My father was a US Foreign Service officer and my grandfather retired as a colonel in the United States Army. They both took the oath that I look forward to taking as a member of Congress:
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
In college, I volunteered with a student group that piloted a program teaching English to non-native English speakers and facilitating “know your rights” workshops. After college, I served as a human rights observer in an indigenous Zapatista village in Mexico that was being threatened by paramilitaries.
I later served in AmeriCorps and worked for two years as a substitute teacher, which showed me just how much your zip code determines the quality of your education—and just how hard teachers work for so little pay.
I worked for several years with the International Association of Genocide Scholars with Dr. Gregory Stanton, who authored the 10 Stages of Genocide, and I presented a paper at a 2007 genocide studies conference in Sarajevo. This experience taught me the grave danger of vilifying entire groups of people, using dehumanizing language to describe them, and putting them in concentration camps, and it informs my policy views today.
In 2015, the Supreme Court granted me the right to get married. I’ll never forget what it was like to receive this right, but as someone who grew up in the closet at a time when the majority of the American public opposed gay rights, I know we must continue to fight for our rights — as the Trump administration has, sadly, shown.
I serve as a commissioner on the Tacoma Area Commission on Disabilities, and I’m an organizer with the Tacoma Tenants Organizing Committee, which won significant tenant protections in Tacoma and played a large role in new state-wide protections. These changes have had a direct impact on my security, as someone living on a month-to-month lease with rent that’s risen 16% in 3 years.
Washington is one of the most progressive states in the country, but you wouldn’t know it from WA-06’s representative in Congress, who routinely works to fast track anti-worker legislation like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), works to stifle free speech with bills like the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, and refuses to support popular policies like the Green New Deal.
Our current incumbent, Derek Kilmer, has taken millions of dollars from Wall Street, insurance companies, and lobbyists. He’s so cozy with lobbyists that his former chief of staff is now a lobbyist who coaches other Congressional chiefs of staff on how to schmooze with lobbyists.
While our district has some of the highest opioid death rates in the state, Kilmer takes money from a Big Pharma PAC whose members manufactured the opioid crisis. That same PAC is working against Medicare for All, which our incumbent conveniently refuses to support — despite repeated requests from voters across the district.
While a third of our district are renters and we have the fastest rising rents in the country, our representative has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from real estate.
Tacoma, Kitsap, and the Olympic Peninsula deserve better. I’ve spent my entire adult life fighting for progressive policies, and now I want to take that fight to Congress.