Today, Senator Kevin Ranker resigned his position as state senator for Washington’s 40th Legislative District. Riveters Collective believes that resignation was the right decision, as we can no longer tolerate abuse of power at the expense of women’s safety, well-being, and professional advancement, and we also believe that the ongoing investigations of Ranker would impact his ability to serve his constituents.
Communities across our country are grappling with new ways to reconcile after sexual harassment and abuse allegations surface. We do not know the perfect answer, but we believe it starts with listening, learning, and apologizing without excuses. We are grateful to Ann Larson for coming forward and speaking her truth in the face of immense of personal and political risk. We are grateful to the people who listened to and believed Ann. We are grateful that Kevin recognized the harm his actions have caused and decided to step aside.
The events at the center of Ranker’s resignation remind us that much work remains to be done to ensure our State is a safe place for women, and Riveters Collective will continue to be active in calling for change.
First, we call on the Legislature to do more to protect victims of sexual harassment. Ranker’s appointment in the Fall to multiple major leadership positions, while Senate leadership was aware of formal sexual harassment allegations, casts doubt on whether their new respectful workplace policy and the addition of a Human Resources Officer are sufficient. The recently implemented policy and staffing resulted from the efforts of 170 women and their allies who asked that the legislature make a “tangible commitment to end sexual harassment in all its forms in Olympia”. Based on how Ann’s sexual harassment allegations were handled, it seems clear that the steps taken are inadequate. At a minimum, credible allegations of mistreating subordinates should be disqualifying for leadership positions.
Riveters Collective also expects that the person that is selected to replace Ranker firmly believes in advocating for better workplace culture, standards, and a grievance process to build a culture of respect for everyone working in the State capital.
Ann Larson has reaffirmed that one woman can change the world by speaking her truth. She is doing it. Let’s do it with her.