For more than a decade, I served as a director of social service and community health organization in Okanogan County. I’ve advocated and helped build solutions for key community issues like affordable housing, child care, health care access and mental health resources. After the 2014 and 2015 wildfires, I worked across the region to help stand up the long-term recovery effort and I led the two-year disaster case management program, which oversaw the distribution of millions of dollars to fire survivors. I currently work as a director of quality improvement for a leading health care nonprofit.
I am also a fifth-generation Eastern Washingtonian and live with my family in Winthrop. I am blessed that my children call the wild places and small towns of this region home, and I’m grateful to be able to raise them in a close-knit rural community, close to my parents, who are ministers in Wenatchee. My son is in second grade and my daughter is in her senior year of high school.
North Central Washington Labor Council, Washington State Labor Council AFL-CIO, Washington Education Association, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Washington Conservation Voters, United Food and Commercial Workers Union, American Federation of Teachers, Washington Democratic Latino Caucus, Washington Environment & Climate Caucus, SEIU 775 for Long-term Care Workers, Sen. Patty Murray, Atty. Gen. Bob Ferguson, former State Sen. Lisa Brown, and community leaders and members across the district.
Brief statement of candidacy
I am running for office because too many households are living paycheck-to-paycheck, and I believe the right candidate can bring together rural Washingtonians’ shared values, strength and determination, to make change happen. I am running for office because we live in one of the most prosperous states in the nation, yet in Washington, the richest people and corporations pay the smallest share of local and state taxes, while working families and small businesses pay the most. Without stable industry and jobs, rural areas like ours are hit hardest by this unfair system. I am running for office because an elected representative who fights for working families, retirees, and all of us in NCW is essential to building the kinds of policies, legislation, and funding opportunities that could make a real and lasting difference in rural North Central Washington.
Why would you best represent the district?
I grew up in a family that lived paycheck-to-paycheck, and I became a mom before I was 20. I know what it’s like to struggle, and I’ve been on the front lines as a community leader working for a better future for all of us in North Central Washington. I’ve also worked long enough at the state level on policy and legislation to know we need someone who understands the issues of working people, families, our aging population, and young people, and is willing to lead with their interests first.
Further, between a budget shortfall, wildfires and COVID-19 this year, it’s essential that we have a leader who can represent the voice and needs of North Central Washington in Olympia, and right now, our representative does not have a seat at that decision-making table. The House and the Senate are controlled by Democrats and, as a Democrat, I’m the only candidate from NCW that, if elected, will be in that room, leading for our communities.
What are the issues and positions that distinguish you as a candidate?
I know the issues faced by the people in our communities and I’m going to lead for all of us, not just those at the top. Access to world-class health care, schools that are well-funded in every part of the district, a plan to further our legacy of renewable energy, a tax system that is fair for everyone and doesn’t over-burden rural Washington — that’s what we need.
Your priorities for action in the next legislative session?
We have a huge budget shortfall and a window of opportunity to develop new revenue sources for the state by fixing our upside-down tax system. It’s time to change the huge tax incentives we keep giving to big businesses; they don’t keep business here and they don’t benefit working and middle-class people. Instead, we need to invest in our small businesses and our people. And it’s also the only way we can finally adequately fund our schools and get them the resources they need, which is a top priority on my list. Years of underfunding had already left our schools in crisis, and now, in the middle of a pandemic, students, families and schools need more than the usual resources to recover and thrive.
If state budget cuts are necessary, what do we cut, what do we preserve?
There is no doubt that big decisions will be made as we face a massive budget shortfall, and there is no starker contrast between my opponent and me than in how we would lead through recovery. After the 2009 recession, budget cuts meant that many low and middle-income earners lost health care, and they left our public health system so underfunded that we couldn’t respond effectively in the midst of this pandemic. That can’t happen again. This is the time to invest in our communities, not starve them of resources. We can rein in spending by eliminating redundancies and pausing on non-essential budget items, but we know big decisions will need to be made. This is the time to address our upside-down tax system and invest in activities that spur our economy — schools, housing, jobs, health care and innovation.
What is your position on Referendum Measure 90 related to comprehensive sexual health education?
This legislation is designed to ensure every child can protect themselves and has the information they need to stay safe. No child should fall through the cracks. Abuse and sexual assault occur each day in our communities, and these programs are evidenced to reduce the risk. For good reason, the American Academy of Pediatricians endorses evidence-based sexual health education, so do pediatricians, sexual assault victims, and those who investigate sexual assault crimes across the state.
I also believe parents should be able to educate their own children on sexual health and be the leaders in teaching them value. Most importantly, because of this type of curriculum, every child has the opportunity to protect themselves and know what a safe and loving relationship looks like.
What needs to happen to get us through the COVID crisis in Washington state?
We all want to re-open. It’s got to be our first priority. This means we need our leaders to have hard conversations, lead with a commitment to the facts and transparency (even when it’s unpopular), support public health, and show compassion for those working hard to find solutions. Perhaps most importantly, we need to bring real, tangible support to small businesses, both to help them follow the complex regulations, and make it through this recession — our economies, communities and people are depending on it.