“Our democracy has accomplished extraordinary things through people-powered politics. That’s what canvassing is all about. Standing on front steps and porches and talking to folks gave me a chance to connect with them directly and more importantly, to listen to their concerns. It’s a big part of how I approach my current job.”
The Hon. Derek Kilmer- U.S. House of Representatives, Washington’s 6th Congressional District
Rep. Kilmer was a summer canvasser for WashPIRG in 1994, working on clean water protection. He now represents Washington’s 6th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Born and raised in Port Angeles, Derek saw firsthand how the region's economy has struggled, and the impact that has had on families and communities. The son of two school teachers, Derek was taught to appreciate the value of education. Derek wanted to make a difference in his community, so he chose to study public policy, looking for ways to help economically struggling communities. He received a BA from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and earned a doctorate from the University of Oxford in England.
After seeing how the decisions that government made affected workers, families, and businesses in Washington state, Derek decided to put his experience to work in Olympia. He served in the Washington state House from 2005 to 2007 and the state Senate from 2007 until he was elected to the US House in 2012. While in Olympia, Derek was the principal writer of the state's capital budget, and helped author a bipartisan infrastructure package that has been credited with creating 18,000 jobs while investing in initiatives like stormwater projects and culvert upgrades to boost salmon runs.
Derek was reelected to a second term in in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014 and chosen by his Democratic colleagues to serve on the House Appropriations Committee, one of only four ‘exclusive’ committees in the House. Derek serves on the Interior and Environment Subcommittee and Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee.
As a native of the Olympic Peninsula, Derek knows the important role that natural resources play in our region, and is committed to protecting them. It’s why he helped found the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus to bring increased focus and attention to the cleanup work that needs to be done to restore our region's waters. He’s also introduced legislation to spur innovation that could counter the threat ocean acidification poses to wildlife along with fishing and shellfish jobs on the coast. Derek joined Senator Patty Murray in introducing legislation to protect key areas of the Olympic National Forest to help create jobs and protect iconic rivers and forests.
From his first days in Congress, Derek has been a strong proponent for campaign finance reform. He introduced a bipartisan bill to fix the Federal Election Commission, charged with enforcing federal election laws. Derek also introduced the Close the Floodgates Act to reverse the tenfold increase in the amount of money donors can contribute to political parties. In addition, he’s a sponsor of the Disclose Act to bring transparency to the election process, an amendment to the Constitution to overturn Supreme Court decisions on campaign finance, and is pushing for passage of the Government by the People Act to magnify the impact of small-dollar contributions.
In his short time in Congress, Derek has already been recognized by a wide variety of groups for his effectiveness and advocacy. He's received a Silver Helmet award from AMVETS, been named a Hero of Main Street by the National Retail Foundation, a Friend of the National Parks by the National Parks Conservation Association, an Outstanding New Member by the Voices for National Service, and a Humane Champion by the Humane Society.