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June 12, 2006

Interview with Lillian Kaufer – Candidate for State Senate in the 44th LD

The political transformation in this country is happening and Lillian Kaufer’s run for State Senate in the 44th LD, in South Snohomish County, illustrates that change. In 2002, Lillian started reading blogs and commenting online, first at Democratic Underground, then at DailyKos.  She realized that the country was not being told the truth and it was hard to get good sources of information.  She was brought around to a progressive perspective quickly and decided that it was critical to get involved on the ground in local issues.    

Now, as she doorbells 8-10 hours a day, talking to voters about what is going on in this country and what she wants to do if she wins a Senate seat in the State, Lillian sees a big groundswell of support for her campaign and for the progressive causes she cares so much about.

She became active in the move to stop WalMart from coming into Mill Creek in 2002.  She saw the terrible treatment that workers at WalMart get.  From that, she broadened her fight and began working for better healthcare for all workers.  She also became involved with Working for Change, a progressive offshoot of MoveOn.org that concentrates on holding monthly political discussions in neighborhood groups.       

In 2004, Lillian became involved in the Kerry campaign and in the process started working with the 44th LD Democratic Party and continued doing so after the 2004 election.

This last February, at the Democratic State Party Crab Feed In Olympia, she was sitting with a group from her legislative district and they asked her to run for the Senate.  The Senate seat is currently held by a Republican, Dave Schmidt, and these folks, including the State committeeman and committeewoman for the district and the First Vice Chair, all thought that Lillian would be most able to take the seat away from him. 

Well, Lillian says realistically, they probably had already asked both Hans Dunshee and John Lovick, the two current State Representatives from the 44th, if either of them wanted to try it, and had been turned down.  Although she was surprised to be asked, she was not deterred by her relative inexperience.  There was already one Democrat in the race, Steve Hobbs, but he was having a hard time overcoming the negativity that was generated when he took on former Snohomish County Councilmember Dave Somers in the primary for County Council last fall.  When it was time for the Legislative District to endorse candidates, Lillian received 50 of the 51 votes cast for the Senate position.   

Lillian thinks that the people in her district, who seem very excited when they talk with her during her doorbelling stints, are ready for change, both at the national and the state level.  She sees people coming out of woodwork to be interested in politics.  She thinks they seem to like her ideas, her fresh approach and her passion.  They like that she hasn’t been in politics forever.  They like that she fights for families and for protecting the environment. 

When she is out doorbelling, Lillian engages the voters in discussions about what is occurring at the national level.  She says that people are excited to vote this year.  People are so disappointed in Bush and the national Republicans.  Even Republicans ask to put signs for her up in their yards and they donate money to her campaign.  Ninety percent of the money coming in is from her district.  She has received money from one PAC, the UFCW, which gave her money because of the work she has done to hold WalMart accountable. 

The current Senator from the 44th, Republican Dave Schmidt, was pretty far right in the past but has moderated his positions over the last two years as the district has shifted left.  In 2002 Schmidt won with only 53% even when there was a weak campaign on the Democrat side.  There has been an influx of more moderate voters to the district and both representatives, Hans Dunshee and John Lovick are progressive Democrats, so Lillian thinks the time might be ripe to take the seat for the Democrats and believes she is the person to do it.

Lillian lives with her husband and two children in Mill Creek where they have a small business. 

The business brings her in contact with nursing homes which has fueled her interest in fair-share healthcare.  She believes that the State needs to end the healthcare subsidies for large companies like WalMart who don’t pay their share of healthcare costs and leave that to the state taxpayers.  She also believes that the larger businesses that receive tax cuts should be more accountable for those state subsidies.  Sometimes they are warranted, sometimes not and we need to know when they are and when they aren’t.  She is also not pleased when tax funded project work goes to non-Washington State companies and hopes to do something about that as well if elected.   

Lillian is also focuses on providing changes in transportation and education.  She sees a lot of transportation projects underway and wants full accountability for how that money is being spent and to make sure these projects are completed on time. She also wants to increase public transit so commuters have more choices when they are getting around the region.  Her particular focus in education is to provide more options for kids by expanding the opportunities to attend trade schools for non-college bound students.  She says there is a great demand in Snohomish County for skilled workers like carpenters and electricians and there should be greater access to trade schools.

If you get a chance, go take a look at Lillian’s site and consider sending one of our first blogger-inspired candidates a contribution.  During one of the big panels at YearlyKos, I mentioned Lillian’s story from the floor and it got a big round of applause.  She is one of us and she’s already doing what Howard Dean and Harry Reid and Markos and others are asking us to do – get personally involved in politics

Posted by Lynn Allen on June 12, 2006 at 11:29 AM in Candidate Races, Interviews | Permalink


As General Secretary of the Progressive Caucus of Snohomish County Democrats, I am pleased to say that we were amongst the first groups to endorse Lillian in Snohomish County. Lillian is also endorsed by Democracy for Snohomish County.

Both groups are dedicated to promoting Progressive values and candidates in Snohomish County and Washington State. We believe that Lillian best represents the values of working people and her efforts at building strong grassroots support in the district will be key to her win in September and again in November.


Chad (The Left) Shue

Posted by: Chad Shue | Jun 12, 2006 6:20:46 PM

I will be voting otherwise in this primary.

Posted by: Megan Hilan | Jun 13, 2006 8:37:05 PM

Thanks for this, Lynn -- It's exciting to think of people taking up the challenge to run. Real democracy --

Posted by: Noemie Maxwell | Jun 13, 2006 8:50:09 PM

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