Human rights advocate and Beaverton resident Farrah Chaichi intends on taking her organizing chops to Salem.
Chaichi is vying for a seat in the Oregon House of Representatives, District 35. That position is an open seat, with first-term Rep. Wlnsvey Campos instead running for another open seat, the reconfigured Senate District 18.
Housing is one of the main issues Chaichi is focusing on in her campaign. In the long term, Chaichi says, that means passing transformative legislation on housing affordability, renter protections and rent control, as well as ramping up shelter options and "right to rest" options in the short term.
"Everyone's experiencing the housing affordability problem. From buying a home to renting, everyone's feeling that crunch," Chaichi said. "So I think it's really easy to show people, 'This could be you.'"
If elected, Chaichi said she will also push for policy that pushes the state toward a single-payer healthcare system, often described as "Medicare for All," under which "everyone is completely covered and no one is left out," as Chaichi put it.
"I think the overall theme of my campaign is just making sure the dignity of every human being is respected in our policies," she said.
The environment is another significant part of Chaichi's platform, recognizing that climate change is not just a problem of the future, but also of the present.
"Without a healthy planet, any other policies that we pass don't matter," Chaichi said frankly.
Chaichi has been involved in grassroots activism since her high school days, volunteering with Amnesty International, a non-governmental organization focused on human rights. She wasn't really interested in local politics until she started doing that work, she told Pamplin Media Group.
"Because I joined Amnesty, I started to become aware of how politics shapes what happens in people's lives," Chaichi said. "And so I sort of went on this trajectory toward studying criminal justice in college and political science."
But seeking a career that aligned with her values could only go so far.
"I realized that I wasn't fulfilled in what I was doing because it was just a day job," Chaichi said, "and so I started looking for avenues that I could go towards that would help make a difference, because watching things happen that are terrible to other people, it's distressing."
In 2014, Chaichi began volunteering in the community and for other campaigns. She was eventually appointed to the Beaverton Human Rights Advisory Commission.
"My time serving on HRAC gave me a chance to examine some of our local issues with human rights closely, but my position gave me no power to address those issues," Chaichi wrote on her campaign website.
Chaichi is endorsed by a number of other Washington County progressives. Among her backers are Campos, Beaverton City Councilor Ashley Hartmeier-Prigg, Washington County Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) Chair Laura Wadlin, Family Promise of Beaverton co-founder Jolene Guptill, and Beaverton Mayor Lacey Beaty.
"I've known Farrah from her time on the Human Rights Advisory Committee. She has always been an unrelenting advocate for human rights and she shows up time and time again for candidates and her community. I'm proud to show up for her and endorse her for House District 35," Beaty said.
Chaichi said she is inspired by other women in politics like Beaty, Hartmeier-Prigg and Campos.
"I think that there's this sort of skepticism about young women, and they often don't let that shake them. Their resolve doesn't falter," Chaichi said.
House District 35 includes most of Aloha and parts of West Beaverton.
The 2022 elections will be held under new lines following last year's redistricting process.
The Senate district that Campos is seeking is completely new. The current Senate District 18 includes most of Southwest Portland and Tigard. The redrawn district is centered on Aloha, also taking in parts of Beaverton, Hillsboro and rural Washington County south to the Yamhill County line.
The House seat that Campos is vacating and Chaichi is running to represent has changed as well, albeit less drastically, shifting to the north and extending further east into Central Beaverton. It has also been renumbered from House District 28 to House District 35.
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