A letter in support of Sen. Joe Fain from female colleagues.
Editor’s note: This letter is signed by nine elected officials from South King County.
As women, we are wholehearted supporters of the #MeToo movement and know from personal experience the genuine societal barriers that exist for women — and have for decades.
We are humbled and inspired by the courageous women who have stepped forward to tell their extremely personal stories. Their collective voice has created an overdue movement that can no longer be ignored. We believe that for this movement to create lasting change and societal progress, it has to proceed fairly, impartially and with a desire to heal.
As elected officials, we have a responsibility to create the space for both an accuser and an accused to be treated fairly. Allegations of a sexual nature are complicated and deeply personal. Society needs to make fundamental changes that reflect the complexity and emotion of these issues. When accusations of any kind are this serious, they can profoundly alter and even destroy lives.
Recently, Sen. Joe Fain was accused of sexual assault based upon an encounter that occurred in 2007. This was several years before he was married or ran for office to represent our community. The woman has published her innermost feelings about that evening with Joe as well as her experience with other alleged sexual assaults on the platform “Medium” in hopes that her writings will challenge stigmas and help others.
What we have read in her raw and detailed writings online is counter to everything that we have experienced over the many years we have known and worked closely with Joe.
Being a local and state elected official isn’t glamorous or glitzy — most of us get close with each other as we work every day to deliver results for the people in our communities.
Through this work, over the years, we each have spent many long hours, days and weekends working side-by-side with Joe. We know who he is, his character, his heart and his motivations.
Last legislative session, as he often does, he worked across the aisle to expand women’s health care and championed our state’s first paid family leave program the year before, because he fundamentally believes women should be able to make their own choices about their health and well-being.
Perhaps one of the best examples of Joe’s character is in his response to this accusation. As opposed to the hostile and angry responses we’ve seen by many, his response was to call for calm and for respect to be showed to his accuser. He also asked for a full review.
We join Joe in calling for a complete and fair process. In the meantime, we ask the public not to try this issue in the court of public opinion. Some method for finding truth and healing is critical to everyone involved and our community. We all must be patient and honor the manner in which a fair and positive process emerges.
As elected officials, we wade into these waters carefully and in keeping with Joe’s adamant request to show full respect to the woman who came forward.
This letter was signed by Nancy Backus, mayor of Auburn; Dana Ralph, mayor of Kent; Leanne Guier, mayor of Pacific; Margaret Harto, Covington City Council member and former mayor; Toni Troutner, Kent City Council member; and Republican state Sens. Ann Rivers of La Center, Randi Becker of Eatonville, Shelly Short of Addy and Judy Warnick of Moses Lake.