Oregon elected its youngest-ever state senator Tuesday when voters elevated state Rep. Wlnsvey Campos, D-Aloha, to represent Senate District 18.
And this is the second time Campos has achieved a political milestone related to age.
She was elected Oregon’s youngest female state legislator in 2020 at age 24. Now, two years later, she’s the state’s youngest state senator at 26, she said. Campos defeated Republican Kim Rice, 52, and 68-year-old unaffiliated candidate Rich Vial.
She is not, however, the first Gen Z member of the state senate. Campos, born in November 1995, considers herself a Millennial. In 2000, then state-Rep. Ryan Deckert, D-Garden Home, won a seat in the Oregon Senate at age 29.
I am honored to have been elected as the State Senator for Senate District 18 and the youngest legislator in Oregon State Senate history! Thank you to everyone who supported the campaign. I’m ready to get to work. pic.twitter.com/eLOnb7tpyj
— Wlnsvey Campos (@wlnsvey) November 9, 2022
In an interview Saturday, Campos said she would bring her lived experience to her work at the Capitol. She grew up mostly low-income in Bandon and was the first in her family to go to college. She graduated from Pacific University in 2017.
“Growing up and going to the food banks, going to the low-income community dinners, being on free and reduced lunch – 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 super important,” Campos said. “Those folks were really there for me and my family. I want to do what those folks did for me, and do that for others.”
District 18, which includes a large portion of Washington County, is very diverse, Campos said. Nearly 18% of Washington County’s population identifies as Hispanic or Latino and 12.2% as Asian, according to census data.
During her first campaign, Campos said her opponents tried to use her age against her, saying she lacked experience – an issue she didn’t face this time around. To that, she would say, “I’ve lived a lot more than some might think.”
Democratic campaign consultant Jake Weigler of Praxis Political in Portland said Campos’ win is a sign of more to come.
“I think it shows how the legislature is really starting to change,” said Weigler. “Wlnsvey is among a crop of new senate and house members that are really bringing young Millennial and Gen Z perspectives to the legislature.”
In January, Campos plans to work on issues of food insecurity, education, affordable housing and homelessness.
– Austin De Dios; firstname.lastname@example.org; @austindedios; (503) 319-9744
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