Candidate Name: Steve Hobbs
Position Sought: Washington Secretary of State
Home Legislative District: 44th LD
Are you a Democrat? Yes
Campaign Manager: Connor Linse
Mailing Address: 3309 114th Dr NE, Lake Stevens, WA 98258
1. Please briefly describe your qualifications, education, employment, community and civic activity, union affiliation, prior political activity, and other relevant experience.
My years in the Washington state Senate and career as military officer have strengthened my admiration for dedicated public servants. Recently, I chaired the senate transportation committee and worked with communities across our state to advance Washington’s most pressing transportation priorities. My education includes both undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Washington, as well as the Army Defense Information School and Command General Staff College. My role working at the National Security Agency on active-duty orders and as a task force commander during the pandemic have reinforced my belief in competent, decisive, and compassionate leadership in times of crisis. As your chief elections officer, my past close collaboration with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Administration and Washington Military Department will serve Washington well in protecting not only our office, but all election divisions across Washington’s 39 counties, which have become targets in an intentional campaign to weaken this democracy.
2. What prompted you to run for this office?
From a young age I strove to serve my community and country. At the age of 17 I enlisted as a Private in the Army, and for more than 30 years have served our country in uniform. In 2006, I was elected to the Washington State Senate serving the 44th legislative district, and for nearly 15 years honorably served our friends and neighbors in Lake Stevens, Snohomish, and Mill Creek. Last November, I accepted Governor Inslee’s appointment to serve as Washington Secretary of State. I am running for this office because the sacred right to vote is an integral part of our democracy, and no one will fight harder to protect this right.
3. What steps are you taking to run a successful campaign?
This November, I am confident the voters of Washington will recognize the importance of retaining transformative leadership for the Secretary of State’s office. As the first Democrat to hold this office in decades, it has been the honor of my life to serve as your chief elections officer while overseeing state corporations, charities, libraries, and archives. Our campaign will focus on themes of election security, fighting the types of election misinformation that led to the violent January 6th insurrection, and championing education and outreach efforts needed to increase civic participation in communities across our state.
4. What are your campaign’s most important themes, issues, or priorities (three to five)?
As your Secretary of State, my office will focus on three core priorities: cybersecurity of our elections systems, combating misinformation, and promoting voter outreach and equity across our state. Cyber threats from criminals, terrorists, and nation-state actors are frequent and sophisticated. County networks that support the tabulation of ballots are under attack, and our office will continue engaging to proactively eliminate these attempts at interference. As we all witnessed during the January 6th insurrection at our nation’s capital, viral misinformation about our elections process can quickly lead to violence if not addressed. My office, in collaboration with our local law enforcement partners, has worked to enhance efforts at identifying and stopping dangerous online misinformation before it leads to violence. My staff has also worked closely with our legislative partners, requesting additional funding for voter education and outreach commitments. In addition to funding, we will increase our visibility at naturalization ceremonies and community events, and continue to ensure accurate translation services — a critical element in helping eligible voters understand the steps to registration. Voter registration is a critical step toward increasing community participation and engagement, and I will work tirelessly to ensure all Washingtonians have the resources to take this important step.
5. Do you support steps to build a fairer economy through tax reform and progressive taxes as wealth increases? Yes
6. Do you support robust investment in publicly owned housing/subsidized housing for elderly and low-income individuals/families, and zoning changes to support such housing? Yes
7. Developer impact fees are allowed under the Growth Management Act. Should they be increased to help pay for needed improvements to our roads, parks, and schools? Yes
8. Do you support building a municipally owned and operated broadband system in your city or jurisdiction? Yes
9. Do you support local investments to address climate change where applicable? Yes
10. Do you support women’s unrestricted access to reproductive healthcare? Yes
11. Do you support laws regulating the purchase, ownership, and carrying of firearms? Yes
12. Do you support the right of workers to unionize and bargain, including public employees? Yes
13. Why are you requesting Democratic endorsement? What aspects of the Democratic platform most resonate with you?
Given the events which took place during the January 6th insurrection on our nation’s capital, it is evident that extremist factions are willing to bring violence toward public servants at all levels of
government. This has proven true, as Secretaries of State across the country have faced false accusations of vote rigging and impartiality, fueled by former President Trump’s Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen. That is why here in Washington, we are redoubling our efforts to increase voter registration, increase access to the ballot box, and increase our civic engagement in communities across our state. With these efforts, we are preparing for a future where Washingtonians are civically educated, informed, and empowered to lead and contribute.
14. What public policy reforms do you support to achieve greater equity and inclusion for BIPOC and LBQIA+ individuals in our communities?
