Jessyn Farrell

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Jessyn Farrell
Jessyn Farrell Official Portrait.jpg
Washington State Representative from the 46th Legislative District, Position 2
In office
January 14, 2013 (2013-01-14) – May 31, 2017 (2017-05-31)
Preceded by Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney
Succeeded by Javier Valdez
Personal details
Born (1973-11-08) November 8, 1973 (age 44)
Lake City, Seattle, Washington, US
Nationality US
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Timothy J. Farrell
Residence Laurelhurst, Seattle, Washington
Alma mater University of Washington (B.A.)
Boston College Law School (J.D.)
Profession AmeriCorps tutor
Pierce Transit spokesperson
Executive director
Website 2017 Seattle mayoral campaign website

Jessyn S. Farrell (born November 8, 1973) is an activist and Democratic Party politician in Washington State, US. She represented Washington's 46th legislative district in the state House of Representatives from 2013 to 2017, when she resigned to run for Mayor of Seattle.[1][2] In the legislature, she focused on transportation, education, and labor issues. Farrell began her 2017 Seattle mayoral election campaign on May 12, 2017.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Jessyn Farrell grew up in Seattle's Lake City neighborhood, and the adjacent city of Lake Forest Park.[4]

At Shorecrest High School, Farrell was voted "most likely to be a politician."[4] After graduating with a degree in history from the University of Washington, where she was the leader of the saxophone section in the Husky Marching Band, Farrell served as an AmeriCorps volunteer with the Youth Tutoring Program at Yesler Terrace.[5][6][7]

Farrell holds a JD from Boston College Law School.[4] As a summer intern, she worked for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, assisting in the investigation and prosecution of war crimes.[8]


Farrell is a longtime transit and environmental advocate.[9] She started out as Transportation Advocate at the Washington Public Interest Research Group in Seattle, where she directed their efforts to reduce the health and environmental impacts of automobile emissions.[8]

From 2005-2008, Farrell served as the Executive Director of Transportation Choices Coalition (TCC), the leading nonprofit advocate for public transit in Washington.[4] Under her leadership, the group led a coalition of transit and environmental organizations that successfully lobbied to redefine the state view of transportation capacity in a way that allowed more public funding to shift toward light rail and away from highways.[10][11] Farrell and TCC also supported the passage of the 2008 ballot measure for Sound Transit 2, which funded light rail expansion north to Lynnwood, south to Federal Way, and east across Lake Washington.[12]

After her time at TCC, Farrell joined the executive team at Pierce Transit, where she helped oversee the response to the Great Recession.[12] Pierce Transit subsequently won the 2012 Puget Sound Regional Council VISION 2040 Award because its "long-range planning process for transit service in Pierce County was extensive and well vetted with its constituents."[13]

Washington State House of Representatives[edit]

In 2012, Farrell ran for Position 2 in the 46th Legislative District of the Washington State House of Representatives. She defeated five opponents in the primary election and won the general election with 64% of the vote. She was reelected in 2014, with 82% of the vote, and in 2016, when she ran unopposed.[14]

Farrell served on the Transportation (Vice Chair), Rules, and Commerce and Gaming committees in the State House.[14] She was also the Chair of the Working Families Caucus.[15]


In the State House, Farrell was part of the Democratic effort to raise the statewide minimum wage. She introduced minimum wage bills in 2014, 2015, and 2016, securing passage through the House in 2015, only for the bill to die in the Republican-controlled Senate.[16][17][18][19] The Democratic campaign to raise the minimum wage across Washington culminated in the passage of Initiative 1433 at the ballot box in November 2016, which will gradually raise the minimum wage to $13.50 by 2020.[20]

In 2017, Farrell sponsored the Pregnant Workers' Fairness Act, which provides protections for pregnant women in Washington workplaces, such as more frequent restroom breaks, accessible drinking water, and flexible scheduling for doctors' visits.[21] This was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee on May 16, 2017.[22] Farrell was also a strong proponent of the 2015 Equal Pay Opportunity Act, which passed the House, but not the Republican-controlled Senate.[23][24]


Farrell is known for her work on improving transit, and campaigning to successfully pass Sound Transit 3 (ST3), though she also voted along with State House Democrats to remove some funding from ST3.[25][26]

In 2015, Farrell sponsored a bill that improves coordination between transit agencies in the Puget Sound region in order to provide better service, improve efficiency, save money, and institute accountability measures.[27]

As Vice Chair of the Transportation Committee, Farrell was one of the legislative leaders involved in negotiating the 2015 Connect Washington transportation package.[28] This spending bill funds hundreds of projects across Washington over a 16-year period, including overhauling State Route 520 and improving I-405, while also authorizing the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure for expansions to light rail, bus, and commuter rail in the Puget Sound region. The $16.1 billion package was funded by an 11.9-cent per gallon gasoline tax increase and by authorizing state bonds.[29] The bill included money for pedestrian and bike infrastructure, such as the Northgate Pedestrian Bridge and the Burke-Gilman Trail.[30]

The transportation package also supported affordable housing and education in the Puget Sound region. It required Sound Transit to contribute $20 million over five years to affordable housing and to give affordable housing developers the opportunity to bid on at least 80% of its surplus property.[31] In addition, when Republicans earmarked $518 million in sales taxes from Sound Transit to go into the general fund, Farrell forced through an amendment that will require that money to be spent on educational programs for vulnerable students in the Sound Transit region.[32]

In 2017, in response to a controversy over the valuation schedule used by Sound Transit to determine the amount of Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET), the House Democratic caucus voted to direct Sound Transit to use a newer valuation schedule that more accurately reflects cars' resale value and decreases taxes on many car owners in the Sound Transit area.[33] Farrell supported this change, writing: "there's no way I'm asking my constituents to pay an MVET that's undergirded by an out of whack valuation schedule. When something is wrong, you fix it. Even if means taking some heat."[34][35]

