After 30th District Rep. Kristine Reeves resigned from her position to run for Washington’s 10th Congressional District, the Washington State Democrats selected three nominees for consideration of the appointment to her seat during a meeting on Saturday.
The meeting, held at the Washington Education Association, saw four total nominations, including Federal Way City Council member Jesse Johnson, Jamila Taylor, Sam Rise and Jeremy Une. The Democrats selected Johnson for the first nomination, Taylor in second and Rise in third.
Sen. Claire Wilson, of the 30th District, spoke briefly for Johnson, supporting his appointment to replace Reeves.
“His knowledge around education, this community, communities of color and youth are needed in our state house,” Wilson said.
Johnson said that his journey into politics started on Nov. 9, 2016 upset with national politics and wanting to get involved.
“I stand before you today ready to run for state representative, ready to serve in Olympia in two weeks time,” he said.
Johnson told the Mirror that if he received the appointment to Reeve’s seat, then he would be running as an incumbent for that seat. However, if he does not receive the appointment, he will continue running for Rep. Mike Pellicciotti’s seat. The Federal Way Democrat announced his bid last May for state treasurer.
Along with being involved in Federal Way as a council member, Johnson also has years experience working in education, currently as a staffing analyst at Highline Public Schools to help hire, retain and recruit teachers.
Johnson has received endorsements from Pellicciotti, Wilson, Attorney General Bob Furguson, and Congressman Adam Smith.
“I want to make sure that when we hit the ground running in two weeks, we have somebody that’s not only ready to retain the seat, but ready to serve and make sure that we have representation,” Johnson said.
Johnson noted he will make sure Democrats retain both open seats for the 30th District by supporting whichever Democratic candidate runs for Pellicciotti’s seat.
Jamila Taylor, former Federal Way City Council candidate, former attorney and community advocate spoke next, with Jennifer Hurley opening for her.
Hurley, a precinct committee officer for the 30th District Democrats, endorsed Taylor for the appointment because “we need her progressive voice to take Kristine’s place in representing the 30th.”
Hurley also supported Johnson and urged everyone in attendance to vote for him come November, but said the community could not lose his progressive seat on the council.
“We want to gain ground as Democrats and not risk losing any more ground with the City Council of Federal Way,” Hurley said.
Taylor was honored to be part of the nomination process and to help give a voice to those who don’t have one, particularly seniors in the community who fall victim to criminal activity.
“”We need someone in Olympia whose ready and prepared to help our seniors get the resources they need,” Taylor said. “They are a population we must take care of.”
Taylor said that her job is to ensure the communities she works for are thriving and healthy, and her end goal is to work herself out of her job.
“My job, my history, our history, I want to bring it forward,” she said. “I ask that you send me to Olympia to advocate for our whole community.”
Rise, a robotics teacher in the Federal Way school district, and a community advocate, said he was thankful to Reeves for inviting him to pursue this appointment.
“Our biggest focus for the 30th must be to hold on to both seats in the 2020 election cycle,” Rise said.
As a teacher, Rise sees students every day who are becoming more and more connected with what is going on in the world around them and voicing concerns about how it will affect them in the years to come.
“My students don’t just worry about these things needlessly or irrationally, they are directly involved,” Rise said.
As rewarding it is to work as a teacher, he wants to do more to help his students outside of the classroom.
“The decisions made in the Legislature impact us all but they really impact our students and their future … and they don’t even have a say in the matter,” he said.
Rise wants to ensure he can give students like his a voice.
“My firsthand experience in the classroom is exactly what we need to make sure tax dollars make their biggest impact.”
The next step in the process to fill the vacant seat is for the nominations to be brought to a vote before the Pierce and King county councils.
According to 30th District Chair Allison Taylor, the two councils are going to meet and choose an appointment for the seat.
Taylor said that if the two councils do not agree on an appointment within 60 days, the governor will step in to make a decision.