ELECTION 2019: Highline School Board race set

August 13th, 2019 Tracy Posted in Election, White Center news Comments Off on ELECTION 2019: Highline School Board race set

With just a few ballots left to count, the Highline School Board race that was almost a three-way tie on Election Night has settled into a clear result: It’ll be Tracy Castro-Gill vs. Aaron Garcia for the District 1 position. Today’s results bring it to:

Tracy Castro-Gill – 6,726 – 34.22%
Aaron Garcia – 6,703 – 34.11%
Michael T. Lewis – 6,124 – 31.16%

The results will be certified next week.

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ELECTION RESULTS: After 2 counts, 1 local race is too close to call

August 8th, 2019 Tracy Posted in Election, White Center news Comments Off on ELECTION RESULTS: After 2 counts, 1 local race is too close to call

Two rounds of election results are in now – and one local race is too close to call. It’s Highline School Board District 1, which includes White Center. Any two of the three candidates could end up advancing to the general election. Here are the latest numbers:

Tracy Castro-Gill – 5,039 – 34.44%
Aaron Garcia – 4,765 – 32.57%
Michael T. Lewis – 4,728 – 32.31 %

Next update, Thursday afternoon.

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ELECTION DAY! Vote by 8 pm

August 6th, 2019 Tracy Posted in Election, White Center news Comments Off on ELECTION DAY! Vote by 8 pm

Just a quick reminder that this is it – you have 3 1/2 more hours to get your ballot in. New this year, you can even register at the last minute, if you do it in person at one of the county’s four accessible-voting centers (where you then can immediately vote). You’ll be voting on King County Council, Highline School Board, and Seattle Port Commission seats, plus the countywide parks/open space levy. Safest way to be sure your vote will be counted is to take it to a King County Elections dropbox – the map and list are here (including the one at the White Center Library). The dropoff deadline is 8 pm. You also have accessible voting options including four centers where you can vote until 8 pm – and that’ where you can register up until the 8 pm deadline too.

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North Highline FD commissioner Dominic Barrera running for Port of Seattle Commission

April 23rd, 2019 Tracy Posted in Election, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on North Highline FD commissioner Dominic Barrera running for Port of Seattle Commission

North Highline Fire District commissioner Dominic Barrera, also a former NH Unincorporated Area Council board member, says he’s running for the countywide Port of Seattle Commission seat that Courtney Gregoire is leaving. Two other candidates have registered campaigns but he is the first to send an announcement:

South King County may soon have representation on the Seattle Port Commission again, as Fire Commissioner, airport union leader, and environmental advocate, Dominic Barrera announced his intention to run for the open position being vacated by Courtney Gregoire.

Barrera has served as an elected Fire Commissioner for the North Highline Fire District since 2015, where he represents about 10,000 constituents in the communities of White Center and Boulevard Park. There, he was the driving force behind station improvements that increased workplace safety, helped craft an innovative joint-operation plan with a neighboring district to improve service and increase efficiency, and has twice amended and passed state legislation to protect low-income tax payers in his district.

“I’ve worked to balance budgets and restore the District’s economic stability without compromising the well-being of our employees or the communities we serve,” Barrera said. “I bring unparalleled experience, not only leading a public agency, but also working on the frontlines of a major Port facility, fighting for worker protections, and advocating for our environment. The Port of Seattle needs this kind of strong, well-balanced leadership in this critical time of growth.”

Barrera’s father, born in Tokyo to Mexican and Japanese parents, was an aircraft mechanic at Sea-Tac. Barrera himself has worked for Alaska Airlines for seven years, both in airport operations and accounting. Throughout his tenure, he has been a proud member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) Local 2202 and currently serves as a union shop steward to his peers at Sea-Tac.

Barrera was part of a successful grassroots campaign in 2015 to save the Myers Parcels, an environmentally critical wetland that feeds into the Duwamish River, from industrial development. He was later selected to lead PlantAmnesty, an environmental nonprofit that works to protect Seattle’s greenspace, as their Executive Director.

He and his fiancé, Andrea, live in the Highline-area, directly under Sea-Tac’s northern flight path and within earshot of seaport operations.

“I would bring a voice for people living in the areas most impacted by Port activities,” Barrera said. “I know firsthand how crucial it is for the Port of Seattle to be a good neighbor.”

The other two candidates who have registered Position 2 campaigns with the Public Disclosure Commission so far are Ali Scego and Preeti Shridhar, but we haven’t yet received an announcement from either. Position 5 is also up for election this year; so far incumbent Fred Felleman is the only registered candidate. The formal filing period is in mid-May; the primary election is August 6th.

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THURSDAY: County Executive Dow Constantine to make parks-levy announcement at Steve Cox Memorial Park

February 19th, 2019 Tracy Posted in Election, King County, Parks, Politics, White Center news 2 Comments »

FIRST REPORT, TUESDAY: Forwarded by a community advocate who received this invitation:

Join King County Executive Dow Constantine for a special announcement!

