Kate Dean seeking seat in U.S. Congress

Jefferson County Commissioner Kate Dean has formally announced her candidacy for the Olympic Peninsula’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, currently held by Rep. Derek Kilmer.

Dean, who had previously expressed interest in the position following the announcement by Kilmer — a Democrat living in Gig Harbor — that he will not seek re-election to the 6th Congressional seat in 2024, announced her candidacy Tuesday.

“I couldn’t shake the feeling that this race really needed somebody for the Olympic Peninsula in it,” Dean said in a phone interview on Dec. 6.

“We’re outnumbered in terms of voters, but our issues matter, rural issues matter, and the Democratic Party doesn’t always do well with rural issues.”

Dean said that, as a small business owner, she’s been working to bring federal resources to the area. She sees a critical need for infrastructure funding, whether it’s for housing, transportation or broadband.

“These are all things that the whole district suffers from a lack of investment in,” Dean said. “There’s a lot of funding available for those things right now, and we need to make sure funding is getting to the whole district.”

A Democrat, Dean has served as Jefferson County’s District 1 commissioner since 2016 and has previously worked at the state Department of Labor and Industries.

She is also a member of the state Board of Health and the Puget Sound Leadership Council.

She co-founded three small businesses, Old Tarboo Farm, Finn River Farm and Mt. Townsend Creamery, and is the mother of two, ages 16 and 20.

Dean has secured endorsements from several local leaders including Port Townsend Mayor David Faber, Port Angeles Mayor Kate Dexter, fellow Jefferson County commissioners Heidi Eisenhour and Greg Brotherton, and Clallam County commissioners Mark Ozias and Mike French.

“I’m proud to have raised my family here in the public school system,” Dean said. “I have lived experience that reflects a whole lot of this district and a whole lot of the Peninsula.”

Kilmer announced last month he would not seek re-election and gave his endorsement to Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, who ended her campaign for governor to run for the 6th District seat.

State Sen. Emily Randall, D-Bremerton, also has declared her candidacy.

State Sen. Drew MacEwan, R-Union, who said last month he was forming an exploratory committee, said in an email a formal declaration will be coming early next week.

Dean, Randall and Franz are all registered as candidates with the Federal Elections Commission, though no fundraising data is yet available for any of the candidates. Franz’s campaign announced last month having raised over $100,000 in the first week of her candidacy.

The 6th Congressional District covers all of the Olympic Peninsula, the Kitsap Peninsula and part of Tacoma.

The district has been represented by a Democrat since 1965, notably by former Rep. Norm Dicks, who represented the district from 1977-2013.

Washington has open primaries, and the top two vote-getters in the primary election will move on to the general election, regardless of party affiliation.