Washington State Senator-elect (Legislative District 37) Pramila Jayapal. • Courtesy Photo
Washington State Senator-elect (Legislative District 37) Pramila Jayapal.Courtesy Photo

As of Friday, November 7, State Senate District 37 candidate Pramila Jayapal has earned 69.2 percent of the vote in her victory over Louis Watanabe (30.8 percent). Both candidates are members of the Democratic Party.

With the count well over 60 percent on election night, Senator-elect Jayapal had a brief message for her supporters: “I know I could not have done any of this without your love and support and I cannot thank you enough! I am honored and humbled to be celebrating this victory tonight. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!”

Jayapal immigrated to the United States from India when she was 16 years old. She described at the October 3 API Candidate Forum how her parents used all the money they had to send her to the United States because they believed in the opportunities that a good education would bring her.

“I’ve tried to do everything that I can to take this opportunity I’ve been given [by my parents] and to make the most of it,” Jayapal said at the forum. “And so that’s why I’ve spent the last 20 years of my life working for immigrant rights, civil rights, and human rights, for economic justice and social justice for the communities that I’ve lived in.”

Jayapal prioritized in her campaign education funding, affordable housing, and small businesses.

“I’ve been incredibly proud to work with the diversity of the API community over the years to truly lift up APIs through the immigrant and reform struggle … making sure we are taking care of backlogs for API families, making sure we are fighting for undocumented Asians and DREAMers, but also making sure we’re fighting for English language services and jobs and citizenship right here in the state so that people can live full lives,” Jayapal said at last month’s forum.

Jayapal founded OneAmerica in the wake of September 11, 2001 to fight against the targeting of Arabs, Muslims, and South Asians. She served as executive director for over 10 years. At OneAmerica, Jayapal led the largest voter registration effort of new Americans in Washington State, registering a total of over 23,000 new Americans to vote and launching efforts to engage and educate them to exercise their vote.

Pramila currently works with the Center for Community Change on issues of race and economic opportunity, while also chairing We Belong Together, a national campaign to mobilize women in support of common-sense immigration reform. In 2013, Pramila was recognized as a White House Champion of Change, along with 14 other AAPI women across the country, for contributions to her community and country.

Pramila has also worked on social justice in the international arena, including for the Seattle-based international health organization, Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH). Pramila lives in Columbia City with her husband Steve and her 17-year-old son Janak.

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