Last week, with the election of Manka Dhingra, Democrats gained control of the Washington State Senate and we finished building the west coast Blue Wall along with Oregon and California. Now, we begin implementing an agenda that truly represents our core values. We will not only protect the rights of all people — LGBTQ, immigrants, women, children, the poor — but we will support them. We will develop and pass policies in each of our states that support mental health care, homeless in our communities, education from preschool to college, and protecting and cleaning up the environment.

This incredible accomplishment happened because thousands of you did more than you have ever done in so very many ways. You are incredible. I am so very proud to get to represent so many wonderful, special caring people. And I sincerely thank you for empowering me to do more!

We must remember we are not done. We need to build our strength and focus on what can be accomplished in Washington in 2018. We must ensure that all of our efforts at the local and state level are motivated by kindness and love, that our laws protect and celebrate diversity, community and raise each of us to have healthy and happy lives.

Now that Democrats are in the majority in the state Legislature, it is time to address many progressive values that have been stymied for the last five years. This includes passing a state voting rights act, an equal pay act, instituting workplace protections for immigrants and minorities, pushing back on the Trump Administration’s attacks on women’s reproductive rights, providing additional protections for LGBTQ and transgendered populations, protections from oil spills, and legislation that seriously addresses climate change.

I look forward to supporting our colleges and universities, public community and technical colleges, and career schools to prepare and educate Washingtonians for success in a rapidly changing economy as Chair of the Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee.

In addition to becoming the Chair of the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee, I will continue to serve on the Senate Energy, Environment & Technology and Ways & Means Committees.

I find myself reflecting upon a conversation I had with Stella, an incredibly brave trans girl, who inspired me earlier this year to speak around the state about what we can do to make a difference. She left me with something I shared during those talks that is even more powerful and appropriate now.

This is her message:

“If you see anything on Facebook or Twitter that advocates for anything that you support … do it. Show up and support that cause. Also any sort of protest, I would say, go do it. Fight for what you know and think is right. And do it not only for the people you know but do it for yourself. Support business, organizations and people who also believe in the same values. Use your voice. Stand up for others. Most of all be kind, to yourself and others.”

Let us all be motivated by Stella’s words as we advance our agenda in the coming year.

Kevin Ranker