News

East Oregonian: PSU student seeks Democratic nomination for District 58
Author: Antonio Sierra
Posted: December 12, 2019

To read the original story, visit the East Oregonian.

Nolan Bylenga arrived back in Pendleton early Wednesday morning after finishing his last set of finals at Portland State University, and he still had multiple essays to turn in before the end of the week.

Amid all that, he also declared his candidacy for state House District 58 Democratic primary.

Republican Bobby Levy announced her candidacy for the seat on Tuesday, but Bylenga was the first to file for the seat on Dec. 5.

A 22-year-old PSU senior and Pendleton High School alum, Bylenga will attempt to flip a seat that’s been dominated by Republicans for decades.

In trying to explain why he was running for office, Bylenga cited Barack Obama’s 2004 keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention: “The Audacity of Hope.” Bylenga said he would like to bring a sense of hope to the district.

Despite his youth, Bylenga is already well-traveled.

A standout on the Pendleton High School track team, he initially attended the University of Florida to run for the Gators.

But after an injury, he decided to transfer to a college closer to home. After stints at Lane Community College and the University of Oregon, he was recruited to run track for Portland State, although he ended up injuring himself again.

A political science major at PSU, Bylenga holds some views that run against the grain of the Democratic Party.

Bylenga expressed admiration for state Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, and his participation in a nine-day walkout to deny the Democratic-controlled Senate a quorum to vote on a cap-and-trade bill. Bylenga said he liked how Hansell was willing to put his reputation on the line to protect local interests.

Bylenga said he also supports the Second Amendment and wants to prevent small businesses from being overtaxed.

“I don’t want to be taxing businesses and forcing them to leave Oregon,” he said.

On the other hand, Bylenga said he wants the state to do more to help low-income families and find a way to bring down health care costs, although he wasn’t committed to a particular policy.

Although Bylenga is a student in Portland, he said his permanent residence remains in Pendleton. Bylenga said he’s on track to graduate from college in June and plans to move back to Pendleton full time after that.