“I have shirts and ties that are older than you.”
Such were the responses Evan Low recalls getting when, at the grizzled age of 21, he knocked on doors for his first political campaign. He had decided to run for the Campbell City Council after concluding that his chosen profession of teaching wouldn’t be enough for him to afford a home.
“What does that mean and what kind of policies are we focused on?” Low said. “Whereas the council members in the city at the time focused on prioritization of historic preservation, I thought affordable housing would be much more of a priority for the community.”
Low lost that race. But two years later he won a spot on the City Council, bemusement at his youth notwithstanding, and by the time he turned 26 he was the mayor.
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An upbringing that stressed public service helped Low decide to run. His experience as a gay man facing what he called institutionalized discrimination – “I could host a blood drive on city hall property, but as a gay man I could not give blood myself,” he recounted – sharpened his desire to get to Sacramento.
Now, at 31, he is the third-youngest member of the California Assembly. He believes a planned “tech caucus” will resonate with younger members. It’s one way he hopes to engage younger Californians who, despite their well-documented detachment from politics, have plenty at stake.
“Attaining the American and California dream is not as accessible for the generations we live in now,” Low said. “We need to be making sure that we have public policy advocates demonstrating the importance of these issues to the generation under 35.”
VIDEO: Low talks about the issues younger Californians face
Call Jeremy B. White, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5543.
Assemblyman Evan Low
Education: Bachelor’s degree, San Jose State University
Career: Community college instructor, city councilman.
Assembly committees: Banking and Finance, Higher Education, Labor and Employment, Privacy and Consumer Protection, Public Safety, Legislative Ethics