For more information, see Endorsements 2022.
Judge Kristin Ballinger
Gov. Inslee appointed Judge Kristin Ballinger in December 2021, noting that “Kristin brings an incredible breadth of experience. She has years of civil and criminal law experience, including substantial trial experience.” Judge Ballinger is a graduate of Whitman College and Columbia University School of Law. She has worked in private practice, as a deputy prosecuting attorney, and worked on tribal rights cases. She now hears cases associated with juvenile and family matters. Hailing from a family devoted to public service, Judge Ballinger continues that tradition and is dedicated to bringing her whole self to the justice system.
Rep. Lisa Callan
Rep. Lisa Callan remains an indefatigable advocate for the community of the 5th LD and especially the youth and children who have yet to gain a vote of their own. Rep. Callan serves as Vice Chair of the Capital Budget committee and is an active voice on the Children, Youth, and Families committee. One of Rep. Callan’s top priorities this past session has been to lay the groundwork for a comprehensive, statewide response to the challenging behavioral and mental health crisis. She has met with dozens of experts, counselors, stakeholders, parents, and young people to create legislation that is uniquely suited to our pandemic world. All this is in addition to her many town hall meetings.
Judge Michael Finkle
Judge Michael Finkle is running for reelection in a position he has held for 12 years after first being appointed by unanimous decision in 2010. Judge Finkle’s compassion for defendants and commitment to rehabilitation and fairness was obvious throughout his interview. He believes that to foster public confidence in the court, we must foster access to justice for all.
In addition to previously serving as a criminal trial judge, Judge Finkle has presided over the Regional Mental Health Court, and the Regional Veterans Court, a court which he led the creation.
Judge Finkle has garnered the endorsement of more than 150 Judges, many of whom the 5th LD Democrats have supported in the past, and he has five exceptionally well qualified bar ratings.
Judge Michelle Gehlsen
Judge Michelle Gehlsen has served as a King County District Court Judge since 2019, after being nominated to the position by the King County Council. Prior to that, she served nine years as a Bothell Municipal Court Judge. Judge Gehlsen started her legal career as a deputy prosecuting attorney for the Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. During this time, she also sat as a judge pro tempore in the Marysville Municipal Court and became the county’s expert on the Involuntary Treatment Act. Additionally, Judge Gehlsen was chosen to preside over Redmond’s Community Court, an alternative problem-solving court aimed at helping low-level offenders from repeatedly cycling through the criminal justice system. With her commitment to judicial involvement in the community, she founded the Bothell Youth Court in 2013, which then inspired the creation of Redmond Youth Court in 2019. Judge Gehlsen has also held assignments over the King County District Court’s Community Court, an alternative problem-solving court aimed to help participants reconnect with their communities by providing on-site services.
Secretary Steve Hobbs
Secretary of State Steve Hobbs was appointed by Governor Inslee in November 2021, marking the first time a Democrat held the office since the mid-1960s. Hobbs, who most recently was a state senator from Lake Stevens, is of Japanese descent and the first person of color to head the office. He served for decades in the U.S. Army, serving in Iraq and Kosovo, and currently serves as a lieutenant colonel in the WA State National Guard. Previous Secretary of State Kim Wyman supported his appointment, saying that Hobbs “has a demonstrated record of seeking bipartisan solutions to complex problems, which is essential to the position of secretary of state.” Although this committee has not personally interviewed Secretary Hobbs, we are confident in this endorsement recommendation due to our research and his support by the Governor, the previous Secretary of State, the State Democratic Party, and the King County Democrats. We feel that it would serve our membership well to be able to include this endorsement in our voter’s guide for the primary election and on our website.
Justice Barbara Madsen
In 1998, Justice Barbara Madsen was elected to Washington’s Supreme Court. She was reelected in 2004, 2010, and 2016, and now is running for a fifth term. In 2009, Justice Madsen was unanimously elected by her peers to be WA State’s Chief Justice and served two terms in this capacity. Anita Hill testified in 1991, and Justice Madsen decided to dedicate her life to justice. She has shown this dedication inside and outside the court room, has been a leader in educating other Judges about racial disproportionality in the legal system, and has intriguing ideas about how this carries over into foster care. The endorsement committee agrees with all of WA’s Supreme Court Justices, all of whom have endorsed Justice Madsen, that she has earned the trust of Washingtonians for a fifth term as a Supreme Court Justice.
Leesa Manion currently serves as Chief of Staff in the Prosecutor’s Office and has spearheaded projects to protect public safety, reduce racial disproportionality, strengthen victim services, and hold repeat perpetrators accountable. In addition, she issued a pay equity study and launched a women’s leadership forum to provide mentorship for rising women in the office.
Manion’s commitment to restorative justice and supportive services is exceptional as is her commitment to system-wide collaboration to achieve better public-safety outcomes. She will bring accountability-driven results serving victims and public safety, while not relying solely on the “blunt tool of the criminal justice system – a cell.”
Manion is a seasoned leader and has taken a business lens to effective management of the 600 employees and $80M budget of the office. She is uniquely prepared for this next role.
Sen. Patty Murray
Sen. Patty Murray was first elected in 1992 to the U.S. Senate and is running for her sixth term. For 30 years, she has served Washington well and now ranks third in the Senate Democratic leadership. Sen. Murray serves on many committees and subcommittees and is the chair of the important committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. She’s passionate about our environment, education, and women’s reproductive rights. Sen. Murray’s experience in the Senate and position in the Democratic leadership make her invaluable and irreplaceable.
