Dear Friends, 

Over the past few years, we have seen an incredible movement, led by our black brothers and sisters and supported by a diverse coalition of allies, calling for long overdue justice, equality, and respect.

This is a truly historic period that we are living through, for so many reasons. This coming Monday in particular marks the 157th anniversary of Juneteenth, the day in 1865 when the final enslaved people in the United States were freed by Union soldiers.

As a result of the hard work of many dedicated public servants, we now recognize Juneteenth as a paid state holiday – in particular, this is a result of the tremendous work done by Representative Melanie Morgan!

Thank you so much to Representative Morgan for your work to ensure that this historic day will be recognized and celebrated in Washington every year. I’m so grateful to work alongside you, and it was an honor to support you as we got this bill passed and signed into law!

This is a battle we have been fighting since Juneteenth in 1865, and long before that. As the only Native American in the Washington State legislature, I embrace my role to ensure we address diversity and equality in our policies and laws.

The work for justice and equality has come a long, long way since 1865, but we still have much work to be done. I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves alongside all of you to do the difficult work that we all understand must be done.

Thank you for your continued support.

Keep reading for more on this Fantastic Friday.  

“Stay Safe, Stay Healthy”
Rep. Debra Lekanoff

Salmon Lead the Way on Snake River Dam Removal

Friends, after decades and decades of failed efforts and federal plans, the Snake River salmon is at the edge of extinction. The Snake River basin is an incredible ecosystem that is absolutely capable of supporting substantial populations of our precious salmon, yet they are unable to grow and thrive as they deserve.

This is a result of four federal dams along the Snake River – dams that restrict our salmon’s ability to move up and down the river as they have since time immemorable while they live their lives and reproduce – and there has never been a greater focus on how removing these dams will positively impact our salmon population.

One of the four lower Snake River dams

Last month, it was my pleasure to attend the Life After the Dams: A Vision for the Columbia Basin and Lower Snake River Summit in Spokane, hearing from incredible individuals who understand the importance of removing these dams and doing what we can to support or native salmon populations that call this place home. 

This will not be an immediate process, no overnight fix is possible. It will take a lot of difficult, coordinated work across all levels of government, ensuring that as these dams are removed we are able to replace the services they provided and set ourselves up for the future.

Thank you to everyone who has worked for so long and so hard on this project – it’s an honor to stand beside you as we work to restore our Snake River salmon!

Thank You Skagit County Board of Commissioners!

Those of you who have read my newsletters and followed my work as your voice in Olympia understand that each day I endeavor to improve the 40th LD and help this place that we all call home.

That includes specific work in each of our communities – in Whatcom, San Juan, and Skagit Counties.

Work on behalf of the public, on behalf of community, cannot be for the sake of recognition or thanks. I go to work because I adore this corner of Washington, it is such a special place and everyone I have met in the 40th has been incredible.

Today, I do want to take a moment to thank the Skagit County Board of Commissioners for their continued support and work, as well as their kind note they shared earlier this month.

Ron Wesen, Peter Browning, and Lisa Janicki have been incredible in their work to improve this beautiful place we call home, and I am so grateful for their continued commitment to Skagit County.

Thank you for all of your work, and I look forward to continuing to help this beautiful place together!

Burke Museum Wins National Award!

Friends, I am excited to share with you that the Burke Museum at the University of Washington in Seattle today recently announced it is one of six recipients of the 2022 National Medal for Museum and Library Service!

This is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries that make significant contributions to their communities. The award is given by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Burke Museum is the only institution in Washington to be selected. 

Selected from 30 national finalists, the 2022 National Medal for Museum and Library Service winners represent institutions that provide dynamic programming and services that exceed expected levels of service. Through their community outreach, these institutions bring about change that touches the lives of individuals and helps communities thrive. 

“At a moment when the purpose and guiding values of museums are being widely reconsidered, the Burke Museum is honored to be recognized for its commitment to serving our communities,” said Gabriela Chavarria, executive director of the Burke Museum. “We see this commitment come to life in the new building, which is designed to bring visitors into close, meaningful engagement with the Burke’s research and collections.”

Today, the Burke Museum is governed by the University of Washington Board of Regents and administered by the College of Arts and Sciences with a collection featuring over 18 million pieces. To learn more about the Burke Museum, click here.

Congratulations to the Burke Museum on this incredible and well deserved award!

Congratulations to All Washington Graduates! 

As the summer gets into full swing, this is a time for celebration for so many of our students. It has filled my heart with joy to see smiling faces walk at graduation and receive their diplomas! These are joyous days both for our students and for their families, and I want to offer my congratulations!

Access to quality education is something that I have always championed, and always will. I’m proud to say that Washington made public college tuition-free for families earning under approximately $50,000/year and significantly expanded community colleges after the Legislature passed the Workforce Education Investment Act in 2019 – a bill that I was proud to support and champion.

The Workforce Education Investment Act gives families making around $50,000 or less (55% of the state’s Median Family Income) a full-tuition scholarship to college or apprenticeship training by creating the Washington College Grant, which incorporates and expands on the State Need Grant. It also provides partial tuition scholarships to families earning up to 100% of Median Family Income (approximately $88,000 for a family of four).

