09/20/2012 08:38 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

An Interview with Jay Inslee

Iman is a member of the Junior State of America (JSA), a student-run political awareness organization for high school students.

I recently had the opportunity to interview former congressman Inslee about himself and his campaign to be governor of Washington State. Inslee is a fifth-generation Washingtonian. He graduated from the University of Washington and then went onto Willamette to study law.
Inslee served in the Washington House of Representatives from 1989-1993 for the area he lived in, Yakima, Washington. Later in his career Inslee served as a U.S House of Representative in Washington's fourth district (central Washington). After losing his re-election in 1994, he ran again for Congress in 1998 in Washington's first district (Seattle). Until March, at which point Inslee resigned to run for Governor, he served in the House of Representatives.

When we spoke, I asked him why young voters should vote for him or push their voting-aged peers to vote for him, and he said: "[Youth] have a stake in the state of Washington moving forward... and if I'm chosen for governor we are going to move forward on job creation to innovation and clean energy technologies. We are going to move forward on educational reform and the ability for high school students to finance higher education, move forward on environmental protection and move forward on health care so that students can remain on health insurance."

Since the Washington State Supreme Court found that the state was not funding education enough, I also asked him what he was going to do about education and education funding if elected Governor. He explained his position to me: "I agree that we should increase funding in education, it's the best investment we can make in the community and I've got a plan that can do that and it focuses on the thing we need most -- job creation. The principle reason why we've lost money in education is because people are out of work, and when people are out of work, they don't buy things and participate in the economy and revenues have fallen off the cliff in the state of Washington and getting people back to work is the most important element. I'm the candidate that has the plan to do that."

Stemming from the topic of education, I questioned him about how exactly he is going to reform the high school system. He told me, "We need to put emphasis on early childhood education, which is incredibly effective because neuroscience has shown that the brain is very plastic and malleable at that age and we want to take advantage of that neuroscience and make sure that our investment pays off. Also, we need to focus on having excellent teachers in every classroom and making sure to improve the strength of our evaluation system. "

When I approached him about why he works as a civil servant, he gave me a very simple response. "Well everyone has a way they want to contribute and this is the way I think I can help find bi-partisan solutions to problems moving forward in our state," he said.

Then I proceeded to ask him about how we can increase voter turnout, and at first, he was very straightforward. "In a variety of ways, we must push back various Republican party efforts around the country to suppress voting," he said. "It is very disturbing to see the Republican party try to suppress voters and you are seeing that in Ohio and various other states. I don't want to see that in our state. We want to provide people to easy access to voting, of course we have gone to mail voting and that has helped voter turnout and making ourselves accessible to the voters and to make sure voters have as much information as possible."

I also asked him on how young people can get involved in politics and work to solve the problems of tomorrow today. He responded by telling me this: "I encourage people to study history -- studying history is great. But I also encourage young people to not just to study history, but to make it. You don't have to be 60 years old to make history. You can be 17 years old and make history. You can get involved in campaigns and I encourage people to do that. I encourage them to get involved early. We need youthful folks, the smartest generation in American history, the most educated, and the group that has the most at stake in this election, to get involved."

I had to ask him if he thought he was going to win on November 6 against his Republican opponent, Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna, and he sounded very positive about how it will turn out. "Well, the voters have something to say about that, and our message of job creation and innovation is very well-received. We believe we are in a good position to win."

I saved the most important question for last, asking him whether he prefers his Ivar's fish and chips cajun style or regular. He intelligently answered by saying, "I don't think we should support Louisiana politics or their cajun style, so I'm going to stick with regular fish and chips."