Senior deputy King County prosecutor Manka Dhingra officially announced her candidacy for Washington’s state Senate in the 45th legislative district. Dhingra, on her campaign site, said she hopes to break the partisan gridlock that continues to prevent needed action in areas such as education funding.
The Indian American candidate said she intends to use her experience to expand and improve mental health and violence prevention, as well as protect the rights of women and immigrants in what she deems an “increasingly hostile political environment.”
The seat is subject to a 2017 special election and is currently held by Republican Sen. Dino Rossi.
Dhingra, a Redmond resident and Democrat, is touted in the release as an award winning PTSA mom, anti-domestic-violence advocate and community leader, making her first run for political office.
“After building a career as a prosecutor, mental health and domestic violence prevention leader, and volunteering in my kids’ schools, I recognized the urgent need to stand up for our rights and values following the election of President Trump,” Dhingra said. “We are facing direct attacks on the progress we have made in building a strong economy, a skilled, diverse workforce, great public schools, and the fundamental rights of women and immigrants. To protect what we cherish here on the Eastside, we need new voices with experience and passion.”
After beginning her career prosecuting sexually violent predators and domestic violence cases, Dhingra developed expertise in criminal justice reforms that address the needs of the mentally ill, veterans, and others for whom traditional jail — and the high costs of prosecution and incarceration — were neither reducing repeated criminal behavior nor helping restore lives.
As current Chair of King County’s Therapeutic Alternative Unit, Dhingra supervises the Regional Mental Health Court, Veterans Court, and the Community Assessment and Referral for Diversion program.
“We can improve public safety, save taxpayer resources and help people through difficult times by closing the revolving door of jail, homelessness, and crime that impacts too many Vets and people struggling with mental illness and chemical dependency,” Dhingra said. “Through innovation and reform, we can continue making progress at the state level in how we address these interrelated challenges, helping people and strengthening communities.”
As an advocate for women, Dhingra co-founded Chaya, a non-profit dedicated to reducing systemic violence in the region’s growing Asian communities through education, prevention, and organizing.
“Working with victims and the families, I recognized specific language and cultural barriers to reporting and self-protection in violent situations,” Dhingra said. “In the State Senate I will continue to advocate for policies that reduce violence in all our homes and communities.
A mother of two children, who attend Redmond Middle School and Redmond High School, Dhingra received the state PTSA Golden Acorn Award for her past work at Redmond Elementary School and remains a proud Girl Scout cookie mom.
“Our schools are the foundation of our community, and where we first nurture the passion that drives our economy, cures diseases, builds bridges, and creates works of art,” Dhingra said. “It is appalling that some politicians still refuse to sit down and address court-mandated funding solutions that provide every child their right to a quality education. As a product of public schools whose parents came to this country to provide education and opportunity for our family, I pledge to be part of the solution if elected to the State Senate.”
Dhingra said she is a commuter in a two-job household struggling with traffic and the pace of growth that creates day-to-day challenges for area families.
“I am a working mom who sits in traffic every day. I appreciate that dynamic growth of our economy comes with challenges to our quality of life,” Dhingra said. “I want to work with my colleagues on common sense reforms to our transportation system, continued expansion of transit, and thoughtful management of how and where we grow as a region. I want the Eastside to continue driving global innovation, and still be able to drive to work, school, and other activities.”
Dhingra holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Washington School of Law and Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley. She has been a prosecutor with King County since 2000.
Dhingra and her husband, Harjit Singh, an engineer at SpaceX and former Microsoft executive, live in the Education Hill neighborhood of Redmond.