1. How do you spend your free time? Any other hobbies? Basically, tell me about yourself.
Ha, what free time? I have two young kids who I basically spend every free minute with when I’m not working. I love being a mom, but it is a lot of work. As a Member of Congress with young children, they go everywhere with my husband and me. They are champs of the lengthy, frequent plane trips from one coast to the other, they’re much more popular than I am on the House floor, and they accompany me occasionally to committee meetings. When I do have down time, I enjoy reading and learning new things. I’m currently reading a book on the history of the Jewish people.
2. How long have you been in politics?
Well, officially working in politics, since 2005, when I was a legislative aide for Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers from Spokane. So I guess that’s 12 years now? Before that, though, I interned for a Washington state senator and also at the White House. After working for Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers, I was appointed to serve as a State Representative to Washington state’s 18th Legislative District by Democrat and Republican County Commissioners. I was then reelected to that position where I served until being elected to Congress in 2010.
3. How did you decide to get into politics?
My mom instilled in me an interest and passion for politics since I was young. We would visit the state capitol and were always involved in community meetings, local campaigns and other civic events. But it was after I volunteered at Ground Zero in New York shortly after 9/11—doing small tasks like serving food to first responders and cleanup crews—that I felt called to serve my community, and I knew public office was one such path. I truly cared—and still care deeply—about our government and how it impacts our lives. That was the starting point of my journey into public service.
4. How did you get to where you are now?
There are a few principles I’ve stuck to that have helped me along the way. Staying true to my purpose—to serve others, and then not being afraid when the window of opportunity presents itself, has led me to the position I am in today. And just as importantly, not being afraid to fail. My passion has driven me to take some risks—some have worked out and some have not. Learning from those setbacks and the inevitable opportunities they end up providing. And pushing the boundaries of what you—or others—think is possible. You get told “no” all the time in life, but you don’t have to accept that as the final answer.
5. What is your favorite part about being a Congresswoman? Do you have a least favorite?
My favorite part is easy: representing Southwest Washington in the United States Congress. For all its faults, Congress is a storied institution that has helped guide this great nation through more than 200 years. I have always taken the responsibility that comes with serving in that body seriously. Plus, Southwest Washington has to be the most beautiful district in the country! But why I do what I do, and love what I do, is because of all the amazing, sincere, and hardworking folks that comprise what I have always called home. My least favorite would be traveling back and forth to Washington, D.C. It’s a lot of time in airports and on airplanes. I knew what would be required and I was, and am, prepared to roll up my sleeves and do my best to go to bat for the people I represent and get wins for our region.
6. Is there something about this job that might surprise someone to find out?
Oh boy, yeah, a lot. There are some amazing people here, working really hard to get some good legislation passed that will help Americans. It’s just a complicated, often messy, process to get there. And I encounter a lot of people who understandably are frustrated with the deliberation that takes place before something is passed into law, but if you read about our Founding Fathers, they actually intended the legislative branch to follow a careful process.
7. What is the best piece of advice you have for someone looking to get into politics?
The most successful and happy people I know are individuals who view the world as their classroom. The most fulfilled people I know serve others. I’d say wherever you go, whatever you do, be willing to swallow your ego and learn from those around you. Find a mentor. Read books about people you admire. Learn new skills that can set you apart from your colleagues. Never stop asking questions and push yourself to say yes more than you say no. And of course, get involved. Volunteer, vote – just show up. I’ve been the youngest person in the room on many occasions, but that doesn’t matter. Our country needs people of all ages and from all walks of life to be involved.