Kent’s Das helps launch Opportunity PAC to get Black women elected

Group supports state House, Senate candidates

Sen. Mona Das

Sen. Mona Das

Launched in early June as the brainchild of State Sen. Mona Das, D-Kent, as a way to seek, identify and support talented community leaders to blaze new trails, a group of Washington state women formed a new political action committee.

The Seattle-based Opportunity PAC strives to invest in the re-imagining of America where democracy is truly representative by getting Black women elected to public office, according to a July 14 news release from the group.

With a shared desire to see more women of color in legislative roles, the PAC’s board and officers said they are joining together as a force multiplier to turn opportunity into momentum; leverage momentum into equality and capacity; and maximize equality and capacity into unprecedented strength.

The PAC is led by officers, Shasti Conrad, Tracy Williams and Josie Olsen. Conrad brings her national and local political expertise to the work, and her lived experience as the first woman of color chair of the Martin Luther King County Democrats. Williams is a lifelong educator dedicated to raising up democratic women, with over $150 million in grants for education of students of promise, she currently writes grants for the African American Leadership Forum. Olsen has many years of experience in political fundraising and compliance at Blue Wave Political Partners.

The board is comprised of women of color, including Das, Michele Dotson, Shukri Olow, Dawn Bennett, Erin Jones and State Sen. Rebecca Saldana, D-Seattle.

“Opportunity PAC exists not only to repudiate the notion that people will not vote for qualified candidates just because they do not fit the archetype of the American politician, but to set forth the conditions to eradicate this notion by providing Black women candidates running for office an equal seat at the table in the political process,” Dotson said.

The PAC will firstly support the campaigns of Black women throughout Washington state, including the re-election campaigns of State Reps. Melanie Morgan, D-Parkland and Debra Entenman, D-Kent. Morgan faces off against Koshin Fidaar, R-Tacoma, while Entenman faces challenger Kyle Lyebyedyev, R-Covington. The group has contributed $2,000 each to Entenman and Morgan, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission.

Next, the PAC seeks to raise up the youth vote, and also support women of color who will be the next wave of candidates for leadership in the nation.

The Democratic electorate has been led by and built by Black voters, but the state Legislature and other halls of power do not reflect that, according to the news release. Black communities need representation in the room where it happens.

The group hopes to multiply the number of Black women in the state House this year — and add a Black senator for the first time since 2010 with its support of T’wina Nobles, D-Fircrest, who is challenging State Rep. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place. The group has contributed $2,000 to Nobles.

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