Our quality of life begins with our quality of discourse in Olympia

If you want better dialogue in Olympia, you have to elect better people. Let’s start by electing Democrat Gael Tarleton to the 36th Legislative District.

Gael was recently endorsed by The Seattle Times: “Gael Tarleton, Democrat, is by far the most qualified candidate for state representative in the 36th District for the seat being vacated by Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson.” Tarleton also earned the highest rating of any candidate in her race by The Municipal League of King County which rated her “outstanding.”

I have the good fortune of working for people and organizations I believe in. One of those people is Gael Tarleton. She is the only candidate in the 36th Legislative District race who has demonstrated an ability to bridge the divide between our quality of life and our quality of discourse about critical issues that will shape our lives over the next 20 years.

I’ve been in politics since 1993. I met my husband on Nov. 3, 1992, the night Bill Clinton was elected.

My view of politics has changed with my professional and personal commitments along the way. I have a unique perspective. I have been a journalist, a politico and a professional media advocate over the past three decades. I spent 12 years inside Olympia. I’ve spent the rest of my life outside of Olympia in the private sector trying to reshape it as a constituent or an advocate for progressive causes. I have dedicated my life to telling other peoples’ stories as a reporter, a lobbyist, a communications director and a public relations professional. I know what moves me and I know baloney when I see it.

In 2007, I met Gael Tarleton. She wanted to run for the Port of Seattle Commission and reform the Port. She successfully beat an incumbent Republican. As a former reporter who covered the 33rd District and as a former legislative aide to Rep. Greg Fisher and Rep. Karen Keiser, D-33 (Karen is now the senator), I was amused and intrigued. This would be my first chance to work with an ally on the Port of Seattle Commission, an institution I was previously paid to despise and thwart on behalf of 33rd District constituents. Gael brought both private sector and public sector experience to the job.

(Left to right) Gael Tarleton and State Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, D-36th.

Gael was elected in 2007 and is now the Port of Seattle Commission President. She is now running for the 36th District House seat, Position 2, being vacated by powerhouse Democrat State Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson. Mary Lou has endorsed Gael.

Gael kept her promise to reform the Port and hold it accountable to the public. She did that by ensuring the Port spends public money in public. She also transformed the competitive-bidding process to ensure more businesses had a shot at the contracts and more workers had a shot at the jobs. She launched a clean-trade initiative at the Port by cleaning up the air, building clean-green infrastructure and mandating the use of clean fuels.

Gael’s private sector experience began with reaching across continents and cultures to make the world safer. As a national security expert, she was the first U.S. business woman to testify before the Russian parliament – speaking in Russian. Her reach and deep understanding of our global economy is critical for our trade-dependent state of Washington.

Gael has also translated the rhetoric around clean trade into reality and real job creation, leveraging taxpayer dollars for critical infrastructure. Here’s what Gael got done:

  • Helped create more than 7,000 jobs
  • Advocated for and helped find the money for the Viaduct Replacement Project, the South Park Bridge, E. Marginal Way Overpass and the Sea-Tac Car Rental Facility.
  • Secured and developed an aviation biofuels market based in Washington with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
  • Fought for the best-paying, middle-class jobs on Seattle’s working waterfront.
  • Advocated for alternative urban transportation projects: bikes, buses, trains and pedestrians.
  • Prioritized cleaning up the lower Duwamish as the Port’s No. 1 environmental project in the next 20 years.

Progressives often invoke people like Van Jones, who is credited for jump-starting our national conversation about a green-collar economy, when they want to merge the environment with jobs. But when leaders like Gael translate that dream into reality – inside the industry tent – some progressives default to polarizing rhetoric that diminishes the efforts they claim to exalt. It’s time to honor the work, the truth and the proof of real results in Olympia with people who can deliver it.

The 36th District is blessed with candidates who promise to bring “progressive values” to the job. Apart from Gael, none of these candidates have been tested in public office. Gael has been tested in public office while facing a dire economy. Still, Gael delivered more than 5,000 union jobs, watch-dogged taxpayer dollars, jump-started clean trade, and helped outlaw human trafficking. Professionally, she has secured critical funding for higher education while working for the University of Washington.