Transportation safety[edit]

Transportation safety was a particular area of focus for Farrell. In 2015, she led the passage of the Oil Transportation Safety Act, which gives advance notice of oil shipments to first responders and requires greater public disclosure of oil transportation.[36] In 2017, she was the lead sponsor of the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act, a bipartisan bill that prohibits dangerous behaviors such as texting or holding an electronic device while driving.[37]

Seattle mayoral election[edit]

Farrell announced her entry into the race for Seattle mayor on May 12, 2017, one of several officeholders who joined the race shortly after Mayor Ed Murray announced he would not seek reelection.[3][38] In a crowded field of 21 candidates ahead of the August 1 primary, Farrell is considered to be one of a half dozen relatively recognizable and viable candidates in the race, along with State Senator Bob Hasegawa, Jenny Durkan, former Mayor Mike McGinn, activist Cary Moon, and activist Nikita Oliver.[39][40][41]


  1. ^ "Jessyn Farrell Resigns as State Legislator, Will Focus on Mayor's Race". SeattleMet. June 1, 2017. Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  2. ^ "Jessyn Farrell's Biography". Retrieved December 24, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "State rep. Jessyn Farrell enters Seattle mayoral race",, May 12, 2017 
  4. ^ a b c d "Mayoral candidate Jessyn Farrell says record shows she'd keep Seattle's progressive train moving". The Seattle Times. 2017-07-17. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  5. ^ "Seattle Mayoral Race 2017 - Meer Jessyn Farrell". Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  6. ^ "Capitol Hill Community Post | State Representative Jessyn Farrell to Run for Mayor". CHS Capitol Hill Seattle. 2017-05-12. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  7. ^ "Q&A with State Rep. Jessyn Farrell '96 | State Relations". Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  8. ^ a b "Patch Candidate Q&A: Jessyn Farrell, 46th District Representative Position 2". Shoreline-Lake Forest Park, WA Patch. 2012-10-16. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  9. ^ ericacbarnett (2017-07-17). "The C Is for Crank Endorses: Jessyn Farrell". The C Is for crank. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  10. ^ "Candidate Profile: Jessyn Farrell". Seattle Metropolitan. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  11. ^ Barnett, Erica C. "Ground Shift". The Stranger. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  12. ^ a b "Jessyn Farrell for Mayor". Seattle Transit Blog. 2017-07-07. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  13. ^ "Pierce Transit earns regional transportation award". Tacoma Daily Index. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  14. ^ a b "Jessyn Farrell - Ballotpedia". Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  15. ^ "Teamsters 117 announces sole endorsement of Jessyn Farrell for Seattle Mayor". International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 117. June 16, 2017. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  16. ^ "Washington State Legislature". Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  17. ^ "Washington State Legislature". Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  18. ^ "Boost in minimum wage to $12 wins backing in state House". The Seattle Times. 2015-03-03. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  19. ^ "New initiative introduced to raise Washington's minimum wage". Capital Press. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  20. ^ "Voters approve minimum wage increase to $13.50 in Washington state". The Seattle Times. 2016-11-08. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  21. ^ "Washington State House Democrats » Statement from Rep. Jessyn Farrell on Pregnant Worker's Fairness Act". Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  22. ^ "Washington State House Democrats » New accommodations for pregnant workers become law". Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  23. ^ "Washington State House Democrats » Rep. Jessyn Farrell's floor speech on the Equal Pay Opportunity Act". Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  24. ^ "Washington State Legislature". Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  25. ^ White, Brent (April 13, 2017), "House Democrats All Vote Against Sound Transit", Seattle Transit Blog 
  26. ^ Groover, Heidi (May 12, 2017), "State Representative Jessyn Farrell Is Running for Mayor", The Stranger 
  27. ^ "Washington State House Democrats » Rep. Farrell bill to improve transit coordination passes legislature". Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  28. ^ "Washington State Legislature". Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  29. ^ "Legislature struggling with transportation deal". Crosscut. 2015-07-01. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  30. ^ "Washington State House Democrats » Statement from Rep. Jessyn Farrell on the transportation revenue package". Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  31. ^ "Compromise Transportation Package Details Online". Seattle Transit Blog. 2015-06-29. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  32. ^ "Farrell Turns $518 Million Ransom Into Benefit for ST District". Seattle Transit Blog. 2015-07-03. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  33. ^ "House Democrats All Vote Against Sound Transit". Seattle Transit Blog. 2017-04-13. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  34. ^ "Jessyn Farrell". Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  35. ^ ericacbarnett (2017-05-31). "The C Is for Crank Interviews: Jessyn Farrell". The C Is for crank. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  36. ^ "Gov. Inslee signs oil train safety bill". The Columbian. 2015-05-13. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  37. ^ "Washington State House Democrats » New law to reduce distracted driving signed by governor". Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  38. ^ Beekman, Daniel (May 9, 2017). "Seattle Mayor Ed Murray won't seek second term: 'It tears me to pieces to step away'". The Seattle Times. Retrieved May 9, 2017. 
  39. ^ Bernard, Sara; Person, Daniel; Jaywork, Casey (July 5, 2017), "14 Long-Shot Candidates Explain Why They're Running for Mayor; It costs nearly $2,000 to run for the city's highest office. They think it's money well spent.", Seattle Weekly 
  40. ^ Brand, Natalie (June 21, 2017), "McGinn, Durkan emerge as frontrunners for Seattle mayor, new poll shows", KING-TV 
  41. ^ Groover, Heidi (May 19, 2017), "Here's Everyone Running for Mayor, City Council, and Everything Else You'll Have to Vote on This Year", The Stranger 

Further reading[edit]

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