A few weeks ago, I sat down with Kaylee Galloway, who was running to become WWU’s top student lobbyist (Associated Students Vice-President of Government Affairs). Why the interview? Because student elections draw more votes than some local races, and young political organizers deserve more media attention. So here is another interview with someone running for the same position. Meet Andrew Taylor.
Andrew Taylor, aside from being a busy student, has been heavily involved in the Young Democrats of Whatcom County and the WWU Democrats. On the ballot, he actually requested a “D” next to his name, to remove any doubt. He said he is running because of leadership. “I’m running for this office because I want to see Western continue to be leaders, especially in governmental affairs. Western is a phenomenal place, and I want to contribute to making it even better, with great representation in government.”
Explain how you see the position of Vice President for Government Affairs. “The key function is to represent the students at Western in all governmental relations. From on campus, to city council, to Whatcom County, in Olympia and federally as well.”
Obviously with skyrocketing tuition rates and only a few stopgap measures in place to protect students, lower tuition is a big issue. But what is your top priority if elected? “I want to make sure Western’s voice is heard, which is why I want to implement a new local liaison position to keep track of local issues, to ensure that Western is represented in community government. For issues such as rental safety, coal terminals and anything else, I want Western to be there. Everyone who goes to Western lives in Bellingham and Whatcom County, which means anything they do will affect us at our time here, which stresses the need for more local government involvement.” I am always in favor of more local involvement.
Expanding upon that, can you share some of your legislative priorities? “Ensuring the the Washington DREAM Act gets passed next session if it doesn’t by the end of this one. Too long has the luck of where people were born just gotten in the way of students affording a good education. Financial aid should be given to any student who qualifies, regardless of documentation.
“Branch out more, effects students in a holistic way. For example, I would like our legislative priorities to start dealing with more environmental issues. As students, we’re constantly learning about the effects that we have had on the environment, so focusing some of our legislative priorities to environmental, I led an environmental lobby trip to Olympia the day the Senate was trying to make the coal terminal a “state-need” project, essentially attempting to cut out local government from the process. After speaking with many Senators and staff, along with a lot of hard work that people in Olympia put in every day, the amendment died. This is just an example of why Western should have more of a say on varying issues.”
Obviously, I wasn’t going to get through an interview without asking about rental safety. What is your take on this pressing issue? “Rental safety is important to me as I am resident of Bellingham. I have been going to city council meetings to help people weigh in on the issue. Last year, I helped introduce and argued for a resolution for the Associated Students to reiterate that Bellingham needs to ensure that anyone in the community, student or not, deserves to live in safe living conditions.” I heartily agree, but was even more impressed by the link. It is not often someone provides me documentation specifically so I can hyperlink someone inside a quote. We do live in a digital age.
On to the tricky stuff. One of your opponents and some voters have taken issue with your partisan stance, what role does partisanship play in this position? “I don’t like the word ‘partisanship.’ Too often it gets thrown around as an excuse to not have convictions and take a firm stance on issues that one believes in. That being said, everyone who occupies this position has a political ideology, because if they don’t they aren’t paying enough attention to do the office a service. I want Western to have strong, firm ideas that every governmental office should listen to.
“Western has always had a tradition of being a leader and being vocal about it. Look at Western’s own president. When he was criticized by former Gov. Gregoire about the raise that faculty had negotiated with their union, President Shepard did not mince words and said our faculty rightfully deserve this. I want to continue those values for Western.
“And this comes back to why I decided to identify myself as a Democrat when I announced I was running. I’m the president of Western Democrats, I attended the Washington State Democratic Convention, I protested the Iraq War when I was 12. I clearly have a set of values, and I want to make that clear when people are voting, to help them make a decision as well.”
Talk a little bit about your experience and credentials for this position. “I have served on the Legislative Affairs Council, which drafted our legislative agenda, which makes me very experienced with Western’s legislative values. I have lobbied in Olympia several times, one of which I led. During the election, I worked with both the Jay Inslee for Governor campaign and Organizing for America, which has given me a ton of community organizing knowledge and experience.”
Both Taylor and Galloway, as well as two others, are up for election starting this Monday. I wish them all good luck and am so proud to have such thoughtful and articulate young people running for office, no matter the level.