Longtime Eastside leader and business owner is committed to advancing gun responsibility legislation and work on mental health and housing issues
Kirkland Mayor Amy Walen has announced that she will run for the Washington State House of Representatives in the 48th Legislative District, which includes parts of Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond and the Points cities. Walen, first elected to the City Council more than a decade ago, will run as a Democrat for the seat being vacated by retiring Representative Joan McBride, who is endorsing Walen.
“Serving the people of Kirkland as Mayor and Councilmember has been a tremendous honor,” said Walen, who also was selected by her peers to chair the regional Sound Cities Association this year. “We’ve done amazing work in our city to address pressing issues from transportation to human services—but these are issues where state leadership is needed to really make progress to help every community, and every family, thrive.”
Walen says she was motivated to run to both continue the housing affordability leadership of McBride, and to make more progress on stalled gun responsibility legislation—especially bills that didn’t pass at the end of the short session to raise the purchasing age of semi-automatic firearms and other provisions.
“Like mothers across this nation, I am outraged by political inaction on this crisis, and inspired by the voices of young people to demand action to protect all of our rights to safe schools, safe communities, and safe gathering spaces,” said Walen, who has three stepchildren and serves as a guardian for her nephew. “I’ve worked hard in my community to do my part, but in Olympia I know I can be a strong voice for real action to reduce preventable violence.”
In addition, Walen wants to take a different approach to the complex, interrelated issues of addiction and homelessness, “treating these epidemics as public health priorities, not personal failures,” she said.
An advocate for women’s health and pay equity, Walen says she will continue pressing for pay equity and protection of reproductive choice, consistently under attack from the Congress.
“We’ve made progress here in Washington State, but as we have seen with the current Congress and White House, there are ideological politicians who wake up every day intent on turning back the clock for women,” said Walen. “We need leaders who will continue protecting our rights and making sure we achieve real workplace equity.”
Another issue important to Walen is reforming Washington’s tax code.
“I’d love to be part of the solution on restructuring our regressive, unfair tax code,” said Walen. “We can look at smart reforms that reduce the burden on lower income and working families and require a fair share from the wealthiest in our state. We need to stop distracting voters by talking about an unconstitutional income tax—we have real tools like capital gains and ways to give people a needed break and reduce reliance on property and sales taxes.”
In addition to McBride, Walen begins the race with a growing list of early endorsers, including: State Representatives Vandana Slatter (D-48), Shelly Kloba (D-1), Larry Springer (D-45), Roger Goodman (D-45), Judy Clibborn (D-41); State Senator Patty Kuderer (D-48); County Councilmember Claudia Balducci; Redmond Mayor John Marchione, and Redmond Council President Angela Birney; Kirkland City Council members Deputy Mayor Jay Arnold, Penny Sweet, Jon Pascal, and recently retired Council Member Doreen Marchione; Bellevue City Councilmembers Mayor John Chelminiak, and Deputy Mayor Lynne Robinson.
“I am proud of my regional leadership uniting civic, business, and neighborhood leaders around common priorities, looking past ideological and partisan fault lines,” said Walen, who with her husband Jim owns a successful auto dealership. “I believe we can foster a healthy small business climate while achieving real progress on pressing social issues and achieving equity and opportunity for working people. I’m grateful for the early support from leaders across the region, and I can’t wait to meet with voters across the district to discuss the issues facing our communities.”