A former congressional policy adviser kicked off his first bid for political office Thursday with hopes of becoming the first Democrat to win the 4th Congressional District seat since 1992.

“It was not an easy decision, but I knew that I had the experience, the know-how to represent the best interests of the community that raised me,” Estakio Beltran said in an interview Thursday.

Beltran, who was raised in the Yakima Valley and who is finishing up a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University, made his official announcement to a crowd of supporters Thursday at Millennium Plaza in Yakima.

He cited a range of experiences — from growing up in foster care to working for Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and retired Rep. Dennis Cardoza of California — that he said have prepared him for public service.

Beltran said he worked primarily on child welfare policies in Cardoza’s office as well as environmental and economic issues from 2007 to 2012.

Cardoza represented California’s Central Valley, which Beltran said allowed him to learn extensively about the issues facing agriculture-based economies, such as in Central Washington.

“It was a great opportunity for me to really learn how to address the issues that are important to farmers and farm workers,” Beltran said.

Beltran’s friends and family spoke and played music at the event, attended by about 70 people. Beltran also received the endorsement of 4th Congressional District Democrats chairwoman Mary Stephenson, providing a strong indication of who the party will support when members make formal endorsements at a meeting planned for May 17.

Beltran said he’s not concerned what people think about his age or inexperience, telling the crowd there’s a reason the U.S. Constitution sets the minimum age to run for the House at 25.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m five years late to this job,” Beltran told supporters to applause Thursday.

Beltran is one of six Democrats to either declare or express interest in running for the office. The others are longtime Democratic activist Tony Sandoval of Yakima; Tony Williams of Yakima; Gary Downing, a Richland School District employee from Kennewick; Mohammad Said, a physician from Ephrata; and Joe Buchanan, a mechanical engineer from Terrace Heights.

Josh Ramirez of Pasco, a project specialist for a Hanford contractor, has declared as an independent.

The Republican candidates to announce so far are former state Department of Agriculture director and legislator Dan Newhouse; state Sen. Janéa Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake; Franklin County Commissioner Brad Peck; Kennewick attorney George Cicotte; former NFL tight end and Eltopia farmer Clint Didier; Gavin Seim, an Ephrata portraitist and filmmaker; and Jamie Wheeler, an in-home care provider from Kennewick.