An old truism says that no two people agree all of the time. I know that I not only represent Tacoma's diverse geography, but also a diverse set of political beliefs. I think it's fair that you know some of what I believe. Above all, though, trust that I keep my ears and mind open. Whatever our level of agreement, we turn to politics for the same
thing: the good of our community.
If you have a question, comment, or issue on your mind, feel free to contact the campaign. We do our best to respond to each message. Many of my priorities come from hearing the concerns of voters. I would love to hear from you too, and hope for your support.
When I ran for office eight years ago, I was honored that so many of my friends and members of the community supported my desire to bring a fresh perspective and common sense solutions to Olympia. After my first four terms in office, I have proven myself a strong, progressive voice in the legislature. I have worked hard to create jobs and educational opportunities for families, protect health care and social services, reform our broken revenue system, improve access to justice, protect the environment, and advocate for those without a voice. I am thankful to everyone who voted for me, and look forward to continuing to work hard to represent the people and values of the 27th legislative district.
I believe that we need a tax system that is fair, adequate and stable. Washington State's current tax base relies too heavily on regressive, unreliable taxes, and I am a leader in promoting systemic reform. I was the prime sponsor of the only loophole closure bill that made it to the House floor in 2011, dedicating funds for education. While that bill did not get the 2/3 majority required by I-1053, the bill did become the basis for a constitutional challenge to the initiative. And, in late 2013, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the 2/3 majority required by I-1053 was unconstitutional. Each session since then, I sponsored a capital gains tax bill that would increase the adequacy and fairness of Washington’s tax system. It will take committed legislators and citizens some time to replace our regressive system with a progressive tax system, however, I will devote my entire legislative career to making this happen.
Accountability and Reform
As Deputy Director of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, I led a department with 270 employees and a $38 million annual budget. I know how to exercise leadership, build consensus, and get the work done. After arriving at the health department, I dramatically improved relationships with other agencies resulting in improved services to local communities, even during the economic crisis. I have a record of bringing positive change and accountability to troubled agencies, while always remembering the needs of people. My creative, smart, financially responsible approach is the right way to navigate the tough economy.
During my first terms in office, I sponsored or co-sponsored a number of bills to improve school funding, invest in early learning programs, and bring smart reforms to our schools and classrooms. Prior to being elected to the Legislature, I served 12 years on the Tacoma Community College Board of Trustees, overseeing a period of significant growth. I led efforts to rebuild the campus and accommodate thousands of new students. During my tenure, TCC was recognized numerous times for its environmentally sustainable practices and excellent educational programs. I believe everyone deserves access to quality education, and aim to keep the doors open, education affordable, and the quality outstanding. I pushed for educational programs that make sure students are prepared for jobs, and providing workers for business community needs. As a PTA mom, I am dedicated to investing in our K-12 schools too. Even during the tough economy, our highest priority must be to provide educational excellence and opportunity for every child.
Jobs for Working Families
While serving on the Capitol Budget and Transportation committees, I was a co-sponsor of the 2012 Jobs Now Act. This investment into our state’s infrastructure created new schools, affordable housing, and crucial investments in transportation, as well as over 20,000 jobs in our state. Here in the 27th district, the Jobs Act built an allied health building at TCC, advanced the cleanup of Ruston Way & Commencement Bay, helped renovate the Broadway Center & Foss Seaport, replaced the Tacoma Community House building, built the East Side Community Center and expanded our low-income housing resources.
Washington has regularly been ranked by independent sources as one of the top 5 states in the nation for small business. This largely stems from our innovative spirit, our strong higher education system and legislative efforts to make sure we advance smart regulation and support for our small businesses. I believe this is the right approach and will continue to support small business development.
I have spent my personal life and my career standing up for those who need a strong voice on their side. I work tirelessly for social justice, advocating for women’s right to choose, working to end domestic violence, supporting a sane immigration policy, curbing gun violence, expanding access to justice, encouraging living wages, and assuring that everyone’s basic rights are protected.
As the first open lesbian serving in the Washington legislature, I was a natural and respected leader in the successful passage of full marriage equality. Trusted by my colleagues, I will continue to bring the perspective of a loving mother in a committed 30 year relationship to the House floor as a reminder to colleagues and people throughout the state that we must respect the rights and dignity of every Washington family.
I have also chaired the boards of the Tacoma-Pierce County YWCA and the Tacoma Community House, helping new immigrants become successful, responsible Americans.
As our regional population grows, we need to stay ahead of transportation demands. I advocate for modern, clean, green transit and transportation choices that work for everyone. For people this means more investment in transit, car pool incentives and non-motorized transportation. For freight, this means a fair regulatory environment, encouragement of multi-modal transportation, and protection and enhancement of the Port of Tacoma. The Port of Tacoma is a key to our economic strength, we must make sure it remains vital and busy, providing growth and jobs.
As Vice Chair of the House Health Care & Wellness Committee, I helped prepare Washington for implementation of Affordable Care Act. I worked hard on the creation of Washington’s Health Exchange in 2012. The Exchange ensured that small business has affordable access to easily understandable health care choices and that uninsured people have access to health care. Because of our commitment to making sure health reform worked for Washington, we now have more people enrolled in health insurance coverage than 47 other states. I’ve continued to focus on improving consumer protection in health care by making sure that hospitals engage with their community when making decisions about what services they will provide the community and that they provide appropriate notice to patients about the availability of charity care, addressing medical debt and health care mergers and acquisitions.
I’ve spent much of my time over the last few years attempting to improve our mental health care system. We have not turned the corner yet on the work we need to do but I’ve continued to focus on providing outpatient services to those in need of care and improving the staffing and structure of our state run mental health hospitals.
Before becoming a legislator, I was asked by former Governor Gary Locke and Governor Chris Gregoire to directly assist them in developing priorities for their health care budgets. My expertise has been invaluable in the legislature. Over the next decade, making health care reform work–on the ground, in people’s lives–will be one of the most important jobs for the legislature. I bring a strong, experienced, practical voice of reason to these decisions. I worked successfully with the legislature in the past, winning support for mandatory notification by hospitals of restrictions placed on any practitioners within the facility, criminal background checks of individuals seeking to become licensed health care providers and a bill allowing the Department of Health to pay malpractice insurance premiums for health care providers volunteering in rural and underserved areas.