Following the first-of-its kind ouster of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy last month, Republicans in the House of Representatives have elected a new Speaker of the House this week.
Following a number of failed votes for several other candidates, the Republican members unanimously elected Mike Johnson from Louisiana, who has represented their 4th Congressional District since 2017.
Representative Johnson had previously served as an attorney for Christian groups, as well as a State Representative in Louisiana. In both roles, and his current position, Speaker Johnson has advanced extreme views against abortion and LGBTQ+ rights.
While Speaker Johnson and I disagree on a great number of issues, we are mere weeks away from the government shutting down. Without a budget, the country will face the catastrophic impacts of a government shutdown, and it is nice to see my fellow elected officials moving past their stalled Speaker election.
With this messy process done, it is time for our representatives in Washington to once again come together and find a path forward to avoid a government shutdown.
More than anything, this process to elect a Speaker and the extreme views of our new Speaker of the House underscore the importance of voting in the upcoming election! It is imperative that we send the right people to work on behalf of the country, and I would encourage you to check your voter registration as soon as possible.
To see if you are registered to vote, or to register, click here.
Keep reading for more on this Fantastic Friday.
“Stay Safe, Stay Healthy”
Rep. Debra Lekanoff
Clean & Affordable Energy Conference
Next, I want to quickly highlight the Northwest Energy Coalition hosting their first in-person event since 2019!
On December 6, in Portland, the Northwest Energy Coalition will host their Clean & Affordable Energy Conference, giving those in the field a chance to “network with peers in the clean energy community and learn from keynote speakers and expert panelists who will lead conversations critical to a clean, equitable, and affordable clean energy transition in the Northwest.”
Following the event, there will be a Clean Energy Awards Reception – you can find details on how to nominate someone here.
This week, I’m also thrilled to let you know who their keynote speakers will be! This year, we will hear from the Oregon State Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber, representing Senate District 14, and GQ New Energy Strategies Principal Rich Glick!
Majority Leader Lieber continues to work to ensure the state government is solving the most pressing problems facing Oregonians, from the homelessness crisis and community safety to wildfires and rising prices.
Rich recently completed a five-year term as a Commissioner with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) where he chaired the Commission for two years.
I can’t wait to see everyone in person once again, and I hope you will be there as well! For more information, and to register, click here.
NCEL Reception in Seattle
Friends, we have talked a number of times about the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL), which empowers a nonpartisan network of legislative champions to protect, conserve, and improve the natural and human environment.
It is one of my great honors to sit on their board and help drive this vital work across the country, bringing together incredible individuals who share my passion for leaving a better world for the next seven generations to come.
Now, I am excited to let you know about an event coming up on November 15th!
I hope you will be able to join us at the Seattle Aquarium for an evening of fun, celebrating ongoing efforts in our great state to implement and improve policies aimed at ocean conservation and climate change mitigation.
All of the relevant information is in the image above, and if you are interested in RSVPing, click here.
The National Caucus of Environmental Legislators’ mission is to empower a nonpartisan network of legislative champions to protect, conserve, and improve the natural and human environment. NCEL’s vision is state leadership that advances a clean and healthy environment for all.
New Orca Classes For Adults!
Now, I’d like to let you know about two new classes for adults from The Salish Sea School – Orcas of the Salish Sea, and Bigg’s 201!
Orcas of the Salish Sea “is a six-month (Jan.-Jun. 2024) experiential learning series that will get you on the Salish Sea six times, build a deeper knowledge about the orcas of the Salish Sea, connect you with local organizations studying orcas of the Salish Sea, introduce you to environmental issues affecting local marine life, connect you with a community of other adults passionate about orcas, and provide ideas about the ways you can help!”
Bigg’s 201 “is a 4.5 month adult science research experience running from January to May 2024. In this course that combines virtual lectures and in-person field trips, you will work with whale biologist Monika Wieland Shields to improve your scientific literacy through an in-depth exploration of Bigg’s killer whales of the Salish Sea. Regardless of your background, this class will help you practice reading and understanding scientific papers, give you a chance to try collecting whale behavioral data in the field, and let you explore real-world sightings data to create graphs and maps as you follow a specific Bigg’s family group.”
