TAKE A LOOK INSIDE

We Are All Future Voters.

Voting is not only an essential step for change, but it also a way to have important conversations and build community. Voting is complex, and it can bring out a lot of emotion for voters and non-voters alike. Nevertheless, it is a subject we must talk about with our friends, family, and community. The outcomes of elections and the people in power will affect everyone, not just voters. So when we picture a truly representative Democracy, we envision a community where we are ALL Future Voters!

For every election, there are 18 days where you really need to tune-in. The 2023 Future Voter’s Guide will take you step-by-step through everything you need to know in those 18 days to be a confident and proud voter. This guide is informed by research, state resources, but most importantly by first-time and future voters, like you!

IMPORTANT UPDATE

Voting Rights Expansion

Voter eligibility is constantly evolving and expanding access to the ballot box is a never-ending process. We are happy to celebrate two victories that are steps towards a just and inclusive political system.

Washington is one step closer to full voting rights restoration. As of 2022, any Washington state citizen with a felony conviction will have their voting rights restored automatically upon release from prison—even while in community custody. Over 26,000 people are now able to vote. If this expansion applies to you register to vote today.

If a Washington state citizen will be 18 by the November General Election, they can vote in the August primary. If you are 16 and 17 years old, pre-register to vote through the Future Voters Program. This will put you on a private waiting list, once you turn 18, you will be registered to vote and receive a ballot at the address you registered. If this applies to you pre-register today! It is the same form used to register to vote.

“Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice, speak out, because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on.” — Thurgood Marshall

EMPOWER YOUR VOTE

Future Voter Hubs

ULMS is hosting pop-up Future Voter Hubs – offering a variety of support services to help empower voters. Learn about voter eligibility, register to vote, print your personalized ballot and voter guide, and vote with us! This is a safe space to learn about voting open to all community members.

  • Wednesday, October 18, 2023
  • 2:00PM – 5:00PM
  • 12601 76th Ave S., Seattle, WA 98178
  • Wednesday, October 25, 2023
  • 2:00PM – 5:00PM
  • 12601 76th Ave S., Seattle, WA 98178
  • Wednesday, November 1, 2023
  • 2:00PM – 5:00PM
  • 100 Mill Ave S., Renton, WA 98057

Free the Vote: Register to Vote Online

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Free the Vote: Register to Vote by Paper

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Free the Vote: Register to Vote by Paper

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Your Signature Matters!

When completing your voter registration form or signing for your Driver’s License at the DOL, know that your signature is very important. 

For your vote to be counted, it must be signed and dated on the ballot envelope. Election workers verify your identity using the signature on the envelope and matching it to the signature that is on file with your voter registration. If there is a challenge with identifying your signature, you will be notified.

To update your signature, click any of the buttons to download the paper voter registration form in your preferred language. Once completed, you can mail it to your county election’s office.

 

“When I liberate myself, I liberate others. If you don’t speak out ain’t nobody going to speak out for you.” — Fannie Lou Hamer

Important Dates

15-19

May 2023

Candidate Filing Week

Candidate filing period opens for general election. Start paying attention to candidate campaigns for elected office! If you are interested in running for office, the filing must be completed that week. As a voter, keep an eye out for candidate campaigns, town halls, and voter guides.

14

JuLY 2023

August Primary 18-day Voting Period Begins

Voting centers open and ballots are mailed out to registered voters. Ballots should be in the registered voter’s mailbox the following Wednesday at the latest.*

24

July 2023

Last day to register to vote online or by mail, to vote in the primary.

1

AUG 2023

Primary Election Day

Last day to register to vote in person. Ballots must be returned by 8:00PM via ballot drop box.

20

OCT 2023

November General Election 18-day Voting Period Begins.

Voting centers open and ballots are mailed out to registered voters. Ballots should be in the registered voter’s mailbox the following Wednesday at the latest.*

30

OCT 2023

Last day to register to vote online or by mail to vote in the general election.

7

NOV 2023

General Election Day

Last day to register to vote in person. Ballots must be returned by 8:00PM via ballot drop box.

*If you do not receive your ballots by the start of the voting period, use VoteWA.gov to check your registration and make sure your mailing address is current. You can also contact your local Elections office or visit a voting center. You can find the contact information and address of your County’s Election office here.

NEXT STEPS

Voter Checklist

Here’s a simple check list to help you plan for this year’s election, so when the time comes, you can say “This Person Votes!”

Check your voter registration status.

Make sure your mailing address is correct and up to date.

Set voting reminders.

Put the Election days aelection days and the start of the voting period in your calendar.

Keep an eye out for your voter pamphlet and ballot.

"Youth in particular, should be at the forefront of the civil rights struggle and have its voice heard in improving its own plight." - Juanita Jackson

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project

We believe in the power of our history to inspire and galvanize our communities to drive political change. It’s easy to forget that our civil rights and voting rights were fought for right here at home, not just in Washington D.C. and the southern states.

The Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project is a multimedia website that dives into the history of Seattle’s civil rights movements through video oral histories, hundreds of rare photographs, documents, movement histories, and personal biographies. You can learn about the Black organizations, leaders, and student unions who challenged segregation and racial discrimination — and the strategies they used to build political power in our home.

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Make the Pledge to Vote!

Subscribe to receive real-time updates and alerts about voting resources and more!

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Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle 2023 Candidate Questionnaire

We created a candidate questionnaire to educate our communities on the upcoming local elections and the candidates campaigning for your vote. In tandem with our Future Voters Guide, we aim to empower members of the community to get out and vote with everything you need to know to be a confident and proud voter.

We sent questions that speak directly to the issues of our community and were developed with help from our staff at the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. If you do not see a candidate included in this questionnaire, it means they did not provide a complete response to our questionnaire.

Check the button below to find your district and learn more about the current elected officials.

City Council

Alex Hudson

CITY COUNCIL

QUESTION: Gun violence has become pervasive within American society with Washington State losing a life to gun violence every 14 hours (according to Alliance for Gun Responsibility). What steps do you believe should be taken to reduce gun violence within the community?

RESPONSE:

“Receiving a text that your kiddo is under lockdown at Garfield like we did the other week was as sadly predictable as it was shocking. Second Amendment zealots refuse to concede that access to firearms diminishes us in every domain, including the education of our children. At City Council, I will invest more deeply in proven-effective gun violence prevention programs and policies like community violence intervention, common sense gun safety policy, mental health and counseling support in schools, and domestic violence and suicide prevention. I also support ways to reduce and limit interaction between armed police officers and civilians – automated equitable traffic camera enforcement is an example. I will look to groups like the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, Choose 180, and Community Pathways for bold solutions and push for them.”

QUESTION: Housing has been a hot topic this year, both at local and state levels. With bills like HB 1110 (addressing middle housing) and HB 1474 (supporting homeownership efforts for those previously harmed by discriminatory policies) passing this last session, as well as Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan being due for its update, some groups believe the time for housing reform is now. What actions (if any) do you believe should be taken to further increase the accessibility of housing and homeownership?

RESPONSE:

“The answer to our housing crisis is two words: “more” and “better.” As a neighborhood leader I brought people together to get affordable housing and emergency shelters sited, funded, and built. We need to invest in affordability, make it faster, easier, and cheaper to build housing of all types, and use this growth to build opportunity and community and undo harm.

For Seattle to be an equitable city our housing policies have to be explicitly designed for racial equity, preventing and reversing displacement and gentrification.
– Investment in deeply affordable housing in high-opportunity communities to ensure equitable access to opportunity.
– Increase the City’s down payment assistance and funding for homeownership projects and make City-owned properties available for community land trusts.
– Support community priority projects and right of return policies.
– Invest in the Equitable Development Initiative.
– Automatically enroll eligible people in property tax deferral programs.
 – Provide direct rental assistance.”

