Debra Lekanoff is an experienced, progressive public servant.
Whether she is leading the meeting, coordinating stakeholders, or simply there to offer her two cents, Debra knows how to make the most of discussion. She has a solution-oriented leadership style that brings people to the table to roll up their sleeves and find creative, innovate solutions. Debra’s role as the Swinomish Governmental Affairs Director has taught her to approach the most divisive of issues, create partnerships on common ground, and move the needle. She is decisive and forward-thinking, because she recognizes every decision today impacts future generations.
Debra’s previous work is a roadmap of her values - especially her commitment to protecting our natural resources and the Salish Sea. She spoke at Goldman Sachs’ to request that the company divest from the Cherry Point coal terminal, worked directly with lobbyists, leaders, organizations and legislative members to pass the bill phasing out the farming of invasive Atlantic Salmon in the Salish Sea, and helped build momentum on the international initiatives that changed the name of the Salish Sea! Debra is a national, regional and local leader on Climate Change. She served as an adviser to EPA Administrators and Region 10 Administrators for the past 3 Presidential Administrations. Her experience on includes climate change policy and programs, water quality and quantity regulations and laws, transboundary environmental permitting to vessel traffic and does not stop there. She has deeply engaged with both the past Climate Change Carbon Bill and the current Initiative 1631. Her network includes relationships with federal, state, provincial, first nation and tribal governments. She has the capacity to bring everyone to the table in a meaningful way, and she not only makes sure you are at the table, but you get to have your say!
Debra is committed the 40th’s call to action to prioritize affordable housing and fair wages. She will continue to work hard to protect our jobs today and build jobs for the future. She has heard from community members in all our districts who struggle to afford to buy a house in this place we all call home. Here is her reality. When Debraattended a meeting of the Western Washington University Democrats, she asked them “At what age do you think you could afford a house around here?” These leaders of tomorrow answered back “never” and “when I am a hundred years old.” This is unacceptable to Debra and she will use the building blocks of local, state and tribal organizations to address this high priority issue. When our youth already feel defeated, then how does our future look for us all?
Debra is more than just her legislation and advocacy work, she is also a mother and a peer leader. Her childhood and cultural upbringing in a small Alaska Native Village make her a unique leader for the 40th. It is from her education in Alaska that Debragrew to appreciate the value of public school systems. She knows it takes a community to build healthy and vibrant citizens, and that this means supporting our children from early education all the way through job placement. It takes making post-high school education affordable, whether that means college or advanced technical training. It also takes hard work and people skills to get our schools funded. In 2016 Debra led an initiative with community members to get a levy through for La Conner Schools. In the first vote, the levy failed by 26%, so it was hard to believe it would ever pass. Nevertheless, Debra stood with a team and persevered, bringing teachers, business owners, families, and students together to pass that levy by 13%.
Over the last two decades living in the Salish Sea, Debra has worked on innumerable initiatives, causes, committees, and task forces. She believes people have the right to individual choices about health and welfare and empowers communities to make choices that work best for them. Diversity in experience like Debra’s matters, because every law should be analyzed with a critical eye on its impact on individuals and groups. The 40th is diverse, and a candidate like Debra - one who has dedicated her life’s work to the success of others - is crucial to making decisions about fiscal responsibility, economic development, natural resource management, and justice that work for everyone. Community is her strength, and she is committed to removing barriers and finding real solutions for the long term good for the 40th.
Debra is a straight to the matter person, whip smart, and eager to serve us. Her energy is infectious and her community-focused work to improve the 40th District will undoubtedly lead to innovative solutions, unique partnerships and opportunities, and a bright, progressive future. If we genuinely wish to construct a fair, inclusive future kind to our friends, our families and our Earth, we need to support leaders like Debrawho have the skills and courage to serve!
Co-Lead of :: PACE ::
Political Action + Civic Engagement
and Orcas Women's Coalition Steering Committee Member