Sound & Vision: Debra Entenman, member-elect of the WA House of Representatives, on What She Wants

Interviews, Sound and Vision
Emily Fox

As part of Women's History Month, throughout March we're getting to know the six new women of color in Washington state's legislature through music. Today we meet Debra Entenman, member-elect of the Washington House of Representatives from the 47th district in King County.

Debra Entenman: My personal story is one of perseverance, wonderful family support, and taking advantage of every opportunity that was given to me. I decided to run because I decided that it was time for my community to have representation that reflected the voices of everyone and not just one group. And what I hope to do is to open up those doors and allow all folks to bring their message to me and hopefully bring those messages to Olympia. 

The one main issue that I'd like to tackle in state government is to make our regressive tax system more fair, especially for working families. 

KEXP: And how do you plan to do that? 

Well, I have introduced the Working Families Tax Credit that I'm hoping will make it through. There are 30 other states that allow a rebate between 350 and 1000 dollars for working families so that they can use that money very much like my mother would have been able to do as a teacher on a salary with three kids and my grandmother, it would have allowed her just a little bit extra. And that is what I'm hoping to do for working families. 

I've read that you were raised in low-income housing. How has that kind of influenced what you want to do in Olympia? 

Well, I think that people have this idea that we have generational poverty and that people don't want to change and that helping people who need assistance is just making them more dependent. And I know that my experience was very different, and the experience of my friends and the people who grew up around me was different as well. I grew up in Rainier Vista. I was in the inaugural class of Seattle King County Headstart. As being a part of Headstart, my mom was a parent volunteer. She was encouraged to go to school herself. She became an educator in Seattle Public Schools. I have my degree from Seattle University. And the next generation has just grown exponentially. My nephew teaches at Bellevue College. My niece is a demographer for Seattle Public Schools with a Ph.D. My son is a computer science engineer from the University of Washington and my daughter is... she's amazing, and she is currently a firefighter but she attended Emory University. She has a degree in economics and international business. She worked at Boeing for six years. None of that could have happened without opportunities that were given to my mother, that were given to me, and that then were passed on to that next generation. Education has been a key and the opportunity to have a quality education is more important than ever. 

Is there a song that you feel represents maybe either of your parents or your childhood in general? 

I think the song that plays the most in my head is "Respect" by Aretha Franklin. It is the song that we would dance around to when we were cleaning up on Saturday mornings. It is the soundtrack of when I was really having a hard time during the campaign, just you know, being tired. We would play that song and dance around, and it just is the song that motivates me and keeps me encouraged. 

Sound & Vision airs Saturday mornings at 7 AM PST. Hosted by Emily Fox and John Richards, the show "uses interviews, artistry, commentary, insight, and conversation to that tell broader stories through music, and illustrate why music and art matter."

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