Seoul-born Marilyn becomes first Korean-American woman elected to Congress in its 230-year history

Mrilyn with her mother (Marilyn's Campaign)

Marilyn with her mother Kim In-soon (Marilyn’s Campaign)

By Habib Toumi

SEATTLE: Marilyn Strickland, the former mayor of Tacoma, Washington State, and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, has become the first Korean-American woman elected to Congress in its 230-year history

The Seoul-born woman, a Democrat, emerged from a 19-person primary election to win the open congressional race in Washington State 10th Congressional District.

“Thank you – to the voters of the 10th district for helping us make history last night, and to our supporters who have been with us on this journey. I am humbled by these results, and I look forward to working for our communities every day in Congress. Let’s get to work!” she posted on her Twitter account.

Marilyn following her breakthrough triumph (Marilyn's Campaign)

Marilyn following her breakthrough triumph (Marilyn’s Campaign)

She also expressed gratitude in her first post victory statement.

“I am humbled and honored by the trust the people of the South Sound have placed in me to be their voice in the United States Congress. I want to say how grateful I am to all those who have stood alongside me in this journey. From the bottom of my heart: Thank you.

“I’m proud of the positive, forward-looking campaign that we ran, one rooted in our shared values and priorities of this diverse district that many of us proudly call home. Our campaign was focused on the issues – not labels and partisanship – and I will take that same approach to our nation’s capital. Just as I have always done, I will work with anyone who is willing to work with me to get results.”

Last December, when she announced she would be running for Congress, she set out her motives clearly.

““I want to run for this seat because I believe there are big issues that keep recurring that need to be addressed,” Strickland was quoted as saying by The News Tribune. “I would say housing affordability, the high cost of health care, dealing with climate change and then really transportation.”

In her statement announcing her candidacy, Marilyn who served two terms as mayor said that she would “take that same focus and energy to represent the 10th District in the other Washington.”

Marilyn keeping in touch with the community (Marilyn's Campaign)

Marilyn keeping in touch with the community (Marilyn’s Campaign)

In her campaign, Marilyn highlighted her path from birth to high offices.

“I was born in Seoul, South Korea. My father, who fought in World War II and Korea, met my mother while he was stationed there after the war. If elected to Congress, I will be the first African-American to represent Washington State at the federal level, and the first Korean-American woman elected to Congress in its 230-year history,” she said.

“My parents endured discrimination and hardships that I cannot imagine. They wanted me to have opportunities they were denied and taught me to work hard, fight for what’s right, serve the community, and to stand up for the underdog. Those values inspire me today.

I am a proud graduate of Tacoma Public Schools and have a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Washington. I went on to earn an MBA from Clark-Atlanta University, a Historically Black College and University.

“As Mayor of Tacoma, I helped transform a city and economy crippled by a deep recession into a destination for families, workers, artists, tourists and entrepreneurs. We attracted over $1 billion in investment for housing and businesses, and invested over $500 million in infrastructure for roads, bridges, transportation, and the Port, creating over 40,000 new jobs in the Tacoma region.

“I led successful efforts to raise the minimum wage and pass paid sick leave, paving the way for statewide action. Our city-wide Environmental Action Plan set goals to improve our air, water, and health. I launched an award-winning summer jobs program for high school students that led to the Tacoma Tideflats Certification Program, creating a pipeline for students to fill high-demand jobs in the maritime and construction trades. We raised the high school graduation rate in Tacoma from 55% to 89% by making education a civic priority. I was proud to stand with the LGBTQ community in support of Marriage Equality and transgender rights, and pass background checks for gun sales in Tacoma before statewide action.”

Marilyn's success story highlighted (Marilyn's Campaign)

Marilyn’s success story highlighted (Marilyn’s Campaign)

She pledged that in Congress, she will bring the experience of rebuilding an economy after an economic recession.

“I will continue to be a strong voice for change to ensure that we can help the most vulnerable members of our community and ensure we have an economy that works for all of us.”

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