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Culbertson hopes to fill the vacant seat left behind by Beaverton Mayor Lacey Beaty.

COURTESY PHOTO - Brandon Culbertson

If elected, Brandon Culbertson could be the first Native American to serve on Beaverton's City Council.

In January, the City Council declared a special election to fill the seat vacated by Beaverton Mayor Lacey Beaty, who had two years remaining in her four-year term as a city councilor when she resigned in order to take office as mayor in January. The council voted to schedule a special election on May 18, so Beaverton voters will choose who fills that position.

The race includes four candidates so far.

Brandon Culbertson, who was born and raised in Beaverton, is the latest to announce his candidacy.

Culbertson, 39, earned his undergraduate degree in archeology and anthropology from the University of Oregon. He's currently attaining his master's in teaching and learning from Colorado State University Global.

After graduating from the University of Oregon, Culbertson worked as a third-grade and pre-school tribal immersion educator. Culbertson identifies as Native American and belongs to the Northern Arapaho Nation and Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes.

"One of my focuses was on learning my tribal language," said Culbertson, who speaks Arapaho, spoken by the Arapaho of Wyoming and Oklahoma. "At present, there's 10,000 tribal members and close to around 100 fluent speakers, all over the age of 65, so our language is critically endangered. So, I felt that it was like important to kind of be a part of that restoration and preservation."

The candidate currently works as the American Indian and Alaska Native education program coordinator for the Beaverton School District, where he reaches out to families and students in crisis. Culbertson says he was also involved in helping the district change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day. COURTESY PHOTO - Brandon Culbertson

"I also led the initiative to rename Timberland to Tumwater Middle School," he added. "So, it's important for me for diverse communities to be reflected in places, spaces and close roads."

Culbertson also serves as a member of the Oregon National Guard and sits as the vice chair of the Oregon Department of Education American Indian/Alaskan Native Advisory committee. His other positions include participating on Beaverton's diversity advisory board and being vice president of the Oregon Indian Education Association.

When asked about why he's running for the council position, Culbertson said, "One of my relatives recently passed away last month. … It was a big part in deciding to kind of step forward. One of the things that my aunt said was that when she was gone that someone would step forward and carry on the torch."

As for issues in Beaverton, the candidate would like to see a cultural community center with youth services available, affordable housing for the elderly, and initiatives to help first time homeowners create generational wealth.

"I think having a healthy community centers around providing opportunities for people, such as community gardens sponsored at a city level would also be a positive and needed initiative," Culbertson said.

Culbertson also noted the importance of having representation at the city reflect the demographics of the area and helping small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis by encouraging people to buy local.

So far, the candidate has been "co-endorsed" by Beaverton City Councilor Nadia Hasan. Hasan also endorsed candidate Ashley Hartmeier-Prigg, who announced her candidacy last December.


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