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A third Democrat joins contest for western Washington congressional seat

A woman in a burgundy suit and blue shirt stands on a bridge over a body of water.
Dean campaign
Washington State Standard
Kate Dean, a Jefferson County commissioner, announced Tuesday she is running to succeed Washington Congressman Derek Kilmer in 2024.

Jefferson County Commissioner Kate Dean kicked off a bid for Congress on Tuesday, becoming the third Democrat in the hunt to replace U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer when he retires next year.

Dean, who is in her second term on the three-person commission, is a 25-year county resident and has co-founded three businesses – Old Tarboo Farm, Finnriver Farm and Mt. Townsend Creamery.

“This district is home to incredible natural resources and vibrant, diverse communities. But it also suffers from lack of investment, unequal opportunity, and impacts from the I-5 corridor that make it less affordable and less livable every day,” she said in a release announcing her candidacy.

“I’m running to make our communities more affordable, re-think our economic model to increase sustainability and support rural development, and protect our natural resources,” she said.

Dean joins Washington Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franzof Grays Harbor and state Sen. Emily Randall of Bremerton in the battle to represent the 6th Congressional District, which includes the Olympic Peninsula, the Kitsap Peninsula and much of Tacoma. Republican state Sen. Drew MacEwen of Shelton is also exploring a run for the seat.

Dean, of Port Townsend, won her seat on the county commission in 2016 and was re-elected in 2020. That year she ran unopposed.

She moved to Jefferson County in 1999 and spent 10 years farming, a period in which she co-founded the three businesses.

In the past 15 years, she’s worked for the state Department of Labor and Industries, served as regional director of the North Olympic Development Council, a group for which now serves on the executive board, and engaged in numerous local economic development and conservation projects.

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

Kilmer, a Democrat, saidlast monthhe would not seek a seventh term in the U.S. House of Representatives, citing a desire to spend more time with his family. He served eight years in the state Legislature before capturing his congressional seat in 2012. He has endorsed Franz.

Washington State Standard is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Washington State Standard maintains editorial independence.

Jerry Cornfield is a reporter at the Washington State Standard. He joined the Standard after 20 years covering Olympia statehouse news for The Everett Herald.