By Jeff Clemens
Former Raymond resident and life long southwest Washington native Erin Frasier has announced she will be running as a Democrat for the 19th District State Representative seat against current representative Jim Walsh.
The Herald was able to secure an interview with her and appreciate that she took time out of her busy schedule and family time to visit with us to talk about the campaign, her professional experience, and what she can bring to the table as a potential State Representative.
Frasier grew up in Pe Ell on her family’s farm as well as graduated from Pe Ell High School in 1997. While in school she played several sports and was involved with many community civic activities.
“I was very involved with Key Club which is the youth part of the Kiwanis,” Frasier stated. “We did a lot of district wide activities with most being community service.”
After graduating from high school Frasier went off to several different colleges earning both a Bachelor and Masters degree from Portland State University. She recently finished a Doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership just over a year ago from Brandman University.
“It’s really kind of a broad degree, said Frasier. “It’s really about ensuring you engage all the voices and stakeholders. So it’s been a really big professional development piece for me to help communicate.”
She continued, “It had a lot of focus on change management, project management, and how you engage all of the stakeholders. How you ensure our voices and that everyone is apart of the process. I have also done many smaller certifications or continuing education courses. I don’t think I’ve ever really stopped wanting to do the next thing.”
“I think one of my core values is lifelong education and lifelong learning in lots of different respects not in just different degrees or certifications,” Frasier stated. “I just really believe we all are going to have to learn things and we will never ever know everything. It’s just really important to me to keep learning and learning as I move forward.”
Frasier is a part of the Swiss community and has served on the Lewis-Pacific Swiss Society board as their secretary and currently as their vice president. Her family has been lifelong members of the society and are active in all their events.
Frasier and her family lived in Raymond for just over ten years before recently moving back to Pe Ell to their family farm. She formerly worked for Grays Harbor College as a faculty member, student advisor, program administrator, and as the Director of their Pacific County Programming overseeing the campuses in both Raymond and Ilwaco.
Frasier lastly served as the Associate Dean of Workforce Educations for the College.
“I was able to do a lot of community based stuff and it was really a good job to have,” she said. “Really the community colleges are so connected to the community that you get to do such a huge variety of things.”
Frasier was also able to assist the launch of the Teen Advocacy Coalition and served as the Coalition’s president for quite some time. Also serving on the Pacific County Youth Alliance Board and the Pacific County Economic Development Council.
“I think with my community work and with what I did while at the college everything kind of fits in that space between education and economic development,” Frasier stated.
“It’s kind of a space that not many people think about all the interconnected pieces that are there.”
She continued, “I really wanna help people reach their full potential. I really think that’s the foundation of our economic development because if we don’t have a strong workforce that has strong families and strong communities, then we don’t have a stable foundation for our economy.”
Currently Frasier works for the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges which is very similar to her prior work at Grays Harbor College.
A lot of the focus of her current position is access to public education for low income populations and currently she works around the federal policy that oversees state policy.
“It’s been exciting and a good learning adventure, but I think my biggest, well the hardest thing was removing myself from the community and is definitely one of the big reasons I decided to run,” stated Frasier. “I feel more comfortable and I think I can have a better impact being more directly connected to the communities.”
She continued, “As a state representative, just foundationally, I believe I can actually represent this community. I mean I am a product of this community and I share a lot of the values of this community. I feel my education has given me the skills to be able to be that facilitator of dialog. I feel the key really is ensuring all voices are heard so that we can work together to get the outcomes that we need for rural areas especially.”
When asked about what her main goals that she would like to achieve if elected she tell us, “ Some of my goals are focused on ensuring that we get the resources we need for rural communities for all aspects. Whether its education, health care, just a real focus on equitable access for the people of southwest Washington.”
She continued, “Focusing on education, the entire pipeline I think we’ve done a great job of re-focusing our efforts on K-12 and ensuring we’re adequately supporting K-12. But, I think we need to make sure we’re not leaving out early childhood education and post-secondary education. If we don’t have a strong education pipeline we’re not actually helping people get ahead.”
Frasier admits that while a lot of attention has been focused on the importance and need for funding of education. It is time to focus on other areas.
“Our state budget is primarily K-12 so as we start putting more and more there,” Frasier stated. “It has to come from somewhere and we need to talk about it. Law enforcement and ensuring safety for the public, access to health care, and supporting our community hospitals are all a big concern. My goal is to make sure we are supporting all people not just resources so that each person has the ability to reach their full potential.”
Since announcing her intention to run on Dec. 11, the reception from local communities has been overwhelmingly positive and many local officials have given her early endorsements. Frasier is ready to make a difference in the local communities where she has grown up.
Growing up in a small town in southwest Washington and living here her entire life has given Frasier great insight into what our local communities need. Her strong background makes her a tough challenger for current 19th District Representative Jim Walsh. The future looks exciting and the race for the Representative seat should be a good one.