Educator, veteran Rylands launches campaign for state Senate

For the Reporter

Educator and U.S. Army veteran Michelle Rylands announced Wednesday her campaign for state Senate in the 31st Legislative District against Phil Fortunato.

The district includes pieces of South King and North Pierce counties, including parts of Auburn, Enumclaw, Sumner, and South Prairie.

Rylands, a Democrat from Auburn, and Fortunato, R-Auburn, competed in the November 2017 special election. Fortunato prevailed, earning 57 percent of the vote to Rylands’ 42. Voter turnout was 32 percent.

Combined King and Pierce county councils in January 2017 appointed Fortunato to fill the seat Pam Roach vacated upon her election to the Pierce County Council.

Fortunato’s term ends in 2019.

“I ran last year and I’m running this year because I believe we can do better for our region and our families,,” Rylands said. “Forunato goes to Olympia, plays political games and brings little to nothing back to our district. From education to transportation to supporting our small businesses, our district has yet to see one thing that Phil has actually delivered on. It’s time the families of our district had a Senator who gets it and who gets it done.”

Early in her campaign, Rylands is focused on reducing property taxes for middle-class families, a complaint that she heard loud and clear from voters throughout her campaign last year.

During the 2017 legislative session, Republicans proposed and passed the largest property tax increase the state has ever seen, Rylands pointed out. Earlier this year, Democrats in the Senate passed a property tax cut, while maintaining funding for schools and infrastructure. Rylands looks to build on that success and explore ways to reduce the tax burden facing middle- and working-class families in her district.

Rylands’ additional priorities for her campaign include strengthening public schools and reducing the amount of time families spend stuck in traffic through South King and Pierce counties.

Rylands is a longtime PTA mom with the Auburn Council of PTAs, as well as an educator with Auburn Public Schools. She served as a military police officer with the Army, was raised by parents active in the U.S. Air Force, and her husband served in the Navy.

Rylands and her husband owned Dash, a local oil and vinegar import store, until 2016 when they closed to focus their time on their respective careers and with their two sons, Colin and Chase. Rylands and her family live in Lakeland Hills, and her two sons attend middle school in Auburn.