Jessica Bateman and Lisa Parshley
Jessica Bateman (left) and Lisa Parshley (right) are candidates for the Washington State Senate and Washington State House in the 22nd Legislative District (Campaign publicity photos)

Last month, Sen­a­tor Sam Hunt (D‑22nd Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict: Olympia) announced that he would not be seek­ing reelec­tion to the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate this year, cre­at­ing an open seat in a reli­ably blue district.

When sen­a­tors retire, it’s very com­mon for one of their coun­ter­parts in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives to move across the rotunda.

Of Hunt’s two coun­ter­parts, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jes­si­ca Bate­man has decid­ed to run for the Sen­ate, with her seat­mate Beth Doglio telling McClatchy’s Shau­na Sow­ers­by she’s hap­py in the House and plans to stay there.

Bate­man wrote in a state­ment that she is “excit­ed about the oppor­tu­ni­ty” to work with law­mak­ers in the oth­er cham­ber of the Wash­ing­ton Legislature.

Bate­man has Sen­a­tor Hunt’s endorse­ment. In a state­ment, Hunt wrote, “As an Olympia Coun­cil mem­ber, 22nd Dis­trict rep­re­sen­ta­tive and com­mu­ni­ty leader, Jes­si­ca has demon­strat­ed a keen aware­ness of the needs of our com­mu­ni­ties and been effec­tive at get­ting results that move us all for­ward. She has my full sup­port to rep­re­sent the dis­trict as our next State Senator.”

In an inter­view with the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, Bate­man stressed her long­stand­ing rela­tion­ship with Sen­a­tor Hunt. “When I even­tu­al­ly ran for city coun­cil, he was the sec­ond per­son that endorsed me,” Bate­man said. “So I have a long, very famil­iar, and very pos­i­tive work­ing rela­tion­ship with him.”

Bate­man sees Hunt as a men­tor, and although she acknowl­edges they have dif­fer­ent leg­isla­tive pri­or­i­ties, Bate­man wants to hon­or Hunt’s com­mit­ment to pub­lic ser­vice and hopes to learn from his lead­er­ship style.

“In addi­tion to being an effec­tive leg­is­la­tor, he’s known for being kind of an incred­i­ble human and real­ly work­ing well with peo­ple and being real­ly lik­able, and I think that that real­ly helps when it comes to get­ting leg­is­la­tion passed and being effec­tive,” Bate­man said. “And that’s some­thing I def­i­nite­ly hope to emulate.”

Bate­man is also endorsed by Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mar­i­lyn Strick­land, whose con­gres­sion­al dis­trict encom­pass­es Washington’s 22nd, as well as Wash­ing­ton Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor Den­ny Heck. Both high­light­ed Bateman’s work on hous­ing pol­i­cy and repro­duc­tive care in their endorsements.

As a rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Bate­man has focused pri­mar­i­ly on hous­ing and home­less­ness pol­i­cy.  “We absolute­ly have to have afford­able hous­ing for all Wash­ing­to­ni­ans.” Bate­man said. “It’s the largest line item in any fam­i­ly’s bud­get, and young peo­ple need to be able to see a future in the com­mu­ni­ties where they are.”

Bate­man is well known for hav­ing  spon­sored leg­is­la­tion to ease the cre­ation of miss­ing mid­dle hous­ing – House Bill 1110.

Bate­man col­lab­o­rat­ed with Sen­a­tors Trudeau, Kud­er­er, and Sal­daña on HB 1110, and she hopes to con­tin­ue these rela­tion­ships if she is elect­ed to the Sen­ate this fall. The bill passed with broad bipar­ti­san sup­port last year.

Bate­man cur­rent­ly chairs the Health Care and Well­ness Com­mit­tee, and in addi­tion to House Bill 1110, Bateman’s cam­paign web­site pro­motes her work on remov­ing bar­ri­ers to build tiny homes and secur­ing a $1.2 bil­lion bud­get carve­out to address the hous­ing cri­sis statewide. Pre­vi­ous­ly, as a city coun­cil mem­ber, Bate­man worked to des­ig­nate Olympia as a sanc­tu­ary city to shel­ter migrants.