The program also invests in preparing Washington students for Washington jobs by expanding the successful Guided Pathways program at the state’s community and technical colleges and expanding high-demand degree programs across the state in fields such as nursing, engineering, and computer science.

Now we’re starting to see graduates receive their diplomas as a result of this important legislation and support that lower income families can receive. Ensuring that everyone is able to access affordable, quality education is a strong way to support our communities and our future. I’m proud of everyone who graduated this year, and I’m thrilled that we are able to support those who need our help.

Shouting Out the Skagit Preschool and Resource Center!

Today I want to take a moment to highlight an incredible organization operating right here in the 40th LD.

The Sakgit Preschool and Resource Center (SPARC) focuses on individual support for children with developmental delays, disabilities and chronic health conditions. Their programs ensure that all children receive individualized learning opportunities, creating an inclusive and universal approach to early learning and intervention.

Now they are poised to grow and help support even more of our children. The work we do today must always keep the next seven generations to come in the front of our mind. SPARC is one of those organizations that embodies these ideals, and I’m proud to stand behind them as they grow and help the coming generations.

For more information about SPARC and how you can support then, click here.

The Skagit Preschool and Resource Center was founded in 1964 by a group of dedicated parents of children between the ages of five and eighteen with severe disabilities who did not have a school experience available to them.  The program initially began primarily as child care but gradually became a school experience when they hired teachers.   This community-based program was replicated in several other counties and still exists today.

United Nations Ocean Decade Laboratory 

Friends, the seventh and final Ocean Decade Laboratory was held from 31 May to 2 June 2022, and the Laboratory offered valuable insights and talks around the Ocean Decade Outcome “A Productive Ocean,” exploring the key elements required for the change we need over the course of the Ocean Decade.

Participants came together virtually via the event platform with discussions and showcases involving scientific experts and stakeholders as well as international initiatives. It was all about securing a productive ocean where global food supply, livelihoods and societal needs are managed sustainably.

I am so grateful to have been included in the UN Ocean Decade Laboratories – it has always been a priority of mine to put our environment first, protecting the important parts of this planet we all call home so they can be enjoyed by our grandchildren’s grandchildren.

Thank you to all the incredibly dedicated individuals at the United Nations who work to help protect our oceans – for more information about the Ocean Decade, click here.

United Nations Ocean Decade Laboratory 

As we move further into this summer, I know I am often thinking about cold treats and finding every way possible to cool off as the heat creeps into our corner of Washington.

It’s with that in mind that I’m happy to let you know that the Lopez Island Creamery opened their brand new building with their own factory store where you can come and get a scoop of their homemade ice cream just a few weeks ago!

They are now in their 5th factory. Lucky number 5 is a state of the art, 17,000 square foot factory in Anacortes – 9028 Molly Lane in Anacortes to be specific!

I hope you’ll get the chance to stop by for a scoop or two of their incredible ice cream – I know I won’t be a stranger to their new location! Be sure to say hi if you see me there.

Native Vote Washington Senior Organizer Position

Friends, the final thing I’d like to share with you this week is a job opening for the Senior Organizer for Native Vote Washington – check out more information below on the position, but click here for all of the details.

The Senior Organizer will work closely with the Washington Conservation Voters Field Director and supervise a team of Native Vote interns who will work as part of a broader field team. This is a full-time, exempt position and given the current pandemic will be remote for the foreseeable future.

The teams have access to a variety of online tools and systems that support working remotely. This can be a remote position within Washington state, but prioritizing folks who live on or near Lummi, Colville, Yakama, Puyallup, or Quinault Nations. 

Native Vote Washington is a 100% Indigenous-led collaborative, serving Indigenous communities across the state of Washington. The Native Vote Advisory Committee provides guidance to the development and implementation of this indigenous-led political power building project in Washington and serves as the decision-making body for the project. In 2021, Washington Conservation Voters became the fiscal sponsor of Native Vote WA and Washington Environmental Council became the fiscal sponsor of Native Vote WA Education Fund, to increase the capacity of the organization to operate year-round.

Endorsement Shoutouts!

Working on your behalf in Olympia has been the pleasure of a lifetime these past four years, and it’s been an honor to work alongside so many great individuals and organizations as I’ve worked to represent you and the interests of the 40th LD.

I want to take a moment on this Fantastic Friday to tell you about two candidates I hope you can support – Representative Bill Ramos in the 5th LD, and Representative Lisa Callan in the 5th LD. 

Both have been incredible advocates in Olympia, and it’s been my pleasure to work alongside them on important issues. I hope you will consider lending them your support this campaign cycle! 

Now I’m pleased to thank a number of great organizations who have endorsed my second re-election campaign!

Thank you so much to Win with Women, Skagit Democrats, and Congressman Rick Larsen for endorsing my campaign!

Excited to run to continue as your voice in Olympia!

Representing you in Olympia these past four years has been such an incredible honor. I have loved getting to know each and every one of you, and it is always my goal to listen to each of you as we continue working to create a place our grandchildren’s grandchildren will be proud to call home.

It’s with that in mind that I ask you to stand with my campaign – I would love to include your name on my list of endorsements as I run for re-election this year. If you’d like to endorse my campaign, click here – it will only take a minute!

The 40th LD is an incredible place, and I am proud to have you behind me as I run for re-election to continue as your voice in Olympia.

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