 

QUESTION: Seattle City Council has chosen to pass a law criminalizing drug use and possession. This allows Seattle Police, under the directive of Mayor Harrell, to determine whether someone receives treatment or jail. This strategy has historically disproportionately harmed Black and other communities of color across the country. How would you work with the Mayor & City Attorney’s Office to reduce the impacts of criminalization to ensure community members are getting care and reentry opportunities?

RESPONSE:

“We all want to alleviate the misery and disorder caused by the fentanyl crisis. But merely arresting people suffering in its grip doesn’t make it better. Criminalizing public drug use without an order of magnitude increase in resources put to the task of reducing it is harmful, cynical, and counterproductive. I’m committed to doing what the science shows works.

We need effective solutions built on a progressive agenda. My plan calls for major funding increases for LEAD and Co-LEAD. It also includes Health One available 24/7/365, addiction health hubs with medication and residential treatment on demand, drug court diversion, investing in reentry supports and mentoring, and community-based programming led by folks with lived experience.

Doing too little or relying on punishment causes more suffering for those living through serious addiction and behavioral illnesses rather than helping our community pulling together to heal our beloved neighbors and neighborhoods.”

QUESTION: Many individuals and groups believe that one of the best ways to hold police accountable is to withhold and/or reduce funding to departments. With the discussion around drug use pointing toward a need for less police resources and more medical and psychological resources, would you advocate for maintaining, if not reducing, funding to the Seattle Police Department to put additional funding toward these non-police resources? Please explain. 

RESPONSE:

“We cannot arrest our way out of the opioid crisis, but we can end it with treatment on demand, court diversion, and access to affordable housing, job training and mentoring, and physical and mental health care. Arguing about the specific number of sworn officers when we cannot attract enough willing, qualified candidates to fill already-funded positions wastes precious time to create solutions that can make things better now with the resources we have.

We must stop trying to improve our lot by adjusting the way we slice the pie we have when we need a much bigger one. Do we need more cops on the streets – not in their cars, so we can begin the hard work of relearning to know and trust each other? Yes, of course. And do we also need far more community resources to offer folks on our streets who are approached by police or, better, by outreach workers? Absolutely! But any of these solutions are possible only with the bigger pie that comes from having our ultra-wealthy neighbors paying their fair share. Progressive revenue is the way through.

Our problems are also caused by the quality of our civic discourse and shirking the moral imperative that we must treat each other with dignity and respect for every life. We can start by acknowledging that budgets are moral documents and honoring our shared values by investing in what works and what matters. Really, what is the cost if we don’t?”

QUESTION: The Seattle Police Department has been under scrutiny in local, state, and federal capacities for more than a decade. Officers within the department have filed suits for discrimination, individuals have sued the department for their treatment during arrest, and the department was under a federal consent decree for 10 years due to a pattern of excessive use of force. Less than 6 months after the Department of Justice moved to end the consent decree, SPD has made international news after body cam footage came out of the vice president of the police union joking about the death of a woman who an officer struck & killed. How do you plan to hold the department accountable for its varying misconducts, given that the Office of Police Accountability has no enforcement arm, and the Seattle Police Officers Guild is also involved in these actions? 

RESPONSE:

“Leaders set the tone for any organization. The recent string of officers’ reprehensible behavior clearly shows we have an entrenched toxic culture problem at SPD and SPOG which makes Seattle less safe, undermines public trust, blocks accountability, frustrates creation of common sense alternatives, and hinders successful officer recruitment efforts we all want and need. Stronger accountability and civilian oversight, adequate alternative responders, and hiring officers that reflect and align with Seattle’s values is a start. Here’s more:

– Alternative response: The SPOG contract must permit alternatives to traditional policing responses, especially for nonviolent situations. Funding should be directed toward developing and expanding specialized teams of mental health professionals and social and case workers equipped to handle mental health crises, substance use disorder, and people in desperate need of housing.

– Accountability and transparency: Establish strict protocols for reporting and investigating misconduct, with independent oversight by community representatives.

– Training, education, and an emphasis on culture change: We still have significant work to do to change the culture at SPD. The contract should emphasize comprehensive and ongoing training for police officers, with a strong focus on de-escalation, cultural competency, trauma-informed practices, and recognizing and addressing implicit biases.

– Community-led policing and engagement: Encourage a community-led approach to policing, centering the voices and experiences of the community in shaping public safety strategies via community advisory boards, restorative justice programs, and neighborhood-specific policing plans.

– Data-driven and equity-focused approach with continuous review: We should prioritize data collection on police interactions, disaggregated by race, ethnicity, gender, and other factors. This data should be regularly updated and public-facing and used to identify and address disparities, guide reforms, and hold the department accountable for equitable outcomes.”

Bob Kettle

CITY COUNCIL

QUESTION: Gun violence has become pervasive within American society with Washington State losing a life to gun violence every 14 hours (according to Alliance for Gun Responsibility). What steps do you believe should be taken to reduce gun violence within the community?

RESPONSE:

“As a future Councilmember, I will collaborate with the Mayor and Chief of Police to make urgent changes to protect our communities from gun violence. That includes making sure our police department has the budget and officers needed to keep our streets safe. Also I will encourage increased collaboration with Federal, State, and County agencies to facilitate greater effectiveness against gun trafficking networks. We have seen an unacceptable increase in gun-related deaths and crime in Seattle and we need new City Council leadership to help make Seattle a safe place for everyone.”

QUESTION: Housing has been a hot topic this year, both at local and state levels. With bills like HB 1110 (addressing middle housing) and HB 1474 (supporting homeownership efforts for those previously harmed by discriminatory policies) passing this last session, as well as Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan being due for its update, some groups believe the time for housing reform is now. What actions (if any) do you believe should be taken to further increase the accessibility of housing and homeownership?

RESPONSE:

“We need affordable housing in every neighborhood. I fully support increasing both density and affordable housing across our city. We have the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) and Multi Family Tax Exemption (MFTE) programs, and while they are successful to some degree they don’t seem to be fully achieving our city goals with respect to affordable housing. I want to work with all stakeholders to ensure these programs work the way they should. We should have more affordable housing than we do, and in every neighborhood and this starts with reviewing the MHA and MFTE programs to make sure our efforts for more density and affordable housing are successful.”

QUESTION: Seattle City Council has chosen to pass a law criminalizing drug use and possession. This allows Seattle Police, under the directive of Mayor Harrell, to determine whether someone receives treatment or jail. This strategy has historically disproportionately harmed Black and other communities of color across the country. How would you work with the Mayor & City Attorney’s Office to reduce the impacts of criminalization to ensure community members are getting care and reentry opportunities?

RESPONSE:

“The bill that recently passed emphasizes treatment first much like the first bill, and I support doing everything we can to help those struggling with addiction. To your question the state legislature and governor signed into law a bill which updated public drug use and possession following the Blake decision. The bill just signed in Seattle aligns municipal code with state law in May, and further made public drug use and possession a gross misdemeanor with the preference like the state law of sending drug-users to treatment.

I would work with fellow city leaders to address impacts of this law by ensuring accountability and transparency. I would establish a periodic review: how many public drug-users were brought to treatment, how many of them were able to stay, and after-treatment support? Using and sharing that data, we would be able to monitor outcomes and adjust our approach.”

QUESTION: Many individuals and groups believe that one of the best ways to hold police accountable is to withhold and/or reduce funding to departments. With the discussion around drug use pointing toward a need for less police resources and more medical and psychological resources, would you advocate for maintaining, if not reducing, funding to the Seattle Police Department to put additional funding toward these non-police resources? Please explain. 