Join Executive Constantine and Parks partners when the executive unveils his vision to fund King County’s parks and trails with a renewed levy when the existing one expires this December.

Join us!
Thurs, Feb 21, 2019
Steve Cox Memorial Park
1321 SW 102nd St
Ceremony begins at 10 a.m.

Show your love for King County’s most treasured places and learn about new ones that would be made possible through the Executive’s proposal.

Ceremony is expected to last 30 minutes, and we’ll have hot chocolate and coffee to keep you warm!

We sent an inquiry to the executive’s office this morning, asking for more information, but have yet to receive a reply. Here’s some backstory on the levy that expires at the end of this year, which voters approved by a wide margin back in August 2013.

ADDED WEDNESDAY: We received a media advisory about the event today. Watch for coverage tomorrow.

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ELECTION 2019: Water-district merger passing

February 12th, 2019 Tracy Posted in Election, Utilities, White Center news 4 Comments »

Back in December, we covered the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council getting briefed unofficially on the proposal for Water District 45 to merge into Water District 20. The measure was on today’s ballot. In the first round of results published tonight, it’s passing overwhelmingly – though the number of votes is small:

Yes 211 (86%)
No 35 (14%)

Here’s a map of soon-to-go-out-of-existence District 45.

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ELECTION: White Center-born Joe Nguyen leading 34th District State Senate race

November 6th, 2018 Tracy Posted in Election, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on ELECTION: White Center-born Joe Nguyen leading 34th District State Senate race

When tonight’s vote count was announced, Joe Nguyen was far in front for 34th District State Senator, and he almost couldn’t believe it:

Here’s the first round of results in the race:

Joe Nguyen – 27,440 – 57.4%
Shannon Braddock – 20,373 – 42.6%

Nguyen was in White Center tonight with his supporters, at Drunky’s Two Shoes BBQ, when the results went public.

He is the son of Vietnamese refugees, born in White Center, raised in Burien, now living in West Seattle. Assuming his lead holds as the remaining votes are counted in the weeks ahead, he will become the first person of color to represent the 34th District in Olympia, and the state’s first Vietnamese-American legislator. He also is a manager at Microsoft, father of two, and husband of a Highline Public Schools teacher.

Next vote count is expected Wednesday afternoon.

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VIDEO: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council hosts 34th District State Senate candidates’ forum

October 7th, 2018 Tracy Posted in Election, North Highline UAC, White Center news 4 Comments »

(White Center Now/West Seattle Blog video)

Voting for the general election starts in less than 2 weeks. The most hotly contested race on local ballots is for 34th District State Senator, with Joe Nguyen and Shannon Braddock emerging from an 11-candidate primary. The latest major appearance by both was at this past Thursday night’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting; we recorded it on video and you can watch the unedited hour-and-a-half-long forum above. We’ve also noted key points in text below – not full transcriptions, just excerpted points, but perhaps of interest if you don’t have time to watch the video or go see one of their upcoming appearances (listed below):

INTRODUCTIONS: Each got 5 introductory minutes. Braddock was born in Texas but her family moved to Bellingham when she was a toddler and she was there through college; after living in some other places, she moved to West Seattle 19 years ago. She’s a mom of three, 11-year-old daughter, 14-year-old son, 19-year-old son.

In the context of mentioning the day her younger son came home talking about an active-shooter drill, she mentioned that she’s for Initiative 1639 and even if it doesn’t pass, she said she would sponsor bills to be sure “each part of it” move forward. She also recapped her work history for County Executive Dow Constantine and County Councilmember Joe McDermott.

Nguyen talked about growing up in White Center – born in what’s now Seola Gardens but was then Park Lake – the son of refugees from Vietnam. He said they struggled in those early years but the community gave to his family, including building a ramp for his dad after a crash left him a quadriplegic. His family lived in Burien for a while and now Nguyen lives in West Seattle, a dad of two kids, 1 and 3. He talked about his career in technology strategy and job-training resources.

First question: NHUAC president Liz Giba showed data about the public-health discrepancies in the area, and North Highline residents having a life expectancy as low as 76 years old, six years below the lowest life expectancy for someone in West Seattle and asked the candidates if they believed it was an accident.

Nguyen said no, it is reality, and he experienced it growing up. “Certain parts” of the area need more attention.

Braddock also said no, it’s not an accident, and talked about the county using an “equity lens” that she believes the state needs to use as well.

Nguyen said more community representation in the decisionmaking process is important, especially with regards to cultural competence.

Second question, from NHUAC vice president Barbara Dobkin, was about low-income housing and whether it’s OK that more is being built in North Highline because land is cheap.

Braddock said no but also spoke about the challenge of displacement and how her campaigning brought her to many doorsteps where people said they would have to move. She also said that affordable-housing needs should be considered community by community, rather than one size fits all.

Nguyen said that land’s value needs to be considered as more than a price, but also what that land means to the community. He also espoused a holistic look at affordable housing – are services available? And he mentioned the importance of tax reform as seniors and others deal with rising property taxes.

