POULSBO — Suzan DelBene is expected to take office Tuesday as Kitsap County’s representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.
DelBene won the special election Nov. 6 to succeed Jay Inslee, who resigned March 20 to run for governor. Inslee’s resignation left Kitsap without a congressional representative for almost eight months.
DelBene will represent Kitsap until Jan. 3, when Kitsap becomes part of the 6th District because of reapportionment. Kitsap will then be represented by Derek Kilmer, a Democrat from Gig Harbor who currently serves in the state Senate.
DelBene, a Democrat and former director of the state Department of Revenue, also won election as representative of the reapportioned 1st District, a wide swath of mainland Western Washington that stretches from the Seattle suburbs to the Canadian border. In the special and regular elections, she defeated Republican John Koster, a Snohomish County Council member.
Katie Blinn, co-director of elections in the Washington Secretary of State, sent a letter Wednesday to the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives stating that although the election results were not certified, DelBene was the clear winner in the election. Updated results Friday showed DelBene with 181,488 votes to Koster’s 120,558.
Viet Shelton, DelBene’s communications director, said the district office in Shoreline is open now and staff members are taking calls and handling constituent matters. DelBene is expected to be sworn in Tuesday and could cast her first vote that day, Shelton said. He said it’s not clear if the Poulsbo office will be reopened in the short term.
The Shoreline office address is 18560 First Ave. NE, Suite E-800, Shoreline, WA 98155. The phone number if (206) 361-0233.
DelBene will be Kitsap’s voice as Congress and the president work out an agreement to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff – automatic tax hikes and spending cuts if agreement isn’t made on several financial policies, among them whether to extend Bush-era tax cuts, cut spending to most discretionary programs, and extend the 2 percent Social Security payroll tax cut and federal unemployment benefits.
Come Jan. 3, when she takes office as the representative of the new 1st District, DelBene’s 52-day head start will give her seniority over at least 75 new House members in the 113th Congress, Shelton said.
DelBene lives in Medina. She earned an undergraduate degree from Reed College and an MBA at University of Washington.
In a Q&A with the Herald during the campaign, DelBene talked about the importance of Kitsap having a representative through the end of the year.
“I’m running to fill the special one-month term because I believe people in the current 1st District deserve effective representation in Congress as important votes come up this winter,” DelBene said. “Congress is expected to take on tough issues this December and must take action. If elected to fill the short-term seat, I will vote for fiscal responsibility, vote to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and I will fight to protect Social Security and Medicare.”
She said serving in Congress for a month and a half would give her a head-start when the 113th Congress gets to work.
“I believe my time in the one-month term will help me get a head start,” she said in the Q&A. “I’ll be ready at the beginning of the new year to move forward on legislation to strengthen the oversight of Wall Street. I’ll work to pass a modern-day Glass-Steagall Act to reinstate the Depression-era law that separated commercial banks from high-risk investment banking. The nearly $6 billion loss at J.P. Morgan demonstrates the need to keep powerful interests in check so that middle-class families and our economy can get back on track.”