RESPONSE:

“I believe we cannot succeed in public safety if we do not also succeed in public health. Otherwise, we’re running to stand still. To the question however, on the public safety side, the Seattle Police Department has around 940 officers for a city with more than 730,000 people. With violent crime and murder rates going up in Seattle (unlike many other cities in the country), we need staffing to meet the need to counter the permissive environment for crime that the current City Council has fostered. I advocate for funding to meet the mission because it’s clear we do need more public safety resources right now. That said, I fully support the Mayor’s dual-dispatch program that will send civilian responders to drug overdoses and non-priority calls. Important, too, is for us as a city to advocate for increased spending by the State and County on mental health and public health respectively. Otherwise we’ll indeed be running to stand still.”

QUESTION: The Seattle Police Department has been under scrutiny in local, state, and federal capacities for more than a decade. Officers within the department have filed suits for discrimination, individuals have sued the department for their treatment during arrest, and the department was under a federal consent decree for 10 years due to a pattern of excessive use of force. Less than 6 months after the Department of Justice moved to end the consent decree, SPD has made international news after body cam footage came out of the vice president of the police union joking about the death of a woman who an officer struck & killed. How do you plan to hold the department accountable for its varying misconducts, given that the Office of Police Accountability has no enforcement arm, and the Seattle Police Officers Guild is also involved in these actions? 

RESPONSE:

“The comments made about the death of a woman killed earlier this year after being struck by a patrol car are abhorrent and wrong. I fully support an Office of Police Accountability investigation of the comments and other potential aspects of the issue. As a civic volunteer and community leader in public safety and a retired naval officer it is important for individuals like myself to stand up and make this clear. Also, it is important to ensure accountability is upheld. Article 133 of the Unified Code of Military Justice speaks to the charge of Conduct Unbecoming an Officer. The comments were clearly Conduct Unbecoming and we need a similar approach with our police department to ensure accountability.

The Consent Decree reforms have been positive and have moved our police force forward. This needs to be built upon. Accountability is central in this and not something like discipline that can or should be negotiated. Reforms also need to be inclusive of programs like the Before the Badge program supported by the African-American Community Advisory Council to the Seattle Police Department and its counterpart program Barbershop with the King County Sheriff Office. Building on the reforms and lessons of programs like the Before the Badge will continue to help change the culture of policing in our city.

The entities born out of the Consent Decree like the Community Police Commission and the Office of Police Accountability cannot be the sole means to uphold police accountability. The City Council itself needs to hold the Mayor, the Chief of Police and the men and women of the force accountable as well. I will bring my experience in the Navy and its core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment to bear on this question.”

Andrew Lewis

CITY COUNCIL

QUESTION: Gun violence has become pervasive within American society with Washington State losing a life to gun violence every 14 hours (according to Alliance for Gun Responsibility). What steps do you believe should be taken to reduce gun violence within the community?

RESPONSE:

“The crisis of gun violence has to remain a top priority for city leaders. While DC dithers and refuses to stand up to the NRA, we can lead locally to do everything in our power to remove guns from the street, intervene in the cycle of violence, and build community to fight back against this scourge.

I strongly support extreme risk protection orders that give law enforcement the legal power to intervene and seize guns from people at high-risk to injure themselves or others with fire arms. I strongly support violence interruption programs like the Regional Peacekeeper Collective to intervene and build community to halt retaliatory shootings and create relationships and safety nets fundamental to stopping gun violence.

I am proud to have the endorsement of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility and a rating of “”Distinction”” from Moms Demand Action for my leadership on this critical issue.”

QUESTION: Housing has been a hot topic this year, both at local and state levels. With bills like HB 1110 (addressing middle housing) and HB 1474 (supporting homeownership efforts for those previously harmed by discriminatory policies) passing this last session, as well as Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan being due for its update, some groups believe the time for housing reform is now. What actions (if any) do you believe should be taken to further increase the accessibility of housing and homeownership?

RESPONSE:

“We need to get our Comp Plan right next year. For too long, Seattle planners have concentrated all potential for new growth in designated “”urban villages”” representing 25% of developable land. This strategy hyper-charges displacement by creating an incentive to only build in those areas deemed suitable for additional density. We need a broader-base of opportunities to build housing for more neighbors to grow equitably and expand opportunities to aspire to home ownership and avoid being rent burdened. We also need to lean into strategies like the housing levy, MHA, and JumpStart to efficiently and effectively invest in affordable housing at all levels, including supportive housing for people exiting homelessness, work force housing, and market rate housing.

I am proud to have the endorsements of strong advocates for smart regional growth planning like the Urbanist, the Sierra Club, and Transportation for Washington.”

 

QUESTION: Seattle City Council has chosen to pass a law criminalizing drug use and possession. This allows Seattle Police, under the directive of Mayor Harrell, to determine whether someone receives treatment or jail. This strategy has historically disproportionately harmed Black and other communities of color across the country. How would you work with the Mayor & City Attorney’s Office to reduce the impacts of criminalization to ensure community members are getting care and reentry opportunities?

RESPONSE:

“There is merit to having rules in public places that everybody in the community uses for a general standard of conduct. If people are using drugs in front of a business, in a playground, or a public facility like a library or community center, it effectively makes it impossible for other members of the public to use that amenity.

But we have to be aware of the tragic application of laws like this in the past. In June, a proposal that would have given direction for the large-scale arrest and court charges of people experiencing addiction was not something I could support. The new law emphasizes, instead, warm hand offs directly from law enforcement to service providers without the need for an arrest or a charge. This is a better approach. We need to monitor as a Council to make sure the intent of this policy is followed.”

QUESTION: Many individuals and groups believe that one of the best ways to hold police accountable is to withhold and/or reduce funding to departments. With the discussion around drug use pointing toward a need for less police resources and more medical and psychological resources, would you advocate for maintaining, if not reducing, funding to the Seattle Police Department to put additional funding toward these non-police resources? Please explain. 

RESPONSE:

“We can fully-fund public health and alternative 911 responses without taking money away from the Seattle Police Department. This has been the experience of every department in recent history that has developed these kinds of programs, like Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) in Denver, and the alternative response department created in Albaquerque. In this year’s budget, we are finally creating our own version of this response service called Community Assisted Response and Engagement (CARE) and we are able to do it without taking resources from the Police Department.

The CARE response teams will be composed of civilian mental health clinicians and will respond to services initially in the Downtown core. They will respond to mental health and substance addiction-based calls for service to offer immediate triage, case management, and, if necessary, transport to shelter or medical care. Our goal is to expand the hours, the personnel, and the service area to meet the scale of community need. This is a huge step forward for the City of Seattle and I applaud Mayor Harrell for working closely with the Council to get this work done.

The bottom line is that police are necessary, but not in and of themselves sufficient. Any constitutional society needs a professional regulated service with the ability to enforce the rules and the laws. But, it is also a service that has historically been charged with duties that are inappropriate and outside of their area of expertise.

The work in front of us is not just about funding of alternatives. It is also about narrowing the scope of police responsibility by handing these services off to new entities like CARE. To that work I am extremely dedicated.”

QUESTION: The Seattle Police Department has been under scrutiny in local, state, and federal capacities for more than a decade. Officers within the department have filed suits for discrimination, individuals have sued the department for their treatment during arrest, and the department was under a federal consent decree for 10 years due to a pattern of excessive use of force. Less than 6 months after the Department of Justice moved to end the consent decree, SPD has made international news after body cam footage came out of the vice president of the police union joking about the death of a woman who an officer struck & killed. How do you plan to hold the department accountable for its varying misconducts, given that the Office of Police Accountability has no enforcement arm, and the Seattle Police Officers Guild is also involved in these actions? 

