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:
- Federal Way City Councilmember Jesse Johnson
- Jamila Taylor, who ran for Federal Way City Council in 2019 and nearly won
- 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.
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.
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.
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.