Dear Friends, 

Last week, we talked in depth about the ongoing opioid crisis happening here in Washington, and across the country. It’s so important that we work on all levels to address this terrible tragedy, and today I’d like to take a moment to discuss some of my ongoing work.

Through my work, I am focused on providing partnerships at all, governing body levels to address the opioid crisis within Washington state. An area that I am particularly focused on is helping provide preventative programs for Native American youth, who have been one of the most heavily impacted communities.

Click on the image below to hear my thoughts on the work we are doing, and the path ahead towards supporting those who need our help.

It has been my pleasure to partner with the Rise Above organization, Jackie McCormack, and Brad Meyers as we work to reach thousands of Native youth who are facing a crisis to rise above and build a stronger future for themselves, their communities, and their families.

Rise Above brings a partnership with Seattle Supersonics legends, such as Lenny Wilkins, George, Karl, Del, Elliot, and Vin Baker. Recently, I had the opportunity to travel out to Milwaukee to visit with Vin Baker and his foundation and to tour the wellness center into which he has invested his time and resource.

The center will reach up to 1,800 victims of addiction who are facing this disease who will come through this wellness center each month. These unique partnerships between governments, private investors, nonprofits, and industry are my vision of addressing this terrible circle of addiction and suffering.

It was such a pleasure to join this incredible organization in Milwaukee, and I game away heartened and motivated to bring similar resources to the communities that need them here in Washington.

Together we can accomplish so much, and only when we all reach out a hand to those who have fallen can we all stand up and move forward towards a healthier, happier tomorrow.

Keep reading for more on this Fantastic Friday. 

“Stay Safe, Stay Healthy” 
Rep. Debra Lekanoff

DoorBellingham Event! 

Next, an incredible event I would like to share with you!

Tomorrow, October 21, I will join a whole crowd of incredible volunteers and elected officials as we 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!

These doorbelling events are some of my favorite ways to connect with community, and I always come home at the end of the day uplifted excited, and glad to have had the chance to listen to you and your concerns.

For more information, check out the flyer above – and scan the QR code to RSVP! I hope to see you there!

Water Crisis in San Juan 

Unfortunately, the Hannah Heights Home Owners Association and Water System of San Juan county officially declared an emergency in regards to their water supply.

In March of this year, while they were complying with requirements to test public water systems, they found the highest level of polyfluoroalkyl substances – PFAS – in the entire state.

Efforts have been ongoing to address the situation and bring their well up to potable standards, but at the moment there are a great number of residents and families who are under water restrictions due to the PFAS levels.

According to one member of the Home Owners Association board:

“For us this has been a disaster in many dimensions, people’s life plans, downsizing, retiring elsewhere, taking a second mortgage, are options that have disintegrated. The average family of two in Washington uses 6000 gallons, of three 9000 gallons, of four 12,000 gallons, and five 15000 gallons a month. To make our trucked water grant from Commerce last us until spring, in the only really equitable arrangement we could figure out, we have allowed each home 2000 gallons per month. Anything above that is charged at 16 cents a gallon. Our membership includes young families of 4 and even 6. Even with drastic use reductions to stay healthy they are incurring a very sizable monthly water expense. For a few of us on the HOA board this has become a full-time job, for some of us on top of full time employment. At the same time reserves we spent decades building are depleting at an alarming rate.”

Tomorrow I will be meeting with a number of representatives from the HOA board and the local community, and I want to emphasize the importance of addressing this situation. Water is the foundation of life, and I will do everything in my power to bring relief to this awful situation.

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.

Truth and Reconciliation Tribal Advisory Committee

Earlier this month, Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced the formation of the Truth and Reconciliation Tribal Advisory Committee, bringing together five members of Washington’s tribal nations to study how the state can “an address harms caused to Native Americans by the government’s role in Native boarding schools.”

The five members of the Advisory Committee are: Edward Washines of the Yakama Nation, Tamika LaMere of the Anishinaabe, Rebecca Black of the Quinault Indian Nation, Abriel Johnny of the Tlingit and Cowichan First Nations and Diana Bob of the Lummi Nation.

“These schools are not just a shameful part of our history — the trauma they caused reverberates through generations of Indigenous families,” Attorney General Ferguson said in a statement.

While it hurts to do so, we must always look back at the awful things this country has seen and done. By furthering the public understanding of these schools, both their operation and their impact, we will create a world in which such abuse is impossible.

I commend Attorney General Ferguson for taking this great step and look forward to collaborating with and supporting the Advisory Committee however I can.

We can only move forward once we have acknowledged and reconciled with our past, and this is a great step in that direction.

Supporting Port Commissioner Bowers!

Next, I want to highlight my good friend Bonnie Bowers, who is running for re-election as an Anacortes Port Commissioner!

We’ve talked about Bonnie in the past, and she is truly an incredible public servant. Having her advocating on your behalf, working ensure that the Port of Anacortes is cared for and protected, is a blessing.

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.