NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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

Saturday, January 4th, 2020

Jesse Johnson, Jamila Taylor and Sam Rise nominated to succeed Kristine Reeves in 30th

A spe­cial nom­i­nat­ing cau­cus called by the Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Cen­tral Com­mit­tee today select­ed three nom­i­nees to suc­ceed depart­ed State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kris­tine Reeves in the 30th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict, which encom­pass­es Fed­er­al Way in South King Coun­ty along with neigh­bor­hoods in Algo­na and Pacif­ic and a hand­ful of precincts with­in Pierce County.

Demo­c­ra­t­ic precinct com­mit­tee offi­cers in the 30th were tasked with the respon­si­bil­i­ty of pre­sent­ing to the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party’s statu­to­ry state cen­tral com­mit­tee a list of three names to be for­ward­ed to the King and Pierce and Coun­ty Coun­cils for a pos­si­ble joint appoint­ment. It is the party’s duty under the State Con­sti­tu­tion to pro­pose nom­i­nees for leg­isla­tive vacancies.

This morn­ing, the 30th’s PCOs select­ed the fol­low­ing indi­vid­u­als to be for­mal­ly nom­i­nat­ed by the Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party:

  1. Fed­er­al Way City Coun­cilmem­ber Jesse Johnson
  2. Jami­la Tay­lor, who ran for Fed­er­al Way City Coun­cil in 2019 and near­ly won
  3. Sam Rise, a teacher work­ing for the Fed­er­al Way School District

John­son has been a can­di­date for the Wash­ing­ton State House since before Kris­tine Reeves resigned, as he had been plan­ning on run­ning for the seat cur­rent­ly held by Mike Pel­lic­ciot­ti, who is vacat­ing it in order to run for a four year term as State Trea­sur­er. If John­son is appoint­ed to Reeves’ seat, then he would pre­sum­ably run to be retained in that posi­tion instead.

In a recent update sent to sup­port­ers, John­son explained why he decid­ed to switch from run­ning for Pel­lic­ciot­ti’s seat to seek­ing the appoint­ment:

Recent­ly, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kris­tine Reeves announced that she is resign­ing from the Wash­ing­ton State House. This means our dis­trict will be short a rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Olympia as the Leg­is­la­ture pre­pares for an impor­tant ses­sion to begin in January.

There will be an appoint­ment process to fill her seat, and I believe it is crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant that who­ev­er is select­ed be ready to hit the ground run­ning on day one and advo­cate effec­tive­ly and whole­heart­ed­ly for our dis­trict, its com­mu­ni­ties, and pri­or­i­ties. It is for that rea­son I have decid­ed to pur­sue this appointment.

I was raised in Fed­er­al Way, nav­i­gat­ed the pub­lic school sytem, went to Fed­er­al Way High School, and am excep­tion­al­ly grate­ful to serve as Fed­er­al Way’s youngest City Councilmember.

This place is home to me. Over the last two years on the Fed­er­al Way City Coun­cil, I have worked every day to advance a pro­gres­sive and com­mon­sense agen­da, rep­re­sent­ing all mem­bers of our diverse com­mu­ni­ty – youth, work­ing fam­i­lies, vet­er­ans and seniors. This is the same com­mit­ment, mind­set, and focus I will bring to Olympia.

Both on the City Coun­cil and in my job work­ing with High­line Pub­lic Schools, I have sought to ensure we are pro­vid­ing equi­table access to qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion for every stu­dent – from cra­dle to career.

I’ve worked to increase stu­dent expo­sure to career path­way and train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties, high­er edu­ca­tion, and trade/vocational pro­grams, all while encour­ag­ing youth to engage in civic life and deci­sion mak­ing. In the Leg­is­la­ture, I’m excit­ed to con­tribute to the work­force of our next gen­er­a­tion ini­tia­tives, so that every stu­dent and work­er has access to a sta­ble and reward­ing career that also allows for them to thrive in a vibrant local economy.

Juve­nile jus­tice reform and youth vio­lence pre­ven­tion is anoth­er impor­tant area I have brought atten­tion to and secured fund­ing for on the City Coun­cil, and it’s an issue I’d like to address in the Leg­is­la­ture. Let’s make sure we’re address­ing the root caus­es and sys­temic prob­lems that lead to crime and vio­lence; increas­ing wrap-around ser­vices, coun­sel­ing, and restora­tive jus­tice pro­grams; and final­ly putting an end to the school to prison pipeline.

I helped lead the effort to form Fed­er­al Way’s first Senior Advi­so­ry Com­mis­sion, and, as this region con­tin­ues to grow, I know we need to be proac­tive in pro­tect­ing our com­mu­ni­ties by con­cen­trat­ing on hous­ing and health­care afford­abil­i­ty for seniors and work­ing fam­i­lies. As your State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive, I will build on my efforts and accom­plish­ments on the City Coun­cil and work to make sure every­one has access to the same oppor­tu­ni­ties that my fam­i­ly and I have.

I am ready to get to work in Olympia next month fight­ing for these pri­or­i­ties, our local val­ues, and more. And, I promise to run a strong and enthu­si­as­tic cam­paign to retain this seat after ses­sion. You can count on me to put the issues that mat­ter first – I do not and will not accept cor­po­rate PAC mon­ey or contributions.


