Jesse Young, appointed to replace Jan Angel when she moved from the state House to the state Senate in 2014, is new to the political scene. And his path was not one he would have predicted.
Young moved to the Tacoma hilltop neighborhood when he was 3 years old with his mother and brother. At times homeless, he nevertheless excelled academically, graduating from Wilson High School as valedictorian in 1995.
He attended Notre Dame and received a degree in management of information systems four years later. From Notre Dame, he moved to Silicon Valley to work as a software engineer, with the ultimate plan of returning to the Pacific Northwest.
In 2001, with a consulting job at Boeing, he moved to Gig Harbor.
He met his wife, Jennie, in high school. They have five children ages 4 through 12. Their middle child, now 9, was adopted from Ethiopia when he was 2.
Young said that he and his wife had always wanted a large family and had initially talked about foster children or adoption. After becoming involved with an orphanage in Ethiopia, they met their son, fell in love with him and made him a part of their family. Young’s wife and his mother, who lives with them, homeschool the children.
Young first considered entering politics in 2012. He was working for Russell Investments at the time, and Russell had just made the decision to move their headquarters from Tacoma to Seattle. He felt strongly that more could have been done to keep the company, “the biggest white collar employer in Pierce County,” from making the move. He was inspired to run for U.S. Congress, but placed a distant third.
The local Republican Party took note, however, and when Angel won the state Senate race, he was appointed to take her place. His work as a software consultant allowed him the flexibility to take on the position. “I needed to assure that I could support my family while also working as a state representative,” he said. “I grew up poor, and my first responsibility is to care for my family.”
In the fall of 2014, his bid for election to continue in office was successful.
Young is assigned to three committees: rules, technology and economics, and transportation.
He describes his main priority in transportation as “making sure that we don’t get taxed more on Seattle’s mega-projects.” He has made multiple attempts to limit rises in the Tacoma Narrows Bridge tolls, though they were not successful.
His greatest excitement is his work on the technology and economics committee. He describes it as the most “cerebral” committee in the Legislature. “We juggle every policy for the state to meet needs while being environmentally honoring. This committee provides a real opportunity to work across the aisle. There are not the typical ideological divides, and we can really grow jobs,” he said.
According to Young, his own legislative priorities focus on growing jobs, overseeing healthcare costs and fiscal responsibility. He wants to protect blue-collar jobs and grow white-collar jobs, and describes Washington’s business and occupation tax as a barrier for small businesses. He’d like to bring high-tech jobs to Washington –– “especially jobs that allow you to work out of your own home.”
He is concerned that the Affordable Care Act will drive up healthcare costs and also feels that mental healthcare is underfunded.
Young said that priorities in spending would be to assure adequate funding for transportation (especially ferries and roads), care for the most vulnerable and education. He is opposed to increasing taxes, and noted that with the current improved state revenues, an increase in taxes should not be necessary. He worries that increasing taxes would stifle economic growth.
Young lives in Gig Harbor but has ties close to the Key Peninsula –– he has family members who live just south of Allyn. While a sense of peace comes to him as he crosses the Narrows Bridge, he said that crossing the Purdy bridge takes one to another level. “The Key Peninsula is just one of those gems,” he said.
When asked about what he considers to be Key Peninsula priorities, he discussed transportation and the need to balance making roads safer while preserving the rural aspect. For schools, he supports the cost of living adjustment, increased local control and decreased mandates. He has supported a number of requests in the state budget, including support for the Key Peninsula Civic Center, Red Barn, Camp Seymour and Key Pen Parks.
“I want to make myself available. My goal is to be very responsive,” Young added.
To contact Young, call (800) 562-6000 or email email@example.com.