I have some excit­ing news to share this after­noon: After hav­ing spent sev­er­al days con­tem­plat­ing a cam­paign for state House with fam­i­ly and friends, our Pres­i­dent, Gael Tar­leton, has decid­ed to run for the posi­tion being vacat­ed by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mary Lou Dick­er­son, who recent­ly announced her retire­ment from the Leg­is­la­ture after many years of ser­vice to the peo­ple of Washington.

Along with Reuven Car­lyle and Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Dick­er­son rep­re­sents the 36th LD, one of the most Demo­c­ra­t­ic dis­tricts in the state, which is com­prised of sev­er­al Seat­tle neigh­bor­hoods, includ­ing Bal­lard, Phin­ney Ridge, Fre­mont, and Belltown.

Gael is offi­cial­ly announc­ing her can­di­da­cy today, though she has spent the last cou­ple of days rais­ing mon­ey to get it start­ed. She already has $20,000 in cash and com­mit­ments after just forty-eight hours of fundrais­ing. Undoubt­ed­ly that num­ber will be much high­er by the time this week is over.

Her cam­paign has just issued a press release announc­ing her can­di­da­cy. In it, Gael explains that she is run­ning because she thinks the Leg­is­la­ture needs to be doing a bet­ter job of advanc­ing impor­tant pol­i­cy direc­tions like eco­nom­ic secu­ri­ty, envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, edu­ca­tion, and healthcare.

And like the rest of us here at NPI, Gael is a believ­er in that time­less Hopi say­ing, We are the ones we have been wait­ing for.

“We need to car­ry the accom­plish­ments and lega­cy of Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dick­er­son for­ward,” she says. “I have a proven track record of pro­tect­ing and cre­at­ing jobs, fight­ing for women and minor­i­ty-owned busi­ness­es, pro­tect­ing the envi­ron­ment and cham­pi­oning Washington’s high­er-edu­ca­tion community.”

Gael has pre­vi­ous­ly run for office twice, both times for the same coun­ty-wide posi­tion (Seat­tle Port Com­mis­sion­er). In 2007, she defeat­ed incum­bent Bob Edwards to become the third woman ever elect­ed to the Port Com­mis­sion. She sought a sec­ond term just last year and won in a land­slide, with near­ly six­ty per­cent of the vote. A few weeks ago, at the com­mis­sion’s first meet­ing fol­low­ing the new year, her col­leagues tapped her to serve as Port Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent for 2012.

Besides serv­ing as NPI’s Pres­i­dent and as Pres­i­dent of the Port Com­mis­sion, Gael is a mem­ber of the Nation­al Wom­en’s Polit­i­cal Cau­cus and NARAL Pro-Choice Wash­ing­ton. For the past eight years, she has also worked as a strate­gic advi­sor for the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton’s Insti­tute for Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Edu­ca­tion and Research. She is a co-founder of the U.W.‘s Cit­i­zen Round­table on Pol­i­tics and Democ­ra­cy, which is try­ing to reignite inter­est in civics.

She holds two degrees from George­town Uni­ver­si­ty: a B.S. from its School of For­eign Ser­vice, and an M.A. in gov­ern­ment and nation­al secu­ri­ty studies.

As long­time read­ers and sup­port­ers know, NPI is not a polit­i­cal action com­mit­tee and does not engage in any elec­tion­eer­ing in con­tests for pub­lic office. So as an orga­ni­za­tion, we will have no involve­ment in Gael’s campaign.

How­ev­er, we wish her the best as she under­takes this journey.

Wash­ing­ton is cur­rent­ly grap­pling with some enor­mous struc­tur­al prob­lems that are only going to get worse in the months and years ahead. Per­haps the biggest chal­lenge the Leg­is­la­ture needs to address (but has­n’t) is our bro­ken, regres­sive tax sys­tem, which isn’t bring­ing in enough rev­enue to pay for the essen­tial pub­lic ser­vices Wash­ing­tio­ni­ans want and need.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the Leg­is­la­ture itself seems to be bro­ken, which explains why lit­tle to no progress has been made in the years since NPI was found­ed. Before head­way can be made in address­ing our state’s prob­lems, the Leg­is­la­ture as an insti­tu­tion will need to be reformed. For­tu­nate­ly, Gael has some expe­ri­ence in that area, hav­ing helped end Mic Dins­more’s era of cor­rup­tion at the Port of Seattle.

But I’m guess­ing that she will find reform­ing the Leg­is­la­ture to be a much more dif­fi­cult chal­lenge. Gov­ern­ing a state is one of the hard­est jobs there is. But Gael’s real job, if elect­ed, won’t be gov­ern­ing. It will be mak­ing our plan of gov­ern­ment work for us again. Because that’s what is stand­ing in the way of us get­ting the moral bud­gets and eco­nom­ic secu­ri­ty we deserve.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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