Rep. Jesse Johnson announces he is not seeking re-election

Johnson (D-Federal Way) sponsored legislative bills on police reform, use of force.

State Representative Jesse Johnson (D-Federal Way) announced Wednesday (March 9) he is not seeking re-election.

Johnson was appointed as 30th District State Representative in 2020 to fill the position previously held by Kristine Reeves. In Nov. 2020, voters elected Johnson over opponent Jack Walsh, who now sits on the Federal Way City Council.

Johnson said in a news release that he is stepping back to focus on his family.

“As tough a decision as this was, I am at peace because family is what is most important to me and that is what needs my full attention the most right now, especially my 6-month-old baby and my partner. Being able to fully support my family and step away from politics is the right step for us in this season of our lives. I truly believe that it should not always be women taking a back seat in their careers and I have a talented partner in medical school soon to become a doctor. Supporting her while being more present in her and my child’s life is what is needed for our family.”

A Federal Way native, Johnson served on the Federal Way City Council prior to his appointment to the state Legislature.

Johnson said serving the Federal Way community has been “the honor of my life.”

“After serving during a pandemic, unprecedented economic challenges and racial reckoning, I have given my full self to this work to pass policy to help people and bring funding to my district,” Johnson’s new release stated. “I have always wanted to show young people and people of color in my community that you can be in this position and that representation matters.”

His work includes passing police conduct legislation, some of which banned police officers from using chokeholds and no-knock warrants, and restricted the use of tear gas and other military equipment.

Johnson also created the first statewide police de-escalation standard to reduce use of force incidents, which has been met with controversy both before and after the laws went into effect in July 2021.

HB 1310 requires officers to exhaust all available de-escalation tactics when possible prior to using force, including “calling for additional resources such as a crisis intervention team or mental health professional,” according to the bill.

Supporting his alma mater, Johnson also helped create the first pre-apprenticeship program for trade careers at Federal Way High School.