Silicon Valley transplant becomes active in local politics

Steve Bronstein moved to Astoria from the San Francisco Bay Area in 2016.

As Steve Bronstein settled in to his new abode, he was struggling to abide by the results of the presidential election.

Bronstein, 57, spent much of his working life developing technology for corporations and law firms in heavily Democratic areas. On Nov. 9, 2016 — one day after Donald Trump’s seismic election victory — he moved to Astoria. The day marked a personal and political crossroad.

“It was actually kind of depressing,” Bronstein said. “Not the arrival here, but the outcome of the race.”

Bronstein spent 25 years in the San Francisco Bay Area. Soon after moving to Astoria, he joined Indivisible North Coast Oregon — a grassroots organization dedicated in part to stopping Trump’s policy agenda. Bronstein said he quickly noticed that the area is not as politically homogeneous as others he’d lived and worked.

“Leaving my vote in California was not a problem,” Bronstein said. “It was just a blue vote in a bunch of other blue votes.”

Bronstein grew up in a Chicago suburb. With no formal training, he went to work in the mid-1980s as a data processor at Medline Industries — an Illinois-based hospital supply manufacturer.

“I got an opportunity to work with these things called PCs back in the early days,” he quipped.

Bronstein lived in Silicon Valley for about 25 years and worked for prominent lawyer and venture capitalist Craig Johnson. As the world was being introduced to the internet, he helped lawyers in separate locations connect during meetings and share data electronically.

“We did things differently in the legal industry before the dot-com boom exploded,” he said.

Soon after the Great Recession hit, he created a mobile app that helps lawyers keep track of their billable hours. He’s continued to run the company since his move north.

Bronstein wanted to be close to family in Oregon, remain near the ocean and practice his long-distance cycling hobby. He found all three opportunities in Astoria, a town he says has become a destination for cyclists on coast-to-coast or border-to-border journeys. He’s hosted dozens of cyclists in his home since he first moved here.

“People tend to find the history and culture of the town fascinating,” Bronstein said. “There’s an attraction here.”

Clatsop County, which favored Democrat Hillary Clinton over Trump by 6 percentage points in the 2016 election, also features a diversity of opinions on national politics. Bronstein said that, despite his left-leaning viewpoints, his goal is to encourage citizen participation rather than to change opinions.

“I wanted to find like-minded people and encourage others to become active,” he said.

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