Thank you 37th Legislative District

Thank you 37th Legislative District voters for re-electing me to serve as your State Representative!  I am honored to continue to advocate for our communities and to bring our concerns to Olympia.

I am pleased to announce that I have retained my role as the Chair of the House Education Committee, as well as my assignments to the Consumer Protection and Business Committee and the Capital Budget Committee.  The Legislature will convene-in-person for the 2020 Session on January 11, 2021 but, thereafter, the proceedings will take place remotely.  I encourage you to follow us on the web at or by signing up for e-mail updates at

Beginning 30 days before the Legislative Session, all campaign related communication must cease until the Legislature adjourns.  Therefore, no new content will appear on this website or on my Facebook page pursuant to Public Disclosure Commission laws.  However, please feel free to stay in touch through my legislative website at or through my Facebook page at Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos.  Of course, always feel free to reach out to me at my legislative office at [email protected]

Thank you, once more, for the privilege to serve as your State Representative.  I will look forward to seeing everyone in person when we have effectively controlled the transmission of the novel coronavirus in our communities.  Until then, please remain safe and healthy!

With gratitude,

Sharon Tomiko Santos



International Examiner: Candidates make their case to represent the CID and south Seattle in state legislature

To read the full International Examiner article by Chetanya Robinson, visit here. 


Candidates vying for two seats as Representatives in Washington’s 37th legislative district — which includes the Chinatown International District (CID), the Central District, north Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley, Columbia City, Renton, and Skyway — made their case before voters in the 8th annual AAPI Candidates Forum, hosted on Zoom this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A Facebook livestream of the forum can be viewed here.

Four candidates for the two seats, one of them a longtime incumbent, discussed how to address the state’s looming budget crisis, how to help renters and prevent evictions during the pandemic, and possible new taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

After Rep. Eric Pettigrew retired at the beginning of 2020, the contest for the 37th District’s Position 2 seat was without a long-time incumbent.


Two candidates for District 37, Position 1: John Stafford (bottom left) and Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos (bottom right). Screenshot from virtual candidate forum

Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, who has held the district’s Position 1 seat since she was elected in 1998, defended her record against challenger John Stafford. Both candidates are Democrats.

Stafford, a high school history teacher and 20-year resident of south Seattle, said the multiple crises of the pandemic, state budget, the economy, climate change, and racial inequities, demand “bold structural change.” His priorities include progressive taxation, police reform, and balancing the state budget without austerity measures.

Santos, who has represented the district for 20 years, said she is aligned with Stafford on progresisve revenue, but said her experience and deep knowledge of the district set her apart, as the daughter of an immigrant, a school child who qualified for reduced lunch and an anti-poverty program, and a community activist. “These and other formative experiences are the foundation of my passion for equity, for opportunity, and for justice.”

To prevent evictions and create more affordable housing, Santos has proposed creating a land bank requiring government bodies to set aside some surplus land for nonprofit developers, such as InterIm CDA. To address zoning and density, she favors inserting equity principles into Washington’s Growth Management Act (GMA), which she believes is out of date, and using the Housing Trust Fund to create a variety of housing units in every 37th District neighborhood. “Communities of color, historic communities, are increasingly targeted for displacement and gentrification,” she said.

Stafford said to keep housing affordable, the state should introduce regular minimum wage increases and jobs programs, such as accelerating the Sound Transit program. The state should push for zoning changes such as allowing Accessory Dwelling Units and Detached Accessory Dwelling Units, and an increase in the number of affordable housing units developers must build under the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) program. He believes the City and State government should provide public housing, and supports the City Council’s JumpStart Seattle big business tax. To address homelessness during the pandemic, he suggested the City could use unused stadiums to provide shelter.

Both candidates support progressive revenue to fix Washington’s regressive tax structure. Stafford supports State Rep. Frank Chopp’s proposal of a capital gains tax on high-income individuals, a second tax on high-salary earners at corporations, and a payroll tax. Stafford said Santos did not do enough for progressive revenue while in office.

Santos responded that she has sponsored progressive revenue proposals, including pushing for the last income tax ballot measure as a member of the finance committee and founding the Washington Tax Fairness Coalition. Santos favors an individual income tax, but also believes more progressive business taxes are necessary, rather than relying on the Business & Occupation tax, which is “grossly unfair” to small businesses in places like the CID. She would also seek a reduction in sales taxes if a progressive tax on individuals and businesses is implemented.

