Marilyn Strickland becomes first African American elected to Congress in Washington State

VIDEO: Marilyn Strickland becomes first African American elected to Congress in Washington State

Former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland has won the election for Washington’s 10th Congressional District.

Strickland beat opponent Beth Doglio, a fellow Democrat who conceded the race Wednesday morning.

Strickland is the first African American elected to Congress in Washington State and the first Korean American woman in Congress’s 230-year history.

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“My father was in the military. He met my mother when he was stationed in Korea. We came to the States together as a family and, so, my African American heritage and my Korean American heritage, I believe, just brings a different life experience and lens to the table,” she said.

Strickland fills the open seat, which was left behind when Rep. Denny Heck announced plans to run for lieutenant governor.

The 10th Congressional District covers Olympia, Lakewood, Puyallup, eastern Tacoma and Joint Base Lewis-McChord. They are areas Strickland is very familiar with because she grew up in the South Sound.

“I jokingly tell people I’m old enough to remember when we would get a half-day off of school to go to the Puyallup Fair. There was still sawdust on the ground. I remember when Lakewood Mall had the Villa Plaza. I remember when west Olympia was not nearly as developed as it’s starting to become now,” said Strickland.

Strickland served as Tacoma’s mayor from 2010 to 2018. As a congresswoman, Strickland said she’ll fight for job creation, opportunity, education, health care and climate change. However, her first focus will be on COVID-19.

“How can we make sure that we’re providing relief and getting cash into the hands of the people who really need it and on top of that, a national strategy to address this pandemic,” she said.

Strickland promises to use her history-making victory to work for South Sound communities every day.

“It feels good, but, more than anything, it feels good to have the privilege of representing the 10th district,” said Strickland.

Strickland assumes office in January 2021.