Joyce McDonald emigrated from Scotland with her husband, Gary, in 1973. Now that she’s been a United States citizen for most of her life, the 61-year-old Pierce County Council member says she’s proud to be an American.
More than 40 years after she moved here, McDonald is considered one of the most effective leaders in the state Republican Party. While she served five terms in the state House, McDonald became the first legislator in the nation to pass a bill that prohibited text messaging while driving. She was elected to the Pierce County Council in 2008, served as chair in 2012-13, and recently was elected to her second term.
McDonald plans to run for Congress against incumbent Denny Heck in the 10th Congressional District.
The Herald caught up with McDonald for a question-and-answer session at her Puyallup home:
Q: What inspired you to seek election to represent people in the 10th Congressional District?
A: I was approached last year ... and to tell you the truth, I thought about it for a long time, realizing that it definitely is a Democratic-leaning district and, being a seasoned politician, I understand how difficult that is, and that’s not something I would ever take lightly. But I realized some things are more important than whether or not I can win a race. Sometimes it’s important to run a race, and the people who I will have an opportunity to speak to and represent during this campaign in the beginning are very important, and their voice also needs to be heard. So, I believe if I am elected to this position that I will represent the people of the 10th Congressional District very fairly, with experience and effectively.
I think the reason I chose to run, which is a sacrifice for me and my family, is I care a lot about people’s lives and their future. I want to make sure that our children and our grandchildren have the same opportunities or more that were afforded you and I. I think it’s very important that our focus is on the economy and on jobs, creating more jobs, because we all know when a family has a good job behind them, and they can put food on their table and pay their bills without worrying about it, everybody is better off. The children are better off. The neighborhood is better, the community as a whole is better off.
Q: If elected, what values and principles do you aspire to champion while you serve in Congress?
A: One thing that is important from my perspective in the 10th Congressional District is the military community that we have here. Joint Base Lewis-McChord is an extremely important part of the economy in the 10th Congressional District. We’ve got active military personnel, a civilian workforce and thousands of veterans and retirees that live and work in the 10th Congressional District.
So, for me, ensuring that part of our district is supported and well-represented is extremely important, and at this point I don’t think they have been. The reason I don’t feel they’ve been well-represented is the recent budget that the Democrat party and the president has put out. That budget actually jeopardizes our nation’s people, their safety and security. It reduces the number of troops in today’s active Army from 522,000 to less than 450,000. It includes cuts to military housing and commissaries.
Another thing that is troubling, from my perspective, having been in the state Legislature, it reduces the Washington Army National Guard, and that’s up to 440 positions. What they’re doing is they’re saving money by cutting the military rather than just simply making responsible spending cuts in other areas outside of the military.
Q: What do you think people of the 10th Congressional District are looking for in their representative?
A: I have a lot of respect for the voters. The 10 years I spent in Olympia, I had two Democrat seat mates. So, it was two Democrats, one Republican. For those five terms, I did not serve with another Republican in my district. I think that’s given me a unique perspective of what the people want.
The people want someone that has their best interests at heart, that has common sense, principles and values, and a representative that knows it’s not about them, it’s really about the people they represent in the district. And I believe voters are smart enough to see that when they hear it. I’m going to do everything I can to get my message out to the people to let them know that I will represent them to the very best of my ability, and I will stay in communication with them, and I will make sure I hear back from them so that their voice is heard in Washington, D.C.
Another reason I do want to go back to D.C., and it’s something I’ve worked on very hard, is I want to ensure that the Army Corps of Engineers’ budget includes funding to upgrade and restore the levies along the Puyallup River.
Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.