I am proud and honored to have represented the 27th Legislative District for over two decades – first in the House of Representatives and now in the Senate since 2013. I was taught the value of volunteerism and community activism at an early age and my sense of purpose has evolved into a dedication for serving the people of my district.
I ran for office in the Legislature after working for 30 years in nonprofit management for social services organizations. Each position increased my awareness of issues such as health care, poverty, homelessness, homophobia and mental health. Motivated by this work experience and my faith, I’ve since dedicated my efforts to serving as a voice in the Legislature for those who are marginalized or in need.
My most recent work has been to increase the accessibility and quality of behavioral health services, improve the child welfare system, expand opportunities for accessible and affordable housing for all, reform the juvenile justice and criminal justice systems, and reduce racial disproportionality in the enforcement of our criminal codes. I‘ve also helped increase education funding for all learners; expanded health care for children, families, and people who are disabled; developed a safe environment for children and adults to learn, grow, and thrive; safeguarded civil liberties; and promoted economic opportunities for all people in Washington.
Early in my career, I was described as “tough as a 50-cent steak,” and I still work hard to live up to that description. I chair the Senate Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation Committee and also serve on the Senate Law & Justice and Ways & Means committees. Additionally, I represent the Senate Democratic Caucus on several task forces addressing poverty, homelessness, incarceration, and child welfare.
I have served on boards of directors for non-profit organizations across our community and have been involved with many wonderful organizations during the more than 40 years I’ve lived in the 27th District. I received my bachelor’s degree in art history from Western Washington University and my master’s degree in higher education administration from Colorado State University. I’ve lived in Tacoma since 1979 and I married and raised my sons here.