Editor’s Note: This is the first of two installments introducing the people joining the Washington State Legislature next Monday.
On January 14th, 2019, the Washington State Legislature will officially convene for its one hundred and five day long session with many new members and even stronger Democratic majorities. Democrats will have a majority of twenty-eight in the Senate and a majority of fifty-seven in the House. The party ultimately flipped three seats in the Senate and seven in the House in the November midterms.
Here is a compendium of the Democrats about to join the Legislature:
In the House
Lisa Callan — 5th District
Lisa Callan unseated Republican Paul Graves in November as part of the blue wave that swept through King County. The district borders Kittitas County on the east, the 31stLD to the south, parts of Maple Valley, Renton, and Issaquah to the west, as well as Snohomish County to the north.
Callan believes her mix of professional work experience, motherhood and service in her community will make her a successful legislator for her district.
Callan is a school board director and appropriately has been chosen as a member of the House Education Committee for 2019–2020. She also campaigned on the need for a more inclusive economy, quality and affordable healthcare, comprehensive gun safety laws, and better regional transportation.
Bill Ramos – 5th District
Bill Ramos will be Lisa Callan’s seatmate for at least the next two years.
He is a small business owner based in Issaquah and outgoing member of the Issaquah City Council, as well as Issaquah’s Economic Vitality Commission, the Planning and Policy Commission and on the Issaquah Human Service Commission.
Ramos ran on a platform that emphasized increasing transparency and accountability in state government, as well as strongly supporting public schools and tackling traffic issues. He succeeds Republican Jay Rodne, who announced in February he would not be seeking re-election for the seat he held since 2004. Ramos will be a member of the Transportation Committee for 2019–2020.
Dave Paul – 10th District
Dave Paul will take over for Republican Dave Hayes in the 10th District, a swing district that includes all of Island County, the northwestern tip of Snohomish County, and the southwestern part of Skagit County. Cities in the district include Oak Harbor, Coupeville, Langley, Mount Vernon, La Conner, and Stanwood.
Paul’s resume includes serving as Vice President of Skagit Valley College, where he has worked with veterans, first-generation students, DREAMers, students with disabilities, displaced homemakers and non-traditional students.
He is an advocate for servicemembers and veterans, as well as for protecting Washington’s environment and increasing affordable college education.
Mari Leavitt – 28th District
We covered Mari Leavitt’s race here on The Cascadia Advocate back in the autumn. Leavitt succeeds Republican Dick Muri. She previously ran for the same position back in 2016, losing the election with only 47.9% of the vote. This time, she campaigned strongly on the need for mental health care reform and funding, as well as supporting veterans and addressing the housing crisis.
The 28th is in Pierce County and contains a few Tacoma neighborhoods, as well as the cities of Fircrest, University Place, Lakewood, Steilacoom and DuPont, as well as Ketron, Anderson and McNeil Islands.
The 28th is also one of several battleground districts that has elected both Democratic and Republican candidates to the Legislature in recent election cycles.
Melanie Morgan – 29th District
Melanie Morgan is taking over for fellow Democrat David Sawyer, who placed third in the Top Two election following public accusations in February 2018 of “unprofessional, inappropriate behavior” by several women. The 29th District includes part of Tacoma and portions of Lakewood, Spanaway and Parkland.
Morgan is an Army veteran who has called the 29th home for the past twenty years. She served on the Franklin-Pierce School Board, as Commissioner on the Board of the Pierce County Housing Authority, as well as on the Board of Community Healthcare. She has a spent a significant amount of time working on issues related to education, family homelessness and community relations.
Lauren Davis – 32nd District
Lauren Davis won the position currently held by retiring Representative Ruth Kagi in the 32nd Dstrict after Kagi announced her retirement following her ten year service in the Legislature. The district includes parts of Snohomish and King Counties, including the cities of Lynnwood, Edmonds and Shoreline.
Davis is the Executive Director and founder of the Washington Recovery Alliance and has worked at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She was also a Fulbright fellow in Ghana. Davis organized support for House Bill 1713, also known as Ricky’s Law, which was named for a friend she was caretaker for.
Debra Lekanoff – 40th District
Debra Lekanoff’s race in the 40th District was previously covered here on the The Cascadia Advocate back in the summer. Lekanoff won the seat previously held by widely respected House Finance Chair Kris Lytton. The district includes San Juan County, as well as portions of Whatcom and Skagit Counties.
Lekanoff is an Alaska Native and moved to Washington to attend Central Washington University. She has served as the Swinomish Governmental Affairs Director for the past sixteen years, and she also served as Chair of an Alaskan Native Village Corporation. Lekanoff supports environmental best practices, advancing education and technical training opportunities, increasing the amount of affordable housing stock, and addressing issues affecting women.
My-Linh Thai – 41st District
My-Linh Thai is replacing retiring Democratic Representative Judy Clibborn in the 41st District. The district covers all of Mercer Island and Newcastle, as well as portions of Bellevue, Renton, Issaquah and Sammamish.
Thai is a pharmacist who has served as Bellevue School Board President and Vice President of the Washington State School Board Directors Association.
