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The youngest Tigard-Tualatin School Board member seeks to unseat the Democratic majority leader from Portland.

PMG FILE PHOTO - With King City Mayor Ken Gibson and Oregon Rep. Margaret Doherty, Ben Bowman, right, walks into the Tigard-Tualatin School District building July 15 shortly before being sworn in as its newest member. Ben Bowman, the youngest-ever member of the Tigard-Tualatin School Board, will challenge Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick in the May 19 primary.

Burdick already has filed for election to a seventh four-year term in District 18, which extends from Southwest Portland into Tigard.

It will be a generational challenge.

Bowman, 27, was elected last year to a four-year term on the school board. He would be the first openly gay man to be in the Oregon Senate. He's worked for Democratic Reps. Margaret Doherty of Tigard and Val Hoyle of Eugene. Sen. Ginny Burdick

Doherty is retiring from her seat and Hoyle, a former House majority leader, is now state labor commissioner. At least three Democrats already have filed for Doherty's seat.

Bowman resigned from the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators, where he has worked since August 2018, to campaign full time.

Burdick, 72, is a former journalist and the longest-serving Democrat in the Senate. (Senate President Peter Courtney of Salem has an overall longer legislative tenure with almost 35 years, 14 of them in the House.) She succeeded Diane Rosenbaum of Portland as Senate majority leader after the 2015 session.

In his statement, Bowman did not take aim at Burdick directly:

"Oregon is facing serious challenges: A climate emergency, an addiction and mental health crisis, lack of affordable housing, rising health care costs, and staggering income inequality.

"With the Trump administration's total incompetence at the national level, Oregon should be a model for progressive problem solving for the rest of the country. We cannot allow our legislature to be held hostage by corporate interests and Republican obstructionism."

Bowman is a 2010 graduate of Tualatin High School. He earned a bachelor's degree in political science in 2014 from the University of Oregon and a master's degree in education policy in 2018 from Stanford University.

He unseated Terri Burnette in Position 2 on the Tigard-Tualatin School Board by around 20 percentage points in May 2019.

He has lined up endorsements from the Oregon School Employees Association — which represents non-teaching employees — the mayors of Tigard, Tualatin, King City and Durham, and from Marc Abrams, a former Democratic Party of Oregon chair and a former Portland School Board member.

"The Oregon Senate needs a culture change," Abrams said in a statement. "Ben is a young, bold progressive — and he has a backbone. He is exactly the voice we need in the Senate."

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