Courtesy of Marcus Schwab
Ben Bowman officially announced his running for State Senate on Feb. 29 at his campaign kickoff event held at Tigard High. Over 300 students and community members, including Bowman’s student campaign team, attended the event.
Several community members spoke favorably about Bowman at the event. Senior Kavi Shrestha, junior Abdi Mohamoud, Mountainside senior Sal Najjar, Tualatin senior Matthew Brown, Tigard City Councilor Heidi Lueb, Oregon Democrat Women’s Caucus Chair Rachel Gowland, and King City Mayor Ken Gibson all spoke of their past experiences with Bowman and expressed why they felt he was a strong choice for Oregon’s Senate.
Bowman also announced that he and his close friend Miles Palacios had both quit their jobs to campaign full-time until May.
“I’ve never taken a risk this big,” Bowman said. “One of the things I really believe in is that you shouldn’t let fear stop you from doing the right thing, [or] from challenging yourself.” Palacios had helped Bowman with his previous campaign for the Tigard-Tualatin school board and was equally as enthusiastic to lend a helping hand this time around.
“It was amazing to see Ben in this role as a candidate for our community,” Palacios said. “I knew that I wanted to be helping out as much as possible in any capacity.”
Bowman reflected on how far his work in politics has come since his early days of activism in high school and college, and how it has helped him make the decision to run for State Senate.
“There’s [been] this immediate outpouring of love and support and kindness from people that I’ve literally known my whole life,” Bowman said. “It’s affirming my decision to run despite the fact that it’s risky and despite the fact that I might lose.”
Bowman’s platform mainly emphasizes strengthening public education as well as increasing environmental and firearm regulations. He also hopes to enact same-day voter registration in Oregon and to make the state primaries more accessible to the community.
Sal Najjar is Mountainside’s ASB president and a representative for the Oregon Association of Student Councils.
“When it comes to education, climate change, and policy in general, [Bowman] is really knowledgeable,” Najjar said. “This is one of those progressive campaigns where it really will be a huge upset if we win, and I’m really excited to see what will happen.”
Senior Gareth Kelleher, a member of Bowman’s campaign team, says the best part of being involved with the campaign has been getting to know all his peers from Tigard and other schools who are working toward this common goal.
“We need that long-lasting support especially if we’re going to be mainly doing a campaign with students,” Kelleher said. “I’m looking forward to having the experience of being part of a tangible change in the politics in Oregon.”
Palacios originally met Bowman through their work for the Oregon Association of Student Councils in high school.
“I was always really fascinated by him because of his energy and engagement with people but also this […] ability to make people feel at home,” Palacios said. “When you had a conversation with Ben, you knew that he was actually listening to you.”
Palacios and Bowman both got involved in student government in college, and from there they grew to be close friends.
“My friendship with Ben definitely blossomed throughout college and in the time after where he was very much present for all the big decisions in my life,” Palacios said. “He’s someone who cares about people and about Oregonians.”
Over the next couple weeks, Bowman’s student campaign members will be knocking doors and promoting Bowman to as many people in the community as possible.
“We’re going to start talking to voters about the race because, as you can imagine, a lot of voters don’t even know who their state senator is,” Bowman said. “What we want to do is start spreading the word and communicating with folks that there’s an important race happening and that people should be paying attention to it.”
“I’m looking forward to knocking doors and getting out there and interacting with voters,” Najjar said. “The hard part of the campaign is still to come.”