Marilyn Strickland, the former mayor of Tacoma and the current CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, is running for Congress, quickly joining a growing field of candidates seeking the seat occupied by Rep. Denny Heck, who will retire at the end of next year.

Strickland, a Democrat, announced her campaign for the 10th Congressional District seat, representing Olympia, Spanaway and Puyallup.

“Mayors get things done, and I’ll take that same focus and energy to represent the 10th District in the other Washington,” Strickland said in a statement Thursday. “Over the past three years, the Trump Administration has systematically dismantled decades of progress — and they aren’t done yet. Now more than ever we need to send a progressive leader to Congress who can stand up for our values and knows how to get things done.”

Strickland, 57, was mayor of Tacoma from 2010 to 2017, leaving after two terms because of term limits. While she was mayor, she also served as a member and vice-chair of the Sound Transit board. She served on the Tacoma City Council before being elected mayor and has previously worked at the American Cancer Society and Starbucks.

In 2018, she took over as CEO of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, leading the organization that represents and lobbies for 2,200 local businesses through a mostly unsuccessful 2019 election. The chamber’s political arm spent heavily on Seattle’s City Council elections, including a much touted $1.45 million donation from Amazon, only to lose all but two of the races they contested.

Diana Birkett Rakow, chair of Seattle Chamber and a vice president of Alaska Airlines, said she wished Strickland the best and that they were working on a transition plan.


Strickland was born in Seoul, South Korea, and is both the first African-American and Korean-American elected mayor of Tacoma. She grew up in Tacoma and graduated from the University of Washington and earned a master’s degree in business administration from Clark-Atlanta University.

Strickland, according to her voter’s registration, does not live in the 10th Congressional District, although a candidate does not need to live in a specific district in order to be elected there.

Kristine Reeves, a state representative who resigned this week, is also considering a run for the 10th District seat and lives in a neighboring district.

Other announced candidates for the seat include Nancy Dailey Slotnick, a Republican who has reported raising over $19,000, and Joshua Collins, a socialist running as a Democrat, who has reported raising over $43,000.