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.