Ballard born and raised, Waylon Robert’s love for Washington began while exploring the state with his parents Leon and Leslie. Waylon and his parents visited the Magnolia and Queen Anne Libraries frequently where he checked out books on local history and architecture.
His first action of advocacy was nominating The Bush House, one of Washington’s oldest hotels located in the mountain town of Index, for the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation’s Most Endangered Buildings List. He shared a podium with Dow Constantine, telling a group what the Bush House meant to him. Understanding the power of citizen advocacy, especially from young people, Waylon did the same with St. Edwards Seminary and the Skykomish Hotel (he convinced his friends at the Ballard Boys and Girls Club to gather 600 signatures with him for the preservation of the Skykomish Hotel). These landmarks have been rehabilitated and reopened for public use. His preservation advocacy earned him the John D. Spellman Award for Historic Preservation from Executive Constantine.
At age 16, Waylon began apprenticing for King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, working as a key researcher and learning about the relationship between our King County Government and social justice.
When Waylon was at Evergreen College, his mom used Death with Dignity after a long battle with an illness. She died at home in Ballard. That spring, never before setting foot in Hoquiam, Waylon got off the #40 bus to do a community project for their City Government. They needed help to complete their Carnegie Library renovation. Waylon was tasked to raise $290,000 in order to give their most visited place another 50 years of use. Waylon got to work. He found the former House Majority’s Leader phone number in the Yellow Pages. He eventually secured a $250,000 legislative appropriation (2017) and $40,000 (2016) in community donations and grants.
Also, during Freshman year, Waylon founded the Evergreen Young Democrats. He brought legislative leaders to Campus and got many students involved in the local scene volunteering at fundraisers and community events.
To better understand the federal impact on Washington, Waylon interned for Congressman Derek Kilmer. Interning with Justice Gonzalez, Waylon was able to interview most State Supreme Court Justices, building an understanding of court histories, the change in judicial philosophies and the relationship with the Legislative Branch.
In 2018, seeing a greater need to establish a statewide grant program to repair libraries, Waylon secured an $80,000 legislative appropriation to determine the total capital backlog.
Summer of 2018, Waylon fed a dryer with soaked veneer in a 1950s era plywood mill on the banks of the Hoquiam River, Hoquiam Plywood. During this extremely impactful period, he lived with the “Glueman” Yogi. Waylon was called “Strawberry” or “President” since he ate bags of fruit every day for lunch (w/ smoked salmon his friend canned) sitting on a tire in the yard and asking people what was on their mind. Everyone at the Mill had a nickname.
In 2019, Waylon made establishing a library grant program a priority to everyone in the Capital Budget negotiating room, resulting in the current Library Capital Grant Program which will make $50 million in investments (24 million to date) and supports prevailing wage jobs in communities across the state. During this time, Waylon also secured $150,000 for HistoryLink to publish a history of Agriculture in Washington.
For the last two years, Waylon worked as a project manager for Forterra. He led key due diligence on projects, workforce development in CLT, reorganized their project billing system and proudly partnered in leading due diligence research for conservation of 12,000 acres in the North Tolt Watershed leader on the Organizing Committee, Waylon helped organize Forterra for union recognition.
In 2022, Waylon secured $100,000 legislative appropriation to publish a history of the Seattle Waterfront from the State Operating Budget.
Waylon serves on the boards History Link, Grays Harbor College Foundation and advisory board for Blue Collar Fund which helps marginalized groups get into Union Trades and the Tokeland Hotel Historical Association.
Waylon identifies as a pro-choice Catholic, queer loving who he loves and is a proud union member.