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Anti-poverty advocate, hip-hop producer runs against Kirby

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on June 10, 2010 at 9:40 am |
June 10, 2010 9:41 am

An incumbent in the Legislature faces a challenge from a former leader of an advocacy group for the poor that has lobbied in Olympia for health care for all and tighter regulations on lenders.

The twist: She’s running as a Republican.

Jesse Miller is an Eastside Tacoma resident, a community activist, a mother of eight — children and stepchildren from ages 21 down to 3 — and a hip-hop producer.

With her own record label, Felony Entertainment, she produces music by local artists. It’s not unusual to hear Miller herself rapping on a track, either.

Miller is better known in Olympia for her work with the Statewide Poverty Action Network, which has pushed in recent years for stricter regulation of payday lending. They won some changes, with help from Rep. Steve Kirby, but Miller says they don’t go far enough.

Now she is hoping to unseat Kirby, a Democrat who’s seated with her in the picture above, taken Wednesday before she filed to be listed on the ballot as “Ms. Jesse Miller” with the affiliation “Prefers Republican Party.”

It was hard choosing a party, she said, since she’s never been partisan.

Democrats have won nearly every election in the district dating back to the Great Depression, so Miller has a challenge on her hands.

If she does win, she said she would try to solve the problem she sees in her community of teenagers graduating from high school without being able to read or write. That won’t be solved with more funding for education, she said, but by funding different programs. She cites a project she worked on to make a music video with kids from Tacoma’s Hilltop.

“It’s not the issue that we don’t have enough money,” she said. “It’s that it’s not getting to where it needs to go.”

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