Washington 36th District House candidate Liz Berry launched her campaign after spending the past month earning endorsements from progressive Seattle councilmembers and state legislators.

Having spent part of her career helping to get women on the Legislature while president of the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington, Berry said she’d long desired to serve herself.

She saw a window of opportunity in December, when Rep. Gael Tarleton announced her bid for secretary of state. She’s currently serving her third term in the House of Representatives.

“It was just a month of hard work,” Berry said, “and I worked during the holidays, and I called up a lot of people and said, ‘I’m going to do this.’”

Berry is the first person to declare their candidacy for the Position 2 seat in the 36th District, which includes Queen Anne, Magnolia and Ballard. She made her decision official after the holidays.

Seattle councilmembers endorsing her so far are Lorena González, Teresa Mosqueda and Debora Juarez.

The 36th District candidate is balancing campaigning with her position as director of the Washington State Association of Justice, a Pacific Northwest civil justice advocacy organization. Her father was a trial lawyer in Arizona.

She lives in Queen Anne with her husband, Michael, her son, George, and daughter, Eleanor, who was born in September.

Berry’s mother was a teacher, and served on the Madison School Board in Phoenix in the late ’80s.

Along with expanding funding for public education beyond what is required by the McCleary decision, Berry said she wants to increase access to early education and affordable child care.

“When I go down to Olympia, I don’t see a lot of young moms working, certainly not millennials,” she said.

Berry has the endorsement of Washington’s Paramount Duty cofounder Summer Stinson, a public education advocate who recently encouraged 36th representatives returning to Olympia to work on funding that will help reduce class sizes.

The 36th District candidate said it’s not just class-size reduction, but also increasing student access to nurses, mental health professionals and other support staff that needs to be better funded.

Berry is excited to watch 36th District Rep. Noel Frame work on fixing Washington’s “upside down tax structure.”

Frame is co-chairing a House tax structure work group this session, which will perform economic modeling to determine potential reforms that increase revenue while shifting the burden from low- and middle-income Washingtonians.

Berry said she supports a capital gains tax now to fund child care access. While quality is high in the state, she said, it’s also unaffordable and inaccessible.

“I reject the idea that we can’t fix it now.”

Berry supports a statewide income tax and taking a “holistic approach” to tax reform that includes new progressive revenue sources and closing loopholes.

“I’ve never lived anywhere where there’s no income tax,” Berry said, “so it’s very weird to me. I think all options need to be on the table.”

Increasing tax revenue with progressive reforms will allow the Legislature to boost public education funding and other statewide services and projects, Berry said, including replacing the Magnolia and Ballard bridges.

“We shouldn’t have to sacrifice one for the other just because of funding,” she said.

Another priority issue for Berry in the Legislature would be to take action to reduce gun violence in the state.

Berry attended American University where she earned a bachelor of arts and a certificate in advanced leadership from the School of Public Affairs. She spent a year studying abroad, interning for the first woman mayor of Cape Town, South Africa, and also served as a political intern at the U.S. Embassy in Brussels, Belgium.

In 2007, Berry went to work for newly elected U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, which she did for three years, lastly as her legislative director, in Washington, D.C.

The 36th District candidate said Giffords taught her about patience, persistence and how to negotiate and compromise to get things done, which was critical for a Democrat in a conservative district and state.

“We never dropped a bill without having a Republican cosponsor, and it was really important to reach across the aisle,” Berry said.

She lost friend and fellow staffer Gabe Zimmerman when a gunman opened fire at a public meeting held by Giffords, who was seriously injured. Five other people died in the January 2011 shooting.

After surviving the shooting, Giffords went on to become a strong advocate for gun responsibility.

Berry has been active with the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility. She wants the Legislature to form a gun safety commission, similar to the state’s transportation safety commission. The commission would be able to study and recommend policies lawmakers could get behind, she said.

The 36th District covers a large swath of Port of Seattle waterfront property. Berry has endorsements from Port of Seattle Commissioner Stephanie Bowman and former commissioner Courtney Gregoire, who did not seek re-election last year.

Tarleton has been a strong ally to the maritime industry, Berry said, and she would want to continue that support.

Berry said she supports electrifying the port as quickly as possible and ensuring cruise ships are required to plug in immediately after docking.

Idling cruise ships churn out tons of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and particulate matter. Berry cited a recent New York Times article that detailed how plug-in stations nearly eliminated that exhaust. Plugging in is mandatory in California, Berry said.

Tarleton served on the Interbay Public Development Advisory Committee last year, which drafted recommendations and an implementation plan for repurposing the Washington National Guard’s 25-acre armory site. The Legislature is being asked to fund the creation of an Interbay Community Preservation and Development Authority (ICPDA) to manage its redevelopment, as well as funding to build a new Readiness Center for the National Guard in North Bend.

Gregoire also served on the committee, and both she and Tarleton cautioned using the property for mixed-income housing, citing a need to preserve industrial lands.

Berry said the armory site is a prime piece of industrial land in the heart of Seattle. She understands the need for more affordable housing, but noted Gregoire’s concern about air quality around the site, which is next to a rail yard. Berry said she questions placing vulnerable people in such an environment.

The 36th District candidate said she would work with King County’s new regional homelessness authority to help address the crisis here with state-level funding. She’s hopeful the new authority will be successful, and said she’s spoken with District 7 Seattle City Councilmember Andrew Lewis about it. Lewis will serve on the board for the new authority and chair Seattle’s Select Committee on Homelessness and Housing Affordability.

“I’m a housing-first kind of person,” Berry said.

On top of addressing climate change through electrification and decarbonization, Berry said she’s a strong supporter of public transit. If elected to serve in the Legislature, she said she would look for opportunities to speed up Sound Transit’s light rail expansion to Ballard.

When it comes to national politics, Berry said she supports U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren for president.

“Whoever wins, of course I’ll support them,” she said. “I want a woman, and a progressive woman — the best of both worlds.”

Learn more about Berry and her campaign at lizberry.com.