A New Day

Dear Friend,

Since my last update, the 2016 election took over newsfeeds, dinner table conversations, and our airwaves, and then finally came to an end. I’m honored that folks in our region decided to re-hire me and give me the opportunity to be their voice in our nation’s capital again. Thank you for that. I’ll continue to be accountable and accessible to the folks I represent. As part of that, I promise to keep sending these newsletters straight to your inbox!

As you can imagine, I’ve heard from a lot of folks with a variety of opinions about the presidential election. Suffice it to say, it’s clear from this election season that our country is a much more divided place than any of us hoped for. 

Despite a presidential campaign that many found dispiriting and rhetoric that often offended our sensibilities, it’s time to look ahead. Last week, President Obama said that in America, “the peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy. And over the next few months, we are going to show that to the world.”

So, what does that mean going forward?

It means we stand up for our shared values as Americans. It means we stand up against policies or rhetoric that flies in the face of those values.  

It means we defend civil rights and stand for the notion that discrimination ought to be a thing of the past. It means we all work hard to treat each other with more respect. To respect our differences. 

It means we work to change a status quo that has left too many people feeling left behind in this economy. While we can acknowledge that our economy has improved since the depths of the Great Recession, we must also acknowledge that those benefits haven’t been shared by everyone. That there are too many families struggling to make ends meet and too many small businesses just trying to keep their lights on. That there are too many communities concerned that their top export will be their young people and that our government shouldn’t ignore that.

It means that our elected leaders need to try to find areas where we can find some common ground and make some progress. Democrats and Republicans agree that we need to make it easier to start a small business, or invest in our aging roads and bridges. We agree that the tax code is broken and has too many breaks for special interests. We agree on the importance of quality educational opportunities, the importance of workforce training, and the need to provide an affordable path to a college degree or certification for folks who want one.

It means we work to get this democracy on track. In recent months, I heard from Democrats and Republicans who believe that special interests and those with the deepest of pockets have too much influence in our government. I agree. It’s why I’ll keep working for meaningful campaign finance reform and will pursue every effort I can to put democracy back in the hands of “we the people.”

Dr. King said, "The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice." But it doesn't bend on its own. It takes work. And, my friends, we have a lot of work to do. After a divisive campaign year, I want to see every American (including folks in Congress) get focused on our country’s progress. History has shown us that America can accomplish anything when we put our minds to it and work together. 

That’s why I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and help get our economy and Congress working for everyone.

Now, on to the news….

Students Ready to Lead

One of the things that motivated me to pursue this job was interest in seeing a better future for my kids (and all of our kids). I care about the world they grow up in. I want us to be sure to leave a better world for the generations that come next.

Every time I sit down with a group of students I walk away feeling hopeful about where our country is going.

Today’s students will one day be tomorrow’s leaders. Recently, I got the chance to talk with some of them at Wilson High School and at Annie Wright in Tacoma. In both schools, we had awesome discussions about how government impacts our lives. They had some great ideas and thoughtful questions. It was clear they do their homework! I walked away feeling assured that the future of our community is indeed bright.

A Special Spotlight on Young Leaders

I was also honored to take part in the Kitsap County 20 under 40 (sadly, I’m a few years older than these folks now!) It was a night full of cool stories about folks who are shaping our community for the better – whether because of a business they started or contributing through public service.

During the celebration I was honored to give an address where I got to say thanks to everyone there. I fully expect them to keep transforming our community – and our world.

An Opportunity for our Region

I continue to beat the drum regarding how cross-laminated timber (CLT) and other innovative wood products can and should be used as a way to reduce future building costs, reduce the military’s carbon footprint and energy usage, and provide new economic opportunities for communities on the Olympic Peninsula and other parts of the country. It was the topic of conversation that I took part in during a panel discussion hosted by Forterra. There’s a real opportunity to grow jobs in our region.

At the Forterra summit, I talked a bit about the Timber Innovation Act, a bill I introduced with some of my colleagues. I also highlighted a working group my office has participated in that is focused on educating the public about this product and ensuring that it can be sustainably sourced, manufactured, and used here.

We had a good crowd of folks who came to hear more about CLT’s potential to both grow jobs in our rural areas and build our urban centers in environmentally friendly ways. Thanks again for everyone who attended and is invested in moving this forward.

Working for You

There were a number of others stops I made in the past couple of weeks. Here are a couple of highlights! And if you have a community meeting, event, or get-together please reach out to my office and tell us about it.

I stopped by the Key Peninsula Business Association for some coffee and conversation recently. Thanks to the Association for hosting! We had a productive conversation about helping small businesses and supporting our veterans, plus a lot of other stuff. It’s a talented group of local leaders making a difference.

I also had an opportunity to highlight the important effort being done to help clean up our Puget Sound at the Northwest Straits Initiative conference in Port Townsend. There are a lot of folks out there doing such awesome work making progress to protect the Sound for everyone.

For over twenty years the Asia Pacific Cultural Center has been central to community and service in our region. It was great to celebrate the APCC’s 20th Anniversary with so many good friends and to learn more about their effort to build a new facility with the potential to be a hub of culture, history and art for the city of Tacoma and our region for years to come.

OK. That’s it for now. If I can ever lend a hand, please don’t hesitate to holler.

As always, it’s an honor to represent you!

Derek Kilmer