Democratic campaign adviser Jake Weigler of Praxis Political in Portland said Campos’ victory was a sign that more was to come.

“I think it shows how the legislature is really starting to change,” Weigler said. “Wlnsvey is among a slew of new members of the Senate and House of Representatives who are bringing truly young millennials and Gen Z perspectives to the legislature.”

In January, Campos plans to work on issues such as food insecurity, education, affordable housing and homelessness.

– Austin De Dios; [email protected]; @austindedios; (503) 319-9744

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