PCOs Pick Javier Valdez to Replace Jessyn Farrell

Valdez will fill the vacancy immediately after the King County Council's approval Monday.

By Hayat Norimine June 12, 2017

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Javier Valdez is the 46th District's next state representative.

The King County Council on Monday approved the 46th District Democratic precinct committee officers' pick; they voted Saturday on who should replace Jessyn Farrell, after she stepped down as state representative on June 1 to focus on the mayor's race (and be able to raise money for her campaign). 

Eight candidates were nominated and 90 of 122 PCOs were at the meeting. (Live updates are on the Northwest Progressive Institute's website.) Ultimately one candidate got the majority of the votes—Javier Valdez, a board member of the Washington State Democratic Party since 2003 and special assistant to the mayor on programs for women- and minority-owned businesses. Valdez sought appointment to the state senate seat back in 2011 when state senator Scott White died, and was the PCOs' third pick at that time. (It was filled by David Frockt.)

Melissa Taylor was the PCOs' second pick, while Nigel Herbig (who was endorsed by Farrell) came in third. They both said they would support the PCOs' top choice, so Valdez was unopposed for the King County Council. With the council's approval today, he'll be filling Farrell's seat immediately. 

"My goal is to be as effective as all of our delegation," Valdez said. "They all worked very well together as a team. ... I want to continue to work with Frockt and (Gerry) Pollet in continuing that relationship that that delegation has had historically." 

Right now the Republicans have a narrow one-vote majority in the Senate and the Democrats a one-vote majority in the House. (Valdez would make it two.) Valdez would be taking over the seat at a time when the legislature is still negotiating a solution to the McCleary decision—a court mandate for the state to fund basic education, rather than have jurisdictions rely heavily on local levies. Legislators are also negotiating the 2017-2019 operating and capital budgets with a deadline of July 1 to avoid a government shutdown. 

"I'm going to have to trust the leadership of the House and the Senate on the Democratic side that they have negotiated the best deal possible to avoid a government shutdown," he said. 

Like other Democrats, Valdez opposes the Republican plan for McCleary, to set a uniform state property-tax rate and effectively shift more of the tax burden to property-rich districts like Seattle. Senate Republicans argue that their proposal would fix an unfair tax system for rural school districts, where property owners have proportionately paid higher taxes to sustain their schools. But it's also a way to avoid any new taxes proposed by governor Jay Inslee, and likely wouldn't be enough to cover the entire scope of the Supreme Court decision.

Other top priorities for Valdez? Using the state Democratic Party's primary, rather than caucuses, to choose delegates for the 2020 presidential election. (He was a Hillary Clinton delegate last year for the Seventh Congressional District.) He said he wants to be a liaison between the party and the legislature to make it happen. He also wants to repeal Tim Eyman-sponsored Initiative 200, which was approved by voters in 1998 and prohibits affirmative action in public employment or government contracting. It's significantly harmed minority-owned businesses, he said, and he intends to file legislation every year until it's repealed. 

"It's not a sexy issue, but it needs a champion in Olympia and I want to be that champion," he said. 

Valdez's parents were farm workers and he grew up in Moses Lake, Central Washington. In a released statement on Monday, Frockt said he was a "stalwart leader" in the Democratic Party whose family's stories were  "compelling examples of the American dream."

"I am looking forward to serving with him in Olympia as we work together to advance the interests of our constituents locally and across the state," Frockt said. 

Updated June 12, 2017, at 3:48pm after the King County Council approved Valdez on Monday. 

Updated June 13, 2017, at 7:32am: This post corrects the number of PCOs present; the meeting began with 84 in the morning but ended with 90 voting. 

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