Hughes-Ham made a decision to run and this is why. Hughes-Ham stated, "I initially ran because no one was stepping up to run. I believe that voters should have a choice! So, I thought, why not me? I'm an experienced educator with extensive experience from within the public education system. I would love for Washington state public schools to be as well-funded and as innovative as the industry in our state. We SHOULD be a shining example for the rest of the country. I wanted to be able to affect change at the state level for the students I advocate for every day. I also felt like I would be a good person to represent my LD because I was born here, raised here, and I came back to raise my family here. I understand the people, the industries, and the landscape that makes us special. And I want to work for all of us to allow us to realize our true potential."
"But then, the Dobbs decision leaked right after I decided to run," she said. "The landscape changed. Washington state has still not codified a woman's right to make decisions about her healthcare and her family planning, so the race became not just about advocacy for our LD, but also for the people of the entire state. We have work to do, and I want to be part of that important work."
Many people have opinions as to what are the biggest challenges, Hughes-Ham stated, "We have a housing crisis, just like most of the country. The people of our LD deserve safe, affordable housing in inclusive, strong communities. We also deserve more living-wage union jobs, in our industries that have not just continued to be the economic backbone of our region, but also the cultural backbone. We need to expand rural access to vital healthcare services. And we cannot continue to rely on local funding for our schools, especially in our rural districts where the funding structure from the state doesn't acknowledge that rural districts are dramatically different from urban and suburban districts."
One of her projects will be in the education arena, she continued, "I want to change the funding structure for public schools. There is no reason why, in a state that boasts so many Fortune 500 companies, our public schools should have to beg local communities to supplement the inadequate state funding through levies and bonds. We need to invest in our youth, because when you invest in our youth, communities become stronger and more resilient. I'm also very interested in working with our natural resource industries to figure out how we can help those industries become the first line of defense against climate change, while also empowering them to make decisions that allow them to flourish. For example, our local shellfish growers have been battling invasive species that are decimating the shellfish population, but the science-based safe solutions to allow them to eradicate the invaders are tied up in political red tape and party politics. It's time for the people who do the work to be able to make decisions about their industries without worrying about backdoor deals amongst politicians."
When she was asked what the voters should be looking at, Hughes-Ham continued, "Our legislative district is currently unrepresented. Our state representatives may want to work on behalf of the people of our region, but they do not work across party lines to advocate for us. We are missing out on vital programs and funding that our current reps simply cannot access because of their dangerously partisan policies. Our communities cannot wait. We need representation that will find ways to work with those who disagree with them, in order to do what is best for ALL of the people of our LD."
This is where we ask the candidate if there is anything you would like to say to our readers, she stated, "I'm one of you. I'm a rural kid, a high school teacher, a mom, a wife, a fisherman and forager, and a fierce advocate for the people of my community. I want to do the work. I am not interested in this office being a stepping stone to something bigger, because I want to represent the people and the region I love... and I KNOW I will be good at this! Please reach out if you have ANY questions for me! I will talk to anyone who wants the best for our communities, like I do."
Kelli Hughes-Ham is running in the 19th District representing the Democratic Party.