Millennials in action | Local News | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
The Source Weekly’s reporting is made possible by the power of your support. Be a part of it!
Pin It

Millennials in action 

A new generation of community leaders on the rise

(Left to right) Rep. Diego Hernandez, D-Portland; Steven Olikara, President, Millennial Action Project; Rep. Karin Power, D-Milwaukie; Sen. Dallas Heard, R-Roseburg; Rep. Julie Fahey, D-West Eugene/Junction City; Rep. Daniel Bonham, R-The Dalles and Layla Zidane, COO, Millennial Action Project. - MILLENIALACTION.ORG
  • (Left to right) Rep. Diego Hernandez, D-Portland; Steven Olikara, President, Millennial Action Project; Rep. Karin Power, D-Milwaukie; Sen. Dallas Heard, R-Roseburg; Rep. Julie Fahey, D-West Eugene/Junction City; Rep. Daniel Bonham, R-The Dalles and Layla Zidane, COO, Millennial Action Project.

As another election approaches, reports of the elusive millennial voter and what effect they could have on the 2018 midterms have started to crop up again. Could this be the election that voters born between 1981 and 1998 turn out in record numbers, surpassing the number of baby boomers at the polls?

A Pew Research poll found that as of the 2016 presidential election, the number of eligible millennial voters roughly equaled the number eligible baby boomers, the largest population of eligible voters. However, voter turnout for millennials is notoriously low, with only 51 percent of millennials reporting they voted in the last presidential election—the lowest turnout of any generation. Compared to the 69 percent of boomers who voted in the last presidential election—millennials have some votin' to do to make a dent at the polls come Nov. 6.

Still, it doesn't mean civic engagement among the under-40 sect isn't on the rise.

Bringing back bipartisan cooperation

The Millennial Action Project, launched in 2013, aims to bring young policymakers from both sides of the aisle together. The national, nonpartisan nonprofit provides millennial leaders with tools and resources to develop productive partnerships across party lines and pass legislation.

In addition to the Congressional Future Caucus, MAP launched 10 additional state Future Caucuses in 2017, making a total of 25, with a goal of 30 by the end of the year. The Oregon Future Caucus, launched at the end of September by Oregon Rep. Julie Fahey (D-West Eugene/Junction City), is the latest state to join the ranks. The caucus has zeroed in on issues members think they can come to a bipartisan solution to in the 2019 legislative session, said Fahey, including increasing the supply of housing, addressing student loan debt, criminal justice reform and early childhood education.

Fahey, who's 40, said seven state legislators attended the first meeting in January. Two lawmakers interested in joining the caucus had recently turned 41, so they agreed to bump the age cap up to 42 years old. Of the 90 legislators in the Oregon House and Senate, only eight made the age cutoff for the Future Caucus, chaired by two Democrats and two Republicans.

"I think that really shows the barriers that younger people face in running for state legislative seats in Oregon," said Fahey. "It's a part-time position and the pay is not very high, so when you're mid-career and/or you have a family, it's a pretty difficult job to do—especially when you need to run a competitive campaign to get here."

In the U.S. Congress, an individual must be 25 years old to run for a representative seat and 30 years old for a senate seat. In Oregon, the minimum age for the senate or house is 21. Today, the oldest millennials are 37 years old; the first being able to run for Congress in 2006. Yet, according to a 2018 Congressional Research Service profile of the 115th Congress, the average age of members of Congress is "among the highest of any Congress in recent U.S. history," at 57.8 years old for representatives and 61.8 for senators. The youngest member of Congress is 32-year-old Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), but that torch could be passed to 28-year-old Abby Finkenauer, the Democratic candidate for Iowa's First District, if she wins on Nov. 6.

According to its website, The Millennial Action Project estimates that 200 millennials have run or are running for the 116th Congress. Twenty of the 50 Millennials who ran in the primaries won their races.

Locally, millennials are hungry for civic engagement

I recently attended the Bend Chamber's first Bend Young Professionals Summit. During a roundtable meet and greet with City of Bend employees, I was struck by how many young faces are working in departments ranging from Growth Management to Communications. According to the City, of the 678 City government employees, 42 percent are under the age of 40.

Katy Brooks, Bend Chamber president, said Bend Young Professionals aims to develop leadership skills early, through monthly socials, professional development events and networking opportunities like the YP Summit. The network, which has a participant base of about 800 under-40 somethings strong, is more than just a resource for career-minded young adults—it's about cultivating the next generation of community leaders and lawmakers.

"We look at it as community succession planning," said Brooks. "When you look at Bend's leadership and how long so many folks have been doing great things for this community, you really have to take a look back and say, alright, how did they start and how do we perpetuate that?"

Local young professionals are looking for a way to advance their careers and "plug in" to community issues, said Brooks, and really crave and value a place to meet other ambitious young adults in their community.

About The Author

Keely Damara

Reporter | The Source Weekly
Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Conservation Controversy

    Conservation Controversy

    Local irrigation districts have a plan to conserve water in the Deschutes River and protect endangered species, but environmental groups say it isn't enough
    • Nov 4, 2020
  • The Christmas Tree That Almost Killed Us

    The Christmas Tree That Almost Killed Us

    A local couple reflects on what went wrong after getting a ride out of the wilderness by Deschutes County Search and Rescue
    • Dec 23, 2020
Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
Kids Curate:  The Power of Process

Kids Curate: The Power of Process - High Desert Museum

Mon., May 23, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Submitting an event is free and easy.

Newsletter Signup

Get Central Oregon daily news
directly in your inbox

Get Social

Latest in Local News

  • Schenkelberg Resigns

    • May 18, 2022
    Bend will lose two elected officials at its City Council Meeting on May 18 More »
  • Cover Your Grasses

    • May 18, 2022
    New data on fire risk and a study on fuel reductions in high desert ecosystems comes as Central Oregon approaches fire season More »
  • Rental Housing Black Hole

    • May 18, 2022
    The median home price in Bend rose to over $750,000 in May, a 30% jump from the same time last year. More »
  • More »

More by Keely Damara

Want to advertise with us?

For info on print and digital advertising, >> Click Here

© 2022 LAY IT OUT INC | 704 NW GEORGIA AVE, BEND, OREGON 97703  |   Privacy Policy

Website powered by Foundation