Derek Kilmer wants to get America back to work – and get Congress back to work, too. Middle class families are being squeezed. Meanwhile, Congress is focused on partisan bickering. We can do better.
Derek understands the struggles middle-class families are going through because he’s lived through them. The son of two public school teachers, Derek was raised in Port Angeles during a time of high unemployment on the Olympic Peninsula. As the timber industry declined and local businesses closed, Derek watched as his friends’ parents lost their jobs and their ability to support their families.
Seeing the challenges facing his community motivated Derek to pursue an education focused on economic development. As the youngest of three sons in his family, Derek needed help attending college. He studied hard, worked and saved, earned scholarships from his communities, and took out student loans to pay for college. Derek received a bachelors’ degree in public policy from Princeton University and a doctoral degree from the University of Oxford in England where he studied social policy with a focus on economic development.
When Derek returned to Washington, he worked a management consultant for McKinsey & Company, helping several major Washington State businesses, non-profit organizations, and government agencies function more efficiently, effectively, and strategically.
In 2002, Derek went to work for the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County – a nonprofit where Derek focuses on growing and retaining good jobs for our communities. As Vice President of the Economic Development Board, Derek Kilmer has met with hundreds of business owners, listened to their needs, and helped them create thousands of jobs. That experience will help him work in Congress to help small businesses on Main Street and to protect local timber jobs and jobs at the Bremerton shipyard.
In 2004, Derek decided to run for office so he could help Washington State improve its approach to economic development. That year, he was elected as a State Representative representing Washington’s 26th Legislative District. Two years later, Derek was elected as the 26th Legislative District’s State Senator, a position he still holds.
Business groups have praised Derek Kilmer for being one of the most pro-business Democrats in Olympia. He is the three-time recipient of the “LEADER Award” from the Washington Economic Development Association and was named the “Legislative Business Star” Award from Enterprise Washington’s Business Institute. He wrote the law that helped build the new St. Anthony Hospital in Gig Harbor – which created four hundred and fifty local jobs – and he helped write legislation to rebuild Washington’s roads and schools, creating thousands of construction jobs.
As a public servant, Derek has risen above partisan bickering and brought both parties together to pass bipartisan compromises to address the problems Congress has been unable to confront. Derek Kilmer helped unite Republicans and Democrats to enact legislation that balanced Washington State’s budget, reduced state debt, and invested in infrastructure to create more jobs in the next 2 years. We need more people in Congress like Derek who understand how to bring people together to get things done.
Derek Kilmer is recognized as one of Washington State’s leading champions of veterans. He passed legislation to make it easier for veteran-owned businesses to win state contracts and for veterans and their families to find housing and jobs. For his work, he was named “Legislator of the Year” by the Department of Veterans Affairs and was recognized by the Northwest Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America.
As a legislator who has fought to keep our communities safe, Derek has also been named “Legislator of the Year” by the Washington Council of Police & Sheriffs and was named an Honorary Fire Chief by the Washington Fire Chiefs.
In addition to his economic development work and service in the state legislature, Derek is an active leader of his local community in Gig Harbor. Derek is a member of the Gig Harbor Rotary and of the boards of the Gig Harbor-Peninsula Area Chamber of Commerce and the Peninsula Schools Education Foundation. He has served in the past on the boards of the Tacoma Community College and Communities in Schools of Peninsula, a nonprofit organization focused on helping the kids of Gig Harbor and the Key Peninsula succeed in school.
Derek is a committed father and husband. He lives in Gig Harbor with his wife, Jennifer, and their two little girls – Sophie and Tess. Together they are members of the congregation of the Gig Harbor United Methodist Church.