Earlier this week, we had Rep. Debra Lekanoff’s Wellness for All event, and we were so happy to see all of you! This past Wednesday, September 14th at 5:30pm at Taylor Shellfish was truly incredible, and I am so grateful for all of your continued support.
Thank you to all those who attended this weeek!
This event was an opportunity to combine self reflection and wellness with political action. As we re-emerge into “normal” life, so many of us are struggling to care for our personal wellness. This event featured a meaningful program to connect us politically as well as get us thinking about how we can consider our own wellness in the world.
My work has always centered on bringing everyone to the table together, and through that I’ve consistently found productive paths forward that have helped our communities grow and thrive in responsible ways. Our path forward is one that we’ll walk side by side, working towards that common goal of creating the best country, the best state, and the best 40th LD that we can.
Thank you so much to everyone who came out this week to support my campaign! I look forward to seeing you all more on the campaign trail – keep an eye out for additional events ahead of the election!
Keep reading for more on this Fantastic Friday.
“Stay Safe, Stay Healthy”
Rep. Debra Lekanoff
Prevention & Reentry Programs
Last Saturday I had the pleasure of speaking with Genero Sanchez and Chris Choke in a retreat with young high school boys and young men who are part of a gang preventative and reentry program. In the Skagit we have invested in our Hispanic community to heal and restore the lives those who are seeking another chance at success. I was blessed to hear from my constituents about their hopes and dreams to take care their family, have a job that respects them, live their culture without fear, and build a community that is safe for all.
Genero shared his story as a survivor, as he was once a lost boy who was impacted by historical trauma. His younger years his heart and spirit were filled with anger, and he landed in the prison system. At that time, we did not have state or local programs to help our people who faced historical trauma and turned to crime, drugs, and alcohol to bandage the hurt. During his incarcerated time there also were no programs to help in the system, rather the incarcerated system then and today does not heal our people. But we are going to change that in 2022!
Genero was released and able to join a program that is led by Chris Hoke, who spent his career working with the Hispanic men to reenter into society with a fresh start. Chris helped Genero during his transition, and today Genero is employed with Mount Vernon School District and he has dedicated his time to prevent young Hispanic men in high school from entering in to gangs, help to find them jobs, provide mentoring based on real life experience, and lead them dowon the path to fulfill their hopes and dreams.
Between Chris and Genero, we are working with Maria Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Governor’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs, to propose an investment of state funds into several areas that will support our work and build the capacity of the Skagit program and regional the model across the state; invest in the staff and financial capacity of the Governor’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs so we can fulfill the Commission’s effort to address data gaps and find solutions for the future of our shared communities; and to support the Skagit program by proposing state support for a building location, as if we are looking for long term investment in our community and our people, then we must take a big step together to ensure this program has a home.
It is important for these young Hispanic men to have a place where they can grow and heal and become the men they want to be today, and in the future. We will also invest funds in a Statewide Taskforce that will do an assessment and report on the challenges, gaps, and barriers to provide recommendations for a 4-corner regional program that will be modeled from the Skagit Gangs Prevention Program lead by Genero and Chris.
This project is near and dear to my heart; 15 years ago when Jeanie Durkin was the US Attorney General and came to the Skagit to meet Northland Washington Tribes and British Columbia First Nations to inform us that the Skagit was the hub for transporting heroin and had large gang activity. That year we lost so many lives from heroin and gang violence in the Skagit, and I am committed to working with my districts to find solutions and heal our community so we may all have a safe place to call home.
Supporting Sharon Shewmake in the 42nd LD!
It has been such a pleasure serving in the State Legislature beside Representative Sharon Shewmake these past four years. As a fellow mother and Representative, she has been a strong and steady voice on supporting legislation that helps Washingtonians and makes peoples lives better.
Now, she is running for the State Senate in the 42nd LD!
This week, I was proud to be one of many hosts coming out to show our support for Sharon’s campaign. Thank you to everyone who came out, and to all of the other hosts that stepped up to help uplift Sharon.
She is an incredible and dedicated individual who will do wonders for her district and our state in the State Senate – I am proud to support her campaign, and I hope that she can count on you to stand alongside her during this campaign season.
Sharon is a tremendous advocate for her constituents, and I am proud to endorse her campaign! Together we will continue to work on building long-term, steady economic growth that keeps our ecosystems and environments in mind, while doing everything we can to help all who call this place home.
To learn more and support her campaign, click here.
State School Board Meeting
This week, I had the honor of spending time with a State School Board and their newly reelected Chair Bill Kallappa, the first Native American elected to the board, in their retreat in Anacortes. We celebrated the 2022 teacher of the year Jerad, who is the first Native American to receive this recognition.
Jerad Koepp (Wukchuni) was named the 2022 Washington State Teacher of the Year! According to the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction’s website, “in his role as the Native Student Program Specialist, Jerad provides cultural and academic support for about 230 Native American students from over 50 tribes, nations, bands, and villages.”
