Justin Hwang launches challenge for House seat
A 32-year-old business leader is entering the ring against a two-term Democratic state lawmaker representing East Multnomah County.
Justin Hwang will run as a Republican for the House District 49 spot occupied by Rep. Chris Gorsek. The seat represents Troutdale, Fairview, Wood Village and a small portion of Gresham.
"Across East County, it seems like more and more families are struggling to make ends meet," said Hwang, a naturalized citizen born in South Korea. "I believe our community needs leaders who will fight for stable, family-wage jobs and incentivize entrepreneurship and investment in the private sector."
As president of Joy Foods, Hwang runs 12 restaurants in the Joy Teriyaki chain, which his parents originally started.
The brand has opened more than 18 storefronts across the metro region, but Hwang says anti-growth laws passed in Salem have stunted economic growth and forced him to sell off some locations."I'm doing a lot less business, because I felt it was too hard for me to go to the next level," he wrote on his campaign website, www.justinhwang.org.
The Mt. Hood Community College Foundation board member has never held elected office, though he touts membership in the Gresham Chamber of Commerce and time spent volunteering with Zarephath Ministries, the Korean War Memorial Association and the Korean American Association of Oregon.
He's also launching his run without much of a bankroll. Friends of Justin Hwang has netted one $40 cash contribution and paid out $1,800 to campaign strategy firm Knopp & Company, according to state records.
"The policies passed by legislators in Salem have a real impact on the employers and employees in our community." Hwang noted. "If I'm elected, I will work to ensure that we create an environment here in East County that allows businesses to thrive and provides better opportunities for hardworking Oregonians in our community."
After a primary in May, the election for House District 49 will be held on November 6, 2018.