Jan Angel is not new to the political scene, but her path was indirect –– it started with banking, then passed through business and real estate on the way to her current role.
Angel was raised in Colorado and was recruited, along with her husband, as a banker in Alaska. For nine years, she was known as “the blonde lady banker” in Anchorage, working in a new bank started by the tribes. She joined the National Association of Bank Women and was asked to run as one of eight national directors. There, she got a taste of campaigning and loved the chance to travel through the region. When her husband’s work drew them to Washington state in 1983, she decided to go into business for herself rather than continue in banking.
For a number of years, Angel ran a successful haircare franchise. Life took a difficult turn when her daughters were in college and her husband committed suicide. As she was still reeling from the shock and loss, her most successful haircare location lost its lease and she decided to sell the franchise. At that time, she entered the world of real estate.
Her mother’s words served as inspiration: “When you have a job to do, find a way to get it done.”
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” Angel commented as she described those initial years of adjustment. She was named “agent of the year” in her first year in real estate. She has since remarried, with a family that now includes two daughters, a stepdaughter, a stepson, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She and her husband live in Port Orchard.
As a realtor, working with clients to understand what they could do with their own property, she became involved in land use issues. When she was asked to run for Kitsap County commissioner she agreed, was elected, and served for eight years.
Although she planned to retire after eight years, she was approached to enter the race for state representative. “I was told that everything I fought for at the county level I could affect at the state level,” she noted. Her bid was successful and she served for five years. When Derek Kilmer’s seat in the state Senate opened, she chose to run for that position. She was elected in 2013.
Angel stated that her office spends a lot of time working directly with constituents, dealing with individual problems concerning such issues as land use, Labor and Industries, and Department of Social and Health Services. She sees herself defending people’s freedom, and as “scissors, cutting through the red tape tied to government.” She enjoys being a part of the majority party in the Senate. “Playing offense is very different from playing defense,” she said. “Our job is to lead the way. In the House, we were mostly holding the line.”
She currently serves on three committees: Financial Institutions and Insurance (she is vice chair), Healthcare, and Trade and Economic Development.
When asked what she sees as the key issues on the Key Peninsula, she cited transportation, business and education.
She wondered about the possibilities of private companies coming in to help provide transportation, though this is a local county more than a state issue. She discussed her support of an adequate revenue package for transportation at the state level –– to complete the environmental impact study on SR-302 and to carry out congestion studies between Gig Harbor and Purdy.
As a member of the Key Peninsula Business Association, she has met with businesses to see what she can do to help.
In terms of education, she commented that although the state budget was not finalized at the time of the interview, she supported increased teacher salaries and benefits, was concerned about the level of compensation for some administrative positions, and was not sure that lowering classroom sizes above the fourth-grade level was necessary.
“It is hard to stay in touch with all my constituents,” she acknowledged. She attends events as she is able, including a Key Peninsula Community Council meeting in June with Reps. Jesse Young and Michelle Caldier. In addition, she has hosted several “tele town halls.”Constituents call in and are able to interact with her via a phone call.
Angel encourages constituents to contact her office with questions or concerns. Her office tracks issues closely and pays attention to how voters weigh in. Her Olympia office number is (360) 786-7650. Her local district office number is (360) 443-2409 and her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.