Dear Friends, 

We have such an important election coming up, and there is no better way to make sure that your community reflects your beliefs than to cast your vote. Choosing who represents you in Washington, in Olympia, on School Boards, and everything in-between is so incredibly important.

One incredible thing about this election is that we have a chance to quadruple Native representation in Olympia. Chris Stearns, from the Navajo Nation, is running for a House seat in the 47th LD; Laurene Contreras, from the Yakama Nation is running for a House seat in the 14th LD; and Claudia Kauffman, from the Nez Perce Tribe, is running for a Senate seat in the 47th LD.

I hope they can all count on your support, and I want to take a moment to highlight Laurene Contreras. Laurene is running as an Independent in the 14th LD. She has worked within tribal and federal government services for more than three decades, and with her she will carry the bloodlines that come from Washington State Tribes. Your support is incredibly important – learn more about her campaign here.

Laurene Contreras needs our support!

This is a crucial election, one that will have rippling impacts for generations to come. We need you to step up and support candidates that want to work on behalf of Washington, our country, and our democracy.

If you need more information about registration or what is on your ballot, head over to for all the information that you need.

Happy to have cast my ballot!

There are so many tremendous candidates running for office this year, and it truly warms my heart to see passionate and dedicated people stand up to work for their communities. The most impactful way you can help our community is to participate and cast your vote – don’t forget to submit your ballot!

There is no limit to what we can accomplish together, and I truly hope you will make your voice heard during this election.  


Keep reading for more on this Fantastic Friday. 

“Stay Safe, Stay Healthy”
Rep. Debra Lekanoff

Carrying Your Voice Far and Wide 

Friends, as we come up on election day I have been reflecting on my four years working as your voice in Olympia. I’ve been blessed to work every day on your behalf, and I feel truly lucky to be able to continue doing so into the future.

Together we have accomplished so much, and I am proud to have carried our voice from the local to the national level in just two short terms. It has taken hard work, but you all know I am always ready to roll up my sleeves and get to it – with your support there is no limit to what we can accomplish.

The bulk of this week’s newsletter is focused on candidates on your ballot for election day on Tuesday, and in recent weeks we have done a lot to highlight the incredible individuals who need your support.

Before we get into that, I want to take a moment and highlight some of the broad reaching boards and committees that I sit on – click the links below to check them out and learn more information:

National Caucus of Environmental Legislators Board of Directors

National Caucus of State Legislators Executive Committee

National Caucus of Native American State Legislators

These past four years have been incredibly informative as I’ve listened and learned, sharing experiences and knowledge with other State Legislators across the country. I am proud to work on these important committees and caucuses, elevating your voce to a national level as we work to improve not just the 40th LD or the country, but our planet as a whole.

Keep reading for more about candidates on your ballot on Tuesday.

Say Yes to Prop 5!

This election, there aren’t just candidates on the ballot – there are also a number of other items that we need to vote on.

One such item is Prop 5, and important proposition that will help support affordable early education and childcare for our children, something that has always been a priority of mine as your representative in Olympia.

Here is what Yes for Whatcom Kids has to say about Prop 5:

“A healthy start for every child and new family in Whatcom County means high-quality, affordable early education and childcare, regardless of where we live or our family background. This is the goal of Prop 5.

If Whatcom County voters say YES to Whatcom Kids in November, 2022, this will be achieved through a property tax of $0.19 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or about $95 per household per year, or $7.92 per month. This will raise about $8.2M per year countywide.”

This is a simple step we can take to support our students and children – I hope you’ll join me in supporting this initiative and helping our students!

Audit of Sexual Assault Testing Kits 

Now I would like to take a moment to update you on a serious issue – the backlog of sexual assault kits in Washington State.

In 2019 we passed legislation that was intended to eliminate the backlog of kits, and while those efforts were hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Washington State Patrol continues to make great progress in addressing this issue.

Recently, the Washington State Auditor’s Office released a performance audit “assessing Washington State Patrol’s progress in clearing the backlog of sexual assault kits.”

