While headlines are filled with the national drama of the 2018 midterms, Friends of Washington is here to keep you abreast of the critical battles right here in our own state. A handful of races for state seats heating up now will determine what happens in Olympia on gun safety, clean energy, and school funding for the coming year.
That’s why we want you to meet Pinky Vargas, a great candidate for State Senate (42nd District) who’s got a good chance to capture a seat and help bring about the Democratic wave we all want to see.
Support Pinky now. Early support to state candidates in flippable districts like Vargas in the 42nd, is critical, regardless of where you live, to bring about change in Washington State.
The 42nd, where Pinky Vargas is running, includes parts of Bellingham, plus smaller communities north to the border such as Ferndale, Lynden and Blaine. The 42nd voted solidly for Hillary Clinton and Jay Inslee in 2016, but Lynden was also where candidate Donald Trump decided to campaign in Washington State. It’s one of the five most important elections for the state legislature which will determine whether Democrats emerge with the winning margin they need to get things done. The current slim majorities in the State House and the State Senate are not enough for bold action.
Most importantly spread the news about Pinky Vargas and Friends of Washington. Get your friends to sign up for our monthly updates, to find out about all the key tipping points in this year’s elections for WA State Senate and House.
Pinky Vargas: A Change Agent to Make a Difference
When Bellingham city council member Pinky Vargas spoke last January at the Women’s March in Bellingham, something shifted in her. “I realized I was done accepting the status quo. I realized I wanted to change the equation. What I wanted to do was remove the biggest obstacle to change in Whatcom county.”’ And that obstacle was Doug Ericksen, the Republican state senator for the 42nd district. “He represented a small contingent of the people who live here, and he wasn’t showing up. He wasn’t representing our values.” So Vargas decided to run for his seat.
Energy sustainability is a major focus for Vargas. In addition to her role as a Bellingham city council member, she is also a Senior Business Account Manager at Puget Sound Energy, where she has worked for 8 years. For much of that time, she has worked in outreach efforts to help businesses and residents improve efficiency and save money while reducing their carbon footprints and supporting renewable energy. She now focuses on work with some of PSE’s largest business clients in the area.
That knowledge of energy trade-offs has helped her lead Bellingham city’s efforts to become more energy efficient. During her tenure with the city council, Bellingham competed and placed third in a nationwide competition -- the Georgetown Energy Prize -- to reduce energy usage throughout the city. This effort helped inspire the installation of a major solar array on the city’s Taylor dock. She has also worked to develop tourism and outdoor recreation in the region, and has guided the city’s efforts to officially adopt Bellingham’s new flag, which waves throughout the town.
Vargas’ experience on the city council justice committee has prepared her to tackle some of the big questions facing Washington state, including the problem of over-incarceration. A lack of jail capacity in the region has made the council think proactively about how to reduce incarcerations and consider alternatives to jail, including a state of the art electronic monitoring system that that has been used in lieu of jail for people prior to trial and those who have been sentenced on misdemeanors. Says Vargas, “I think I could help reduce the incarceration rate on the state level.”
Vargas grew up on a farm without running water and notes that her district is one of diverse, and sometimes conflicting needs. Whatcom county has a strong agricultural component, with fisheries, berry farms, dairy farms and even cannabis farms. But rural, suburban and city residents all face common concerns when it comes to housing, jobs and education. “A big concern here is access to water, even in an area that gets so much rain. It’s a topic that everyone in the 42nd understands,” she says, because it so directly affects development and housing accessibility.
She’s keenly focused on planning for the future, because she has seen firsthand how the gridlock at the state level is impeding smart growth in her district. “I’d watch things go to the state level and get stopped,” she says, noting that issues like oil train safety and solar energy incentives get blocked, often by her current opponent. That’s what she’s set out to change, and if you’d like to help her bring that change, sending money to her campaign now, as it’s launching, will make the biggest difference.
What else can you do right now? Recommend http://www.friendsofwashington.org to your friends and the groups you belong to. By email, and by posting a link to our website on Facebook, getting more of us signed up for these monthly updates will amplify the effect we’ll have on 2018. Let’s all chip in together to make the sweeping change we need.