McKenna woman running for Pierce County Council District 3

Position will be vacated by Jim McCune at end of year

Chaunce Shrewsbury, The Eatonville Dispatch

Wednesday, April 22, 2020 11:22 AM

With a desire to challenge the status quo and make county government more accessible to residents, McKenna resident Yanah G. Cook is running to fill the Pierce County Council district three position in the November election.

Cook is vying for the position currently filled by Jim McCune, whose second four-year term expires Dec. 31. McCune, a Republican, has endorsed his longtime assistant, Amy Cruver, who is also a Republican.

Cook said, if elected, she will bring a different perspective to the County Council. She said Cruver has been part of the “political machine” with McCune, whom she described as a career politician, for years.

“I’ve never been in the political machine,” she said. “I’m bringing a fresh view, and I don’t represent the status quo. I’m not in this to become a lifetime politician.”

Cook is running as a Democrat in a district that has voted Republican in recent years but hasn’t always.

“It’s time for a change,” Cook said. “I think people that want things to remain in

Photo courtesy Yanah G. Cook: McKenna resident Yanah G. Cook is seeking election to the Pierce County Council district three position, which Councilman Jim McCune will vacate at the end this year as he reaches his term limit. Cook is running as a Democrat, although district three voters have supported Republicans in recent years.

this mechanistic, industrial, military complex world are really working against their own best interest and interest of their children.”

Cook became politically active in 2016 and unsuccessfully ran for Pierce County fire commissioner in 2017. By knocking on her neighbors’ doors during that campaign, however, Cook said she became aware of people’s concerns and to the fact they don’t feel like they are being listened to, Cook said.

The fire chiefs are sharing concerns about needing better access and equipment, Cook said. The leaders working to create community plans for their unincorporated areas are also saying they’re being ignored, she said.

“They’re not against development, and I’m not against development, but unrestrained and non-concurrent development, yes, we have issues with that nonconcurrence,” Cook said. “That means the infrastructure is not being respected.”

One of Cook’s primary goals is making government more open and accessible for people to have their concerns heard. The County Council has been meeting at 3 p.m. on Tuesdays in Tacoma since 1981. The council hosts district meetings once per year for each district. That’s not convenient for working families, Cook said.

Cook wants the council to meet in the evening and hold district meetings at least four times per year per district.

Cook has been traveling the third council district since August. When discussing values and local concerns, people share a lot in common, she said. Those values don’t have an “R” or a “D” behind them, she added.

“I don’t think that, because they’ve voted Republican in the past, that’s what they necessarily want to see in the future,” Cook said. “Because if you ask how happy they’ve been with the tax structure … water rights … or if they were able to get permits in a balanced way, not so much.”

Washington state has one of the most regressive tax structures in the country, Cook said. According to a 2018 study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the lowest 20 percent of income earners in Washington state pay 17.8 percent of total taxes collected, while the top 1 percent of earners pay 3 percent.

In addition, small businesses of 500 employees or less pay a business and occupation tax.

“One to four employees, now that’s a small business,” Cook said. “Those kinds of entities are the bulk of our constituency here in Pierce County, not those 500-person entities. They’re a fabric of our community, those people running those businesses … There are ways to get the Legislature to change the rate of tax on service businesses. I’m the person to lead that charge.”

In addition to protecting small businesses from unfair tax burdens, Cook said she supports raising wages to sustainable levels so families can afford housing. She favors protecting Pierce County water systems and sustaining the county’s rural way of life.

Cook said environmental protections are necessary for maintaining the beauty and way of life in Pierce County. Using scientific research when making policy decisions and establishing marketplace protections are important to reach these goals, she added.

“You have to have protections,” Cook said. “We do need to be protected from big pharma and from big corporations because they will do exactly what they want to do and make a lot of money. (I believe in) people over profit.

“I have no problem with making money, but I do have a problem with not being responsible,” she added.

By fixing tax inequities, protecting consumers and supporting local communities, Cook said she plans to build bridges between people and make the system fairer and more equitable for everyone. She plans to increase accountability and responsibility by giving constituents a real seat at the table, she added.

“I’m doing this because I care deeply about our rural community, our natural environment and the hard-working people that make up this district,” Cook said.

Cook has been a Pierce County resident for nearly 30 years, a therapist running a small practice for 25 and runs a micro-farm. She recently retired from the Washington State Department of Transportation after 17 years.

Cook is a member of the Graham Business Association and the Graham, Frederickson and Eatonville Rotary.

She serves as the vice chair of the Democratic Party’s Small Business Caucus, she’s been a Democratic Precinct Committee officer since 2016 and she is the first volunteer lobbyist for legislative district two.

“I want my legacy to be that I had helped provide an accessible form of government and one that engages the salt of the earth, the workers of this district,” Cook said. “We have some great small business, small farmers, ranchers, just the salt of the earth right here.”

According to the PDC website, Cook has raised $14,477.40 since she filed to run Aug. 11, 2019. For information about Cook or to contact her, go to www.electyanahgcook.com/.

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