NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, July 13th, 2018

Meet the candidates vying to succeed Kris Lytton in the 40th LD: Debra Lekanoff

Editor’s Note: This is the sec­ond install­ment in a series about the can­di­dates vying to suc­ceed Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kris Lyt­ton in Washington’s 40th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict.

The August Top Two elec­tion is just around the cor­ner, with dozens of new can­di­dates vying for open posi­tions in the Wash­ing­ton State Leg­is­la­ture.

In Washington’s 40th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict, where wide­ly respect­ed House Finance Chair Kris Lyt­ton is retir­ing after many years of ser­vice, four Democ­rats and two Repub­li­cans are vying to be elect­ed to the State House, one of whom we have already pro­filed in our pre­vi­ous install­ment in this series. The dis­trict includes San Juan Coun­ty, as well as por­tions of What­com and Skag­it Coun­ties.

Anoth­er con­tender com­pet­ing for the posi­tion is Debra Lekanoff.

Lekanoff grew up in Yaku­tat, Alas­ka. She is Alas­ka Native, part Tlin­git and Aleut and of the Seal and Salmon tribes, respect­ful­ly. After attend­ing Mt. Edge­cumbe High School, she moved to Wash­ing­ton to attend Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty. She served as the Swinomish Gov­ern­men­tal Affairs Direc­tor for the past six­teen years, as well as serv­ing for six years as Chair of an Alas­ka Native Vil­lage Cor­po­ra­tion. She is also halfway to earn­ing her MPA from Ever­green State Col­lege.

Lekanoff not­ed that she is grate­ful to the 40th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict, as it fos­tered the suc­cess of her daugh­ter; she is not only a 4.0 high school stu­dent, but also an award-win­ning archer and com­petes in golf at the state lev­el. It’s this “breadth of oppor­tu­ni­ty” in the Skag­it that Lekanoff hopes to nur­ture as Rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

“Diver­si­ty is some­thing we embrace [in the 40th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict],” Lekanoff explained. “It encom­pass­es every­thing from the white caps of the moun­tains to the white caps of the Sal­ish Sea.”

She believes that it is the peo­ple’s government’s intrin­sic respon­si­bil­i­ty to care for the envi­ron­ment. With a dis­trict so vital­ly con­nect­ed to the Sal­ish Sea, it comes as no sur­prise that she stressed the impor­tance of hav­ing a can­di­date in the 40th who is ded­i­cat­ed to pro­tect­ing this impor­tant resource.

She’s seek­ing to nur­ture the exist­ing jobs relat­ed to work with the Sal­ish, as well as pro­mote a breadth of new envi­ron­men­tal jobs. As she put it, there needs to be “eco­nom­ic deci­sions made with envi­ron­men­tal integri­ty” guid­ing state pol­i­cy.

Lekanoff points out that the 40th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict is large.

She hopes to “take care of its unique­ness” when it comes to its fun­da­men­tal infra­struc­ture, which includes fer­ries, roads, bridges, and more.

She would also work for bet­ter access to high­er edu­ca­tion. (West­ern Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty is locat­ed in the 40th; so are sev­er­al com­mu­ni­ty col­leges.)

Should Lekanoff secure the posi­tion cur­rent­ly held by Lyt­ton, she looks for­ward to bring­ing her skill of weav­ing between gov­ern­men­tal bod­ies to archi­tect and pass bills, as well as advo­cate on the issues most impor­tant to her dis­trict.

She explained: “If you pause and look around our dis­trict, there’s a new group of peo­ple of col­or and val­ues and they want to make this dis­trict home.”

She wants to “rebuild a sense of com­mu­ni­ty between dis­tricts, and bring us togeth­er.”

Lekanoff hopes to bring to Olympia her Alas­ka-Native teach­ings to always give back. “My wingspan is wide, and it stretch­es far,” she told NPI, “all the way to the issues.” Lekanoff believes that these Native teach­ings, her rur­al upbring­ing, and proven ded­i­ca­tion to pub­lic ser­vice at the local, state, nation­al and inter­na­tion­al lev­el will make her a com­pet­i­tive can­di­date in this race.

Wash­ing­ton State’s Top Two elec­tion ends on August 7th, 2018, when bal­lots are due back. All nine­ty-eight posi­tions in the State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives are being con­test­ed along with half of the State Sen­ate’s forty-nine posi­tions.

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