New state legislator reflects on Federal Way service

“My office and email address may have changed, but my values haven’t.”

  • Tuesday, February 4, 2020 4:41pm
  • Opinion
Jesse Johnson

Jesse Johnson

By Jesse Johnson

I recently announced that I am stepping down from my seat on the Federal Way City Council to more fully dedicate myself to my work in Olympia as state representative.

It was my absolute pleasure to serve on the council and I’ve made this decision after much reflection, both based on what we’ve accomplished over the last several years and what still remains to be done.

I’ve always sought to lead with purpose and intention — to align Federal Way’s needs and values with the work of its government — prioritizing real action for our community and viewing the issues facing our city through lenses of equity, inclusion and social justice.

While I’ve served on the City Council, Federal Way has taken great strides, passing legislation that improves the lives of all members of our community — youth, working families, veterans, and seniors. My time on the council has made it clear to me that this city isn’t afraid to accept new ideas and try new things, so long as they result in better outcomes that put our community ahead.

I was proud to help lead the effort to form Federal Way’s first Senior Advisory Commission, and, as this region continues to grow, I know we need to be proactive locally and regionally in protecting our communities by concentrating on housing and healthcare affordability for seniors and working people.

Much of my attention has been placed on ensuring Federal Way youth have access to the opportunities and support necessary to thrive, personally, educationally and economically. Together, we’ve worked to ensure equitable educational resources for students at all levels — from cradle to career — by increasing student exposure to career pathway and training opportunities, higher education, and trade and vocational programs.

Juvenile justice reform and youth violence prevention have been another important focus — working to address the root causes and systemic problems that lead to crime and violence and increasing wrap-around services, counseling, and restorative justice programs. Criminal justice reform and public safety go hand-in-hand. Going forward, we need to take the necessary steps to end the school-to-prison pipeline and make sure everyone feels safe, welcomed, and comfortable in our city.

Beyond all this, I’m most proud of how our efforts to encourage youth to engage in civic life have been embraced and supported by fellow City Council members, city staff, the greater community, and of course, by youth themselves.

Core to my approach as an elected official, on the City Council and now in the Legislature, is that that we should all have a voice in Federal Way’s future and deserve to be involved and included, sharing perspectives and priorities. We know everyone is better served when we all have a voice in our political process.

The legislative session so far has been a whirlwind, from my appointment to first votes, but I’m excited to have already sponsored legislation that builds on the accomplishments we’ve made here. Working with constituents was a critical part of my experience on the City Council, and it will be center to my work in Olympia.

This place is home to me — I was raised in Federal Way, navigated our public school system, went to Federal Way High School, and am exceptionally grateful to have served as Federal Way’s youngest City Council member. My office and email address may have changed, but my values haven’t.

I have no doubt that Federal Way will continue to be served by leaders who value community over personal interest and people over politics — it was your support and encouragement that allowed me to succeed as a council member — and I hope the next person who fills this seat will find similar inspiration.

Federal Way’s tagline is “Centered on opportunity.” Today, I believe we’re closer to making that mantra reality than ever before. From City Hall to the state capitol, by collaborating across communities, generations, and levels of government, we can better achieve our shared goals and ensure everyone in this city can live, work and thrive.

Jesse Johnson is a state representative for the 30th District.


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