Bob Ream, a 26-year-old aide to state Sen. Gary K. Hart (D-Santa Barbara), announced plans on Wednesday to run next year for the California Assembly seat now held by Jack O'Connell.
O'Connell (D-Carpinteria) has announced he will not seek reelection to the Assembly, but instead will seek the state Senate seat being vacated next year by Hart, who is retiring from public life.
The 35th Assembly District covers Ventura, Ojai, Santa Paula, much of the sparsely populated northern area of Ventura County and most of Santa Barbara County.
In a news conference in Ventura Wednesday, Ream said he will make jobs, public education and public safety the top issues in his campaign. The candidate said he supports abortion rights and opposes the school voucher initiative on November's ballot, saying he believes the vouchers would ruin public schools.
"We need a solution to public education problems; we don't need subsidies for private education," Ream said.
An Illinois native, Ream attended Westmont College on a baseball scholarship and graduated with a degree in political science in 1989. The Santa Barbara resident has worked as an aide to Hart for four years.
Last year, Ream took a sabbatical from his job and lived for four months in El Salvador, where he worked on humanitarian projects and improved his Spanish language skills.
Ream described his youth as "my real strength," and said he shares the same concern for the state's economy that many young adults feel.
"We have a lot of people with education and degrees who can't find work," Ream said. "They are looking for stewardship out of Sacramento."
But Ream emphasized his knowledge of the Legislature that he learned under Hart: "I've learned under great tutelage."