State Rep. Jessyn Farrell (D-Seattle)
This is the fifth installment in our “Huskies on the Hill” series featuring UW Alumni serving in state government.
Today’s Q&A features State Representative Jessyn Farrell, B.A., History, ’96, who represents the 46th Legislative District.
Elected in 2012, Rep. Farrell previously worked as the Executive Director of Transportation Choices Coalition, an organization dedicated to expanding bus, rail, bicycle and pedestrian transportation options. As a mother of two young children, she is passionate about Washington’s education system.
Rep. Farrell serves on the Environment Committee, Early Learning and Human Services Committee, and Transportation Committee.
1. What motivated you to run for office?
I believe more moms need to be involved in the political process. We make major policy decisions on a daily basis that affect children and families. It’s important to have the perspective of those who are on the front lines of trying to make a living, taking care of kids, and giving them the very best. I ran for the state legislature to provide that voice and that perspective.
2. What are your legislative priorities this session?
In addition to meeting the Supreme Court mandate to fully funding K-12 education and keeping public university education more accessible, my own bills include efforts to: reform and improve the Working Connections Child Care Program that helps low-income families work or find work by subsidizing child care; provide local funding options to save King County Metro service; and make it easier to construct affordable housing and promote transit-oriented development.
3. What has been the biggest surprise and biggest disappointment for you so far this session?
The most significant surprise so far this session has been how cool it is to vote on all sorts of issues! There are policy areas that I’m very passionate about, and working to pass legislation on those issues has been very rewarding. It has also been fascinating to learn about all the other things that our legislature works on.
The biggest disappointment was the defeat of commonsense legislation to close gun background check loopholes. We have a lot of work to do in the coming months to move this legislation forward.
4. What do you think the long-term outlook is for Higher Education in our state?
Reinvesting in our higher education institutions is one of my top priorities as a legislator. When I attended the University of Washington, the state contribution to higher education was 70 percent, with families paying the remaining 30 percent. In the past few years those numbers have been flipped on their head, with the burden now falling heavily on students and parents. We need to reverse that trend.
I believe there is bipartisan consensus around the need to restore higher education funding and reinvigorate our universities. Agreeing on where that money will come from – particularly in the shadow of McCleary – will be challenging, and it may not happen this year. But I believe over the next few years we will see a renewed commitment in Olympia to funding higher education.
5. How do you spend your time when the legislature is not in session?
I spend my time with my two kids and husband, swimming in Lake Washington, hiking in the mountains and enjoying city parks – can you tell I’m looking forward to summer? I will also return to my regular work as an attorney and mediator.