By Nina Huang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Jinyoung Lee Englund, 33, feels that now is the right time and right place to run for the state senate seat in the 45th Legislative District, which includes Duvall, Kirkland, Sammamish, and Woodinville.
Dino Rossi was appointed to the late Andy Hill’s senate seat last December, after Hill passed away from lung cancer. The special election taking place in November with primaries in August is to elect someone to finish Hill’s four-year term, while Rossi is finishing up the third year.
Englund said that Rossi is fully supportive of her running and is ready to pass the baton.
Though Englund never met Hill, she admired his results-driven work style and his desire to solve community problems.
“People loved Andy Hill because what he did was that he talked to people instead of assuming what people wanted, instead of pushing a party agenda. He did that by doorbelling and going door to door and asking, ‘What matters to you?
What would make the quality of your life better?’ That’s what we’re doing, I’m not going to pretend to know what 150,000 people in our district want. We’re going to talk to as many people as we can,” Englund explained.
“Andy was the kind of leader that respected everybody regardless of ideology and background. He didn’t get caught up in partisan politics and that’s the type of leadership that I want to carry forward,” she said.
“With all the partisan bickering nationally and in our state, it’s time for our generation to step up to take leadership. From a diversity standpoint, America is a country of immigrants, we need to make sure that people are represented at the table. Hopefully there will be others who want to do this, but someone’s got to start,” Englund explained.
Her team and supporters have already raised $225,000 and Englund has personally visited nearly 1,000 homes in her first 19 days of campaigning.
Englund hopes to bring her millennial mindset and collaborative leadership style to serve and represent the community.
“My parents taught me to always respect your elders and that’s the type of spirit that we bring to our campaign. We want our team to be multigenerational. I believe that we are a healthier community and society when there are multiple generations working together and when we have a balanced government,” she said.
Protecting Washingtonians from a new income tax and having fully funded education are top priorities for Englund.
She described how Washington is able to be competitive for jobs because there’s no state income tax, and that’s what makes the state stand out.
“Education is a big issue, people value K-12 education and making sure kids have equal access. In Olympia, they have to make that the first item to address, not the last. For me, I don’t think the gut reaction should be, ‘We need more money, so we need to raise taxes’ — we should be more thoughtful. If we value education, then we should put it at the top and then figure out how to find ways to save in our budget and be responsible stewards of taxpayer money,” she explained.
From Englund’s fintech experience, she learned that we can leverage technology for social good.
“The solution isn’t always more money, but we can be more creative in how we solve problems,” she said.
“People in the older generations tend to be more hierarchical, but I’m more of a flat organizational collaborator. Let’s hear everyone’s ideas and go with the best one-type of person,” she said.
If elected, Englund’s plan for the first few months would be to work with constituents to figure out what their smart and stretch goals are in terms of what they want to achieve.
“I am not Trump, anyone who knows me knows what I value. What I want to see in our state is balance. In this current storm of political partisanship, our campaign has the opportunity to be the ray of sunshine through the dark storm clouds of partisanship. We’re the next generation and we’re going to do things differently,” Englund asserted.
Englund has a close relationship with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. She has been inspired by Chao as someone who has broken glass ceilings as the first Asian American woman appointed to the George Bush administration and lasted all eight years. Englund explained that most people burn out and physically cannot handle the work after a few years, but Chao persevered.
On the personal side, Englund’s husband of almost five years, Geoff, is the most important person in her life. This political campaign is a huge sacrifice, but Englund explained that her husband’s calling is to be a U.S. Marine, while hers is to serve the community.
“America is the home of immigrants and diversity. I feel like it would be a real honor if I become elected,” she said.
If elected, Englund would be the first Republican Korean American elected to the Washington state senate.
Englund encouraged young Asian Americans to be civically minded and to volunteer with her campaign. It’s a great way to learn by going out and doing it and meeting great people along the way. She looks for people who have integrity, character, and a good work ethic.
“Asian Americans have an opportunity to make history, I invite everyone to make history with me,” she said.
The primary election is on August 1 and the special election will take place on November 7.
Nina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.