Moderators asked how candidates would protect healthcare and dental programs designated for Washingtonians (COFA) Pacific island nations.

Stafford outlined his plan to address the budget crisis, and said legislators should prevent cuts to healthcare and welfare programs. Stafford favors using $1 billion dollars from the state’s rainy day fund, followed by a new progressive revenue source.

Santos said the state should reevaluate tax relief for big businesses and perhaps sunset some of this. Santos said she was proud to be the prime sponsor of the COFA healthcare bills in the House. “It’s important for us to remember that the peoples from the COFA communities were literally human sacrifices by the United States military,” she said. “We have a moral obligation to support the health of these people.”

General Election Kick-off

I am running for re-election of my position to Washington's House of Representatives, which I have proudly represented for over 20 years. 

It has been my honor to serve the residents of the 37th District, and I hope to continue my work fighting for our education system, proper recovery efforts to see us out of this financial crisis, and justice for all living in our great state. 

In that spirit of connectedness, I hope you will join me for a virtual party to launch our campaign for the General Election in November:

Please join us for a virtual kickoff celebration on September 15 from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM PST. Zoom information will be sent the day before to all registrants (so be sure to RSVP using the form below).

For any questions, please email Hong at [email protected]

Please RSVP here:

To donate to the Friends of Santos campaign, visit


South Seattle Emerald: Santos and Harris-Talley Top Vote-Getters in 37th District, Advance to November's General Election with Stafford and Salisbury

To read the full article on the South Seattle Emerald by Mark Van Streefkerk, visit here


Incumbent Sharon Tomiko Santos and Kirsten Harris-Talley were the lead vote-getters in their quest to win Washington State’s 37th Legislative District Positions 1 and 2, respectively, according to early returns Tuesday night.

Santos, who received 76 percent of the vote for Position 1, will face John Stafford, who advanced with 12 percent of the vote. Harris-Talley, who received 50 percent of Tuesday’s vote for Position 2 will face Chukundi Salisbury, who received 21 percent of the vote.

In a truly unprecedented year marked by a global pandemic, unemployment, and widespread protest for Black lives and racial equity, candidates were confronted with urgent issues that centered around COVID-19 aid and police reform.

The 37th Legislative District encompasses the Central District, Beacon Hill, Columbia City, Rainier Valley, Rainier Beach, and Renton — some of the most diverse parts of Seattle.

As revealed in a virtual Town Hall on July 28, south Seattle’s BIPOC communities are at a disproportionate risk for COVID-19. Representatives from the 37th District are instrumental in ushering in legislation for equitable COVID-19 resources and support, as well as representing constituent’s demands for police accountability in Olympia.

Position 1

“I’m so deeply proud to represent this district because this district is what shaped me into the woman that I am now,” said Santos, who has served in the seat since 1999. “It has been a great privilege to represent this district and I am looking forward to [being] able to continue to represent our very diverse community and to champion some of the unique challenges that we experience.”

Running against Santos was John Stafford, who also campaigned to represent the 37th district in 2010 and 2014. Stafford’s platform is “Bold Structural Change, Not Just Incremental Reform.” He hoped to address the looming deficit in Olympia, climate change, and supported police reform, however, Stafford said, “I don’t support abolishing,” in a July 18 candidates forum.

Shortly before the election results were in, Stafford said, “I enjoy the campaigning process, largely because effectively addressing major policy issues is of such importance to my district and our society … I am a high school history teacher, and I am involved in climate change activism. Irrespective of what happens in the election, I will continue to focus on these endeavors.”

According to a July 18 online forum hosted by the Coalition of Immigrants, Refugees, and Communities of Color (CIRCC), Santos wants to treat systemic inequities with systemic solutions, focusing on education and access for BIPOC communities. She is in favor of reinstating I-1000, the Affirmative Action Initiative that was narrowly overturned by voters last November. She also said “Progressive tax reform is absolutely necessary,” referring to Washington’s regressive tax system where working class earners pay 18 percent of their income in taxes, while the wealthiest pay three percent. Voters can also expect her to advocate for Senator Bob Hasegawa’s State Bank, as well as the creation of a Land Bank, where land is leased to nonprofit developers and homeowners who will own the buildings while the land remains publicly owned. Having worked to promote I-940, Santos said, “We can do more,” and mentioned the halting of military-grade equipment in the police force and choosing appropriate funding to address the biases within the system. As Chair of the House Education Committee, Santos says that looking ahead to the fall, “Going back to school is going to be a big, big deal this year,” noting that the future of education during COVID-19 raises important questions.

