By Brian L. Gunn/for the Auburn Reporter
The general election this November here in the 31st Legislative District is about much more than a chance to change the balance of power in Olympia.
It is about much more than ending the gridlock that’s prevented us from solving the McCleary school funding dilemma. It is about changing the course of our community, our state and our country toward a more just and equitable society.
We have a chance to make a start toward better opportunity for all our citizens by voting for Michelle Rylands for state Senate in the 31st District.
As chair of the 31st District Democrats, I asked Michelle to run for the state Senate seat in this year’s special election. I learned from talking to others in the community who knew Michelle well that she was a person who was deeply invested in our community. The people of the 31st District deserve a senator who cares about the people she would represent. Michelle’s resume proves that she is the right person to represent our district.
As a small business owner, she learned how hard folks have to work to make a new business successful. She knows that small business owners can create success not just for themselves but for their employees and their communities. She also saw that too often so-called “business-friendly” interests in Olympia think only of the profits of giant, out-of-state corporations and are not at all friendly to local, family-owned businesses.
As president of the Auburn Council of PTAs, Michelle dedicated herself to ensuring that all the kids in our area get a good education and the improved chance of future success that only a world-class education can provide. As she says, her own kids have a better chance of success if every single kid in their schools is also able to succeed. When a community has good schools, there is generally less crime, and better educated individuals have more positive health outcomes.
Michelle is a veteran, a former military police officer, and is currently employed as a 911 dispatcher for the King County Sheriff’s department. With that background, you can be sure that public safety will be a high priority for her in Olympia.
Knowing all that about Michelle, I believe that she is highly qualified to be our next state senator, and would do a better job than the current senator who was appointed by the King and Pierce County Councils, and not elected to the Senate by the people of the district. Unfortunately, while the News Tribune Editorial Board called the current senator “cantankerous” and “a provocateur” who should not be taken seriously, their assessment of Michelle Rylands stinks of sexism.
It happens every time. A woman steps up to run for office, and what does the “establishment” press have to say? She’s not prepared. She’s over-reaching. She “lacks depth.” I’m sick and tired of hearing the same old tired song every time. If a man with 30 years of experience in the military, in small business, and in community service were to step up to run for the state Senate, the response would not include these kinds of demeaning attacks even if he had never before run for elective office.
Let me give you just one example of how wrong they are. Michelle has taken a stand in favor of a state bank as proposed by Sen. Bob Hasegawa. The proposed Washington Investment Trust, or state bank, will keep taxpayer dollars in our state working for Washingtonians instead of Wall Street. This shows me that she is in fact quite capable of understanding the complex issues that will come before her as a senator, and that her decisions will be informed by a commitment to making the best, most efficient use of our tax dollars in ways that benefit the citizens of Washington, and not the big money interests who wield influence over the appointed state senator whom she opposes.
Media coverage of this race has been sparse, despite its importance. It is sad that what coverage there has been has been so tainted by “old boy” political gambits. The independent-minded voters of the 31st District should not be fooled, and I urge everyone to take a serious look at Michelle Rylands and cast your vote based not on party but for the person who will best represent the people of our district.
Brian L. Gunn is a political activist living in Auburn. He is chair of the 31st Legislative District Democrats. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org