During the retreat we discussed the implementation of HB 1426, which required training in cultural awareness and racism for teachers and school board members. We spent important time together understanding that we can build better leaders of tomorrow by learning from one another and respecting the diversity of each of our cultures.
Washington House Bill 1426 was brought to my attention from the Nisqually Indian Tribe with the hope that their investment with local counties Yelm to Thurston could be implemented across the state. We honor the leadership of Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos, who sponsored the bill and as Chair of the House Education Committee championed it thru the legislature and ensured it was signed into law.
I’m proud of the work that many of my colleagues and I have been doing to bring additional ethnically diverse curriculum to Washington State, establishing a baseline traditional way of teaching and incorporating teaching tools and mechanisms that allow our education to reflect our diverse populations.
This is ongoing work that I will continue to dedicate myself to, and I’m excited for the future of our students here in Washington State. Keep an eye out for additional updates on this front in the months to come.
Whatcom Democratic Kickoff
Friends, this is an exciting time. Solid primary results show every Whatcom County race is within reach for Democrats; we know that this is a movement that can win! Over 60 volunteers from seasoned organizers to first-time volunteers came together this past weekend to hear from Sharon Shewmake, Alicia Rule, Joe Timmons, and Jaime Arnett, and to speak to almost 700 neighbors.
Every door counts and we are so excited to join our community in ensuring the right people are elected to make Washington a safe and equitable place for all! Thank you to all of our incredible attendees – it is so uplifting to be surrounded by likeminded, dedicated individuals who are ready to roll up their sleeves and get the hard work done to improve our communities.
Don’t worry if you missed this event, there is another opportunity to join in on the doorbelling fun on October 22nd!
Updated COVID-19 Boosters
As many of you know, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new COVID-19 booster shot that will is currently available – the Moderna booster for those who are 18 and older, and the Pfizer-BioNTech booster for those 12 and older.
Individuals who completed their most recent round of COVID-19 vaccination at least two months ago are eligible for these new boosters.
These new shots target both the original strain of COVID-19, as well as the omicron variants that make up most current cases in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) signed off on these new shots last week.
Getting vaccinated remains the most effective way of protecting yourself and those around you from COVID-19, and it is important that we continue to do our part to keep our communities safe. If you are able, I would highly recommend you get vaccinated with the new vaccine. With the holidays coming up, many of us are set to start traveling to see our loved ones – for their sake and yours, make sure you are safe!
Doing your part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 remains important, and I am so grateful for the continued efforts we are all making to protect one another.
MMIWP Alert System is Working
More than four in five Native women will experience violence in their lifetimes and are murdered at more than ten times the national average, and it’s plain to see that this is an issue that we need to address. I’m proud to have led the way on creating an alert system to help identify and locate Missing and Murdered Indigenous People that will save lives and bring our loved ones home.
The special alert system that will help locate Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People went live this past July, and over the past two months has been implemented across the state.
The system works similarly to “silver” alerts that are used to notify the public about missing vulnerable adults, broadcasting information about Missing and Murdered Indigenous People on message signs and in highway advisory radio messages. It also will provide the information through press releases to local and regional media.
While we have seen this system help Native individuals across our great state, there is still much work to be done. We need additional trainings for our Washington State Patrol, and we must have additional tribal consultations to ensure that this system is used as effectively as possible.
There will always be room for everyone at my kitchen table, and this is an issue near and dear to my heart. I will continue working to ensure that all of our Native brothers and sisters are safe and protected both here, and across the country.
Key Races that Need Your Support
Last month, Washingtonians stood up across the state to cast their ballots and make sure their voices were heard. It’s an honor to be on your ballot once again, and I was excited to vote for so many incredible candidates in this primary election.
Now, following a strong turnout, we are celebrating a strong victory for Democrats across the state. While we should take this time to celebrate the results of our primary election, we still have a lot of work to be done before the general election in November.
We have recently celebrated some of the candidates who moved on to our general election, and I’d like to take a moment to list them out for you now. If you’d like to read more about each of them, check out our full recap newsletter here.
Representative Bill Ramos in the 5th LD
Representative Lisa Callan in the 5th LD
Representative Dave Paul in the 10th LD
State Senator Emily Randall in the 26th LD
Representative Alex Ramel in the 40th LD
Sharon Shewmake in the 42nd LD
Disaster Preparedness Course
As flood season approaches, focus on what you can do to be prepared. The National Center for Disaster Preparedness / FEMA will be offering two trainings for Whatcom County businesses and households that are designed to provide learners with information on individual, household, and business financial literacy and the potential financial effects of disasters.
The two courses will be held in English, but there is a possibility that additional instruction available in other languages moving forward! If you or someone you know are interested in registering but need instruction or materials in another language, please reach out.
The trainings are scheduled for October 4 and 12, 2022, 9am-230pm PST. For more information about this great opportunity, including links to register check out the course fliers.
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.
Now I’m pleased to thank all those who have endorsed my second re-election campaign! It is an honor to have your support as I work on behalf of all Washingtonians.
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.