During my time in the state Senate, I proudly championed the protection and expansion of rights to our friends in the LGBTQIA+ community. These efforts include my support for ending transgender student discrimination (SB 5689), establishing the Washington State LGBTQ Commission (SB 5356), and promoting access to earned benefits and services for LGBTQIA+ veterans (SB 5900). Public agency executives, not limited to the Secretary of State, have an obligation as leaders to recognize the contributions of our LGBTQIA+ friends and neighbors. As a state executive, I will continue fighting and advocating for the LGBTQIA+ community – and we must retain allies at all levels of government who share these values.
At the same time, we must also strive to achieve greater equity and inclusion for BIPOC individuals. As the proud son of a mother who immigrated to this country from Japan, I recognize our strengths are rooted in diversity. As a state senator I served in the Members of Color Caucus (MOCC), a caucus committed to removing institutional barriers people of color face, and creating coalitions across racial lines dedicated to advancing legislative priorities. Importantly, the values of strength and courage are demanded of those in leadership positions to continuously champion diversity for workplace advancement and inclusion. As an agency with hundreds of dedicated public servants, our shared embrace of diversity is the reason we have accomplished so much in such a short period of time.
15. What steps do you think need to be taken to improve voter turnout and increase voter trust in our election process?
Since accepting Governor Inslee’s appointment to this office, my team and I have consistently identified the importance of increasing voter registration across our state. While Washington’s overall rate of registration is commendable, our office is committed to engaging every corner of this state to educate and inspire the remaining 10 percent of voting-eligible Washingtonians who are not yet registered. Increasing registration depends heavily on education and outreach efforts, and I am committed to providing dedicated resources that are unique to reaching every community. We will leverage proven communications by mail, text, radio, and TV to increase voter awareness of available tools like the online voter portal, VoteWA.gov. Increasing our online presence will be critical for increasing voter registration, and my communications team is committed to educational campaigns informing voters of automatic registration offerings across our state.
16. What important local issues have you worked on (or taken an interest in) that you feel aren’t getting enough attention from elected leaders and the local media?
Our state has a duty to ensure equitable access to the ballot box for all Washingtonians, especially among communities of color who have faced historical barriers to voting rights. A February report
published by Washington State Auditor Pat McCarthy identified mixed results based on a statistical analysis of mail-in ballots cast in the 2020 General Election. While the overall ballot-rejection rate is extremely low, certain voter groups are likely to have significantly higher rates of rejection. Auditor McCarthy found no evidence of bias in any of those ballot rejection decisions; however, she is correct to state, “Disparities in rejection rates for different racial and ethnic groups are unacceptable.” I could not agree more, which is why our office has formally requested the legislature fund a study, through the University of Washington, to refine and test the State Auditor’s recommendations and support implementation of viable solutions to enhance and expand voter outreach, education, and community participation.
17. Please list at least three specific, concrete actions you would support to ease the homelessness crisis.
As a lifelong resident of Snohomish County, I have seen our community confront the challenges of the nation-wide homelessness crisis. It is the duty of elected officials to establish coalitions and implement creative strategies to address the disparities in housing, employment, and counseling for our friends and neighbors most in need. Specifically, I support expanding rehabilitation programs, expanding affordable housing alternatives, and strengthening our presence in schools and civic centers that provide resources to those in need.
18. What safety, law, or justice issues are currently facing your jurisdiction, and how will you address them?
It is important, especially at this juncture in history, that our state and country recognize that reproductive choice is health care, period. Throughout my career, I have tirelessly advocated for reproductive freedom. Passage of Washington’s Reproductive Parity Act (RPA) in 2018, a bill I proudly sponsored, was a major milestone in my career. This bill required all insurance plans in Washington state covering maternity care to also cover abortions, ensuring women are able to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. This passage came as the Trump Administration was busy filing our federal judiciary with judges not concerned with women’s right of choice. The RPA also provided hope that other states may follow Washington’s lead in transformative policy solidifying reproductive health care. Now more than ever, we need to elect and retain leadership at all levels of government that will defend the fundamental right of reproductive freedom. This justice issue affects not only Washington state, but the entire country.
19. What are the transportation/transit challenges which face your jurisdiction and how would you address them? What role does green energy play in your proposed solutions?
As former Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, I recognize firsthand the transportation challenges our state continues to face, despite the progress made on critical projects during the most recent legislative session. Decarbonizing our transportation sector must remain a priority, as recent reports indicate that sea level rise, increasing forest fires, and agricultural incapacitation pose significant threats to Washington’s economy, health and safety. I am committed to exploring transitions that maintain earned benefits for displaced workers from carbon intensive industries. As a state executive, I am committed to building coalitions and serving as a mediator for complex yet pressing barriers to addressing the climate crisis. This commitment includes mediating dialog between carbon-reduction coalitions and communities dependent upon carbon-intensive industries for economic security.