Friends for Louis Watanabe

Who am I?

My name is Louis Watanabe. My family’s story is the story of so many families in Washington's 37th District: a story of hard work, of courage, and of love.

My father’s family farmed along the Green River and earned money by selling their vegetables at Seattle's Pike Place Market and bartering with the fishermen. During the Second World War, they were sent to live behind barbed wire because they looked like the enemy. There’s an old Japanese saying: Fall seven times and get up for eight.

Just like many families in today’s 37th District my family got up and, for their children and grandchildren, continued their pursuit of the American dream.
My dad worked on Intelsat I, the first satellite to transmit live television from across the Atlantic. Today, we take for granted getting live news from around the world. But I remember as a kid the day my dad turned on the TV and for the first time I saw and heard the words: “Live from Europe – Early Bird.” The world was at my finger tips. It was exciting.

The PC revolution continued to bring the world to us and that’s where I found my first career opportunity. I am a founder of Dynamical Systems Research. We were Microsoft’s first acquisition. We introduced the overlapping windows that made Microsoft Windows a commercial success beginning with Windows version 3.
Like surfing, you can only ride the wave for so long. So after Microsoft I wondered will another wave come? And it did.

For 9 years I’ve been a business instructor at Bellevue College and a proud member of the Washington Education Association. As a community college professor I help people realize their dreams. Their dreams for a fulfilling career, a living wage and
a good life. I’ve received Bellevue College’s Margin of Excellence teaching award and was recognized for my campus climate work from the Diversity Caucus.

As state senator, I want to continue helping people realize their dreams.
And that means insuring that our kids get educated to their full potential,
overcoming social and economic barriers to earning a living wage, and helping make our communities self-reliant by encouraging small businesses. That’s why I’m asking for your help to elect me to the Washington state senate.

Why am I running?

I am inspired by Congressman John Lewis who I had the pleasure of spending a Friday afternoon on organizing. The 37th Legislative District is the most diverse district in Washington state with over 60 languages spoken. This district has the highest unemployment and the highest poverty in Seattle. The 37th LD has the lowest performing public schools in the Seattle School District. Having worked in economic development for 20 years, I see the potential of my district which has the most land available for job-producing light industry and manufacturing in Seattle. I am the only candidate for this office who has the skills to change those statistics as an educator, union activist, community leader, and business counselor with a commitment to social and economic justice.

My Goals

1. Every child deserves to reach their full potential. Public education must be amply funded and is not only one of the primary roles of state government; it is so important that it is recognized in the preamble of the State Constitution. Public education is the great equalizer, yet our schools are underfunded by billions of dollars. I will amply fund schools and bring meaningful reform that includes more teachers who look like our students.

2. We must overcome social and economic barriers to a living wage. My family’s story is the story of so many families in the 37th District: a story of hard work and courage. My father’s family farmed along the Green River and sold vegetables at Pike Place Market. They were sent to an American internment camp during World War II. Many families in today’s 37th District likewise found themselves behind barbed wire. But whether we came in chains or by choice, in freedom or in fear, we live today in pursuit of the American Dream. But that dream is denied for far too many. We deserve our fair share, and we deserve respect.

3. I believe the greatest social program is a job. The biggest community builder is the creation of new opportunities to grow businesses and allow people to work near home. The 37th District has vast tracts of land tied up behind chain link fences, behind razor wire. Behind those barriers lies opportunity. I will open those barriers to bring self-reliance and respect to communities long denied.

My DFA Values

Here is what people in the community says about the values I share with them about community, security and liberty and what I bring to the campaign:

Bruce Harrell, Seattle City Councilmember, “Joanne and I have witnessed Louis’s tireless work and service for this community.”

Rory O'Sullivan, Managing Attorney, Housing Justice Project, "Homelessness is not just another policy issue for Louis. Whether it's working with college students who are living out of their cars or offering friends a place to stay when they are down on their luck, Louis has been on the front lines. Louis knows what we need to do to help folks become self-reliant again."

Sandra Schroeder, former AFT Washington AFL-CIO president and AFT National VP, “Louis worked with me on projects for years and I have faith in his vision.”

Velma Veloria, former State Representative, 11th LD, “I’ve known Louis for many years and he’s been very supportive of my fight for human rights.”

Al Sugiyama, former Seattle School Board President “Louis has a clear understanding of how to improve public education and he’ll be a great advocate for SE Seattle in Olympia.”

Kiki Hayashi, past president, Squire Park Community Council, "The older you get the more you value character and accountability. Quietly humble and very effective, Louis Watanabe will set a new standard in Olympia. He will do the job people elect him to do."

Jabari Chambers, "No one asks what kids like me want. Louis is the first! I told him I want a youth center in Skyway."

Arlene Oki, Community activist, “Louis sees the big picture. His experience in many areas like education and small business will enable him to make tough public policy decisions as a state senator.”

Judith Edwards, Greater Duwamish District Council and immediate past chair, North Beacon Hill Council, “Louis knows the 37th District! He has been a friend and neighbor for many years. He started a small business, he is active in education circles, and he represents all of us politically. He will champion small businesses, teachers and school children; he knows his way around what can be a political jungle. He will be a strong representative for the variety of people that make up the 37th District. He will fight for those of us who need to be heard.”

Ruth Woo, Community activist and small business owner - “Louis will make a great state senator for the 37th Legislative District. Please vote for Louis!”

My Campaign is People Powered!

Because my platform is about public and higher education, jobs, and community development, young people are highly prized in my campaign. I have a core group that includes past Young Democrats of Washington officers, Institute for a Democratic Future students and alumni, students from my college, and high school students. My volunteer corps consists of youth across many racial, cultural and economic sectors.

Listening to the voices of young people, no matter their age or voting status, is critical to my campaign. People like Jabari Chambers who said he wanted to see a youth center in Skyway. I want to continue being advised by young people, and to have their guidance and enthusiasm on my campaign and later, when I am a State Senator.

Voice support


  • Leonard Larson
  • Mariana Quarnstrom
  • Linda Seltzer, WA

About the Endorsement Process

The driving force behind all DFA endorsements is our members. We recognize that all politics is local and that what is considered progressive in Los Angeles may be very different from what's considered progressive in Louisville. For this reason, DFA does not have a litmus test of specific progressive positions for which a candidate must stand. Our endorsement is heavily weighted based on these questions:

• Will the candidate move the progressive movement forward in their community?
• Does the candidate have substantial support from our local members?
• Do the candidate's positions and policies fit into the broader progressive movement?
• Is the campaign people-powered and the candidate working to win?

If you have questions, or want to let us know about a candidate in your neighborhood, please call us at (802) 651-3200 or email us at [email protected] .

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