Judge Lisa O’Toole
Judge Lisa O’Toole is running for reelection as King County District Court Judge. With 34 years of experience, she brings a world of experience to being a judge. First elected in 2014, this will be her 3rd term as a District Court Judge. Previously, she has worked in civil cases, and criminal cases, both as public defender and as prosecutor. Judge O’Toole believes deeply that a Court, which reflects the diversity of the community, inspires confidence in the legal system. To this end, she serves on the District and Municipal Court Judges Diversity Committee, teaches courses in diversity to judges pro tem, and encourages lawyers of diverse backgrounds to receive training for becoming judges pro tem. The Endorsement Committee recommends endorsing Judge O’Toole for re-election.
Judge Kevin Peck
Judge Kevin Peck was unanimously appointed by the King County Council in December 2019 to the position of King County District Court Judge and duly elected with endorsement of the 5th LD in 2020. Prior, he served as a judge pro tem for 29 years. His legal career began as a public defender in King County and later included two years as in-house representative for the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union Local 8 in Seattle. The bulk of Judge Peck’s career has been in private practice with a focus on combating discrimination while also serving as a judge pro tem. His many focuses include reducing incarceration with an emphasis on restorative justice and reducing the burden on the economically disadvantaged by reducing unnecessary court appearances. Judge Peck believes in due process with full dignity and respect and strives for equal justice under the law for all who enter his court.
Rep. Bill Ramos
Rep. Bill Ramos continues to serve us well. Currently providing leadership in the House of Representatives as the 2nd Vice Chair for the Transportation Committee and Assistant Majority Whip, Rep. Ramos has drawn on his 30 years of experience with the U.S. Forest Service, eight years with the U.S. Department of Transportation, his time on the Issaquah City Council, and countless constituent meetings to become a strong voice for all in the 5th LD.
Judge Rania Rampersad
Judge E. Rania Rampersad was unanimously appointed as King County District Court Judge by the King County Council in 2021. She serves in the Bellevue, Redmond, and Issaquah courthouses and previously served as a judge pro tem. After graduating from Georgetown University Law Center, she has practiced at every level of court, from municipal to Supreme, and served in the Tulalip Tribal Court. She has experience as a public defender in trial and appellate courts, and as a prosecutor in criminal and civil licensure cases. Judge Rampersad, a Newport High alumnus, also brings a global perspective from her work with non-profit organizations and the United Nations. Her philosophy is guided by her passion for human rights and the rule of law, particularly for underserved communities.
Rep. Kim Schrier
Rep. Kim Schrier, as the only female doctor or pediatrician in the U.S. House of Representatives, continues to be an invaluable asset to her district, her state, and her country. The earliest advocate for affordable home Covid-19 tests in Congress, she strongly supported Covid recovery investments, infrastructure improvements, relief for farmers, aid to veterans, healthcare improvements, and women’s rights. Thus far, Rep. Schrier has had 12 of her bills signed into law. She has well represented the diverse population and geography of Washington’s 8th Congressional district. We need to keep the Doctor in the House for her third term!
Rep. Adam Smith
When first elected in 1992, Rep. Adam Smith was the youngest state senator in the country. Elected to Congress in 1996, Rep. Smith has risen in responsibilities and stature over time and now chairs the important Committee on Armed Services. Rep. Smith is a self-described “pragmatic progressive.” His strategic and thoughtful approach to complex problems warrants a return to Congress for his 14th term. Rep. Smith never forgets his roots in politics, having started as a PCO in the 33rd LD while still a teenager.
Washington State Initiative 1922
Washington State Initiative No. 1922 will redirect approximately $141 million each year from state cannabis revenues to local prevention, outreach, and recovery support services that address the root causes of substance-use disorder and end arrests and prosecutions of people for possessing drugs for their personal use.
We agree with the Global Commission on Drugs, that the global war on drugs has failed, with disproportionate consequences to Black and Indigenous populations, despite the fact that Washingtonians use drugs at equal rates across races and ethnicities.
Initiative 1922 will be the first step to break systemic, cultural, and cyclical drug use by addressing underlying issues. It is an important step to ending the criminalization, marginalization, and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others.
Justice Helen Whitener
Justice G. Helen Whitener was appointed to the Washington State Supreme Court by Gov. Jay Inslee in April 2020 and earned the seat through election in November 2020. Justice Whitener served previously as a judge for the Pierce County Superior Court and on the Washington State Board of Industrial Appeals, as well as serving Pro-Tem in Pierce County and City of Tacoma Municipal Court. She has been endorsed by all eight sitting state Supreme Court justices, along with judges on the appellate and trial-level courts, elected officials, and numerous attorneys, and the 5th LD endorsed her for the seat she won in November 2020. Additionally, Justice Whitener personally represents AAPI, LGBTQIA+, and disabled populations. Her intellect alone more than qualifies her for the position, and her life experience makes her exceptionally unique.
Justice Mary Yu
Appointed in 2014 and then elected in 2014 and 2016, Justice Mary Yu is the first Asian American, first Latina, first woman of color, first LGBTQ+ justice, and only the 11th woman ever to serve on Washington State’s Supreme Court. Justice Yu knows first-hand that having a bench that reflects and represents diverse perspectives is a cornerstone to achieving the system of justice which we all desire. Justice Yu is noted as being Exceptionally Well Qualified by every bar association she is affiliated with and is endorsed by scores of Judges, Justices, and state and local leaders. Our entire endorsement committee was impressed and inspired by Justice Yu’s thoughtful responses to our questions and by her longtime commitment to developing systemic approaches to remedy injustices in the legal system.