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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 20, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 03
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal opens district office
Section One
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Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal opens district office

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A standing-room-only crowd of some 100 people helped newly elected Rep. Pramila Jayapal launch her in-district office at a January 17 open house.

Jayapal was elected to succeed retiring Rep. Jim McDermott in the 7th District, which includes most of Seattle and runs north to Edmonds and south to Normandy Park.

Her new office is at 1904 Third Avenue, Suite 504, just across Stewart Street from Macy's.

As her guests enjoyed coffee and bagels and her staff roamed the office greeting constituents, Jayapal jumped up on a chair so she could be seen over the crowd and gave a brief speech.

'This is not the Congress we wanted to go back to,' she said, to murmurs of agreement. 'This is not the presidency we wanted to go back to. But representing the 7th District is the most important thing to me.

'This office belongs to you,' she continued. 'The DC office belongs to you. If you come to visit us, I want you to think of the offices as your home.'

Jayapal said she planned to have more people stationed in her district office than in DC, to handle constituent services and to mobilize constituents to support a progressive political agenda.

'The House has fewer resources and fewer opportunities to act than Senate,' she noted. 'If we're going to win on the big issues, we can only win by winning in the court of public opinion.'

Jayapal was one of the first Democratic members of Congress to announce that they would skip the Trump inauguration. Some 40 of her fellow House members are now following her lead.

'I didn't think I was organizing a boycott,' she explained. 'I personally felt that I couldn't attend at a time when I was getting hundreds of emails from people telling me how terrified they are.

'We can't normalize the situation. I'd much rather be in a situation where I could attend the inauguration of the President of the United States, but that's not where we are.'

Jayapal plans to attend a Seattle-area immigration round table on the morning of the inauguration, and then fly to DC for the women's march the next day, she said to applause.

Jayapal will serve on the House Judiciary Committee, 'one of the battlegrounds for immigration and civil rights,' she noted.

'Also impeachment,' she added with a grin, 'not that I think there will or should be impeachment proceedings.'

Jayapal has hardly taken a breath since winning the 7th District seat by more than 12 points in November. She is now a senior whip on the House Democratic leadership team and was elected vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

She also organized the January 15 health care rally in Westlake Park, where she gave a rousing speech, following it up with another at the January 16 Martin Luther King Day rally at Garfield High School.

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