By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
A Marvel Universe fan, Steve Hobbs came to a recent luncheon of community leaders wearing a Captain America tie. The navy blue tie, adorned with subtle dots which, when looked at closer, are the trademark red, white, and blue shield carried by the hero in the Marvel Universe comics and movies. Similar to the character, Hobbs is preserving democracy through protection of the electoral process as Secretary of State.
“Underrepresented people need a voice, communities of color need a voice, I am the only person at that state executive level,” Hobbs explained on why he should be the choice for Washington Secretary of State. Hobbs’ mother immigrated to the United States from Japan. Hobbs became the state’s 16th Secretary of State in November 2021 after being appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee, becoming the first Asian American and person of color to take the position.
Despite the appointment last year, Hobbs must run for the position once again in a statewide special election in November 2022 to complete for the last two years of the Secretary of State’s term.
Hobbs is running against Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, who is running as a non-partisan candidate. Hobbs is a Democrat.
“I just stick to the same messaging from the beginning which works,” Hobbs said of the campaign strategy in running against a non-partisan candidate. “This office is about ensuring that our elections are transparent, secure, and accessible. With all due respect, she doesn’t have that and I do.”
The issue of election security has brought the office of the Secretary of State into much more scrutiny since the presidential election of 2020. Hobbs indicated that the two major issues his office faces are cyber threats and misinformation.
“Cyber threats are pretty straightforward,” Hobbs explained. Threats to election security, voting machines, and the process of counting votes have been attacked.
As Secretary of State, Hobbs has a security clearance with the federal government that allows him to keep up to date on the latest domestic and foreign cyber threats that may infiltrate our elections.
The second and perhaps bigger issue is that of malicious misinformation.
“We don’t want to restrict First Amendment rights, but when we see things that are not true, we push back on misinformation if it grows too much or is erroneous,” Hobbs explained. He gave the example of a situation where an overseas agency will scan the internet for all sorts of stuff to cause distrust in the voting system. They will then create a fake website to cause disruption.
In an effort to deal with misinformation, Hobbs preaches social media awareness. Hobbs stated that it’s important that a social media user checks the validity of news from a reliable source before accepting its truth and spreading misinformation further with a retweet or sharing with others.
He noted that young people are important when it comes to voting in this upcoming election. “They are a lot smarter when it comes to social media, than older folks.” He feels it’s vital to “communicate to them at the elementary, middle school, and high school level with better curriculum so we make better citizens as they become voting age.”
If he continues on as Washington’s Secretary of State, Hobbs hopes to expand efforts to educate the state voter. He would like to hire a lead person with a staff of people and contract out to organizations in the continued efforts to help create proper messaging for election and voting laws, and encourage everyone of voting age to vote.
In the days leading up to the general election, Hobbs will be campaigning throughout the state, spreading the message of why he should keep his job.
Hobbs was born in Everett, Washington and has been married to his wife for over 25 years. The couple has three sons. Two have followed in his footsteps of being in the Army National Guard. His middle son, Truman, took the bronze medal in swimming in the Special Olympics held in Florida this past June.
Hobbs enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of 17. He completed two tours of duty in Kosovo and Iraq where he served in various leadership positions. He is currently a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army National Guard.
Hobbs received an Associate of Arts degree at Everett Community College and then went on to the University of Washington, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Masters in Public Administration.
In 2006, he was elected as a state senator representing Washington’s 44th Legislative District, which covers a large area east of Everett which includes Maltby, Mill Creek, and Snohomish.
Hobbs’ campaign website can be found at electhobbs.com.
Jason can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.