He was among those mentioned as a possible candidate as soon as longtime U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks made his surprise retirement announcement last week. But state Sen. Derek Kilmer made it official this morning. He is a candidate to replace Dicks as the representative from the 6th Congressional District of Washington.
Kilmer was even among the three Democrats mentioned by Dicks in his statement Friday. The others were Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland and Kitsap County Commissioner Josh Brown.
But Kilmer is the first to jump in, touting his work in the state Senate and with the Pierce County Economic Development Board.
“My job is creating jobs,” Kilmer said in a press statement. “When I’m not in Olympia, my job is to work with businesses in Pierce County to help them grow and thrive. We could use more folks in Washington who are focused on creating more jobs with better pay, and that’s what I’ll do in the U.S. House of Representatives.”
Kilmer is the chairman of the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee. He also is vice-chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and is the lead senator on the state’s capital budget.
Kilmer, 38, was elected to the state House in 2004 and the state Senate in 2006. He was reelected to the Senate in 2010.
He also has an advantage in the sprawling district – he was raised in the northern section and now represents an area that makes up its densest population base. He grew up in Port Angeles but now lives in Gig Harbor and works in Tacoma.
“Norm Dicks may be the best Congressman in the history of Washington State,” Kilmer said. “No one can fill his shoes, but I’ll work to continue his legacy of fighting for jobs and standing up for the little guy.”
Here is the text of his announcement statement…
State Senator Derek Kilmer Announce Campaign For Congress
“My job is creating jobs”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 5th 2012
Gig Harbor, WA – State Senator and Pierce County Economic Development Board Vice-President Derek Kilmer today announced his candidacy for Washington State’s 6th Congressional District seat.
“My job is creating jobs,” Kilmer said. “When I’m not in Olympia, my job is to work with businesses in Pierce County to help them grow and thrive. We could use more folks in Washington who are focused on creating more jobs with better pay, and that’s what I’ll do in the U.S. House of Representatives.”
Kilmer continued, “I grew up in Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula, the son of two schoolteachers. The Peninsula was really suffering from job losses in the timber industry, and a lot of my friends had parents who were out of work. What I learned about economic development in college and graduate school helped me when I started working in Tacoma for the Pierce County Economic Development Board. It’s that experience that has helped me understand what government can and can’t do to help businesses create good jobs.”
Kilmer concluded, “Norm Dicks may be the best Congressman in the history of Washington State. No one can fill his shoes, but I’ll work to continue his legacy of fighting for jobs and standing up for the little guy.”
Derek was born and raised in Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula, graduating from Port Angeles High School. He earned a bachelors’ degree in public policy from Princeton University and a doctoral degree from the University of Oxford in England. In 2004, he defeated a Republican incumbent to be elected to the House of Representatives from the 26th Legislative District, which encompasses parts of Kitsap and Pierce counties, including Bremerton, Port Orchard, and Gig Harbor. He was elected to the State Senate in 2006 with 59.9% of the vote and re-elected in 2010 with 58.8% of the vote, despite representing the most Republican legislative district of any Democrat in the Washington State Senate. In Olympia, Kilmer served as Chair of the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee. He is currently the Vice-Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, responsible for writing the state’s capital budget.
Kilmer’s legislative accomplishments have focused on job creation including passing laws to enable construction of a new hospital creating over 400 new jobs and providing tax relief for small businesses. Kilmer has successfully pursued numerous reforms to improve government efficiency, including reforms to the state’s approach to school construction and to establish a government efficiency hotline to identify and eliminate waste. Kilmer has been a leader on veterans’ issues including passing laws to help veteran-owned businesses and to help veterans and their families access jobs in the civilian workforce. Additionally, as a former community college trustee, Kilmer has passed laws to expand access for financial aid to college students.
In the 2010 Tacoma News Tribune’s endorsement of Derek’s State Senate campaign, the News Tribune said Derek was “one of the best legislators to show up in Olympia in recent years…” The Seattle Times in their 2010 endorsement of Kilmer’s Senate re-election The Seattle Times wrote that, “Every candidate this year is talking about jobs, but with Kilmer it is more than talk…He knows what policies attract them and what ones do not.” He is a past recipient of the “Legislator of the Year Award” from the Washington Council of Police & Sheriffs (WACOPS). For his leadership in economic development, Kilmer has been recognized by Enterprise Washington’s Business Institute and the Washington Economic Development Association.
He was the 2007 recipient of the Glenn Galbreath Award from the northwest chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America and, last year, he was named the Department of Veterans Affairs outstanding legislator of the year.
Derek and his wife Jennifer, the Director of the Washington State History Museum, live in Gig Harbor with their two girls, Sophie and Tess. He is a member of the Gig Harbor United Methodist Church.