Federal Way Council member Jesse Johnson announces run for state representative

Jesse Johnson seeks to fill position of State Rep. Mike Pellicciotti.

Federal Way City Council member Jesse Johnson announced his campaign for state representative on Oct. 3.

The Federal Way High School graduate, educator and youth advocate enters the campaign with a list of endorsers including Congressman Adam Smith, state Sen. Claire Wilson, state Rep. Mike Pellicciotti and Federal Way Council member Hoang Tran, according to his campaign.

Johnson is running to fill the seat being vacated by Pellicciotti, who is running for state treasurer.

“I have spent my career helping connect students across South King County to job training, career pathways and further education,” said Johnson in a press release. “That is my passion – ensuring that all of our youth and families have the opportunity to not just survive, but thrive in a vibrant community. And that’s why I’ve decided to run for State Representative! I was raised here, my wife and I plan to raise our own family here, and want to make sure other families can do the same.”

Johnson currently works as a staffing analyst in Workforce Planning & Development with Highline Public Schools, helping to grow the educator workforce through strategic recruitment and retention.

Johnson, who earned a masters in education at the University of Washington, began his career as a career and college counselor, developing programs to increase awareness around post-high school options and build the capacity of families to navigate the school system.

He has created college preparatory conferences for thousands of students, facilitated parent programs, spearheaded alliances to mentor young males of color, and has also led a multitude of professional development trainings for teachers around family engagement, inclusivity and racial equity.

“In the Legislature, I want to prioritize education and opportunity for all of our kids — from cradle to career,” Johnson said. Throughout both high school and college, he worked as an apprentice in the commercial painting industry, as well as an internship at Boeing, which gave him important insight into vocational trades.

That experience motivates him to ensure all kids are set up not just for jobs, but living wage career paths. In his first year on the council, he facilitated the passing of an Apprenticeship Utilization Ordinance for capital projects within the city, created the Emerging Leaders City Council Mentorship program, and led the effort to fund youth violence prevention and diversion programs.

Johnson, who has committed to running his campaign without accepting contributions from corporate PACs, first got involved in campaigns and elections on the Obama campaign, as well as an intern with both Congressman Smith and former state Sen. Tracey Eide.

“As a young intern in my office, Jesse impressed me with his tireless work ethic and passion for people. Since then, he has remained dedicated to public service – working to improve equity, access, and opportunity for young people across our region,” said Smith in the press release. “That experience, combined with Jesse’s leadership on the Federal Way City Council for safe communities, vibrant local economies, and education from cradle to career will make him an excellent State Representative.”

Johnson ran for Federal Way City Council when he saw the need for a new voice.

“Representation matters, but also fundamental transformation of how we do policy, increasing transparency and putting people first.”

At 28 years old, Johnson was sworn in as Federal Way’s youngest City Council member in history, and he has been actively working to engage young people, families and senior citizens across Federal Way.

“On the Federal Way City Council, Jesse has prioritized opportunity for all our neighbors. His commitment to creating the best conditions to help our youth, seniors, families, and small businesses thrive will be an asset in Olympia. He has my full support,” said Council member Tran.

He helped lead the effort to form Federal Way’s first ever Senior Advisory Commission that will advise the mayor, council, local service providers and staff on policies, community engagement and implementation of programs that impact senior citizens.

“I want to build safe, healthy, and inclusive communities that serve the needs of every resident. And I want to ensure that we are preserving the character of our communities by addressing affordability and livability for seniors and working families,” said Johnson.

Pellicciotti said in the press release: “I’ve worked closely with Councilmember Johnson for the last few years and would be happy to see him take my seat in the legislature in 2021. He shares my commitment to enhancing government transparency, reducing the influence of corporate money in campaigns, and he will ensure that government best serves the people’s interests at all times.”

For more information, visit www.votejessejohnson.com.