Friends, neighbors –

What a challenging year this has been for all of us. Between the unprecedented pandemic and the loss of health and economic security that came with it, the killings of our Black and brown brothers and sisters by police, and the political division and tension across the nation – it may feel easier to give in to discouragement than to feel hope or gratitude.

But this year has also brought the best out of us, out of our community, in so many ways. Our neighbors have stepped up to the plate to provide support to those in need wherever possible – in education, in childcare, in broadband access, in housing, for families with disabilities, for undocumented immigrants, for frontline health care workers. Our communities’ resilience and compassion have been so evident throughout this hard time.

I’m grateful to be part of it, and I’m grateful for some exciting new updates about my changing role in the Senate as we approach a session that will look different from years past.

Photo taken Jan. 2019.

Senate opening day swearing in ceremonies, Jan. 14, 2019.

Some big news!

Early this week, my colleagues in the Senate Democratic Caucus elected me to be the Majority Whip – a huge honor I do not take for granted. Being the Whip means I’m a part of the leadership team, helping to set our priorities and agenda, carrying them out by keeping my colleagues unified and focused as we fight for all Washingtonians. Staggering numbers of our neighbors are struggling with unemployment, housing insecurity, inadequate childcare, insufficient broadband – it will take a collaborative, bipartisan team of lawmakers to meet the needs of our communities and it will be my job to help keep us on that track.

I have also been reelected to the position of Chair for the Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee. In this role, I will get to continue building a coalition of college and university students (both prospective, current, and former!), staff and administration, faculty and families – all moving toward greater accessibility to higher education, where students can get the tools to build the careers they dream of.

On top of serving as Whip and Chair of Higher Ed, I will continue to champion health equity and transportation investments in our region both as a member of the Health and Long Term Care Committee and as a member of the Transportation Committee. Though roles and titles may change, my commitments don’t – I will continue to amplify the concerns of my community members, to fight for the solutions we identify together, and to channel your resilience and compassion as we move forward against unprecedented challenges.

A look at the session ahead

There’s nothing I love more about session than the chance to connect with Washingtonians from all over the state about every important issue under the sun. What I have missed most since we all began staying home in March are the casual coffee hours, the one-on-one meetings, the big conferences full of passionate neighbors gathering to share their expertise. But we know that spending time together indoors, in person, is still unsafe. More than anything I look forward to the day that we can share a space together, but until then the legislative session is going to be conducted virtually – which means that you and our neighbors, and stakeholders from all over the state, will be able to participate without having to travel or take time off of work or figure out childcare for the day!

Testifying in committee will be even more accessible this year than in previous sessions – instead of needing to cross the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, organize big carpools down to Olympia, or transfer busses 3 times in a 5 hour journey, community members who want to share their stories can call in to committee meetings from the comfort of home. This increased access is something I helped pioneer as chair of the Higher Education committee and co-chair of the Joint Legislative Executive Committee on Planning for Aging & Disability Issues – so that our neighbors with limited mobility or opportunity to travel could lend their voice to the policymaking conversation.

This is something our neighbors with disabilities have been asking for, something working parents have wanted. Even when we return to in-person sessions, I will work to maintain access to remote testimony so that we can continue to include every Washingtonian who wants to guide legislation with their story. In upcoming weeks and throughout session, stay tuned for links and reminders about how and when to sign up for remote testimony. I’m excited to hear from you and to see your face on my screen!

And as always, please feel free to reach out anytime at (360) 742-2539 or The more we hear from you, the better our work in Olympia can reflect our shared values and goals.

All my best,