RESPONSE:

“I support all the outstanding reforms in the 2017 police accountability ordinance that have not yet been collectively bargained. The top accountability measures we still need to see reflected in a contract are some form of subpoena power for our police misconduct investigatory agencies, a fair arbitration process that isn’t weighted toward absolving officer misconduct (by allowing them to, essentially, pick favorable arbitrators), and independent civilian investigators instead of sworn police personnel investigating police misconduct. In essence, police investigating police. I want to see all these reforms and more in the next contract for the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG).

In Washington State we have strong labor laws. And, as someone from a union household, I am very grateful for that. But, it is challenging when something so fundamental, like the accountability of police who hold the monopoly of violence over our community, can only be truly enforceable if we ratify it into a collectively bargained contract. Seattle does not have the ability to make changes to this law. It can only come from the State of Washington. In the meantime, we, in essence, have to bargain to get SPOG to agree to these accountability measures as part of an equitable and fair bargaining process.

There are other critical things we can do. We need to continue the promising trend of recruiting and retaining a more diverse department. Half of the new recruits in 2022 were people of color. Chief Diaz’s Before the Badge program emphasizes community relationships in advance of a cadet receiving their badge and gun. It is a unique onboarding process not common in other departments.

Our laws need to change, our contract needs to change, culture in the department needs to change. These things won’t be easy, but I am dedicate to realizing them.”

Tammy Morales

CITY COUNCIL

QUESTION: Gun violence has become pervasive within American society with Washington State losing a life to gun violence every 14 hours (according to Alliance for Gun Responsibility). What steps do you believe should be taken to reduce gun violence within the community?

RESPONSE:

“I’ve laid this out in my Community Safety plan (https://www.votefortammy.com/issues/#community-safety) but for a brief recap:

Deploy the successes of street activation in more locations across our district.

Teach families how to have gun responsibility conversations. Simply checking in on it with each other can protect our children.

Create a Regional Office of Violence Prevention—a partnership-based, data-driven violence reduction strategy. Let’s scale up violence intervention work WHILE coordinating municipal and county authorities.

Support culturally appropriate models to violence interruption, like neighbors in the CID and New Holly request.”

QUESTION: Housing has been a hot topic this year, both at local and state levels. With bills like HB 1110 (addressing middle housing) and HB 1474 (supporting homeownership efforts for those previously harmed by discriminatory policies) passing this last session, as well as Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan being due for its update, some groups believe the time for housing reform is now. What actions (if any) do you believe should be taken to further increase the accessibility of housing and homeownership?

RESPONSE:

“I envision vibrant and healthy communities where working-class families, elders, and neighbors can afford their basic needs.

As a trained neighborhood planner, stopping displacement and ensuring we have well-connected, well-resourced neighborhoods is a priority. I have and will continue championing investments in social and affordable housing development, zoning that incentivizes density and missing middle housing, and focusing on renter protections coupled with aging-in-place programs.

Establishing infrastructure and financing mechanisms for limited equity housing co-ops will ensure long-term renter stability, while promoting commercial tenant ownership in local businesses will help maintain community wealth. Forming an authority to acquire and improve commercial properties for neighborhood land trusts will support affordable housing and small businesses. I also look toward community preference/right of return, so people can come back to their neighborhoods. Much of my work also involves the Equitable Development Initiative that supports community-driven priorities for the kinds of housing and services needed.”

QUESTION: Seattle City Council has chosen to pass a law criminalizing drug use and possession. This allows Seattle Police, under the directive of Mayor Harrell, to determine whether someone receives treatment or jail. This strategy has historically disproportionately harmed Black and other communities of color across the country. How would you work with the Mayor & City Attorney’s Office to reduce the impacts of criminalization to ensure community members are getting care and reentry opportunities?

RESPONSE:

“I have been trying to work with the Mayor and the City Attorney’s Office, as well as colleagues, to prevent this. Right now, budget season is under way and we’ve noticed that there are no additional funds for treatment or diversion as this bill would’ve needed for any mitigation of harm, but the Mayor’s budget provided no such thing. As a result, my office is making it a priority to fight for the promises made of funding diversion and treatment in the budget.”

QUESTION: Many individuals and groups believe that one of the best ways to hold police accountable is to withhold and/or reduce funding to departments. With the discussion around drug use pointing toward a need for less police resources and more medical and psychological resources, would you advocate for maintaining, if not reducing, funding to the Seattle Police Department to put additional funding toward these non-police resources? Please explain. 

RESPONSE:

“Yes. I’ve been out there on record during this campaign and over the past four years advocating for reallocating some funds from the police department to medical and psychological resources and treatment. The police department’s budget takes almost 50% of our City’s general fund every year at about $400M. My job as a councilmember is to hold the largest, most expensive department in the City accountable to our community and to make sure that investment improves public safety.

My opponent, however, has routinely called for more funding and staffing for police while centering crime throughout her campaign, often parroting Republican talking points, as if that’s all that happens in District 2.”

QUESTION: The Seattle Police Department has been under scrutiny in local, state, and federal capacities for more than a decade. Officers within the department have filed suits for discrimination, individuals have sued the department for their treatment during arrest, and the department was under a federal consent decree for 10 years due to a pattern of excessive use of force. Less than 6 months after the Department of Justice moved to end the consent decree, SPD has made international news after body cam footage came out of the vice president of the police union joking about the death of a woman who an officer struck & killed. How do you plan to hold the department accountable for its varying misconducts, given that the Office of Police Accountability has no enforcement arm, and the Seattle Police Officers Guild is also involved in these actions? 

RESPONSE:

“Thank you deeply for this question and framing—it’s a breath of fresh air! And matches what I have been saying.

First, any contract must restore the accountability measures from 2017 that would create truly independent investigations (no longer allowing police or their colleagues to investigate police) and would remove the ability for police to repeal their misconduct (arbitration).

I also support giving teeth to oversight bodies and making sure that those bodies are have more community members than police or former police.”

Dan Strauss

CITY COUNCIL

QUESTION: Gun violence has become pervasive within American society with Washington State losing a life to gun violence every 14 hours (according to Alliance for Gun Responsibility). What steps do you believe should be taken to reduce gun violence within the community?

RESPONSE:

“I am very passionate about this issue. I worked for the Alliance for Gun Responsibility earlier in my career and am proud that they have endorsed me. We need to support community based organizations to lead gun buy backs with incentives that address their communities. For example, if a gun buyback gets traffic tickets or court fees reduced, it is a bigger incentive than gift cards. Putting these community based organizations at the helm of deciding what incentives work is key.

We also need to support the implementation of state-passed firearm laws and to support the implementation of state-passed police-reform laws including the implementation of police accountability reforms. There are many laws on the books that provide tools for families and community members to prevent suicide, DV, and other types of gun violence. I will commit to providing dedicated resources for public education regarding these tools for preventing gun violence.”

QUESTION: Housing has been a hot topic this year, both at local and state levels. With bills like HB 1110 (addressing middle housing) and HB 1474 (supporting homeownership efforts for those previously harmed by discriminatory policies) passing this last session, as well as Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan being due for its update, some groups believe the time for housing reform is now. What actions (if any) do you believe should be taken to further increase the accessibility of housing and homeownership?

RESPONSE:

“Growing up in District 6 my neighbors were school teachers, welders, plumbers, electricians, and fishermen. The Seattle I grew up in was affordable for working families, and as the city changed the city did not do a good enough job preventing displacement while creating the density our city needs. We need to fund projects and pass policies to ensure Seattle is affordable for working families because the family I grew up in should be able to afford to live in the Seattle of today and tomorrow. It is a priority of mine to continue to increase the total stock of housing, especially affordable rental and ownership. I will continue to ensure our city is investing at or above the $200 million/year benchmark in affordable housing. Our city needs more affordable family size units and I have exempted 60% AMI affordable housing projects from design review with a temporary measure.”

 

QUESTION: Seattle City Council has chosen to pass a law criminalizing drug use and possession. This allows Seattle Police, under the directive of Mayor Harrell, to determine whether someone receives treatment or jail. This strategy has historically disproportionately harmed Black and other communities of color across the country. How would you work with the Mayor & City Attorney’s Office to reduce the impacts of criminalization to ensure community members are getting care and reentry opportunities?

RESPONSE:

“It is critical we treat the drug crisis as the emergency it is leading with diversion, treatment, and crisis solution centers. Still we need every tool in the toolbox to address this crisis which includes the courts.

At the council level, we pass the broad policy yet the executive implements that policy. I like the direction the Mayor has taken thus far in the implementation plan; the Mayor shares my belief that we should not have another “war on drugs” ever again. I will work with the Mayor’s office to ensure that public drug users are given priority treatment and services, and instead focus on arresting high-level dealers and people who prey on the people living on our streets. There are also other ways to reduce the impacts of criminalization, including reducing fines and jail time.”

QUESTION: Many individuals and groups believe that one of the best ways to hold police accountable is to withhold and/or reduce funding to departments. With the discussion around drug use pointing toward a need for less police resources and more medical and psychological resources, would you advocate for maintaining, if not reducing, funding to the Seattle Police Department to put additional funding toward these non-police resources? Please explain. 

RESPONSE:

“In life, I have found that to make something better it often takes more resources, not fewer. I will continue to work with Mayor Harrell to fund the police, but also on police reforms, so that policing is better and safer. It is critical that we focus police time on crime while continuing to expand public safety responses that do not require an armed officer to solve.

We need to expand the amount of services that the city has to meet people where they are. I funded mental health crisis teams which boost behavioral health programs to establish a 24/7 citywide mental health crisis first response system in the city, because we need as many responders as possible. I want to hire public safety coordinators in every neighborhood and expand our existing first responders, including Community Service Officers, Health One, Mobile Crisis Teams, Park Rangers — and I strongly support Mayor Harrell’s CARE Department. In our High Needs Case Conferencing task force, we work to address the few people in the community with the highest impact on the neighborhood. This connects people with co-lead and Trueblood programs so that we can reduce 911 calls by addressing root causes.”

QUESTION: The Seattle Police Department has been under scrutiny in local, state, and federal capacities for more than a decade. Officers within the department have filed suits for discrimination, individuals have sued the department for their treatment during arrest, and the department was under a federal consent decree for 10 years due to a pattern of excessive use of force. Less than 6 months after the Department of Justice moved to end the consent decree, SPD has made international news after body cam footage came out of the vice president of the police union joking about the death of a woman who an officer struck & killed. How do you plan to hold the department accountable for its varying misconducts, given that the Office of Police Accountability has no enforcement arm, and the Seattle Police Officers Guild is also involved in these actions? 

RESPONSE:

“I was disgusted to hear Seattle Police Department leadership making fun of a victim this fall. We cannot let this culture persist and we must support officers who share values with Seattleites.

We have an opportunity with the upcoming contract negotiations with the Seattle Police Officers Guild to institute more accountability. Given the repeated incidents and other continuing problems in the department, I want to see enforcement mechanisms built into the contract. Creating trust between the Seattle Police Department and the community is paramount, and we need better mechanisms of police accountability.”

Port Commissioner

Fred Fellemen

PORt commissioner

QUESTION: With the Supreme Court overturning Affirmative Action and other racial equity policies facing legal challenges across the country, how will you ensure that individuals from marginalized communities have equal access to opportunities for employment at the port, as well as once they are hired?

RESPONSE:

“My goals are three fold. I’m working to reduce air emissions by instituting the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF). This has been talked about for years but we are making real progress both in terms of local production from sources like King County’s landfill (report out next month) as well achieving price parity through state and federal legislation. Second, I’m working to accelerate the insulation of houses within the DNL as well as repairing packages that have failed. Third, I’m championing, along with Commissioner Mohammed, efforts to permanently protect North Seatac Park so that Seatac residents can find some refuge. The Commission successfully directed the Port to include legislation in the FAA reauthorization. The language is in both Houses of Congress.”

QUESTION: With the Supreme Court overturning Affirmative Action and other racial equity policies facing legal challenges across the country, how will you ensure that individuals from marginalized communities have equal access to opportunities for employment at the port, as well as once they are hired?

RESPONSE:

“The Port has become increasing involved in efforts to help assure that our economic benefits are broadly felt. We have been conducting an annual disparity study to document how minority communities are sharing in the construction trades associated primarily with the airport’s CIP which is projected to be @ $1 billion/yr for the next 5 years. The study currently shows we are failing to meet our goals but by being transparent with our findings, it enables the Commission to push harder for success. One of the greatest challenges I’ve encountered through my almost 8 years on the Commission is the dual goals of generating “quality Jobs” (read Union) with giving small, women and minority-owned business an opportunity to share in the prosperity. This is a delicate balance that we continue to struggle with and will be taken up again this year as we revisit the PLA.”

QUESTION: New construction projects around Seattle have often led to sweeps of homeless individuals without providing resources or other forms of support. With Seattle’s tourism industry continuing to grow, and expansion likely on the Port’s mind in the future, how will you ensure that future expansion endeavors will not lead to violence against the homeless community? 

RESPONSE:

“I’m deeply concerned by the homelessness crisis in our city and its inability to provide adequate shelter and services for our community members. I’m deeply involved with tourism as a member of the Visit Seattle Board and the US Department of Commerce’s Travel and Tourism Advisory Board. I’m also engaged with the Pacific NW Economic Region along with Canada as we prepare to host the World Cup in 2026. There is great anticipation/trepidation as to how we will be perceived on the world stage which makes this question of particular pertinence. Despite the Port being precluded by RCW 51 to deal directly with housing we’re leasing our Tsubota property to LiHi for a tiny House Village. While this effort pales in comparison to the challenge we’re also on record of supporting “middle housing” and efforts to create living wage careers for those furthest from opportunity.”

Jesse Tam

PORt commissioner

QUESTION: With the Supreme Court overturning Affirmative Action and other racial equity policies facing legal challenges across the country, how will you ensure that individuals from marginalized communities have equal access to opportunities for employment at the port, as well as once they are hired?

RESPONSE:

“The long term plan is to move our Seatac International Airport to another location far from the residential neighborhood. However, it might take years to achieve that. These are my few suggested steps to deal with the problems immediately.
1) An extensive scientific air quality study needs to be done to find our the extend of the problem and to gather medical data as part of the findings based on facts.
2) Full disclosure of the findings to the public and with public discussions.
3) Seek out scientific options to contain air pollutant via cleaner planes.
4) Invite FAA and airlines as part of the discussion to find ways to modify the flight path to minimize air pollutant issues.
5) Set aside firm financial budget to carry out the plan with actions, not talk or making promises.
6) Set annual sufficient budget and follow up evaluation of the plan.”

QUESTION: With the Supreme Court overturning Affirmative Action and other racial equity policies facing legal challenges across the country, how will you ensure that individuals from marginalized communities have equal access to opportunities for employment at the port, as well as once they are hired?

RESPONSE:

“Port must have a comprehensive HR plan and policy for hiring proportionately to the our demography mix of King County population. It is more important to make sure we hire the most qualified individual to do the jobs not based on racial background, so we must start by having good education and training for the young people in our marginalized community. This require joint effort with local high school and those are in higher education. Educational material and learning must be meaningful to help Port’s operations with better efficiency and output, again not by racial background but by the workers’ capabilities in Port’s productivities. Encourage or require continued education, internship, apprenticeship and certification to improve each individual skills to keep up the technological changes in the industry. Lastly, the mix of the workers should represent the promotion and the management position to enhance long term success of the employment program.”

QUESTION: New construction projects around Seattle have often led to sweeps of homeless individuals without providing resources or other forms of support. With Seattle’s tourism industry continuing to grow, and expansion likely on the Port’s mind in the future, how will you ensure that future expansion endeavors will not lead to violence against the homeless community? 

RESPONSE:

“The new construction projects in Seattle, homeless issues, Port’s expansion, and regional tourism are all very distinct different issues of our city and they are managed by different government entities for different objectives. We need to minimize the conflicts of those different objectives, by carrying out cooperative plan. Regional governmental entities with regional development plan must meet regularly to deal with the issues and objectives together, so no one (homeless individuals) or anyone else ended up paying the price of losing their livelihood.”

County Council

Jorge Barón

COUNTY COUNCIL

QUESTION: Many individuals and groups believe that one of the best ways to hold police accountable is to withhold and/or reduce funding to departments. With the discussion around drug use pointing toward a need for less police resources and more medical and psychological resources, would you advocate for maintaining, if not reducing, funding to the King County Sheriff’s Office to put additional funding toward these non-police resources? Please explain. 

RESPONSE:

“I recognize the importance of a holistic approach to public safety that goes beyond traditional law enforcement measures. I believe in investing in preventative strategies, such as community-based programs, youth development initiatives, and mental health services, to address the underlying causes of crime and reduce recidivism. Currently, the county is facing a significant gap in its general fund budget and I am focused on working with our state partners to develop progressive revenue sources to fill that shortfall, so that we can move away from the austerity cycle and fund significant investments in our communities, including medical and behavioral health resources. As we work to address these long-term budget challenges, I will work to prevent cuts to essential, non-police resources (including diversion programs) that are evidence-based and help to reduce the incidence of criminal activity.”

QUESTION: The conditions within King County Correctional Facility have led to calls for investigation or closure of the facility by the community. These conditions also led to a lawsuit filed this year by the ACLU of Washington, stating that King County is in violation of a previous Settlement Agreement establishing certain conditions that must be met & maintained. How do you plan to address these concerns, and establish humane conditions for those incarcerated? 

RESPONSE:

“I support the county executive’s plan to eventually close the downtown county correctional facility. If elected, I would work toward the county’s implementation of the following steps to reduce the jail’s population: expanding diversion programs, enhancing reentry services, expanding restorative justice programs, addressing racial and socioeconomic disparities, and collaborating with community organizations. Overall, I would utilize data and research to inform policy decisions and measure the effectiveness of programs seeking to address public safety issues. The county must also work in collaboration with other local governments to put pressure on our state leaders to address failures at the state level to support the behavioral needs of people who are charged with criminal offenses. The state’s failure to comply with its obligations under the Trueblood case has exacerbated the challenges faced by the county and the jail and we need to continue to pressure for a resolution at the state level.”

QUESTION: The Crisis Care Centers Levy passed earlier this year, creating funding to expand King County’s capacity to treat those in crisis who are seeking behavioral health support. How will you ensure these centers will be adequately implemented & accessible to those seeking services? 

RESPONSE:

“I recognize that the recent passage by the county’s voters of the Crisis Care levy will give us an important opportunity to expand capacity in this area and I will work to effectively implement this new program. In particular, given my lengthy experience working with and on behalf of marginalized communities, I will work to ensure that the new services created by the levy will create equitable access for communities around the county. I will work to make sure that services are culturally-appropriate and address language barriers, in recognition of the fact that 25% of the population of the county was born outside the U.S. At the same time, while passage of this proposal was a step forward, I recognize that much more work is needed to address the needs of our community when it comes to behavioral health services, and I will work to expand services further.”

QUESTION: Gun violence has become a continuing problem throughout King County, with news of a shooting occurring on a near weekly basis. What do you believe are effective, community-based solutions to this issue? 

RESPONSE: 

“As the dad of school-aged children, it is unacceptable to me that the biggest threat to their lives is gun violence. I know we must do more at a county level, and at every level of government. Lockdown drills have been a routine fixture of my children’s school lives. I seek to bring my experience in partnering with immigrant communities to deepen and expand the circle of neighborhood change agents working to interrupt and prevent gun violence community by community, grounded in the understanding that gun violence disproportionately impacts communities of color. I also believe that we must treat violence as the public health crisis that it is and use evidence-based approaches to reducing this threat to our communities. If elected, I will work to secure resources to support community-based programs that seek to prevent the incidence of criminal behavior and especially those focused on youth.”

Teresa Mosqueda

COUNTY COUNCIL

QUESTION: Many individuals and groups believe that one of the best ways to hold police accountable is to withhold and/or reduce funding to departments. With the discussion around drug use pointing toward a need for less police resources and more medical and psychological resources, would you advocate for maintaining, if not reducing, funding to the King County Sheriff’s Office to put additional funding toward these non-police resources? Please explain. 

RESPONSE:

“Investing in community safety means investing upstream to reduce the chance that someone ever interacts with police officers in the first place. When we invest in housing, education, health, community cohesion, and economic stability, then we reduce the chance people engage in crimes of survival. When we invest upstream, and also into diversion and alternative response systems, it better connects folks to resources they may need instead of the carceral system. This approach is both fiscally responsible and can begin to right historic wrongs in policing and our society at large. This is particularly important for our BIPOC, low-wage, and immigrant community members who often don’t feel safe calling 911 and with whom we must rebuild trust and center in our community safety efforts in order to generate a healthier, safer, and more connecting region.”

QUESTION: The conditions within King County Correctional Facility have led to calls for investigation or closure of the facility by the community. These conditions also led to a lawsuit filed this year by the ACLU of Washington, stating that King County is in violation of a previous Settlement Agreement establishing certain conditions that must be met & maintained. How do you plan to address these concerns, and establish humane conditions for those incarcerated? 

RESPONSE:

“I support Executive Dow Constantine’s promise to close the jail, saying, in part, it’s no longer fit for its purpose. Multiple reports show that the conditions in the King County Jail are not healthy for everyone in the carceral system, including folks who are there awaiting trial, there serving a sentence, or there working. With high rates of suicide, mold, and overcrowding, it’s time for this jail to close. There have been a number of proposed solutions to help mitigate the crisis that I support, including prohibiting law enforcement from arresting people who are experiencing mental health crises and to stop penalizing mental health crises. I look forward to continuing the work directly with the community that has been looking at alternative strategies to find long term solutions.”

QUESTION: The Crisis Care Centers Levy passed earlier this year, creating funding to expand King County’s capacity to treat those in crisis who are seeking behavioral health support. How will you ensure these centers will be adequately implemented & accessible to those seeking services? 

RESPONSE:

“I’m proud to have worked with Executive Constantine’s office and current King County Councilmembers to craft this levy. It’s essential that the implementation of these crisis care centers prioritize community needs and works with local neighborhoods on siting. The levy also included funding specifically for living wages which will help ensure that the needs of folks working within the building, and the health and safety of the residents and neighbors, can be fully addressed. I am excited we will finally have a place to serve people’s healthcare needs so people can get services instead of a revolving door at a hospital or jail.”

QUESTION: Gun violence has become a continuing problem throughout King County, with news of a shooting occurring on a near weekly basis. What do you believe are effective, community-based solutions to this issue? 

RESPONSE: 

“We need to address gun violence, youth violence, and interpersonal violence as the public health crisis that they are by supporting local communities and jurisdictions to have direct and early investments. Direct funding to community based programming for cultural and linguistically appropriate programming is key to interrupt systems of violence and gun use. We also must provide healthy alternatives for youth and adults. By investing in our communities, investing in our youth, and implementing community-based safety alternatives, we can reduce gun violence. I have done this on Seattle City Council through youth violence interruption, gun violence reduction, interpersonal violence reduction strategies, and Harborview Medical Center bedside counselors. I’m the only candidate to get a seal of approval from the Alliance for Gun Responsibility and Moms Demand Action.”


School Board

Liza Rankin

SCHOOL BOARD

QUESTION: It is well documented that the presence of police in schools leads to a disproportionate amount of disciplinary action and use of force against Black, Brown, and disabled students. With Seattle Public Schools still recovering from a shooting just a year ago, how do you envision school safety and security without putting the education and well-being of marginalized students at risk? 

RESPONSE:

“I plan to continue supporting the implementation of safety measures that are proactive, evidence-based, and proven to reduce violence and increase safety like gun violence prevention advocacy, practical security measures like single-access entry and the replacement of all interior door locks to enable locking from the inside, and supporting safe school climates through the promotion of and availability of mental health supports and de-escalation. I envision schools that foster learning environments where students feel welcomed and included as their whole selves, and where crisis intervention and discipline do not violate student civil rights or interfere with their access to instruction. In my first term, I have led on policy and legislative advocacy to reduce the use of isolation and restraint in SPS and Washington state, practices that disproportionately impact marginalized students, especially students with disabilities and Black students. I will continue to prioritize reducing disproportionality and centering student well-being.”

QUESTION: Citing budget shortfalls and lower enrollment, Seattle Public Schools has put forth the possibility of closing and consolidating schools within the district, beginning as soon as 2024. Often, schools deemed to be “less profitable” or otherwise not worth investing in are in low-income, majority-minority areas. Should SPS go forward with school closures, what do you believe needs to happen for closures to not solely impact communities of color? 

RESPONSE:

“If school consolidation is needed, we need to focus on equitably meeting the needs of our students. As a community activist and advocate prior to being elected in 2019, I led efforts to add equity considerations into capital levy planning and boundary adjustments to ensure that communities of color and low-income communities were prioritized for stability and capital investment. I will use that same lens to evaluate any proposed school consolidation and direct the district to consider building condition, enrollment projections, and impact on school communities and populations in decision-making. I will direct the district to provide the board with information about any proposals that includes an analysis of the impacted communities and implications for race, income, and other factors to ensure that decisions around consolidation are made in support of equitable impact and outcomes for students and community, and not based on the loudest voices.”

QUESTION: In an impressive display of strength and solidarity, the Seattle Student Union has brought together students from across the district to create a bloc that advocates for students’ rights and needs at both local and state levels. Do you intend to work with or otherwise acknowledge this group and their needs? Do you believe there is a place for this student union within district decision-making in order to lead to more inclusive and proactive policies, compared to reactive policymaking that often follows student demands?

RESPONSE:

“Yes! I have been grateful for the work of the SSU and to connect with them on issues like gun violence prevention, policy on sexual harassment and assault, and student mental health. I’m also thrilled to be working for a second year with student school board members and to have the opportunity to continue to develop the role of student board members in SPS, with the students themselves. I have been working with our student school board members this year as I develop our legislative priorities, and they have included student groups in their outreach, including the Student Union. I look forward to continuing to strengthen the connections from students to the board, and engage them in policy development and governance issues proactively, and with an understanding of student needs and priorities.”

Lisa Rivera Smith

SCHOOL BOARD

QUESTION: It is well documented that the presence of police in schools leads to a disproportionate amount of disciplinary action and use of force against Black, Brown, and disabled students. With Seattle Public Schools still recovering from a shooting just a year ago, how do you envision school safety and security without putting the education and well-being of marginalized students at risk? 

RESPONSE:

“I am proud to have voted unanimously with my fellow board members, on a moratorium on the utilization of the Seattle Police Department’s School Emphasis Officers and School Resources Officers programs in SPS, back in June of 2020. We have no quantitative data to show that SEOs and SROs improved the safety and security of our schools. Yet we do have personal testimony (shared by our students of color) that these armed officers had a chilling effect on them, while in their schools. I envision a model of school safety and security that centers on student voices and student needs, while expediently scheduling campus and school building safety improvements, such as secure entry vestibules and key-card entries at all schools.”

QUESTION: Citing budget shortfalls and lower enrollment, Seattle Public Schools has put forth the possibility of closing and consolidating schools within the district, beginning as soon as 2024. Often, schools deemed to be “less profitable” or otherwise not worth investing in are in low-income, majority-minority areas. Should SPS go forward with school closures, what do you believe needs to happen for closures to not solely impact communities of color? 

RESPONSE:

“As we engage with community to define what a “well-resourced school” is, I believe this is a great opportunity to build up – not down – our schools that may be struggling. Schools in majority-minority areas are indeed beacons in their neighborhoods and we should find ways to invest in their students and their offerings. At tonight’s budget work session, Superintendent Brent Jones told our board that he will not put a list of consolidated schools in front of us, if it doesn’t change outcomes for students, and with our focus on improving outcomes for African American Males and our students of color, I’m confident Dr. Jones and staff won’t put forward recommendations that concentrate negative impacts on our communities of color. Because, while this process may help us identify opportunities for cost savings, this effort is indeed an exercise in making our schools more student focused and student centered.”

QUESTION: In an impressive display of strength and solidarity, the Seattle Student Union has brought together students from across the district to create a bloc that advocates for students’ rights and needs at both local and state levels. Do you intend to work with or otherwise acknowledge this group and their needs? Do you believe there is a place for this student union within district decision-making in order to lead to more inclusive and proactive policies, compared to reactive policymaking that often follows student demands?

RESPONSE:

“I envision a school district that actively seeks out, lifts up, and centers the voices of our students. During my years on the Seattle School Board, I have valued opportunities to engage in student group efforts, whether it was joining the Seattle Student Union march in response to the shooting death at Ingraham High School, taking part in trainings provided by the NAACP-Youth Council, or helping the Clear Sky Native Youth Council bring resolutions before our school board. Most recently, I worked with students, including our School Board Student Members, to incorporate their instrumental feedback into our Board’s BEX VI Levy Guiding Principles. I believe so strongly that students should have a voice in all decisions that affect them, that I have worked over the last year to lay the ground work for the ongoing development of a Student Voice Policy for SPS.”

Debbie Carlsen

SCHOOL BOARD

QUESTION: It is well documented that the presence of police in schools leads to a disproportionate amount of disciplinary action and use of force against Black, Brown, and disabled students. With Seattle Public Schools still recovering from a shooting just a year ago, how do you envision school safety and security without putting the education and well-being of marginalized students at risk? 

RESPONSE:

“I do not support police officers in schools. I do support security specialists, if requested by schools. Security specialists foster a positive environment, build relationships and are trained in de-escalation. I support sensible gun policies and the education of communities on safe gun storage. The shooting at Ingraham used a stolen gun by a gun owner who didn’t properly lock up their gun. I support safety committees for interested schools made up of students, educators, administration, mental health professionals and families to develop a safety plan and practices unique to that school. I believe in more preventable strategies like more mental health services, peer support services, social emotional skills taught at every grade level and after school anti-violence programs available for youth at their schools.”

QUESTION: Citing budget shortfalls and lower enrollment, Seattle Public Schools has put forth the possibility of closing and consolidating schools within the district, beginning as soon as 2024. Often, schools deemed to be “less profitable” or otherwise not worth investing in are in low-income, majority-minority areas. Should SPS go forward with school closures, what do you believe needs to happen for closures to not solely impact communities of color? 

RESPONSE:

“School closures are the last option after all other options have been explored to balance the budget. There is value in smaller schools, especially for some of our students farthest from educational justice. Before the district considers closing schools, the district must show the math that closing schools will actually save money. In addition, the district should engage community and bring community along to ensure school consolidations are accomplished from a student-centered perspective. Student-centered approaches of engagement involve community voice before a decision is made. Community engagement allows for voices of smaller schools, option schools and schools without PTAS to be heard. The community could help to determine a criterion for school consolidation using a racial equity lens, help to identify mitigating strategies to prevent learning loss for students impacted, especially students of color, low-income students, and students with an IEP.”

QUESTION: In an impressive display of strength and solidarity, the Seattle Student Union has brought together students from across the district to create a bloc that advocates for students’ rights and needs at both local and state levels. Do you intend to work with or otherwise acknowledge this group and their needs? Do you believe there is a place for this student union within district decision-making in order to lead to more inclusive and proactive policies, compared to reactive policymaking that often follows student demands?

RESPONSE:

“One of my main reasons for running is advocating for stronger community engagement especially when crucial decisions are being made like school closures. I am already engaging with the Seattle Student Union and inviting them to have a voice at our city-wide Town Hall events on school closures. The purpose of these Town Halls is to bring communities together to learn and share about the possible upcoming school closures. Seattle Student Union absolutely should be brought into the decision-making process through strong district community engagement. Community engagement from the district is not consistent or thorough and the board should update their engagement guardrail to include student groups like the Seattle Student Union. Yes, I will seek out the feedback and maintain a relationship with the Seattle Student Union if I have the honor of being elected.”

Evan Briggs

SCHOOL BOARD

QUESTION: It is well documented that the presence of police in schools leads to a disproportionate amount of disciplinary action and use of force against Black, Brown, and disabled students. With Seattle Public Schools still recovering from a shooting just a year ago, how do you envision school safety and security without putting the education and well-being of marginalized students at risk? 

RESPONSE:

“There is currently no conclusive evidence to suggest that “hardening” schools, by introducing a range of physical defenses such as increased surveillance, metal detectors and bullet proof glass, makes them safer. Similarly, SROs (student resource officers) do not make schools safer and can in some cases create higher rates of behavioral incidents.

We must instead focus on the root causes of violence, including unaddressed mental health needs, and increasing community partnerships in order to provide a continuum of care for our students most in need. Our schools need to build trust between adults and students, foster a sense of community and belonging, and provide mentoring and role models for students. Additionally, the history of violence in America as well as gun safety should be included in school curriculum. The district must also partner with city and community organizations to advocate for increased behavioral health support at the state-level.”

QUESTION: Citing budget shortfalls and lower enrollment, Seattle Public Schools has put forth the possibility of closing and consolidating schools within the district, beginning as soon as 2024. Often, schools deemed to be “less profitable” or otherwise not worth investing in are in low-income, majority-minority areas. Should SPS go forward with school closures, what do you believe needs to happen for closures to not solely impact communities of color? 

RESPONSE:

“The district needs to align its budget decisions with what is in the best interest of kids, which means keeping cuts away from classrooms to whatever extent possible. The district should prioritize cuts at central office first and foremost. However, if consolidation helps ensure well-resourced buildings that can more effectively serve kids, and as long as key programs serving our highest needs students remain intact, then it’s an avenue worthy of consideration. If buildings need to be scaled in the interest of administrative efficiency, the district can and should maintain smaller programs within those buildings. These decisions should not be made based on profitability but rather on enrollment numbers, impact on students furthest from education justice, and ensuring an equitable education for all students regardless of neighborhood.”

QUESTION: In an impressive display of strength and solidarity, the Seattle Student Union has brought together students from across the district to create a bloc that advocates for students’ rights and needs at both local and state levels. Do you intend to work with or otherwise acknowledge this group and their needs? Do you believe there is a place for this student union within district decision-making in order to lead to more inclusive and proactive policies, compared to reactive policymaking that often follows student demands?

RESPONSE:

“Partnerships and collaborative leadership are essential for any well run, effective school district, and student voice has a critical role to play in ensuring that our policies align with the needs of our diverse population. I applaud the Seattle Student Union for organizing and advocating for proactive and inclusive policies, and I absolutely commit to working with them if elected to the board.”

Ben Gitenstein

SCHOOL BOARD

QUESTION: It is well documented that the presence of police in schools leads to a disproportionate amount of disciplinary action and use of force against Black, Brown, and disabled students. With Seattle Public Schools still recovering from a shooting just a year ago, how do you envision school safety and security without putting the education and well-being of marginalized students at risk? 

RESPONSE:

“I lost a good friend to gun violence as a high schooler. I know firsthand the devastating effect gun violence can have. A real school safety strategy should focus on prevention, mental health, and community engagement.

Prevention: One of the nbest ways reduce the incidence of gun violence is to understand how it happened. Why did the incident at Ingraham happen? What interventions could have been taken to stop it? We need thorough analysis and clear actions.

Mental health: We are facing a teen mental health crisis today, caused in part by gun violence. Every School in Seattle should have a dedicated counselor and every kid should have access to the care they need.

Community: Schools are a part of our neighborhoods and we should give every school the resources they need to reach into and foster community, which I believe will reduce the likelihood of gun violence.”

QUESTION: Citing budget shortfalls and lower enrollment, Seattle Public Schools has put forth the possibility of closing and consolidating schools within the district, beginning as soon as 2024. Often, schools deemed to be “less profitable” or otherwise not worth investing in are in low-income, majority-minority areas. Should SPS go forward with school closures, what do you believe needs to happen for closures to not solely impact communities of color? 

RESPONSE:

“SPS should not close neighborhood schools. We face a serious budget shortfall (roughly $455 million over the next 4 years). But closing schools will NOT materially reduce that budget deficit.

Our operating budget is mostly made up of the talented teachers and staff that make up SPS. Closing schools will not reduce the number of teachers on our payroll, so it will not materially reduce our operating costs.

What closures WILL do is disrupt the education of thousands of kids, damage communities, and pit neighborhoods against each other. I believe closing schools is wrong.

If elected to the Board I will not only fight school closures, but I will work to hold the District accountable to results for families of color who most need our help. We have spent too many years making promises to communities of color without delivering results. It’s time to demand actual outcomes.”

QUESTION: In an impressive display of strength and solidarity, the Seattle Student Union has brought together students from across the district to create a bloc that advocates for students’ rights and needs at both local and state levels. Do you intend to work with or otherwise acknowledge this group and their needs? Do you believe there is a place for this student union within district decision-making in order to lead to more inclusive and proactive policies, compared to reactive policymaking that often follows student demands?

RESPONSE:

“Yes. Throughout this campaign I have been repeatedly impressed by the talent and tenacity of the Seattle Student Union.

Including the SSU in actual decision making will require changing how the School Board makes decisions. Today the Board makes too many decisions based on conversations with District leadership. Then, when they discover that students (like the SSU) are frustrated, they react with a change to that policy.

That’s a result of including SSU (and the broader community) at the END of the decision-making process, when the choices have mostly been made. Instead we need to include the SSU and community in the START of the process, to inform the options we consider and the principles we use to make decisions. This will require a real commitment to community engagement, and a departure from how we operate today.”