Position 2

“I am humbled and grateful for the outpouring of support from our community” Harris-Talley wrote in an election night Instagram post. “While an important milestone, this was never going to be the end. If anything, this marks the start of a three-month campaign … we’re through with the status quo power arrangements that benefit those at the top. We deserve leadership that fights for all of us, so everyone has what they need to care for themselves and their families.”

Chukundi Salisbury, who advanced to the Position 2 general election, enjoyed the endorsement of Andrea Caupain after she announced the suspension of her campaign in June. His first time running for state representative, Salisbury’s platform was “True Representation,” reflective of the fact that he has lived in the 37th district all his life.

Salisbury boasts three decades of community service and involvement, including his work with the Urban Vote Project (URBVOTE) and nonprofit Service Is A Lifestyle.

“For many people that grew up here, it’s been a long time since they saw a person on the ballot that they knew from school,” he told the South Seattle Emerald shortly before the election results were in.

“Regardless of the outcome tonight, we’re going to run the same campaign that we’ve been running, which is making connections with community-based leaders and business owners and neighbors,” Salisbury said.

Kirsten Harris-Talley was one of the most progressive candidates for the 37th Legislative District Position 2, campaigning on a social justice framework that centered the most vulnerable communities first.

Harris-Talley is endorsed by progressives like Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Senator Rebecca Saldana, and Councilmember Tammy Morales. Harris-Talley advocated for universal healthcare and child care as well as green infrastructure. Harris-Talley is also an outspoken Black Lives Matter activist and police abolitionist, with a detailed divestment/investment plan, starting with an audit of the Department of Corrections $2.6 billion dollar budget.

During an Election Night Virtual Happy Hour event via Zoom, Harris-Talley recounted pivotal and entertaining moments during her campaign and the last few months, including the Juneteenth show of solidarity between BLM and I.L.W.U., where the longshoremen closed every port on the west coast.

Other key races

Early results show incumbents Governor Jay Inslee and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal advancing to the General Election. Inslee will most likely face Republican Loren Culp, the Police Chief of Republic, Washington, and Jayapal, who has 81.41 percent of the early vote, will likely run against Craig Keller, whose platform includes protections against “illegal aliens” and urges community members to invest in gold and firearms.   

Frank Chopp, a 25-year incumbent for the 43rd Legislative District and former Speaker of the House, whose Five-Point Agenda includes Apple Health Care for all, affordable housing, and early childhood education initiatives, also advanced alongside first-time candidate Sherae Lascelles. Lascelles is endorsed by Nikkita Oliver and Kirsten Harris-Talley, with a campaign based on “mutual aid, harm reduction, and representation of the most intersectionality marginalized.”

Current results for all districts can be found here.

Seattle Metropolitan Elections Committee Endorses Rep. Santos

SEATTLE, WA- The Seattle Metropolitan Elections Committee (SEAMEC) has endorsed Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos’s re-election campaign for the 37th District House, giving her the Highest Rating of 5

SEAMEC is a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization that serves LGBTQ+ communities. Since 1977,  they have interviewed and rated candidates on issues of importance to the LGBTQ+ community. The Friends of Santos campaign is proud to earn their highest endorsement. 

“​I have been a leading advocate for adopting an agenda that centers our priorities on equity as a primary value and focuses our efforts on those who are most marginalized in the fabric of society.” said Rep. Santos, “To this end, I am proud to have been involved in promoting the use of an equity lens in our budget and policy decisions to ensure that LGBTQ+ persons, people of color, and immigrants and refugees are uplifted during these challenging times.” 

For the last 20 years representing the 37th District, Rep. Santos has championed the values of Equity, Opportunity, and Justice. In advancing equity for all, she will continue to work with the LGBTQ+ leaders and allies in the Legislature as well as in the community to identify and promote legislation that will promote equality for all. One avenue for progress that  Rep. Santos believes the Legislature should continue to focus on collecting disaggregated data to document inequities in socio-economic and health outcomes for LGBTQ+ persons.  This type of equity analysis could then lead to targeting state resources – including operating and capital dollars - for specific programs and services that cater to our LGBTQ+ community. 


For further inquiry, email: [email protected]