Dear Friends, 

For months now we have been talking about this year’s election – an off year campaign cycle that always needs extra attention. It’s easy to overlook these opportunities to vote, but it is so important that we continue to show up and ensure the right people are chosen to represent us at all levels of government.

And I am so happy with how many of you cast your ballots this year!

Here in the 40th, we had a number of important races. We’ve talked a number of times over the past few months about who I support, and who would make good leaders for us here in northwest Washington. Today, I’m pleased to let you know how a few of those races turned out.

In Whatcom, Satpal Sidhu has been re-elected as the Whatcom County Executive! Satpal has worked as an engineer, project manager, business executive, educator and small business owner before being elected to the Whatcom County Council, and then as Whatcom County Executive.

Congratulations, Satpal! I look forward to four more years of working alongside you to help the people of Whatcom County.

In Anacortes, I am pleased to say that Port Commissioner Bonnie Bowers has also been re-elected! 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 thrilled that she will once again serve as a Port Commissioner for Anacortes.

Congratulations, Bonnie!

Then, two more races I want to update you about. In Whatcom County, Donnell “Tank” Tanksley currently leads the race for Sheriff by just over 3,000 votes. Tank brings a wide breadth of experience and a fresh perspective to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s office. I am thrilled to see him leading this election.

Finally, Lucy Madrigal who is currently in a tight race for Mount Vernon Council Ward 1 Position 1. Lucy currently leads by under 200 votes, and we need to keep our eye on this race. We’re pulling for you, Lucy!

Thank you once again to everyone who cast their ballot in this year’s election – we have an incredible slate of public officials ready to serve on your behalf. Be on the lookout as we look ahead to next November and the Presidential election!

Keep reading for more on this Fantastic Friday. 

“Stay Safe, Stay Healthy” 
Rep. Debra Lekanoff

Celebrating Our Veterans

Tomorrow we celebrate Veterans Day across the country, taking the time to appreciate and show love to those incredible individuals that have made such sacrifices to serve on all of our behalf.

As I spend time throughout the 40th LD and Washington I am always humbled to meet veterans who live in our communities. I hope you are all able to step back, take a deep breath tomorrow, and that those around you showed the support and thanks that you deserve.

Veterans Hugh and Bonnie Jonson

From the bottom of my heart, I want to take a moment today and offer my thanks to all who have served in our armed forces. We all so appreciate the work that you have done and the sacrifices you have made.

We are all so grateful to those who have served, and if you haven’t already I would encourage each and every person reading this to reach out to a loved one or someone close to you who has served to say thank you. It is because of their work and continued dedication that we enjoy the lives that we do.

Thank you, Veterans!

Thank You, Representative Kilmer! 

Earlier this week, Congressman Derek Kilmer announced that he will not be seeking re-election to the seat that he has held since 2013.

Representative Kilmer has long been a strong advocate for Washington, and I count him as a friend and ally as we work to ensure that all Washingtonians are able to live the life they want. He will be sorely missed in Congress, but I’m sure he will do incredible things for Washington moving forward.

“As nourishing as this job has been, it has come with profound costs to my family,” said Representative Kilmer. “Every theatrical performance and musical recital I missed. Every family dinner that I wasn’t there for. The distance I felt from my family for months after the events of January 6th. I am conscious that I didn’t always deliver in the way I wanted; and hope they will forgive me for that.”

As we look ahead to who will fill this seat, the 29th district needs a strong voices that represents generations of values who have protected this rural lifestyle. We need a leader who will fight for policy and funding to address our districts need for housing, infrastructure, economic stability, well-paying jobs, education for all our children, and a strong economy.

Our rural communities are the canary in a coal mine when it comes to inflation and impacts of environmental degradation and struggling economies, and we need someone whose roots come from the communities within our district. We need someone who brings the experience of leading at all levels of government and represents all Washingtonians in a fair way that addresses those important things that we all fight for every day. we fight for family, communities, and every household.

Thank you again, for all your hard work, Representative Kilmer! I look forward to seeing what comes next, and continuing to collaborate with you in the future.

An Update on Votes Across the Country 

Next, I want to take a quick look at a few important votes that happened across the country this week.

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and brought into peril the right of a child bearing person to choose what happens to their own body, there have been a slew of victories across the country as state after state demonstrate how important this issue is.

This week, in Ohio, voters approved a ballot initiative that put protections protecting reproductive health into their constitution – including abortion at least until the fetus can survive on its own.

In Virginia, Democrats have control over the state legislature, and while abortion was not directly on the ballot it played a huge role in the campaign.

Kentucky re-elected their Democratic Governor Andy Beshear, who released an ad featuring a young woman talking about her experience as a victim of rape by a family member when she was a child. His opponent has defended Kentucky’s current stringent abortion laws.

And in Pennsylvania, Democrat Dan McCaffrey won an open seat on the State Supreme Court in another race that put reproductive rights at the forefront.

This is an ongoing fight, one that will have major implications next November as we once again cast our ballots.

Washington has long been a leader on this pivotal issue, and it is my honor to continue the great work that so many incredible and dedicated individuals started years and years ago. This is an ongoing battle, one that we must always prioritize.

Together we will continue to move forward, and I will always work to protect your freedoms in all of my work.

Anacortes Family Center 

I had the pleasure of sitting down at the table with Anacortes Family Center with Boardmember Shay Schual Berke and Executive Director Dustin Johnson.  As we prepared for a visit from Governor Jay Inslee, the Governor joined a long list of Legislative and Governmental officials as well as nonprofits and others, who are moved by the success of what this mighty little nonprofit organization with a small team, have been able to do to support over 1600 families since their doors opened over 10 years ago.  My visit underscored the Center’s model, and how successful it has been in helping not only this community in this county, but the State.

The Anacortes Family Center, is a place that reflects the heart of a community. There have been just over 1600 community members that have gone through the Center since it. The Center reflects the values of a rural community by investing in a safe place that provides services for those who need the most help in their lives. The Community investment in the Center lifts those in need without judgment, but with a blend of accountability and compassion.

The Center  provides services to those who volunteer to get the medical and behavioral health services that provide them a foundation to be able to heal and rebuild their lives. In a study that was shared with me it stated that 40% of the homeless victims are facing a mental behavioral health disorder that is connected to addiction, which leads to even a further crisis than not having a home, but on the streets, not having the mental and behavioral health services that are needed for their survival. The trained staff also engages with partner organizations to provide wraparound service such as job training, finance management, health care and dental care, housing to childcare. 

One of the community centric success stories is the center has been able to partner with the Boys and Girls Club, and the partners are about to open up a childcare services. These services will be available for local members in need and for the people enrolled in AFC’s programs. With the YMCA services closing in Anacortes, The Center recognized the need and quickly moved into creating a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club Early Education program in the County. If there’s one thing that’s common sense, it is that you cannot have a healthy workforce that provides a stable economy without childcare in your community. And the Center knows that the people who are striving to hold onto their jobs are often those who are in financial struggles, and the center answered those calls.

No, this just wasn’t a nice courtesy visit. Dustin puts you to work when you visit with him and he shares with you what the unmet needs are, but he also shares with you what the solutions are. I learned that the state program that provides childcare funding for low-income families will need not only an increase in the amount of financial support, but we also need to change to open up funding to those who are in search of work. Again, common sense legislation. Those who are out searching for work often have children, who need childcare. Presently families are not eligible to receive childcare subsidy while they search for work — only after they find it. Let’s roll up our sleeves and make this change to the policy happen, and that’s what I plan to do with the help of Dustin and everyone in our community sharing this mission with me.

I want to pause here and just share a personal meaningful moment and observation. As I’m walking with Dustin, who has been the executive Director of the Center for going on a good 10 years plus, his brisk walk and excitement in his voice reflected his commitment to the work that he’s doing for all.  As we’re walking out of the main office and heading onto the campus, Dustin opens up the door into a shower facility that is available for those who are living on the streets and don’t have a place to take care of their personnel hygiene themselves. This is the only shower facility open within this community that is unlocked and available on a secure campus for those in need. That is compassion intertwined with reality. No judgement – just meeting people where they are in life.

Dustin and the volunteer Board have built a credible Center that proves their model that gives the person a choice to fight for the life they want to have for themselves and for their family.  

The Center carries a piece of Anacortes’s values and heart.

Visit to Orcas Island 

Next, a quick update on something we discussed a few weeks ago.

It has been my pleasure as your representative for the 40th LD to visit every corner of our great district, and that includes the San Juan Islands!

I recently had the chance to visit the Orcas Center on Orcas Island, speaking to about 75 incredible people. It was a wonderful moment of discussion and listening, where I had the opportunity to hear the issues you are facing, and discuss how we can move forward together.

This week, I want to highlight an incredible piece in The Island Sounder by Toby Cooper about the event!

Here is a quick excerpt from the piece:

“Talk of ferries — the word that sits prominently on every islander’s kitchen table — spurred a vibrant discussion. Lekanoff reminded the group that Senator Lovelett chairs an informal “Ferry Caucus” of 35 legislators. Moreover, as she swept her hand grandly over the room, she raised the stakes by saying, “You all are on the ferry committee.”

Broad participation in the ferry conversation is essential. While people are fed up with the service gaps, bottlenecks, worn-out boats, and seeming bureaucratic intransigence of the system upon which everyone depends, Lekanoff wastes no time handwringing.

“Data,” she says. “Give me data. How many medical emergencies are missed or made worse? How many children can’t get home from school? You have one way on, one way off. Food, everything, come by these boats.”

She notes the hard realities underpinning the ferry problem. The money is there, new boats are on order, but actual service is years away unless we can change the prioritization – namely which routes will get new boats first? “Your data will give Senator Lovelett and me the ammunition we need to make a case for prioritization.””

If you want to read the full piece, check it out here.

Thank you, Toby, for taking the time to join us and write this wonderful story, and thank you to everyone who joined! I will carry your hopes and concerns with me to Olympia, where I am honored to work on your behalf

Protect Your Community! 

Last month the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director Dr. Mandy Cohen endorsed the recommendation made by the agency’s committee of outside vaccine experts, approving a new COVID-19 booster shot that is recommended for everyone 12-years and older.

As we move into the Fall and Winter, it is important that we take these steps to protect ourselves and others. Updating our COVID-19 vaccines, and getting annual flu and RSV vaccines, is a strong way that we can help keep ourselves, and those around us, healthy.

Friends, by now we all understand the impact that each of us can have on preventing the spread of COVID-19 to those around us. Getting vaccinated remains the most powerful way that we can protect our communities.

For more information, click 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.