“Among the Democrats in the race so far, Toby Whitney has the most experience with how Congress works.” – Seattle Times
Toby’s roots are in rural America, where his grandparents made their living on coal, timber and lobstering. He grew up in a middle-class family where kitchen table issues–like what bills could be paid and which ones just had to wait—were a part of daily life. His parents were small business owners. His dad owned a two-bay gas station and his mom owned a landscaping business that Toby helped with starting at the age of 12. From this, Toby got a lifelong feel for the hard work, ups and downs, and pride that goes into running a small business.
In addition to owning her own business, Toby’s mom was a life-long volunteer—raising money for the education of low-income kids, helping battered women restart their lives, supporting mental health causes, and helping the elderly. She instilled in Toby that even when things got tough, we’re here to help others and leave the world a better place than we found it.
Toby put himself through school tending bar and waiting tables. After college, Toby pursued his interest in government—one that helped people while also being fiscally responsible. His first job was with the Congressional Budget Office. He helped graph the federal budget and layout studies on how to better help farmers, how to help seniors with more affordable prescription drugs, and how to make student loans more affordable. Following the example of his parents he also started what became a long endeavor–volunteering and supporting education and at-risk youth.
He was recruited by Microsoft to move to the Puget Sound area in the late 1990s. While at Microsoft, Toby led software developers in building social networking technologies and managed teams building parts of Hotmail and Windows Security. He joined the Board of Cornish College and to this day he works with at-risk youth.
Midway through his nine years at Microsoft, Toby promised himself and his friends that by his 40th birthday, he would leave, no matter what, and go do public service. He did. In 2009, Toby went to work as a Congressional Aide. He joined the House Ways and Means Committee as a Fellow – briefing members and drafting law on technology issues, energy legislation, workers’ rights, and access to affordable medicines.
From the Ways and Means Committee he moved to become Congressman Jim McDermott’s legislative director. He worked on Washington State issues – infrastructure with the Army Corp of Engineers, healthcare, energy, taxes, protecting national parks, expanding unemployment insurance, and supporting foster care. He also specialized in national security and armed services.
He worked on funding for Washington State priorities including improving the Port of Seattle and helping keep electricity prices low through work on renewables. He worked with the Commerce Department to get better data for Washington State businesses, with the Small Business Administration on how to streamline the SBA’s application processes, on increasing small business exports, and on lowering the tax burden on small and medium businesses.
After six years in Washington, D.C., Toby felt that Congress had ceased to get work done for the American people. All legislating had come to a halt and lobbyists were fully in control. Toby returned to his home in Washington State and went back to work in the private sector, joining Amazon where he manages software developers.
When he’s not working and volunteering, Toby is with his family, friends, and dog Sophie hiking and climbing in the Cascades.