The state Senate race in our 26th legislative district between first term incumbent Democrat Sen. Emily Randall and four-term incumbent Republican Rep. Jesse Young is projected by most political observers to be the most expensive and hotly contested race in Washington this year.
While on the surface it may look like these two homegrown politicians came from similar public high school educational backgrounds, beyond that they have very little if anything in common and their time in the legislature has produced drastically different results.
Emily is a graduate of South Kitsap High School (2004) and Wellesley College (2008), the alma mater of Hillary Clinton. After voting for and contributing to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2012, Emily volunteered for and donated to the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign in 2016. She has since gained notoriety as an extreme liberal through her social media posts, making national news for celebrating public vandalism of a pro-life billboard on her Instagram account. She has described herself as a liberal, feminist, lesbian.
After graduating from college, Emily worked for her alma mater, Children’s Hospital Boston, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and Planned Parenthood before resigning in 2018 to move home and run for political office as a first time candidate. She narrowly won by 104 votes.
Since taking office in January 2019, Emily has had, from any objectively candid perspective, a disastrous first term. The only question is what failures to start with: Massively raising our taxes (including gas, according to the Washington Policy Institute), decriminalizing some controlled substances (SB 5476), socializing health insurance (SB 5822), voting for antigun legislation to ban high capacity magazines and promote “red flag” laws (SB 5078), introducing Critical Race Theory under the guise of diversity training (SB 5227) and graphic sex education into elementary school curriculum (SB 5395), and failing to support our police with more funding.
On top of that, she cast the deciding vote to pass the capital gains tax bill into law in 2021 before stepping off the senate floor during a vote on the bill to restore police pursuit (SB 5919) during the waning days of the 2022 session. Her actions were recorded on television (tvw.org). As a result, the bill failed, and law enforcement officers remain unable to do their jobs effectively and provide public safety in Washington state.
In stark contrast, Jesse graduated from Wilson High School in Tacoma as valedictorian in 1995 and received a Washington State Scholar Award from the legislature. He accomplished these feats while homeless, as documented by the The News Tribune (Tacoma), which featured him in an article in 1995 after he was accepted into the University of Notre Dame on partial scholarships. There he worked nearly full-time to make ends meet and eventually married his high school sweetheart, Jennie. They have six children. Jesse majored in business and computer science and graduated from Notre Dame in 1999 with a degree in management information systems.
Jesse became a software engineer and technology consultant for multiple Fortune 500 companies on the West Coast, including PeopleSoft, Boeing, Primera Blue Cross, Russell Investments and Kaiser Permanente. In late 2013, a legislative vacancy occurred in our 26th district and Jesse was one of three nominees forwarded to the Pierce County Council. I spoke on his behalf, and he was unanimously appointed to fill the vacancy through 2014. Jesse has since been elected four times and amassed an impressive and formidable track record.
First on the list of accomplishments was achieving what was called the impossible task of refinancing the Tacoma Narrows Bridge debt and stopping all toll increases. His efforts saved us all over $200 million and, as a result, tolls haven’t reached $10 dollars a trip, which is where the Transportation Commission projected them to be this year before Jesse delivered on his promise.
In 2016, Jesse partnered with Democrat Rep. Strom Peterson (21st LD) to co-author the most significant environmental policy passed in Washington state history. The bill protects our ground water and reduces carbon emissions and builds out our electrical vehicle charging station infrastructure without raising taxes through the empowerment of the Pollution Liability Insurance Agency. Jesse’s bill for the environment (HB 2357) was so lauded, Gov. Jay Inslee used it as the foundation for his national environmental plan when he ran for president in 2020.
Jesse has also passed key legislation expanding resources to health and social welfare organizations, balanced transportation budgets, and consistently worked and voted with Democrats to expand funding for those struggling with homelessness. Since the 26th is a military district, he has also been a consistent force in standing up for our veterans and their families. His recent legislation providing greater access and options for medical services was passed unanimously this session. He is also the reason we don’t have to pay the massively expensive annual Sound Transit car tab renewal fees because he stopped their taxing authority from crossing Puget Sound into our district (tvw.org).
So, the voters have two very different candidates with different values, policies and track records to choose from, and I strongly and proudly endorse and recommend Rep. Jesse Young for state Senate in the 26th District.
Bruce Cook lives in Lakebay.
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