By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
You didn’t see her name or face on any neighborhood campaign signs or any flyers in your mail, but by a series of (relatively) unexpected events and some (again, relatively) quick decisions, a new senator was chosen for Washington’s 27th Legislative District – which covers most of Tacoma.
It all started with the retirement of Sen. Jeannie Darneille (D-Tacoma, 27th Legislative District).
Sen. Darneille had about a year left on her term when a position she could not refuse emerged.
Darneille announced her resignation in September after holding the senate seat for nine years. She has taken a new assistant secretary position for the Women’s Prison Division in the state Department of Corrections.
Yasmin Trudeau may be a new presence to many of us in Tacoma, but she is no stranger to the political intricacies in Olympia.
Trudeau previously served as the legislative director for the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.
Before that, she was a policy analyst for the Washington State Senate Democratic Caucus, where she staffed the Senate Agriculture, Water, Trade & Economic Development committee and the Senate Ways & Means Committee on capital budget.
She joined the caucus team after having run the office of then-state Senator Pramila Jayapal as her legislative aide.
Trudeau brings extensive legal experience to her new role as state senator. Since graduating from Seattle University School of Law, she has held multiple externships – including one for Justice Mary Yu – in the state of Washington.
As Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (D-Spokane) put it, “She will hit the ground as one of the most prepared new senators this body has ever seen. Her advocacy, empathy and passion for people and public service will be an asset and an inspiration for her fellow legislators and for the people of the 27th Legislative District.”
She was selected from a field of about 10 candidates by 27th Legislative District Democratic Precinct Committee Officers (PCOs) (because she was replacing Darneille, a Democratic state senator). The PCOs voted on a set of top three candidates with the final selection being made by the Pierce County Council who voted to appoint her on a 7-0 vote.
As a Bengali-American, Trudeau is the first woman of color to serve as senator for the 27th Legislative District.
Trudeau’s appointment takes effect immediately. Her first session as state senator begins January 10, 2022.
A special election will be held in November of 2022 to fill the remainder of the term.
With her clear competence and relevant experience (and compelling personal history) Yasmin Trudeau takes her place in a tradition of long standing female leadership in the 27th Legislative District.
Strong women in our Senate
Following powerhouses like Jeannie Darneille (https://ballotpedia.org/Jeannie_Darneille) and Lorraine Wojahn (www.historylink.org/File/10694?) would be a challenge for anyone, but mix in political polarity like we have never seen, a seemingly unrelenting pandemic and the most uncertain economy that we have seen in decades and you have a recipe for a momentous political experience for all of us.
The 27th Legislative District is not known for its turnover.
Wojahn served in the House of Representatives for four terms, from 1969 to 1976, and in the Senate for six terms, from 1977 through 2000, including three stints as Senate president pro tem.
A colleague once branded Wojahn “The Norse Goddess of Terror” – a label she fully embraced – for her forceful style, tenacity and influence in the legislature.
The fellow legislator did not intend the term as a compliment, but as some of us know, intended insults might be the best compliments.
Jeannie Darneille was a member of the Washington House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013. After that, she was member of the Washington State Senate from January, 2013 until November 1, 2021.
Grit, meet grit
Senator Trudeau, a graduate of Foss High School, holds a commitment to this area and, as she puts it, a level of hard-won “lived experience” that gives her the passion, insight and energy we as a community desperately need right now.
“It’s the grit of this community that has shaped me,” Trudeau told the Pierce County Council prior to her appointment.
“To me, leadership is representing the interests of your constituents and earning and constantly re-earning the opportunity to represent your community,” she went on to express.
Tacoma is a community pulsing with competing, even contradictory energies.
It is a truism that in local politics, only the loudest voices are heard. From what we have seen of her so far, Trudeau has learned to recognize those softer, even hushed, voices crying out to be heard.
We need to respond to those whispers before they become screams.
“Grit” by definition, is small, but impacts everything it touches. That sums up the Tacoma that I know.
In an era when “business as usual” is clearly not working, the well-known “grit” of our community and the “grit” of our new senator will meet, collide, maybe even spark some entirely new directions, solutions, and presumably, unexpected challenges and opportunities.
She and her husband are both lawyers who live in, and are deeply connected to the greater Tacoma area.
She’s young enough to be an asset to the 27th Legislative District for as long as those strong, memorable women who came before her.
Redistricting, what redistricting?
As you may know, we had a few technical difficulties related to the required redistricting based on the not-entirely-clear 2020 Census results.
Our State Redistricting Commission, composed of two Republicans and two Democrats could not come to a timely agreement.
In 2022, all of Washington’s forty-nine legislative districts will (or at least might) have different boundaries thanks to shifting population, but no one knows exactly what those boundaries will be yet because the Redistricting Commission has not yet approved new legislative or congressional maps.
Pursuant to RCW 44.05.100, the Washington Supreme Court now has jurisdiction to adopt a districting plan.
We should see new district lines established by April of 2022.