Home Back Issues January 2009 Young and restless in the House

Young and restless in the House

| Print |  Email
Archives - January 2009
Thursday, January 01, 2009

SalemCapital.jpgYoung and restless in the House


SALEM In the last legislative session they were known as the “Five under 35.” This year their ranks have grown and they have a new name: the “10 under 36.” They’re the House’s youth caucus: A band of mostly Democratic legislators — many of whom are friends and confidants — who are seen as a rising force in Salem. Their agendas mesh with each other; education, sustainability issues and health care are cited as top priorities. As a united block they could conceivably wield some influence in the 2009 session.

But their power as a caucus is far from guaranteed. “We have to be careful in terms of how we conceptualize age in how it determines things in the Legislature,” says Robert Eisinger, a political science professor at Lewis & Clark. The upward trend in young legislators doesn’t constitute a mandate from voters, he says. Since there’s no historical analysis of legislators’ ages it’s not possible to extrapolate what the increase means about Oregon’s electorate or state government. Additionally, Eisinger argues that because there are no distinct youth-specific legislative issues that the 10 under 36 could claim as their own, the votes of young lawmakers on well-worn issues like health care will be seen as no different than their older counterparts.

Jules Kopel-Bailey, 29, is an economist and a newly elected Democratic representative from Portland. He challenges the assertion that the youth caucus will be amalgamated. He points to the 2007 session and how the Five under 35 were able to successfully push for a progressive agenda. “And now there’s more of us,” he says. “It’s not just that we’re young. We bring a lot of different skills to the table — policy making, community organizing.”

They also bring another powerful force to the table: a unified front that was forged by friendship. Brent Barton, a 28-year-old Portland lawyer and newly elected Democratic representative, contends that while history remembers individual political stars, it’s caucuses in Congress or the Legislature that have held the real power. Over the course of a conversation in early December, Barton mentioned five members of the 10 under 36 that he’d hung out with, listened to music with or had lunch with over the previous few days. 

“How this caucus manifests itself politically remains to be seen,” he says. “But these people were close friends before the session and they will be afterward.”            

ABRAHAM HYATT


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

More Articles

Growing a mobility cluster

News
Friday, October 31, 2014
0414 bikes bd2f6052BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Why are there so few transportation startups in Portland?  The city’s leadership in bike, transit and pedestrian transportation has been well-documented.  But that was then — when government and nonprofits paved the way for a new, less auto centric way of life.


Read more...

The 100 Best Companies survey is open

News
Friday, October 24, 2014

100-best-logo-2015 500pxw-1How does your workplace stack up against competitors? How can you improve workplace practices to help recruit and retain employees? Find out by taking our 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon survey!


Read more...

I Know How You Feel

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Most smartphones come equipped with speech recognition systems like Siri or Cortana that are capable of understanding the human voice and putting words into actions. But what if smartphones could do more? What if smartphones could register feeling?


Read more...

Shuffling the Deck

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JON BELL

Oregon tribes still bet on casinos.


Read more...

Water World

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

Fred Ziari aims to feed the global population.


Read more...

The short list: 5 companies making a mint off kale

The Latest
Thursday, November 20, 2014
kale-thumbnailBY OB STAFF

Farmers, grocery stores and food processors cash in on kale.


Read more...

Political Clout

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

Businesses spend billions of dollars each year trying to influence political decision makers by piling money into campaigns.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS