The first principle of my candidacy will be to represent YOU in City Hall. I believe we must dream big and make this city work for everyone. The time for incrementalism is over. We must act with urgency to create the world we want for ourselves and our children and our homeless neighbors. I believe we can shift power to the people in this city. We can end homelessness, fight poverty (not the poor), and combat climate change. We can build a local economy that works for all of us. It is going to be hard, but we must set an ambitious vision to make our city work for everyone.
Below are a few things I believe are critical to making our District and our City a place where working families can thrive:
The housing crisis is the greatest challenge that our city faces. Obtaining home-ownership or even sufficient and safe rental housing has become a daunting challenge for many in our city – especially in neighborhoods at high risk for displacement. I support strategies that include:
- Right to return and affirmative marketing so folks can return when their building gets renovated or replaced.
- Increase denisty – support increased development of backyard or garage apartments and small apartment buildings (~20 units) in all neighborhoods so there are more kinds of units available, including units targeted for lower income people.
- Require Displacement Impact Study – Our development process must align with our Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) goals. Ensuring equity in development must be a part of the process. We will work with SDCI to adjust permit process so that permits are granted for projects that don’t cause displacement or that meet racial equity goals.
- Develop a comprehensive anti-displacement strategy that includes community ownership.
- Use city owned land to build permanently affordable housing rather than selling it to the highest bidder.
- Secure a permanent source of funding for the Equitable Development Initiative.
Seattle has a responsibility to its residents to put them first by enforcing renter protection laws, educating landlords and tenants, and enacting stronger renter protection and rent stabilization programs.
- Provide resources for small/new landlords on their responsibilities and the rights of tenants.
- Eviction reform – extend notice to 21 days. Make it harder for folks to become homeless
- Ensure that tenants have legal representation at eviction court.
- Increase the Notice Period for Rent Increases to 90 days.
- Anti-displacement voucher – increase rental relocation assistance to serve more people for longer period.
- Equipping SDCI (Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections) to more vigorously enforce renter protections against harassment and insufficient heating.
- Provide the SDCI with increased funding and review their inspection procedures to make sure inspections are thorough.
- SDCI should work with stakeholders to develop guidelines and an enforcement framework to protect renters from retaliation.
Southeast Seattle schools have seen a dramatic increase in homeless students in the last few years. Black, Native American and Latino students and their families are disproportionately affected by homelessness. I will introduce comprehensive set of laws to end homelessness.
- Prevent homelessness by reducing evictions.
- Make it easier for people to use shelters and public housing by reducing the barriers to entry.
- Housing First – for those who are chronically homeless, offer housing first to stabilize their situations, then pair it with robust supportive services to help rebuild their lives.
- Securing progressive revenue for permanent supportive housing and the services provided, especially supportive physical and behavioral health services.
- Increase funding for services offered to people living outside – trash pick-up at encampments, bathrooms.
- Reinvest in public housing to create options for our very low-income neighbors.
Investing in Affordable Childcare
South Seattle is a childcare desert. There are not many childcare facilities for low and middle income families. We need a statewide investment in public childcare. In Seattle, we need to prioritize building childcare facilities on public land in neighborhoods that are recognized as childcare deserts. We also need to invest in our childcare providers, and make sure they make good wages.
Protecting our communities from violence
When violence breaks out in our communities, we are all affected by it. We feel unsafe in our own homes. In situations like these, our instinct is to have more police, but we can not arrest our way out of violence. We have to look at the root of the violence and address those rather than just reacting to the symptoms of a deeply unequal society. “Our responses to violence should be survivor-centered, accountability-based, safety-driven, and racially equitable. Transitioning to practices that support victims, heal communities, and allow for rehabilitation of offenders will serve our communities with justice for all. Our current over-reliance on incarceration as the primary pathway to ensuring safety does not reduce violence or rehabilitate offenders. We must acknowledge the limitations of prison as a strategy to deliver safety or justice. This will require taking on the question of violence. Mass incarceration cannot end violence.” Source: Common Justice We need community focused solutions to ending violence in our communities like the following:
- Invest in researching and preventing hate crimes against our Jewish, Muslim, Black, LGBTQ+, Native American and Latino communities and other protected classes.
- Disrupt the Black Market for guns to keep guns away from kids and stop illegal sale of guns.
- Invest in violence interruption and diversion programs.
- End the school to prison pipeline by ending the disparities in discipline. Our black kids receive much harsher punishments than white kids. Source: The Seattle Times
- Invest in after-school programs so our kids have a safe place to go when not in school.
- Invest in good paying jobs, education, housing, and jobs so people can live and raise families in D2.
- Focus on restorative justice with the goal of helping folks lead a violence-free life.
- Fight for police contracts that are fair for both the workers and the communities that they serve.
- Prioritize de-escalation training.
- Establish guidelines on engagement with LGBTQ+ folks, people of color, and the differently abled.
Equity in Transit
The people of District 2 have had some serious challenges with how transportation projects are managed. Transportation safety and equity are compromised when community members feel unheard and their concerns are not addressed – including those communities who are not native English speakers. There are substantive policy and funding changes that we could make to improve things and make our city more responsive and equitable:
- Faster spot improvements based on issues and concerns that originate directly from communities.
- Stop voting and start working on safety improvements. Voting can be useful for determining certain preferences, but we shouldn’t be voting on the question “should we make this street safer for people walking or biking?” Safety is a fundamental priority.
- Formalize project follow-ups; after a project is complete, take regular evaluations to determine what’s not working.
Vision Zero – Goal to get to zero traffic accidents
District 2 has the highest rates of roadway deaths in the city. This kind of tragedy is completely unacceptable and it’s avoidable. We can’t just fund safety improvement design. We must actually build the safety improvements that protect our neighbors. I will center the needs of District 2 constituents as they ask for simple & cost-effective ways to cross the street, get their kids safely to school, and move about their neighborhoods. There are some simple and cost-effective ways to get started:
- Lower speed limits on arterials to 25mph city-wide. While we know that physical roadway changes are needed to truly ensure that drivers travel at safe speeds, changing speed limits are a good first step.
- Adjust signal timing. We do not give our community members adequate time to cross the street. Elders, children, people with disabilities all need more than 20 or 30 seconds to get across a street, especially if there are more than 2 lanes of traffic.
- Ban right on red. Too often people who drive do not look out for people crossing the street. To prevent incidents we should ban right turns into pedestrian crosswalks when the light is red.
In January when the viaduct was closed and the tunnel hadn’t yet opened, we saw many downtown commuters switch to bicycling with record-breaking ridership. We also know that District 2 families want safe places to ride with their children. And we know that people who cannot afford a car often use their bikes to run errands in the neighborhood or to get to work. To serve these folks better, we must:
- Stop delaying the basic bike network.
- Fund proper maintenance of our bicycle facilities and infrastructure. During snow and ice events, protected bike lanes and neighborhood greenways need to be cleared. Bike lanes need to be regularly swept of leaves and debris, especially after heavy rainfall. We also need a regular schedule for replacing the flex posts that are used to protect bike lanes, or change to more robust protection like planter boxes everywhere.
- Update our policies around construction closures for both pedestrians and people on bikes. We need to ensure that vulnerable users, whether its people walking, people in wheelchairs, or people on bikes don’t have to cross dangerous streets or walk in traffic in order to get around construction projects. Our current policies around construction closures don’t apply to all city departments, and decisions are often left up to the discretion of individual city employees. I would support legislative policies that require safe, accessible detours for people of all ages and abilities around construction sites.
Public Mass Transit
In 2014, Seattle voters approved the Seattle Transportation Benefits District (STBD) to fund additional bus service. The STBD has been critical in not only growing transit ridership and increasing public transit access throughout the City, but also in providing free transportation to students and low-income Seattle residents. When the STBD expires in 2020, and we need to ensure that a voters feel confident voting for a replacement that goes even further.
- Free fare for Metro riders. I will work with other Councilmembers and King County Metro to identify if the STBD could include full fare coverage for all Metro riders in Seattle. Free fare would reduce fare enforcement costs, encourage even more transit ridership, and speed up bus service through reduced boarding times
- Improve working conditions for bus drivers. Free public transit isn’t enough to improve bus speed and reliability, though. Even with increased funding through the existing STBD, Metro has been limited by a lack of bus drivers. Offering better working conditions – like regular bathroom breaks – could help improve retention and recruitment of drivers. The city should be working closely with Metro to make this happen.
- Bus-only lanes, bus priority signals need to be a standard part of our Complete Streets toolkit. We need to make better use of existing service and drivers by ensuring that buses aren’t stuck in traffic behind cars.
Despite the advancements made in recent years in protecting the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, we have seen a surge in hate crimes against them. I would like to further expand the protections given to LGBTQ+ individuals in this city, in addition the requiring tougher penalties for those who discriminate against them in the workplace, in housing, and in mortgage applications.
Equity in education
There is a huge inequity in how our schools are funded and what schools the city spends money on. There is also a disparity in discipline in our schools. African American and Immigrant children receive harsher punishments that hurt our children in the long run. I will fight for equity in education, and make sure parents and teachers are included in the decision making process as we fight for equity in classrooms. I will also work with our representatives in Olympia to fight for funding for the underserved schools in D2.
Healthcare as a human right
South Seattle is a healthcare desert. There are not enough clinics to serve the growing population. We need to invest in public health clinics. There are a lot of different models that have worked in other countries, and we can learn from them.
Washington state has the most regressive tax structure in the nation. Households who earn less than $25k a year pay 17% of their income in taxes while those over $500k pay less than 2%. The state relies on property taxes, sales taxes, B&O and a handful of others but this burden lies primarily on working class families. I support a more equitable tax structure so all communities get a chance to thrive. I also support a Seattle public bank that would help us invest in public housing, healthcare, education, and our small and immigrant-owned businesses.
Seattle Green New Deal
Combating climate change is not something we can kick down the road. The impacts of Climate Change are here, and some of them are irreversible. I will work with other council member to put forth a comprehensive bill to address the following:
- Affordable public housing: Because of high rents in Seattle, a lot of working folks have to travel long distances and sit in traffic which releases a lot of greenhouse gases. We need to invest in affordable public housing so people can live in the neighborhoods where they work.
- Free Public Transit: We need to invest in zero emissions public transit, and build more reliable forms of local transit like light rails.
- Transition to clean energy: We need to break ties with PSE and move towards publicly owned utilities.