Born to Mervyn and Arlene Reykdal of Snohomish, Washington on September 12, 1972, Chris grew up in poverty. As a child, he found success in the classroom and in athletics. While attending Snohomish High School, Chris was elected Student Body President in 1989.
After High School, Chris attended Washington State University from 1990-1994. He majored in social studies and received a minor in political science and geology. Chris also obtained his secondary teaching certificate at WSU. Chris graduated WSU Summa Cum Laude and as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society.
After graduating, Chris taught United States History and World History at Mark Morris High School in Longview, WA between 1994 and 1997. From there, he went to graduate school at UNC-Chapel Hill. Following his MPA, he worked for the Washington State Senate as a fiscal analyst on the Senate Transportation Committee.
In 1999, Chris became the Operating Budget Director for the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. In 2002, he was promoted to Deputy Director - Administration. By 2005, the Finance Division and the Administration Division merged and Chris became the Agency Deputy Executive Director over Administration and Finance.
In December 2009, Chris announced his run for the Washington State House of Representatives. In his run for the legislature, Chris was the leading Democratic vote getter in the August primary. He faced Jason Hearn, a Lacey City Council member in the November 2010 General Election. Chris won election to the State House with 61% of the vote. Chris’ 2010 campaign focused on three things the state would need to do ensure long-term economic stability, growth, and health: Tax reform, fully funding basic education, and a relentless focus on clean air and clean water.
Reykdal’s initial assignments in the House included the Transportation Committee, Higher Education Committee, Education Appropriations, and he served as vice chairman of the Labor and Workforce Development Committee.
In 2012, Chris ran unopposed for a 2nd term to the State House. His second –term committee assignments included Higher Education, vice-chair of Labor and Workforce Development, and he was assigned to the reformed House Finance Committee that focuses on tax and fee revenue and reforms. Chris was also appointed to the House Rules Committee, a key committee for determining which bills come to the House floor for a vote.
In the fall of 2013, Washington Governor Jay Inslee called a special session of the Legislature to adopt an $8.7 billion tax incentive package for the Boeing Company. The session lasted 72 hours and the Boeing tax incentives were passed overwhelmingly in both the House and Senate. Reykdal was one of only 13 “no” votes in the legislature. Reykdal stated that the tax incentives were not by themselves necessarily a bad thing but they came with no job growth guarantees from the company. The Boeing company was required to maintain the Boeing 777x line if it started up in Washington State, but no other lines of production (747, 787, 767, 757, or 737) were required to stay in Washington. Reykdal concluded that the Boeing tax incentives put at risk billions of dollars for schools, higher education, and other vital services without guarantees from the company that there would be net job growth.
In November 2013 Reykdal defeated Steve Owens (64% to 36%) for his third term in the State House of Representatives. Reykdal once again served on the Finance Committee, the Higher Education Committee, and the Rules Committee. However, in his third term he was selected as Vice-chair of the House Education Committee – the policy committee that oversees all legislation related to K-12 education. Reykdal successfully passed a bill to provide financial assistance to low-income students who were taking college-level credits while still in high school (HB-1546). He was also the House lead on a bill to protect student data privacy.
In the 2015 Legislative session, K-12 funding was the paramount issue. In the end over $1.3 billion was added to the K-12 budget. While the funding battle raged on for a record long 3rd special session, Reykdal continued his drive to pass a bill to dramatically reduce the number of standardized tests being offered in Washington’s high schools. Reykdal partnered with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to put forward HB-2214. The bill would reduce tests, save nearly $30 million every biennial budget cycle and would provide students with new alternatives to graduate when they didn’t meet a college-ready standard. Reykdal proposed that students be able to take “transition courses” in their senior year as an alternative to passing standardized test retakes and other third-party assessments and evaluations. He argued that the alternatives were expensive to taxpayers, inconsistent from district to district, and they were already proving to be a major barrier for students who were required to pass a biology exam for graduation. The transition courses were proposed because the State had already adopted a new 24 credit high school diploma requiring students to take more math and science. So Reykdal and OSPI proposed that those courses be aligned to the standards that were being tested already. Students would then need to pass rigorous courses to graduate instead of passing more tests.
In the end, the Legislature was only able to get agreement to suspend the biology test requirement for two years. To date, there are no course-based alternatives for math or English/Language Arts. Though, not passing through the Senate, Reykdal’s bipartisan bill did pass the House three times. The last time with a 92-6 vote.
On July 30, 2015 Reykdal announced that he was running for the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The general election is in November 2016. The State of Washington uses a primary system in August to determine the top two candidates who will face each other in November.
Reykdal’s campaign launched with a video and website with three major themes: fully funding basic education, maintaining a highly accountable system of education, and ensuring that local school districts remain in control of educational delivery even as the state has stepped up its graduation and testing requirements.