Burien Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon Speaks Live from the Democratic National Convention
by Mark Neuman
State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon, who represents Burien in the Washington State Legislature, spoke to The B-Town Blog today (Wednesday, Sept. 5) from Charlotte, North Carolina, where he is attending the Democratic National Convention.
Not actually a delegate, Fitzgibbon is attending as a member of the Convention Rules Committee. This is his first national political convention. He arrived in Charlotte Saturday.
“I’m having a great time here. There is a lot of enthusiasm,” Fitzgibbon said. “People are pretty fired up and ready to go. It’s fun to get to be here for this.”
The Washington delegation is sitting “in a really prime spot” almost directly in front of the podium and had “an excellent view” of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Tuesday night speech.
“Her speech blew us all away,” Fitzgibbon said. “People were in tears. It was just an absolutely remarkable moment and it was remarkable to get to be here for that.”
“I’ve been meeting a lot of interesting state legislators from around the country: Montana, Maine, Arizona and Wisconsin.”
“We have a lot of things in common (such as) budget struggles. It made me feel proud to be from Washington because I think we are dealing with things in a really responsible way,” he said.
“The mayor of Minneapolis, Raymond Rybak, was a really interesting guy to chat with. I had a great conversation with him about bike lanes and how to make them work in Seattle and Burien,” Fitzgibbon said. “Minneapolis is a city that probably has done better than any city in the country in terms of making things accessible for people on bikes.”
Rybak’s advice “was ‘go big or go home.’ You need a bike lane network that makes people feel safe.”
Fitzgibbon, first elected in 2010, is running for re-election to his 34th District seat this November.
His opponent: an empty chair. Literally.
No one filed to run against him.
“Having no opponent, I feel pretty good about my chances,” Fitzgibbon deadpanned. “So I’ve been spending my time this summer trying to help out candidates in other races.”
In future elections “I would welcome opposition because that provides an opportunity to talk about the work I’ve been doing,” he said.
“I take not having an opponent as a sign that folks feel I am doing a good job. I am grateful for that.”
Fitzgibbon says he will emphasize the state’s transportation needs in the upcoming legislative session.
“We have a huge backlog of roads that need repair. We need to stop the bleeding there,” he said. “If we postpone fixing our roads it’s just that much more expensive because then we have to totally rebuild them. I know that is something that the Burien City Council is wresting with.”
The environment is also a topline priority for Fitzgibbon in 2013.
“I’m hoping to make some reforms to the Growth Management Act to make it more effective in building good communities and stopping sprawl. I feel really passionate about the fact that we need to take action to stop climate change,” he said.
“The biggest challenge that we face as a state, and that I’m certainly going to be working on in the next two years, is funding of education,” Fitzgibbon said. “We are going to have to take a really hard look and step up to the plate and do a good job for our schools.”
“It’s time for the legislature to get serious about making some reforms. We need to do right by our kids.”
Here are some photos Fitzgibbon sent us from the convention: