What office are you running for?
Washington State Representative, Position 1
With which party are you running for office?
Primary-August 4, and General- November 3
Why are you running for office?
I come from a family of nurses, teachers, union reps, police officers, and veterans. Public service is part of my core. So when I was deciding what I wanted to do, giving back was key. I choose to take the path of education like my Dad. For I knew my family’s history and I know education is the Key to one’s future.
You see my dad grew up in extreme poverty. I’m talking being raised by a single mom with 5 kids on the coast and literally going out in second grade to dig and sell sand shrimp along the side of the road in order to purchase school clothes. He has worked every single year since second grade and continues to do so.
I know the story of my maternal grandfather who was also raised by a single mom. He would go door to door begging for food when she went to look for work. Often they would tell her she was perfect for the job, it’s just too bad she was a woman. Then she had to go home again, and again, empty handed.
The statistics say I should have been raised in a divorced impoverished household, but my parents just hit 41 years of marriage this year, and we have moved into middle class through my life. I know the reason this happened is because of education. My dad and all his siblings amazingly made it to college and all became a teacher at some point. They broke the cycle of poverty, because of their access to education. My grandfather joined the Navy and they paid for him to get a degree. He went on to get a PHD and was in charge of education for the military in East Asia at one point.
It was education that broke my family’s cycle of poverty. And it is this education that I want every single one of our kids to have the opportunity to get.
Yet as I’ve spent the last 14 years in education I’ve seen the number of homeless students rise- we now have 1 in every 25 students homeless in this state. I’ve seen more and more students dealing with mental health issues and my hardest days have been the days my students have comitted suicide. Drug addiction has taken more than a handful of my students’ lives. More are graduating without opportunities available to them. And in school we don’t just have fire drills we have active killer drills.
Enough is enough. We must protect the most precious commodity we have, our children. We must have more mental health programs available. We need drug counseling and programs to offer students to help them stay away from drugs in the first place. The ability for all of our students to go to college if they want to. For those that aren’t on the college path we must have more technical training within schools because we are desperately low on very high paying jobs like plumbing and electricians, and these are the jobs they can’t outsource. We need more job options in the area and better transportation so we can actually get home to spend time with our families.
I’m running because I was given a future that by all rights I shouldn’t have, but because of education I could move to the middle class and be where I am today. I want all of our kids to have the same future and opportunities I was given.
What is the biggest issue facing your community and how do you propose helping?
Education and homelessness/affordable housing are currently top issues within my district. As a a high school history teacher for 14 years in my community I have taught classes of 42 and of 22, and I can tell you that the classes with 22 got more done, had higher grades, and worked together better. Large class sizes are detrimental to student success and we must work to lower class sizes across the state. Homelessness continues to rise and I have a growing number of students that live with their family in hotels or out of their cars even though their parents are working two, three, and even four jobs. We must have safe and affordable housing for everyone in our community.
How do we fix the partisan divide in our country and start working together again?
We must put the people above partisanship. As an educator and union representative I have years of experience working to build bridges instead of walls. I have diffused situations between students, parents, staff, and administration. For years I worked on task forces that brought together teachers, administrators, and central office staff (three groups that normally clash) to choose a framework for, and create, a new evaluation system. We were successful because we put our goals and what was best for kids above our own personal views. I will work to build bridges by inviting both sides to the table to discuss what is best for the people, and work together to find solutions to the problems because I know what it is not to have a seat at the table, and to have the legislators constantly making laws that impact me without having any real experience in my field. This is why I will always work to listen to the stakeholders and work with them rather than against them. Because it is about the people you serve, not the partisan politics.
On a personal note the men in my family are Republicans and the women are Democrats, yet my parents are at over 40 years of marriage and my siblings over a decade. We still love and care for each other because we know that people are what matter most.
Who is your hero?
My dad. He was raised in extreme poverty and has worked every year since second grade to provide a better life for his himself and his family. He also truly cares about people and doing what is right, even if it’s unpopular.
What are your hobbies?
Beyond taking long walks to talk to neighbors about the community, I love to travel and explore new cultures. I have taken several groups of students and adults abroad to learn about other cultures, for I find the more you know about others the more you find in common. I also enjoy running, hiking, playing soccer, reading, and spending time with friends and family.
What is the most recent book you read?
Waking Up White And Finding Myself In The Story Of Race, Debby Irving
Do you have any kids/pets/talking houseplants?
No current pets, but I do have a very self-reliant aloe plant.
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