Democrat Janelle Bynum is running against Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer, a Republican, for the Oregon House District 51 seat being vacated by Rep. Shemia Fagan, a two-term Democrat. (The district includes East Portland and parts of Clackamas County.) Bynum, 41, and her husband, Mark, own two McDonald's restaurants on Portland's Southeast 82nd Avenue.
Here are five other things to know about her:
1. Bynum grew up in Washington, D.C., and fondly remembers controversial Mayor Marion Berry. "Any kid could get a job when he was mayor," she says. "I worked at the National Zoo with flying squirrels and the iguanas."
2. In high school in Virginia, Bynum donned a snail costume as her school's mascot. "I'm competitive but not athletic," she says. "Our chant was 'Go, go escargot!'"
3. She earned an electrical engineering degree at Florida A&M, then traveled the world for six years as an engineer for General Motors. "I got stuck in Taiwan on 9/11," she says. "I was there inspecting a factory." Her experience dealing with GM's suppliers shaped her approach to business and policy. "I'm a data person," she says. "I want to see the numbers, not hear the hyperbole."
4. As the mother of four and employer of 100, Bynum decided to run for office because she's concerned about ballot access and education. "I told the people at North Clackamas School District, 'I hire what you send me.' Oregon's investment in schools is abysmal."
5. Two recent laws passed by Bynum's party—higher minimum wage and family sick leave—will directly affect her business. "We were already doing family leave," she says. Bynum supports the minimum-wage hike. "I see that through the lens of being an African-American woman," she says. "The majority of those jobs are held by women and people of color. It's just becoming too hard to make it on the current wage."