According to the Auditor’s Office:

“The audit found the Patrol has followed best practices in speeding the testing of these kits, and the Patrol’s State Crime Laboratory implemented many recommended practices. However, a backlog of untested kits remains. 


While auditors identified other states that have already eliminated their backlogs of untested kits, Washington started reforms later than those states and its efforts were hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, which began in 2020.


The audit also reviewed the kit tracking system established by the Patrol and found it also follows recommended practices and related laws. The online system, launched in 2018, is designed to allow survivors of sexual assault to track the progress of submitted kits as they move from collection, to analysis, to storage and eventual destruction. 


Because the Patrol followed requirements set out in a 2019 law that was intended to eliminate the backlog of kits, as well as recommended practices, the performance audit makes no formal recommendations. Instead, the audit suggests the Patrol continue its testing efforts and maintain its online tracking system.”

This is a crucial issue, and I am glad to see progress moving in the right direction to help victims in Washington. I will be sure to keep you informed as additional updates become available.

Candidates Who Need Your Support! 

Over the summer, 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.

Your vote is your voice! Be sure to cast your ballot.

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 Dave Paul in the 10th LD 

Clyde Shavers in the 10th LD

Representative Alex Ramel in the 40th LD

Joe Timmons in the 42nd LD

Sharon Shewmake in the 42nd LD 

Alicia Rule in the 42nd LD

Representative Drew Hansen in the 23rd LD

Representative Lisa Callan in the 5th LD 

Representative Bill Ramos in the 5th LD 

State Senator Emily Randall in the 26th LD

Chris Stearns in the 47th LD

Claudia Kauffman in the 47th LD

Supporting Senator Murray and Commissioner Janicki!

Ahead of the election on Tuesday, I’d also like to take a moment and highlight two incredible women that have done so much for Washington, and for our 40th LD – Senator Patty Murray and Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki!

It’s easy to think that Senator Murray is safe in her seat, but this is not 2016. There is an entrenched & motivated Republican base in Washington and national Republicans are targeting our state. Patty’s opponent is raising more than any of her previous challengers.

Since winning the Democratic Majority in 2020, Senator Murray is now Assistant Majority Leader, the 3rd ranking member in Senate Leadership. Republicans would love to replace her with someone who will vote in line with their interests, from gutting healthcare to climate inaction and abortion bans.


Senator Murray is excited to continue to work with the Biden Administration to get the last of the pandemic behind us and continue fighting for policy items she has long worked for. Policies like a higher minimum wage, expanding paid leave, increasing support for childcare, and so many other critical supports our country needs to dig out of the pandemic and come back stronger.

Proud to support Senator Murray!

Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki has served on the Board of Commissioners for almost a decade, and she is currently the Board Chair, working on behalf of Skagit County and the 40th LD!

Commissioner Janicki serves on numerous community boards including the United Way of Skagit County, Soroptimists International of Sedro-Woolley, the Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County (EDASC) and Gonzaga University’s Board of Regents. She is also the Past-President of Skagit Women and Business, has twice served as EDASC board president, and is a 2005 graduate of Leadership Skagit.

I have long counted Lisa as a close friend, and working with her to help improve our communities has been nothing short of amazing. She was one of the first people to come out and endorse my campaign this year, and I am happy to show her love in return!

Commissioner Janicki is an incredible advocate on our behalf!

As you fill out your ballots and get them into the mail or a drop box, you can’t go wrong voting for Lisa – she has shown time and time again that her priority is our community, and I am excited to continue working with her in the future.


Reentry Community Services Programs 

There are two additional reports that I’d like to share with you today, both from the Washington State Institute of Public Policy.

The first is covering Washington State’s Reentry Community Services Program. Supporting prevention and reentry programs has always been a priority of mine, and I am proud to work on behalf of those in our community who have stumbled – it is our job to help them stand back up.

Here is an update from the report:

“For the last 20 years, Washington State has provided unique reentry services for individuals who are at high-risk for recidivism and who have a mental illness. The Reentry Community Services Program (RCSP) provides eligible individuals with coordinated pre- and post-release services to assist with reentry. Individuals are eligible to receive 60 months of mental health services and housing assistance. Additional services are provided on an individual basis depending on need and the availability of resources. 