Jesse John­son

John­son’s Coun­cil biog­ra­phy notes that he has deep roots to the coun­ty’s fourth largest city (after Seat­tle, Belle­vue, and Kent).

“Jesse moved to Fed­er­al Way with his fam­i­ly in 1996. He attend­ed Nau­tilus Ele­men­tary, Saca­jawea Mid­dle School and Fed­er­al Way High School where he grad­u­at­ed with Hon­ors. After com­plet­ing his Bach­e­lors and Mas­ters at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton, Jesse returned to Fed­er­al Way where he pur­chased a home with his fiancee. His par­ents and sib­lings all still reside in Fed­er­al Way.”

Next to be nom­i­nat­ed was Jami­la Tay­lor, who came up just short in a recent cam­paign for the Fed­er­al Way City Council.

Here’s Tay­lor’s argu­ment in favor of her can­di­da­cy, pub­lished a few days ago:

It is crit­i­cal that the 30th LD present of slate of three strong can­di­dates ready to serve in Olympia. This appoint­ment is also about keep­ing pro­gres­sive can­di­dates in elec­tive office.

The can­di­date must be able to mount a well-fund­ed and orga­nized cam­paign in the face of strong Repub­li­can challengers.

As you may recall, I com­plet­ed a cam­paign for Fed­er­al Way City Coun­cil in Novem­ber 2019.

Despite being a first-time can­di­date with lim­it­ed name recog­ni­tion, I was able to cap­ture 48.41% of the vote against a pop­u­lar con­ser­v­a­tive incum­bent in an [odd]-year elec­tion. And Fed­er­al Way, the largest city in the 30th Dis­trict, is still very purple.

Man­ag­ing a cam­paign for pub­lic office requires sig­nif­i­cant resources. I raised more mon­ey than all of the oth­er Fed­er­al Way City Coun­cil can­di­dates. More than 200 indi­vid­ual donors con­tributed to my cam­paign. I mobi­lized more than 120 peo­ple to get involved with the cam­paign. From retirees, young pro­fes­sion­als, youth, first-time vot­ers, to oth­er indi­vid­u­als with a vest­ed inter­est in see­ing a pro­gres­sive can­di­date get elect­ed in our com­mu­ni­ty, I con­nect­ed peo­ple to the pow­er of engag­ing in the civic process.

This was no easy feat. I’ve already set the stage to mount a for­mi­da­ble cam­paign where the stakes are high.

“Jami­la Tay­lor could be a future star if elect­ed,” wrote Bob Roeg­n­er in the Fed­er­al Way Mir­ror, pub­lished dur­ing my city coun­cil race.

In the very short time since for­mer Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Reeves announced her res­ig­na­tion, I have reached out to elect­ed offi­cials and oth­ers for endorse­ment and sup­port. So far, I have received endorse­ments for this appoint­ment from:

Sen­a­tor Claire Wilson
Sen­a­tor Rebec­ca Saldana
Sen­a­tor Mona Das
Sharon Tomiko Santos
Nation­al Women’s Polit­i­cal Caucus

I am a pub­lic inter­est attor­ney with skills in nego­ti­a­tion and advo­ca­cy and I share your pro­gres­sive values.

For more details about my back­ground and endorse­ments from the city coun­cil race, you can go to [my website].

You will see that my pas­sion and expe­ri­ence serv­ing our whole com­mu­ni­ty through my var­i­ous pub­lic ser­vice, social and eco­nom­ic jus­tice endeav­ors spans more than 20 years. And, you will see that my pro­fes­sion­al expe­ri­ence as an attor­ney rep­re­sent­ing some of the most vul­ner­a­ble in our com­mu­ni­ty demon­strates a will­ing­ness to tack­le some of our tough­est challenges.

I am ready to serve our com­mu­ni­ty in Olympia and then launch a full cam­paign imme­di­ate­ly after the leg­isla­tive ses­sion. I look for­ward to chat­ting with res­i­dents of the 30th dis­trict, PCOs and oth­er mem­bers of our extend­ed com­mu­ni­ty. Through our col­lec­tive efforts and advo­ca­cy for the 30th Dis­trict, our whole com­mu­ni­ty can thrive.

I am also avail­able by phone for questions.

In Sol­i­dar­i­ty,

Jami­la E. Taylor
Attor­ney & Res­i­dent of 30th District

The third nom­i­nee is Sam Rise, a pub­lic school­teacher who is active in the lead­er­ship of the Fed­er­al Way Edu­ca­tion Asso­ci­a­tion. He is an out­spo­ken sup­port­er of pro­gres­sive caus­es and an obser­vant activist who isn’t afraid to call out right wing can­di­dates in pub­lic, as he demon­strat­ed last autumn with this let­ter that was pub­lished in the Fed­er­al Way Mir­ror.

Con­grat­u­la­tions to all three of them on their selec­tion by the caucus.

The King Coun­ty Coun­cil and Pierce Coun­ty Coun­cil will meet togeth­er on Mon­day, Jan­u­ary 13th (the same day that the Wash­ing­ton State Leg­is­la­ture is set to con­vene) to delib­er­ate on a pos­si­ble joint appointment.

If they can­not agree to appoint John­son, Tay­lor, or Rise, the respon­si­bil­i­ty for mak­ing an appoint­ment will even­tu­al­ly pass to Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee in accor­dance with the Wash­ing­ton State Constitution.

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