Dur­ing Bateman’s time as a state rep­re­sen­ta­tive, the House tran­si­tioned away from hav­ing bifur­cat­ed com­mit­tees to address hous­ing: the Local Gov­ern­ment Com­mit­tee wrote zon­ing laws while a sep­a­rate com­mit­tee focused on home­less­ness and rent pol­i­cy. Bate­man cur­rent­ly serves on the new­ly com­bined Hous­ing Committee.

Bate­man told NPI she cred­its many of the recent hous­ing bills passed in the House to hav­ing a sin­gle com­mit­tee to address both zon­ing laws and home­less­ness. In what she describes as “the year of hous­ing,” the Hous­ing Com­mit­tee was able to pass a num­ber of stalled bills. Bate­man said of this suc­cess: “I think a big part of that was because leg­is­la­tors were hear­ing all of the holis­tic, the prob­lem and the solu­tion in that one committee.”

With two com­mit­tees, Bate­man believes leg­is­la­tors on the com­mit­tee that hears zon­ing pol­i­cy are unlike­ly to make osten­si­bly unpop­u­lar changes to land use because they don’t hear from con­stituents that can’t afford rent or have aspi­ra­tions of home ownership.

In the Sen­ate, Bate­man sees the pos­si­bil­i­ty of assist­ing with anoth­er restruc­tur­ing to merge the bifur­cat­ed com­mit­tees into a sin­gle Hous­ing Committee.

She also hopes to serve on the Health and Well­ness Com­mit­tee, con­tin­u­ing to work on leg­is­la­tion she helped pass in her cur­rent position.

Mean­while, Bate­man has endorsed Dr. Lisa Parsh­ley, who is a cur­rent Olympia Coun­cil Mem­ber, to suc­ceed her in the House.

Addi­tion­al endorse­ments for Dr. Parshley’s cam­paign came from cur­rent and for­mer Olympia May­ors Don­tae Payne and Cheryl Shel­by, as well as local lead­ers from Thurston County’s largest communities.

“On the Olympia City Coun­cil, I’ve applied my per­spec­tive as a vet­eri­nar­i­an, sci­en­tist, and small busi­ness own­er to ana­lyze com­plex prob­lems and pro­mote the health and well-being of our com­mu­ni­ties,” Parsh­ley said in her cam­paign announce­ment. “In the State Leg­is­la­ture, I will con­tin­ue to lead on build­ing healthy com­mu­ni­ties root­ed in our shared val­ues of equi­ty, oppor­tu­ni­ty, and safe­ty for every 22nd LD neigh­bor and beyond.”

Like Bate­man, Dr. Parsh­ley says she’ll pro­vide a leg­isla­tive focus on tack­ling home­less­ness and afford­able hous­ing. As a city coun­cil mem­ber, Dr. Parsh­ley helped devel­op Thurston County’s first Human Rights Com­mis­sion and extend Olympia’s sanc­tu­ary city sta­tus to include repro­duc­tive rights and healthcare.

In an email exchange with NPI, Parsh­ley iden­ti­fied four major areas of focus, all of which have been declared emer­gen­cies dur­ing her six years on city coun­cil: home­less­ness, the opi­oid cri­sis, racism, and cli­mate change. Parsh­ley high­light­ed her work in col­lab­o­ra­tion with oth­er city coun­cil juris­dic­tions to address these issues, and Parsh­ley feels moti­vat­ed to take the next step by run­ning for House.

“I want to take all that I have learned in the last six plus years, work­ing on the front line of so many inter­sect­ing issues fac­ing our com­mu­ni­ties, to the leg­is­la­ture where I can bet­ter impact and reduce the bar­ri­ers to the work of so many com­mu­ni­ties in Wash­ing­ton,” Parsh­ley wrote, lay­ing the foun­da­tion for her cam­paign for the seat that Bate­man has held for the last few years.

In his retire­ment let­ter, Sen­a­tor Hunt remarked, “It is time for some­one else to climb in the sad­dle.” Democ­rats are now seek­ing to estab­lish a clear and order­ly line of suc­ces­sion, allow­ing resources and atten­tion to flow to oth­er dis­tricts where the par­ty has oppor­tu­ni­ties to grow its majorities.

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