Prior research shows that compared to similar individuals who do not receive these services, RCSP participants are more likely to access mental health services in the community, more likely to access social welfare services during reentry, less likely to require inpatient hospitalization after release, and less likely to recidivate. In addition, research finds that the program achieves these outcomes in a cost-beneficial way. 


In 2021, the Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to update its evaluation of the RCSP, examine the potential expansion of the program, and investigate additional therapeutic components to further support individuals’ reentry to the community. 


This preliminary report reviews prior research on the RCSP and provides an outline of the approach WSIPP intends to take for its final report to be published in November 2023. 


The report and related information can be found on WSIPP’s website.” 

I am committed to working with all who are willing to help support our communities, and there will always be room at my kitchen table for those who want to uplift our neighbors that need the most help.

Creating and supporting these programs will only strengthen our communities, and that is exactly the work I am excited to continue in Olympia.

Supporting Representative Peltola 

Last month, we talked about the historic election of Representative Mary Peltola, and now she needs our continued support!

Following the passing of Representative Don Young, Alaska held a special election to fill the seat in Congress that he held for decades. There was a massive field, which was narrowed down to three individuals.

After the votes were cast and counted using Alaska’s ranked choice voting system, we found out a few days ago that Democrat Mary Peltola won the special election and will be representing Alaska as their sole member of the House of Representatives!

Mary is a Yup’ik Alaska Native, salmon advocate, and Democrat who represented the Bethel region in the Alaska House of Representatives for 10 years. According to her website:

“As a lawmaker, I helped rebuild the Bush Caucus, which passed legislation and influenced budgets that improved lives in rural Alaska, under my tenure as Chair. After leaving the legislature, I worked as Manager of Community Development and Sustainability for the Donlin gold mine project. I left the company after 6 years and joined the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. As Executive Director of the commission, I helped mobilize 118 Tribes and rural Alaskans to advocate for the protection of salmon runs in Western Alaska. This was a continuation of my work as a Salmon Fellow with the Alaska Humanities Forum.”


This is an incredible step forward for the people of Alaska, and I am proud to see an Alaska Native joining the halls of Congress. The fight is not over, however, and Mary stills need our support as she fights to continue on as Alaska’s representative.

At the recent Alaska Federation of Natives Convention, the late Congressman Don Young’s daughters gifted Mary with his Alaska Flag bolo – an incredible gesture, and a clear sign that she is a leader who will represent all of Alaska!

Congresswoman Peltola was elected to finished the late Don Young’s term – she is still on the ballot for the general election! Fighting to keep the only Alaska Native in Congress elected is incredibly important, and I hope that she can count on you.

To learn more about Mary and to show her your support, click here.

Health Disparities Map

The second report covers the Washington State Department of Health’s Environmental Health Disparities (EHD) Map.

In 2021, the Legislature directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) to conduct a technical review of the measures and methods used in the Map. Here is a brief summary of that report:

“We found that Washington’s EHD Map is one of many in the United States. It uses a similar range of indicators, methodology, and source data compared with the most sophisticated environmental justice (EJ) mapping tools. These EJ tools use some of the best data available at small geographical levels to measure environmental exposures and health disparities. They provide insight into a variety of the environmental harms present in communities and how well-equipped these communities are to overcome those challenges.

Over time, developers will need to regularly review their EJ map tools. The HEAL Act requires the Washington EHD Map to be regularly revised and updated, with comprehensive evaluations occurring every three years. Currently, Washington’s tool is comparable in sophistication and detail to other existing tools. However, there are a few additional or enhanced features found in other state tools that Washington does not have, including the following:

  • Additional indicators reflecting sensitive populations;

  • Additional water quality measures;

  • Specific statistical adjustments for missing data; and

  • Easily accessible user guides and how-to videos on the hosting website.

The report and related information can be found on WSIPP’s website.

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. For more information on where you can find a vaccine, click here.

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.

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.

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