With over a decade of experience working in economic development in the Puget Sound region, Derek Kilmer is focused on getting our economy and our Congress back to work. Derek has a strong record as a problem solver for Washington families and he's been recognized by veterans organizations for his support of our troops, their families, and those who have served. As the dad of two little girls, he is working to make sure all our children receive a quality education. He is committed to honoring our promises to seniors by protecting Social Security and Medicare. Derek grew up on the Olympic Peninsula and has worked to promote local economic development and to be responsible stewards of our natural resources.
Born and raised in Port Angeles, Derek saw firsthand how the region's economy has struggled, and the impact that has had on families and communities. The son of two school teachers, Derek was taught to appreciate the value of education. Derek wanted to make a difference in his community, so he chose to study public policy, looking for ways to help economically struggling communities. He received a BA from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and earned a doctorate from the University of Oxford in England.
Derek put his education into practice right here in Washington, first as a business consultant for McKinsey & Company, where he helped businesses, non-profits, and government agencies run more efficiently. He moved closer to the community he was raised in so he could put his experience in economic development to use helping to retain jobs and attract new employers during the decade he worked for the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County.
After seeing how the decisions that government made affected employers in our region, Derek decided to put his experience to work in Olympia. He served in the Washington state House from 2005 to 2007 and the state Senate from 2007 until he was elected to the US House in 2012. While in Olympia, Derek was the principal writer of the state's capital budget, and helped author a bipartisan infrastructure package that has been credited with creating 18,000 jobs. He also led a successful bipartisan effort in the Washington state Senate to balance the budget and reduce state debt.
Derek was reelected to a fourth term in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018 and chosen by his Democratic colleagues to serve on the House Appropriations Committee, one of only four ‘exclusive’ committees in the House.
Derek is a strong supporter of Naval Base Kitsap and Joint Base Lewis-McChord and has secured key investments to ensure that these installations will continue to play an essential role in our national defense and our local economy. He also believes we must provide servicemembers and their families, veterans, military retirees, and the civilian workforce with the support they deserve.
Along with fighting for the region’s military community Derek has championed bipartisan efforts to better leverage federal research dollars to spur private sector innovation and job growth and bolster a 21st century workforce. As a native of the Olympic Peninsula, Derek knows the important role that natural resources play in our region, and is committed to protecting our waters and improving the health of our forests. It’s also why he helped found the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus to bring increased focus and attention to the cleanup work that needs to be done to restore our region's waters.
Derek has learned that addressing the challenges facing our nation will require an end to political brinkmanship and a focus on finding common sense, practical solutions. He's a member of organizations like the Bipartisan Working Group and the Problem Solvers Caucus, which work to bring Democrats and Republicans together to forge greater consensus on a wide variety of issues. In his four years serving in the House of Representatives, Derek has returned over $300,000 from his office budget to help pay for deficit reduction.
In his time in Congress, Derek has been recognized by a wide variety of groups for his effectiveness and advocacy. He’s been awarded the U.S. Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest honor a civilian not employed by the Navy can receive from the Secretary of the Navy. Derek has also received a Silver Helmet award from AMVETS and a Friend of the National Parks award from the National Parks Conservation Association, been named a Hero of Main Street by the National Retail Federation, an Outstanding New Member by the Voices for National Service, and a Humane Champion by the Humane Society.
Derek and his wife Jennifer live in Gig Harbor with their daughters Sophie and Tess and their Australian Shepherd Truman.