State and Legislative District: Washington’s 45th State Senate district
District Occupation: Entrepreneur
What inspired you to run for public office?
My grandparents emigrated with their family from what’s now known as North Korea to Washington in 1975. Like many families, we chose to be American, but more importantly, we chose to be Washingtonian. I’m alive and able to run to serve in elected office today because, in 1950, America defended a country they never knew and a people they never met. That country was Korea and those people are my people.
From the invasion of Korea to serving with the US military and my work in post-war Mozambique, my family has the unique experience of having experienced both political and economic oppression and freedom across three generations. Being American has afforded our family the gifts of life, freedom, and opportunity. That is a debt we can never repay, but it is one that we can certainly pay forward.
When AND WHY did you first begin to identify as a Republican?
I grew up apolitical. Our immigrant family, like many immigrant families, was too preoccupied building a life here. Upon graduating from the University of Washington, I moved to Africa to serve with a non-profit, co-leading a water well drilling project. There, I learned that certain policies empower people to overcome their circumstances while other policies either enable or trap people in the circumstance they are in. My experience in Africa also taught me that more money does not equal better outcomes. In order to actually help people, especially the most vulnerable among us, we need to be able to balance compassion with the ability to work within a budget. Upon my return home to Washington, I looked into both political parties and decided I leaned more Republican because of the emphasis on fiscal conservatism and empowering people at the local level.
If elected what do you see as being your top legislative priorities?
The top legislative priorities in my district are: education, transportation and taxes. Since we launched the campaign, I have knocked on thousands of doors and talked with neighbors and I consistently hear about these three legislative issues. The families in my district value education and recognize that it is the cornerstone of a successful future. We are fortunate to have world-class public schools in our district, including choice schools. We must empower parents to make the best choice for their children’s success, ensure teachers have the support they need in classrooms, and protect the quality of education our students are receiving by making sure funds allocated for education reach the classroom to improve outcomes. Secondly, traffic congestion in our state, and specifically in my district, is at an all-time high, especially after our state added toll lanes to a lane on the major interstate running through my district that people already paid for. The mismanagement of our transportation dollars deteriorates the trust people have in their elected officials and government agencies. Lastly, the voters in my district do not want an income tax. The voters in Washington state have voted down an income tax measure nine times, yet the other side continues to work back-room deals to try to force one on our state’s population. I am committed to working to protect my state from both a state income tax and state capital gains income tax.
What is an issue you are hearing about from voters that you don’t think the media is talking enough about?
King County — the county in which my district is located — plans to open the first two heroin injection sites in the country in our county. Despite receiving almost double the required amount of signatures to put this initiative on the ballot, just in the last few weeks, a King County judge ruled to take away from the people the right to vote on this very controversial issue. I have learned from talking to thousands of people in my district that they do not want a site to be opened in our district. While Seattle has its own particular set of values and culture, it is very different from those of the Eastside. I know that as a state, we have limited resources and the resounding feedback I receive at the door is that those dollars should be allocated towards proven solutions that seek to help those suffering from addiction actually overcome their addiction — not simply reduce the number of overdoses.
When you are not campaigning what else do you like to do in your free time?
When I’m not doorbelling or attending a community event or forum, I try to spend as much time as possible with family. My husband Geoff is an active duty U.S. Marine currently forward deployed in Asia so we try to schedule calls as often as possible. Both of our families are from Washington so I rotate between spending quality time with my seven nieces and nephews to my siblings-in-law, parents-in-law and my own parents and aunts. When Geoff and I do get to be together, we love being with our family, going on hikes, trying new restaurants, and learning new skills while traveling like learning to surf in Hawaii. If you could go back in time to any historical moment what would it be and why? I would have loved to be among the pioneers who first discovered the pacific northwest. Geoff and I love our state, mostly for the people we have grown up with, know and love, but also because of its majestic beauty. From the blue of the Puget Sound, to the white-capped mountains and vibrant green evergreens, this is home.
What app on your phone would you not be able to live without?
Whatsapp. Geoff and I have found that for overseas communication, this is the most reliable app in terms of clarity and quality of audio and video. During this season of life where we are an ocean apart, we are thankful for today’s technology that enables us to stay connected — something that wasn’t available to my parents when my father was deployed during the Gulf War.