Ashley Ray believes that all people have the right to live in a safe, stable, and supportive community where they can succeed no matter where they started in life. She grew up in Tacoma where her single mother worked in the restaurant and service industry, and her teenage life was plagued by poverty and generational addiction to alcohol. As the oldest child in the family she helped herself and her young brothers navigate a dysfunctional school system, housing and food insecurity, domestic violence, and the impacts of the Great Recession. It was a hard time in her life, but Ashley employed hope, a strong work ethic, and a balanced mindset to pull her through.
Despite the situation she was born into she never gave up, and she became inspired to serve her community. It broke her heart to see so many people struggling to get their heads above water, and to finally live the American Dream. And, she saw the world of politics and community activism as the best way to make a real impact for change. She joined in on any community project she could find, in between caring for her brothers and working full time at McDonald’s. You could often find her on a random Tuesday, standing in the rain, asking people to sign a petition. She went door knocking for campaigns and canvassing for causes in 95 degree weather from 10am to 8pm every day that she could. Community cleanups were always her favorite way to spend a day off, and they still are.
After high school, Ashley attended Tacoma Community College where she explored opportunities in business. Like many others, there was no college savings account set aside for her, and no reliable co-signer on a student loan, and she knew her success would lie elsewhere. This experience in her early life has led to a keen interest in student loan, scholarship, and financial aid reform, and will be a legislative focus for her. Instead of a getting a degree, Ashley spent these years learning organizational management, strategic marketing, training and mentorship, conflict resolution, and communications. Often learning these skills by taking on extra work outside of her job description, or working on projects at home on her own time. Ashley doesn't know the meaning of the phrase “that’s not my job.”
During the height of COVID and the statewide shutdowns, Ashley was laid off and given the contact information for unemployment. She hadn’t been jobless since she was 16 years old, and this gave her a lot of time to watch the function of government and to think about the results of both bad and good policy decisions. Her service to her community had been activated in a new way, and she dove deep into policy and law. She had already started walking away from Democrat led policy decisions and left leaning rhetoric, but this new set of knowledge sent her running. She saw that the government was now trading in complete corruption and outright lies. She saw that legislators were purposefully creating division, encouraging hate and violence, and setting double standards for advocacy and activism. She saw that horrific policies were being championed as solutions, and that the bad result were always blamed on something or someone else. In her own words…
“It just seemed like every time Democrat Legislators won, everybody else was losing. And, I couldn’t support this progressive movement any longer. It no longer matters which side of the isle you were previously aligned with, the citizens of our diverse district share the same concerns: addiction, mental health, and homelessness services, crime prosecution and prevention, inflation and supply chain disruption, post-COVID job and business recovery, academics focused schools, affordable housing, functional public services, and governmental accountability. While we may face many issues that need to be fixed, that means we also have plenty of opportunities to make life better. And, I think we can all come together and do what needs to be done.”
Ashley now works for a local, family-owned commercial security fencing company as their Organizational and Administrative Manager. During her time in this role she has seen how the government and the private sector work together, and feels there is a lot to be desired. She has also seen the effects of addiction, homelessness, and crime transform our community from one of peace to one of fear and uncertainty. Clients she would have never dreamed of speaking to only a couple of years ago are now reaching out to anyone that can help keep their property, families, and personnel safe. And, with inflation rising rapidly these devices and structures of safety are being purchased at an ever more expensive price.
She is also currently an active Precinct Committee Officer for the Republican Party, and helps work on strategic planning for voter education and community activism. Ashley believes that all community members should have a voice and a seat at the table, and believes that a truly educated and active community will bring us the best community wide results. Ashley is deeply committed to the community she has always called home, and wants to break through the division so we can all rise together. She believes in this place, and the people who make it beautiful. And, she will never give up on that mission.