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Round Table on Politics with Andrew Biviano & Jaclyn Archer

Round Table on Politics with Andrew Biviano & Jaclyn Archer

Round Table on Politics with Andrew Biviano & Jaclyn Archer
January 12
18:58 2017

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I arrived in Spokane Valley in 1975, at six weeks old. My large, loving, mixed-race family experienced its share of ups and downs and taught me the value of character, compassion, and community. My parents always worked for social justice, as youth leaders, social workers, public defenders, and activists, teaching their six children that we must use our gifts to help others.

My first foray into politics came as a child, after my father was fired from his job simply because he was gay and my mother struggled to support the family as a single mother of six. My family experienced poverty, as well as discrimination based on race, gender, and sexual orientation. I helped my dad fight for a law to make discrimination against gay people illegal in the 1980’s. While that effort failed, neither I, nor my dad, would stop fighting for what’s right, because we knew it would happen one day.

But I also experienced the incredible power of community support, and people looking out for me. I had the privilege of receiving scholarships to attend wonderful schools, such as Saint George’s School in Spokane. I recognized what an extraordinary opportunity this was and worked as hard as I could. I graduated in 1993 as valedictorian and was accepted into Yale University, where I earned a degree in clinical child psychology. Most importantly, I met my wife Amy on our second day on campus. We fell in love instantly, married just after graduation, and will soon celebrate our nineteenth anniversary. We have two amazing teenage sons, Alex and Aidan, both students at West Valley High School.

My professional life has been devoted to public service. I began as a case manager, treatment provider, and mentor for juvenile offenders and kids in special education classrooms, and as a Court Appointed Special Advocate. I served adults with serious mental illness while working at Frontier Behavioral Health. I then went to Gonzaga Law School, as a Thomas More Scholar, so that I could learn the skills necessary to make a systemic difference.

After graduating from GU law at the top of my class in 2006, I worked as an Assistant United States Attorney in Spokane and had the honor of representing the United States in a wide array of civil and criminal cases. I learned more about what government can do and found solutions to large challenges. I moved to private practice in 2012, and have zealously and successfully advocated for consumers victimized by corrupt businesses, people trapped in jails and mental hospitals, and workers who have faced discrimination. I have helped hundreds of people recover millions of dollars, and have stopped numerous illegal practices.

Jaclyn Archer for Spokane County Vice-Chair

Jaclyn Archer a senior undergrad student at Eastern Washington University getting a degree in English Literature with a minor in History. She is a journalist and writer. She has contributed to The Black Lens and worked for nearly two school years as a section editor at The Easterner. She has appeared on other KYRS shows (such as Praxis and F Yes!) as the Community Relations Officer for Eastern’s Black Student Union, and a representative of the Multicultural Coalition. She has volunteered with PJALS, WashingtonCAN!, Spokane NOW, and am a member of the Spokane NAACP. Most recently (Saturday) I was elected as the Vice-Chair of Spokane County’s Democratic Central Committee

When Andrew Biviano asked me to run for Vice Chair of the Spokane County Democrats, I was skeptical. I’ve been a registered Democrat from the time I could vote. My allegiance was not born of party loyalty, but a desire to participate in the democratic process by caucusing. I voted for President Obama in 2012, and caucused for Bernie last March, but over the last eight years I have become disillusioned with the Democratic Party.

But, I believe that the people of the Democratic party are genuine and committed to service. If we struggle to bring about a progressive future, it is only because we need to reforge the tools of progress within our political organizations. I do not wish to stand on the outside of this process. I wish to take part, not only as a voter and active citizen, but as Vice Chair of the Spokane County Democratic Central Committee.

What does change look like?

I have often asked ‘What is the purpose of the Democratic Party?’ The answer is simple: To elect Democrats to political office. The more important question is ‘Why?’

If Democrats cannot offer people something more or better than the other guy, we’re just trying to win for the sake of winning. But I believe the party is more than that. The Democratic Party has built itself up appealing to labor, to women, to the Black, the Brown, the queer, the immigrant, the atheist, and the disenfranchised. When we convince them to vote for us, we are making a promise to give them in return what the other guy can’t or won’t deliver: justice, equality, a voice, a consistent ear to their interests, and candidates who will make them a priority.

I envision a Spokane Democratic Party that acts as a service organization, that gets involved with the liberation of its constituency. That means joining hands with the NAACP, with Planned Parenthood, with labor unions, queer organizations, and others who are likely to see their government protection eroded over the next four years.

This means listening to the needs of our constituencies, extending tangible support, and shaping our vision of government into a tool that better serves them, and the greater purpose of social advancement and harmony.

This is the change that must come to the Democratic Party. Spokane needs and deserves a truly progressive voice, and I want to be a part of the team that shapes it.

Why trust me?

Firstly, I’m an outsider. I only care about how best to serve the people of Spokane, and have no previous political conflicts with the potential to sway my judgment.

I am involved. Since I made Spokane my new home nearly four years ago, I have been involved in progressive causes with the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane (PJALS). I have lent my voice to the cause of gender and race pay equality in the City of Spokane, partnering with our local chapter of the National Organization for Women as a leader with Washington Community Action Network (Washington CAN!). I have written several articles for The Black Lens, including one that tackled the racist and problematic statements of Interim Police Chief Jim McDevitt. I have interviewed the Mayor’s Office and marched on City Hall. In short, I care, and I put myself on the line on a regular basis, fighting for the kind of community Spokane can be.

I am an innovator. As a student at Eastern Washington University I provided tutorials on journalistic writing that I created myself to introduce new staff writers to the craft. I am currently serving my second year term as Community Relations Officer for the Black Student Union, an office which I have expanded to Community Liaison, thus building a relationship with the local NAACP. I acted as Revitalizing Facilitator for Eastern’s Scary Feminist Club, and I manage the social media and publicity for Eastern’s Multicultural Coalition, which is responsible for expanding the square footage and staffing of the Multicultural Center being built in the new Student Center. I get things done.

Finally, I live at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities.

My Perspective

I grew up in a small, rural town in Eastern Washington. College Place, separated by a three-lane road from Walla Walla, has only 8,000 residents, over 90% of whom are devoutly Christian. It was a wonderful upbringing in many respects. What it lacked, however, was an understanding of my complete identity.

At the age of twenty, I walked away from the faith of my childhood for good. It was a difficult decision, one I took several years to reach. But once I left the ideology of my parents and hometown, I was free to discover my identity as a member of the queer community. Over the last several years I have come out to my family, friends, and marriage partner as a bisexual and genderfluid individual. I have also come into my own as an activist who is not only anti-racist, but pro-Black. My membership in the Black, woman-loving, and trans communities gives me a unique first-hand perspective of multiple constituencies the Democratic Party aims to serve. While no one person can ever speak for a whole group, I can offer personal experience and credibility on issues of race, orientation, and gender identity.

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