Here is a quick write-up from their website:
“We are so passionate about introducing our community to the incredible classroom right outside our doorstep. Our hope is that our programs initiate a desire to protect and restore the Salish Sea. We believe experiential lessons combined with marine conservation education is essential to producing a healthy marine ecosystem. The curriculum rotates throughout the year but will span the marine ecosystem, from water quality to whales.”
This is such an incredible opportunity! If you are at all interested, I do hope you will look into it. The Salish Sea School does such an incredible job educating our youth on this incredible place we call home, and I am so glad that they are extending their offerings for adults as well.
For more information on the school and their work, click here.
Doorbelling in Bellingham!
Next, an update on our DoorBellingham event last week!
A whole crowd of incredible volunteers and elected officials came together doorbell our way through Bellingham, doing our part to get out the vote and help ensure the right people represent us at all levels of government!
What an incredible showing! Doorbelling will always have a close place in my heart, as I believe firmly that I would not have won my first election without the support of everyone who came out to knock on doors alongside me. In our first year, the campaign hit 19,000 doors!
This weekend, I met with students from Western Washington University and Community College Students, discussing how they could fulfill their dreams. I talked to families who are struggling with childcare. I met with SEIU Union members who love their jobs and want to continue, but need some additional support.
And I met with constituents with whom I do not always agree, and had enlightening discussions. One of the greatest pleasures I enjoy as an elected official is hearing opposing points of view, and I always walk away from those discussions wiser and better prepared to work on your behalf.
Thank you to everyone who came out this past weekend – our work is not finished! Keep an eye out for other outreach events in the near future. I look forward to seeing you there!
Supporting Port Commissioner Bowers!
To round out today’s Fantastic Friday, I want to once again mention my good friend Bonnie Bowers, who is running for re-election as an Anacortes Port Commissioner!
She has a number of events in the coming weeks where you can come out and show your support – I hope to see you there, and that Bonnie can count on your support.
Here are her upcoming events:
TODAY – Friday October 27th CORNER RALLY – 3pm to 5pm at 12th and Commercial Ave. It is going to be sunny and cold so bundle up! We will have signs, so bring your friends for an hour or two and help us rally the vote!
Friday November 3rd ART WALK – This is an easy one. If you are attending Art Walk, wear your Bowers for Port tee shirt or find someone on the street who is wearing a shirt and grab a re-election sticker from them. Our goal is to fill downtown with Bowers supporters and have a nice evening appreciating the art on display and support our local businesses.
Monday November 6th CORNER RALLY 7:30 to 8:30am at 32nd and Commercial Ave. The day before the election we would love to get a crowd out to remind everyone to vote. We had a morning sign waiving event last Monday and it was really fun.
If you are still undecided in this election, I would highly recommend you check out Bonnie’s website (link below!) to learn more about her. I’m proud to call her a friend and colleague, and am thrilled to endorse her as she continues working on our behalf.
Bonnie was raised in the Skagit Valley, attended the FBI National Academy, and worked for 33 years in law enforcement – including as the Anacortes Police Chief!
She was elected to the Port Commission in 2019, and has worked to support our communities through sustainable industry and commerce. She has had an incredible impact here in the 40th LD, and I am proud to support her as she runs for re-election!
For more information on her and her campaign, check out her website here.
Addressing Ferry Cancellations
Finally, an update on the ferries servicing the San Juan Islands.
Those living on the San Juans are used to taking the ferry to the mainland for all sorts of things, but recently there have been significant cancellations. Just over the summer, there were 1,145 cancelled sailings.
This is simply unacceptable. While we are working to modernize and electrify our ferry fleet, we must also ensure that our ongoing services are not interrupted. More than a third of all ferry cancellations this summer were the Anacortes/San Juan Islands route, with 5% of all scheduled ferries on that route cancelled.
As we look into the next legislative session, this is a clear priority for me. When there are no alternatives for Washingtonians going to or from the mainland, we must ensure that our ferries run consistently and reliably.
There are a great many factors that lead to so many cancellations, and I plan on diving into each of them to see what can be done to prevent such an occurrence next summer. Keep an eye out for additional updates on this front.