Thai immigrated to Washington State from Vietnam as a teenager. She is passionate about helping kids succeed, improving public health, caring for the environment, as well as reforming Washington’s regressive tax code and securing long-term affordable housing options for workers, seniors and families.
Sharon Shewmake – 42nd District
We previously covered Sharon Shewmake’s race in the 42nd legislative district (LD), which spans a significant chunk of Washington’s border neighborhoods, taking in many rural Whatcom County communities as well as a portion of the City of Bellingham. The district had previously been represented entirely by Republicans for many years, until Shewmake unseated Representative Buys.
Shewmake is a professor of economics at Western Washington University and hopes to bring more-affordable higher education to the district through potential tuition free options. Guided by her economics expertise, Shewmake also ran on a platform that supported fully funding the Housing Trust Fund, as well as looking at location solutions to the district’s housing crisis.
Jared Mead – 44th District
Jared Mead will be the youngest serving lawmaker in Washington’s House. The twenty-seven year-old defeated Mark Harmsworth in November, turning the 44th District completely blue. The district includes the cities of Mill Creek, Snohomish, Lake Stevens, and Marysville. Its other representatives are Democrats John Lovick (in the House) and Steve Hobbs (the district’s Senator).
Mead, who grew up in Mill Creek, has served on the Mill Creek City Council and the Mill Creek Planning Commission.
Some of the big issues affecting his district include are affordable housing, traffic congestion, school overcrowding, and replacement of the Highway 2 trestle.
Debra Entenman – 47th District
Debra Entenman defeated incumbent Republican Mark Hargrove to become Pat Sullivan’s new seatmate in the 47th District, which is bordered by the 11th LD to the north, the 33rd and 30th LDs to the west, the 5th LD to the east, and the 31st LD to the south. It also includes large portions of Auburn and Covington.
Growing up, Entenman lived in low-income housing and was part of the inaugural class of Seattle/King County Head Start. She is a strong advocate for education, as well as efforts to better address mental health and addiction. She was previously district director for U.S. Representative Adam Smith.
Amy Walen – 48th District
Amy Walen has served as Kirkland City Council member since 2009, and more recently as Kirkland’s Mayor (Kirkland has the council-manager form of government). She won the position held by Joan McBride after McBride announced her retirement in March. NPI’s headquarters is located in the district, which primarily consists of neighborhoods in Redmond, Kirkland, and north Bellevue. The 48th also encompasses Clyde Hill, Yarrow Point, Hunts Point and Medina.
Walen’s top priorities include increasing affordable housing, pollution reduction, sensible gun legislation, human rights, and supporting small businesses.
In the Senate
Emily Randall – 26th District
Emily Randall’s race was also profiled here on The Cascadia Advocate prior to the midterms. Randall won the seat of retiring Republican Jan Angel after a hard-fought campaign. The 26th spans the southeastern part of the Kitsap Peninsula, stretching from Bremerton and Port Orchard in the north to Gig Harbor in the south.
Randall cited affordability as being a central issue facing the district, especially regarding how the area is dealing with growth.
She hopes to create more educational pathways and expand apprenticeship opportunities, as well as as well as increase the business and occupation tax exemption level to allow small businesses to thrive. Her win was very dramatic: she emerged from a recount with a lead of only one hundred and one votes.
Claire Wilson – 30th District
Claire Wilson’s race was covered here on The Cascadia Advocate leading up to the midterms. She won with ease, beating incumbent Republican Senator Mark Miloscia. The district consists mostly of neighborhoods in King County, plus a few precincts across the border in Pierce County. Major cities within it include Federal Way, Des Moines, Auburn, Algona, Pacific and Milton, Washington.
Wilson is an outspoken supporters of women’s reproductive rights and LGBTQ+ rights. She also has a background in education and was serving her second term as the Federal Way School Board President before winning her campaign.
Jesse Salomon – 32nd District
Jesse Salomon will succeed fellow Democrat Maralyn Chase in the 32nd District. The district includes the cities of Lynnwood, Edmonds and Shoreline.
Salomon is a former King County public defender and has been a Shoreline City Council member. A few Salomon’s goals for the 32nd include building new affordable housing units, reduce carbon emissions, create paid family and medical leave and improve parks and salmon habitats.
Joe Nguyen – 34th District
Joe Nguyen won the seat held by outgoing Democratic Majority Leader Sharon Nelson, who announced her retirement in March. The district covers all of Vashion Island, as well as West Seattle, White Center and Burien.
Nguyen is the son of Vietnamese refugees and previously served as the Chair of Wellspring Family Services’ Associate Board and as a member of the Community Advisory Committee for the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight in King County. He ran on a platform emphasizing increased housing affordability, healthcare, public transit improvements, environmental protections and education reform.
Mona Das – 47th District
On election night, it was unclear if Mona Das would overtake entrenched Republican Joe Fain. Later returns established that Das was the winner. Fain, one of the few Republican legislators left within King County, conceded a few days later.
Das is the daughter of Indian immigrants. She is passionate about solving the district’s housing issues, which includes restructuring Washington State’s property tax code, fighting for more affordable housing, adding more transit options, and providing local municipalities with new tools to protect renters.
Check back soon for a roundup of the new Republican members who will be joining the Legislature when it convenes next Monday.