Leah Griffin: Why I’m running to represent you in the 34th

I know Eileen Cody has left some big shoes to fill, so I wanted to tell you about my story and vision for the district.

Editor’s note: In her race to become a state representative in the 34th District, Leah Griffin is running in the Democratic primary against Emily Alvarado. The Beachcomber has reached out to Alvarado, and we hope to also publish a commentary from her when it becomes available.

Vashon and Maury Island neighbors, my name is Leah Griffin and I am running to be your next representative here in the 34th. I know Eileen Cody has left some big shoes to fill, so I wanted to tell you about my story and vision for the district.

I currently work as a school librarian, and I have organized at my school by founding and serving as staff chair of the Faculty and Staff Association. I absolutely love forming relationships with students and teaching the importance of research and critical thinking skills. I understand the importance of advocating for students and teachers across our state — especially as the pandemic has furthered education inequities and behavioral health issues.

In 2014, my world fell apart when I was raped by a man in my neighborhood, and I quickly encountered a series of broken systems.

Over the past eight years, I’ve worked with incredible lawmakers to pass multiple laws, at the state and federal levels, to reform how survivors interact with the systems which failed me. I led the Democratic party coalition on the Approve R90 campaign to ensure access to high-quality, medically accurate, and inclusive sexual health education.

I worked on the coalition behind the Keep Our Care Act to provide oversight over religiously affiliated hospital mergers that seek to deny reproductive and trans healthcare. I also worked with Sen. Murray and her staff on the Survivors’ Access to Supportive Care Act to increase access to sexual assault nurse examiners in hospitals nationwide.

In March of 2022, my federal law was passed, allocating $150 million to train sexual assault nurse examiners.

Government worked for me because the government listened to me and let me lead. Leaders trusted that I could change the ending of my story, and I’m running because I want you to have that experience, too.

I know that Vashon and Maury Island residents face a variety of issues that have only increased throughout the pandemic. My priorities for you, your neighbors, and our district includes housing security, transportation, climate, public safety, and reproductive and behavioral healthcare access.

Across our neighborhoods, the price of housing has outpaced the saving power of our families. When I bought a house in 2015, it was because of a government program that is now stagnant which helped first-time home buyers. I look forward to crafting similar policies to help middle and low-wage workers afford homeownership on Vashon and Maury Island.

Transportation also must also be prioritized. I know that residents across Vashon and Maury Island are dependent on our ferry system which often means long wait times and delays. I look forward to working with communities most impacted by the long wait times and overcrowding to find sustainable, reliable, and affordable public transportation solutions.

We also must work to protect our beautiful Puget Sound ecosystem, and I look forward to working on policies that will ensure an environment in which our children can safely explore and learn. I am so impressed and inspired by the youth across Vashon and Maury Island who are working to achieve this goal, including the Vashon High School Green Team.

Public safety is another one of my priorities. Over the course of my activism, I have confronted an upsetting truth: our approach to public safety fails to hold perpetrators of crime accountable and fails to help victims of crime. In the legislature, I will build off my and many others’ work to create a more effective criminal justice and public safety system which centers accountability and rehabilitation and provides access to behavioral health and job training services.

Finally, the fight for abortion access across our state is more important than ever. Having fought for nearly a decade for access to healthcare for survivors of sexual violence, I know that a constitutional right to a procedure means little unless a person has meaningful access to that care. In Washington, as of 2020, 41% of hospitals place limits on abortion access. I understand the urgent need to pass legislation increasing access to abortion healthcare and I have experience expanding access at the state and federal levels.

I believe that through my legislative experience and passion for our neighbors, I will be able to create the change we need for Vashon and Maury Island. Please reach out to me, at voteleahgriffin.com, if you have any questions about my campaign or would like to chat. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Leah Griffin is a school librarian serving youth, and has worked to rebuild our broken justice system by successfully creating legislation – here in Washington and with Patty Murray in Washington, DC – that has uplifted survivors of sexual assault and related crimes and held perpetrators accountable. She is also deeply involved in the 34th, serving as a Precinct Committee Officer, executive board member of the 34th Democrats, and a State Party Delegate.