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, April 16th, 2022

Emily Alvarado, Leah Griffin vie to succeed Eileen Cody for open seat in deep blue 34th

When the six­ty-sev­enth Wash­ing­ton State Leg­is­la­ture con­venes next Jan­u­ary in Olympia, Seat­tle’s leg­isla­tive del­e­ga­tion will look very dif­fer­ent than it does now. Four incum­bents have cho­sen not to stand for reelec­tion this cycle, while anoth­er is look­ing to move across the rotun­da from the House to the Sen­ate. Con­se­quent­ly, there are wide open races in most of the city’s leg­isla­tive dis­tricts this year.

One of those dis­tricts is the 34th, where Eileen Cody, the longest-serv­ing mem­ber of the Wash­ing­ton State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, is from.

Cody is a retired neu­ro-rehab nurse cer­ti­fied in both reha­bil­i­ta­tion nurs­ing and mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis care and a found­ing mem­ber of SEIU 1199 NW.

Cody was first elect­ed in 1994 (after hav­ing been appoint­ed to the House ear­li­er that year) and has been reelect­ed every cycle since then. After almost thir­ty years in the House, how­ev­er, she has decid­ed to pass the baton.

The 34th LD, which includes West Seat­tle, Vashon Island, White Cen­ter, and parts of Burien, is one of the most reli­ably Demo­c­ra­t­ic dis­tricts in the state, so Repub­li­cans are unlike­ly to even both­er field­ing a can­di­date. The gen­er­al elec­tion is expect­ed to be a runoff between two Democ­rats. Right now, those two Democ­rats could well be Leah Grif­fin and Emi­ly Alvara­do, the only two con­tenders who have filed with the Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion to suc­ceed Cody.

Grif­fin, a recip­i­ent of Pat­ty Mur­ray’s Gold­en Ten­nis Shoe Awards who has worked with Mur­ray on crim­i­nal jus­tice reform, says that after she was raped in 2014, her expe­ri­ence as a sex­u­al assault sur­vivor inspired her to get involved in politics.

Leah Griffin

State House hope­ful Leah Grif­fin (Cam­paign pub­lic­i­ty photo)

“The jus­tice sys­tem was as trau­mat­ic as the rape itself, and I could not allow that to per­sist,” Grif­fin explains on her cam­paign website.

In 2015, Grif­fin joined the legislature’s Sex­u­al Assault Foren­sic Exam­i­na­tion Task Force as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of sex­u­al vio­lence survivors.

There, Grif­fin lob­bied for leg­is­la­tion that requires rape kits to be test­ed, tracked, and stored, rede­fined rape in the 3rd degree to hold more rapists account­able, and reformed sex­u­al assault pro­to­cols for hos­pi­tals and police investigators.

As men­tioned, since 2015, Grif­fin has worked with Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray on the Sur­vivors’ Access to Sup­port­ive Care Act, which sig­nif­i­cant­ly expands access to sex­u­al assault nurse exam­in­ers. Grif­fin was Murray’s guest at the 2018 State of the Union Address, and the law was passed this March.

Like NPI, Grif­fin was also involved in the suc­cess­ful effort in 2020 to pass and then defend the state’s com­pre­hen­sive sex ed law.

In 2017, Grif­fin joined Legal Voice as a leg­isla­tive advo­cate and one year lat­er, she began vol­un­teer­ing as a speak­er for the King Coun­ty Sex­u­al Assault Resource Cen­ter. In 2019, Grif­fin joined the board of the Sex­u­al Vio­lence Law Center.

Aside from crim­i­nal jus­tice reform, Grif­fin is inter­est­ed in advanc­ing pub­lic safe­ty, hous­ing secu­ri­ty, pub­lic edu­ca­tion, access to repro­duc­tive health, and eco­nom­ic mobil­i­ty. Inter­sec­tion­al­i­ty is impor­tant to her.

Grif­fin has been endorsed by Seat­tle Port com­mis­sion­er Ham­di Mohamed and House Speak­er Pro Tem­pore Tina Orwall (D‑33rd Dis­trict) among others.

Grif­fin is a librar­i­an at Uni­ver­si­ty Prep and lives in West Seattle.

“I took my rage, and I chan­neled it into reform,” Grif­fin says. “There is so much to do, and I look for­ward to mak­ing those changes together.”

Join­ing Grif­fin in this House con­test is afford­able hous­ing activist Emi­ly Alvarado.

Alvara­do says afford­able hous­ing, health­care, and edu­ca­tion will be her pri­or­i­ties if elect­ed. The first time can­di­date has worked on afford­able hous­ing pol­i­cy since 2009, advis­ing three hous­ing non­prof­its before shift­ing to the Seat­tle Office of Hous­ing in 2014. Over her sev­en years at the office (two as the direc­tor), Alvara­do over­saw $275 mil­lion in invest­ments sup­port­ing afford­able hous­ing for more than 3600 fam­i­lies and man­aged the Seat­tle Hous­ing Levy.

Emily Alvarado

State House hope­ful Emi­ly Alvara­do (Cam­paign pub­lic­i­ty photo)

Alvara­do is cur­rent­ly the vice pres­i­dent of Enter­prise Com­mu­ni­ty Part­ners, which is a nation­al afford­able hous­ing non-prof­it that finances and lob­bies for ear­ly learn­ing facil­i­ties and low-income, tran­sit-acces­si­ble housing.

Alvara­do also sits on the boards of both the Wash­ing­ton Low-income Hous­ing Alliance and its PAC, the Wash­ing­ton Hous­ing Alliance Action Fund.

She has been endorsed by sev­er­al leg­is­la­tors who have a his­to­ry of work­ing on attain­able hous­ing, includ­ing Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Nicole Macri (D‑Seattle), Frank Chopp (D‑Seattle), and State Sen­a­tor June Robin­son (D‑Everett).

The West Seat­tle res­i­dent is mar­ried with two children.

Alvara­do earned her J.D. from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton’s School of Law and her Bach­e­lor of Arts at Scripps University.

“I am excit­ed to work hard on these crit­i­cal issues for the 34th and every Wash­ing­ton­ian,” said Alvara­do in a press release.

Each can­di­date has a web­site where you can learn more about them.

Griffin’s site is here and Alvarado’s site is here.

In about one month, Fil­ing Week will begin. May 20th is the dead­line for leg­isla­tive hope­fuls to declare their can­di­da­cies. We’ll know at that time if the field of can­di­dates will be expand­ing to include any oth­er hopefuls.

This con­test is one of many that we’ll be keep­ing an eye on here at the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute as the 2022 midterms play out.

Adjacent posts

  • Enjoyed what you just read? Make a donation

    Thank you for read­ing The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate, the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s jour­nal of world, nation­al, and local politics.

    Found­ed in March of 2004, The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate has been help­ing peo­ple through­out the Pacif­ic North­west and beyond make sense of cur­rent events with rig­or­ous analy­sis and thought-pro­vok­ing com­men­tary for more than fif­teen years. The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate is fund­ed by read­ers like you and trust­ed spon­sors. We don’t run ads or pub­lish con­tent in exchange for money.

    Help us keep The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate edi­to­ri­al­ly inde­pen­dent and freely avail­able to all by becom­ing a mem­ber of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute today. Or make a dona­tion to sus­tain our essen­tial research and advo­ca­cy journalism.

    Your con­tri­bu­tion will allow us to con­tin­ue bring­ing you fea­tures like Last Week In Con­gress, live cov­er­age of events like Net­roots Nation or the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion, and reviews of books and doc­u­men­tary films.

    Become an NPI mem­ber Make a one-time donation

  • NPI’s essential research and advocacy is sponsored by: