At an event at the Kirkland Chamber of Commerce, Senator Murray announced that she will open a new office to better serve her Eastside constituents. Senator Murray introduced the newest member of her state staff, Marygrace Galston, who will be primarily responsible for responding to the needs of Eastside residents.
In her speech, Senator Murray also talked about her priorities for the upcoming Congress, which include making sure Social Security stays strong, keeping our Ports secure, taking care of our veterans, and meeting the transportation challenges faced by our state.
Senator Murray's Remarks Follow:
Thank you, Bill. I am delighted to be with you.
Today, I want to give you a preview of some of the things I’ll be working on this year. I also want to announce some good news for the Eastside and a step I’m taking to strengthen our relationship.
I just got back last night from Washington, D.C. Yesterday, I had the honor as your Senator to sit on platform a few feet away from President Bush as he took the oath of office.
I have been fortunate to attend four inaugurations, and they are a time to reflect on our great country and to look ahead to what we can accomplish. For me, yesterday was a powerful reminder of the great responsibility the people of Washington have given me. You’ve sent me back to the Senate to speak out for you and to stand up for our state, and I take that responsibility very seriously.
Today, I want to preview some of the big national issues Congress will deal with in the coming months and then I want to mention some of the Washington state priorities that I’ll be fighting for.
Of course, we’ll be working on many of the topics President Bush outlined in his speech.
We know we have challenges abroad -- with the war in Iraq and the global war on terrorism.
The President has asked Congress to fundamentally change the Social Security system. My parents never had a lot of money, and they literally limped onto Social Security. It was a rock of security for them, and I want to make sure it remains strong for all Americans.
Congress will address many other issues, including taxes, deficit reduction, education, healthcare, homeland security, and transportation. On all of those issues, I’ll be looking out for our state and speaking out for our values and priorities.
Beyond those big national debates, I’ve got a few priorities that are closer to home – and I’d like to mention three of them today.
The first is port security. We have to do more to protect our ports and our region’s economy. Our state’s economy and many family jobs depend on trade – so this is crucial work, and I’ll continue to lead the national effort to keep our ports safe from terrorist threats and at work for our economy. I’ve got some specific ideas for how to move port security to the next level, and I’ll be introducing legislation on that in the coming months.
I’m also very concerned about our veterans. My dad was a disabled World War II vet. When he came home, our country was there for him – and it needs to be there for our veterans today - particularly, the young men and women who are returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
These men and women have served with honor and distinction. They’ve made us all proud. Many of them are coming home with real needs -- from mental and physical health to job training and educational assistance. I have pushed the Administration to equip and train our personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I am committed to fighting for these new combat veterans and their families when they get home.
On Wednesday, I met with the President’s nominee to run the Department of Veterans Affairs. I laid out all of my priorities for helping the veterans in our state, and I’m going to use my position on the Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committee to honor those -- who honor us -- with their service.
And I just want to say personally that taking care of our returning veterans is not just something for the government. As they come home, these veterans will need help from us all. I encourage you to be part of the effort to welcome them home and to help with the transitions these veterans and their families will face.
The last issue I want to mention today is transportation. I know transportation continues to be a top concern here on the Eastside from traffic congestion to the impact of commuter traffic on your neighborhoods.
Over the past few years, we’ve made good progress on transportation statewide. The legislature stepped up, and our region has been willing to make the investments we need to make.
I’ve been proud to be a strong federal partner in that effort. As the senior Democrat on the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, I have used my seniority to fund more than $900 million dollars in Washington state transportation projects over the last four years. These funds and projects are above and beyond our state’s federal formula funding. Here in King County, we’ve worked together to improve our transit system and to address the challenges of Eastside projects like I-405 and the 520 bridge.
There’s much more work to do on transportation for the Eastside, for the entire state, and I very much want to work with all of you to address those needs.
Those are just a few of the priorities I’ll be working on, and I want to invite you to work with me on the things that matter to you. I welcome the Chamber’s input and the opportunity to have a closer relationship with everyone on the Eastside.
And that brings me to the final news I want to share with you today. I’m proud to announce that I will open a new Senate office here on the Eastside to make it easier for us to communicate and make progress together. This area is growing, and I want to make sure that I know what’s happening here – as it happens – and can offer help quickly to the community.
I’ve already hired a staff member for the Eastside. Her name is Marygrace Galston. Marygrace is my eyes and ears here, and you’ll be seeing a lot of her in the coming months. I hope you’ll include Marygrace in your regular meeting here at the Chamber and throughout Kirkland. I want to invite you to say hello to her, and if you give her your business card, you can get email updates from me on the issues I’ve talked about today.
Marygrace is raring to go, and the only thing she needs is a place to work. Right now, we’re looking for office space that is both affordable and easy for people to get to -- a true Eastside challenge. But my new office will open as soon as we have the location, and I hope it will be a resource to help us make progress for this community.
So there are a lot of challenges I’ll be working on in the Senate this year and there a lot of things I want to do for our state – and for this community. I’m proud to start off this year opening a new office here on the Eastside, and I’m looking forward to partnering with all of you in the days to come.
Thank you for having me today.