Gael has been a voting resident of the 36th District for 18 years. She owns a home in Ballard with her husband Bob. She knows the District.

Two of Gael’s senior campaign consultants were instrumental in the passage of Referendum 71  to secure domestic partnerships for the state’s LGBT citizens – Jason Bennett and myself. Jason Bennett is an openly gay political consultant who helped Gael launch her career in politics. Gael has advocated for the passage of marriage equality under the Approve 74 campaign.

When we all suffer greatly, as we do now, we care less about the rhetoric and more about the results. The race for the 36th District should ultimately be decided by the candidate most capable of delivering proven results. That candidate is clearly Gael Tarleton.

If you don’t believe my rhetoric, listen to what other people who know Gael have to say.


Gael Tarleton – A standout candidate for the 36th District House seat

Gael Tarleton
Gael Tarleton

SEATTLE, WA – Port of Seattle Commission President Gael Tarleton today announced her bid to run for the 36th District House seat to be vacated by State Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, D-Seattle.

Tarleton says she will run on four key issues: job creation along with protecting women’s health and reproductive rights, higher education and the environment.

“We need to carry the accomplishments and legacy of Rep. Dickerson forward,” Tarleton said. “I have a proven track record of protecting and creating jobs, fighting for women and minority-owned businesses, protecting the environment and championing Washington’s higher-education community.”

Tarleton has raised nearly $20,000 in the past 48 hours. The 36th Legislative District includes parts of Ballard, Queen Anne, Magnolia, Phinney Ridge, Fremont and Belltown.

Tarleton, 53, is a life-long Democrat. She has lived in Ballard with her husband Bob for 18 years.

She has worked at the University of Washington for the past eight years, most recently serving as strategic advisor at the Institute for National Security Education and Research. The Institute focuses on research and initiatives for public safety and national security.

We must renew the fight to protect women’s health and reproductive rights, Tarleton said. As a member of the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington and NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, Tarleton said passage of the Reproductive Parity Act is a priority in her campaign. “We have fought hard to secure the basic health and reproductive rights of women. It’s clear our battle to protect women’s health still has a long way to go. The women of today must always fight for our next generation,” Tarleton said.

Tarleton was re-elected for a second term to the Port of Seattle Commission last year with 59.5 percent of the vote in King County. She defeated Republican incumbent Bob Edwards in 2007, with 54 percent of the vote. She is the third woman ever to be elected to the Port.

In her re-election bid last year, Tarleton earned the endorsements of 15 labor unions, King County Conservation Voters, Washington Conservation Voters, state and local Democrats throughout King County, The Seattle Times and The Stranger.

Tarleton currently serves as president of the Northwest Progressive Institute, a nonprofit think tank dedicated to researching progressive ideas and solutions for the Northwest’s progressive community. At the UW, Tarleton co-founded the UW’s Citizen Roundtable on Politics and Democracy, in an effort to expand citizen involvement in the democratic process.  She earned an M.A. in government and national security studies from Georgetown University in Washington D.C., and a B.S. from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service.

Tarleton co-founded the Northwest Chapter of Women in International Security (WIIS) and organized a forum at the Port to discuss important security issues facing our region, including the proliferation of human trafficking. She is also a member of the UW Women’s Center’s Anti-Trafficking Task Force.

“With the leadership of Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, we worked together to help stop human trafficking in our state,” Tarleton said. “I am proud to have worked with Sen. Kohl-Welles to help pass legislation that made Washington the first state in the nation to criminalize human trafficking  – a crime primarily targeting women and children.”

As a Port Commissioner, Tarleton has focused on creating and retaining jobs, protecting the working waterfront, clean trade and restoring accountability at the Port. She has helped create more than 5,000 jobs, launched clean-trade initiatives to remove dirty trucks and introduce clean fuels in the air, on the ground and at sea. Tarleton also guided the Port through major reforms on its contracting and spending process to bring accountability and transparency to how taxpayer dollars are spent.