Black Diamond’s de Leon launches Legislative District 5 campaign

The councilmember is running on a better-funded education and social services platform.

Black Diamond Councilmember Kristiana de Leon is setting her sights on Olympia.

Following last summer’s announcement that Rep. Bill Ramos of Legislative District 5 will be running for the state senate, de Leon announced on Dec. 28 that she has launched her campaign for that seat as a Democrat.

The 5th Legislative District represents northern Enumclaw, Black Diamond, Ravensdale, Issaquah, and parts of Maple Valley. Both of its representatives and its senator are Democrats.

During her kick-off speech at the Lake Wilderness Lodge, de Leon said that she started considering getting into state politics after having some conversations with supporters in her city.

“I learned very quickly that not only was there interest, but there’s also real, tangible support to make this happen,” she continued.

De Leon was elected to the Black Diamond City Council in 2019, right before the COVID-19 pandemic began. She might be best known for her work in promoting diversity and inclusivity — she helped craft a joint statement between the city of Maple Valley and the Tahoma School District denouncing hate in response to a graffiti incident in 2019, and got her city council to pass an inclusivity resolution after Patriot Front stickers started appearing on the Plateau a year later — but de Leon is also a staunch advocate for educators, herself being a former teacher.

At her event, de Leon said she is running on “education, first and foremost”, which includes more funding for public education, and as an advocate for expanded social and mental health services to help tackle Washington’s growing homelessness and crime issues.

“This is really our opportunity to make a huge difference on some really fundamental… human services, and from the perspective of areas in our state that are not often at the table when we’re deciding on these kinds of issues,” she said.

De Leon already has several endorsements from her party, including Rep. My-Linh Thai from the 41st district, Rep. David Hackney from the 11th, and numerous city council and school board members.

While she hopes to represent Black Diamond at the state level, de Leon also aims to continue her service to her city as a councilmember at the same time.

For more information on de Leon’s campaign, head to


Washington voters have been rejecting school bonds all last year. The Enumclaw School District’s two bonds — one in April for $253 million last February and another last November for $103 million — were strongly opposed, and last April, the residents of Kent, Steilacoom, Orting, South Whidbey, and Clarkston all turned down their districts’ asks.

One of the reasons why passing a bond is so hard is because of the supermajority threshold — more than 60% of voters have to approve the bond, not just the simple majority (50%) required for a levy.

One of de Leon’s goals is to get rid of that supermajority requirement and bring it down to a simple majority.

“I think that’s one of the more agreeable things, that it should be a simple majority, because… whether or not you’re in the school or have kids in the school, you’re benefiting from schools,” she said.

Reducing the bond threshold is a tough ask, as it’s written into Washington state’s constitution and requires a two-thirds majority in both the state House and Senate to pass; a 2019 bill addressing this issue died in the Senate without that support.

According to the Washington State PTA, Washington is one of only 11 states that require more than 50% of the vote to pass a bond.

“Out of the 130 school bonds that ran between 2017 and 2020, only 15 districts failed to reach 50% but over 115 districts (88%) achieved a simple majority vote (50% +) but not the super-majority required,” the organization wrote in January 2022.


De Leon is a strong supporter of climate change measures, including Gov. Jay Inslee’s recent “cap and invest” greenhouse gas program.

However, after that program was enacted, gas prices in Washington soared to more than $5 a gallon, which “doesn’t sit right” with her.

“I am concerned about individuals… footing the bill on something they’re not actually causing in term of climate change,” she said.

De Leon said she would work at crafting laws that would hold large companies responsible for their contribution to climate change while at the same time, prevent those companies from passing additional costs onto the public. For example, even though there are many companies that are impacted by the “cap and invest” program, the program doesn’t affect petroleum refiners and other chemical manufacturers that are collectively worth millions, the Washington State Standard reported last December.

Recently, Inslee said his administration would provide 750,000 moderate- and low-income families with a one-time $200 credit for their electricity bill to offset the increase in utility bills, using a windfall from the “cap and invest” program; de Leon said she would like to see something similar happen at the pump.


De Leon said Washington needs to invest more in social services in order to combat the rise in crime and homelessness.

While she applauds King County’s recently-passed levy that will create five short- and long-term crisis centers, that means little to Black Diamond residents if they’re unable to reach those services due to a lack of transportation.

“A lot of times, people don’t always have a way to get to those locations,” she said. “That’s why we have such a problem with mental health care in these kinds of communities, because we don’t have the transportation for people who need it most.”

De Leon said the state should invest more money into making housing more affordable; fund “community” or “therapy” courts, which divert people who commit low-level crimes into a quasi-judicial system that aims to connect people with social services in order to prevent repeating crimes, rather than impose fines or jail time; and take another look at safe injection sites.

“It’s really defeatist to assume that there’s always going to be more crime if you’re not addressing the fact that we have huge disparities in the cost of living and our wages, the lack of opportunity in a lot of cases, and the lack of meaningful support on mental health care and substance abuse,” she continued. “There needs to be a better balance of how we make sure there is a better balance of how we make sure we’re addressing that harm was done and there needs to be justice with the fact of what caused it to begin with so it doesn’t happen again.”

Black Diamond Councilmember Kristiana de Leon recently announced she's running for the Legislative District 5 seat to represent her city at the state level. Photos by Ray Miller-Still