Dobkin followed up by asking their opinions about the siting of affordable housing. Nguyen said it should be “all over the place.” Braddock said she supports “inclusionary zoning” as well as the Block Project, which seeks to site tiny houses in people’s yards as a “community-inclusive way to provide housing for homeless” people.

Next question dealt with gang violence, and recent Burien murders related to it. Is it related to poverty and a lack of opportunities? Yes, said Braddock, and the community needs to work closely with young people to fix that. Giving youth the option to learn about trades can help. “We can’t let up – we start to do this work … and then we take our foot off the pedal and we think the problem is solved,” Braddock said. Nguyen mentioned recently being at a Burien City Council meeting and noted that more money was being invested in policing than in youths’ futures. “We need to make sure we’re putting the emphasis on prevention,” he said.

Then a frequent NHUAC discussion topic, the state-allowed concentration of marijuana stores in North Highline and the robberies that have happened at most of those stores. “Concentrating in one area is not appropriate,” Nguyen said. He suggested the problem was again a lack of representation and an absence of leaders “pushing back.” Braddock said that while marijuana is legal because of an initiative, it was “clumsily” implemented. Both agreed that the allocation of tax revenues needs to be revisited to focus on communities’ needs.

Next, homelessness and how to help unsheltered people. Braddock noted that the crisis “has been building for many, many years” and told an anecdote about someone sleeping in her carport a decade ago while visiting his mother at a nearby care center. She said she supports 24/7 shelters – “navigation center” type shelters – and looking at “more surplus lands” for affordable housing/shelters. She says WSDOT is exempt from surplus-land review and would like to see that change. She also mentioned funding generated by a state document-recording fee and “protecting” that; Nguyen noted that it’s not generating what it used to and said it should be brought back to its former level. He also suggested tax incentives/credits for property owners who need it to fix up their property – provided they keep a certain level of affordability for tenants.

If they were elected, what would they do the rest of the time (given that legislator is a part-time job)? Braddock said she couldn’t keep her current job as it’s too demanding so she’d have to get something else. Nguyen said he’d be able to keep his job because his employer Microsoft had a paid-time-off program that would cover his legislative time.

An attendee question next: Candidates talk about supporting small business but don’t follow through, so does either candidate have small-business experience and what would they do to support such businesses? Nguyen said his family had run a billiard hall in White Center at one point and he saw firsthand the taxes that small business have to deal with; he said he’d like to abolish B&O taxes for small- and medium-sized businesses. He also observed that other costs, including health care, can be onerous for small-business owners too. And he spoke of supporting a friend who was setting up a business and needed help with other important things such as setting up a website. Braddock said that her family had some small businesses including a restaurant that lasted about a year, and she saw “the energy and the work” that went into running businesses. She suggested that the 34th District could have for example a “small business advisory committee” surfacing issues to her.

Another attendee question involved the difficulty of families being able to afford participating in sports and other programs. Braddock voiced support for helping with that and ensuring that families know about grants that are available. Nguyen mentioned his past involvement as a youth served by the local Boys and Girls Club and said he agreed that more funding was needed for youth programs.

Next attendee question: The Public Works Trust Fund, loans from the state to local agencies for local projects, and concerns about those loans’ availability. Nguyen said he’s not familiar with it but promised that he would fight for local needs. Braddock talked about coalition-building to evangelize support for that sort of need.

And another: A relatively new North Highline resident talked about property-tax breaks for seniors and wanting the eligibility level to expand. Braddock said that was another example of why tax reform is so important. She also said greater awareness is needed for already-available tax breaks. Nguyen also said a more-equitable tax structure – including a capital-gains tax – is important.

Asked about campaign contributions, Braddock defended accepting $750 from Coca-Cola and said she is not supporting the anti-tax Initiative 1634 that soda companies are funding. She said she can’t afford to self-finance her campaign. Nguyen said he can’t either but doesn’t take “corporate PAC money.”

Another question was from an attendee who said that anecdotally she’s noticing more teenage pregnancy and wondered about public-health services’ availabilities. Both candidates agreed the situation should be examined.

Next person asked about rent control. Braddock said “traditional” rent control didn’t seem to have worked but she would support lifting the ban so that local governments could explore “opportunities for innovation” in keeping rents down. Nguyen said he’s “for rent control” and supports strengthening tenants’ rights.

An attendee asked about the Washington Hospitality Association and its opposition to the $15 minimum wage. Nguyen said he “took a meeting” with the organization but was not looking for their money or endorsement. Both said they support the $15 minimum wage.

Next: Their positions on North Highline annexation – when, who, how to get there? Nguyen said residents should decide ‘where they go and how that looks.’ He said he personally favors Seattle but acknowledges it could lead to faster gentrification and displacement. “My family still lives here and they’re going to have a hard time staying here if prices go up any (further).” Braddock also said it’s up to the community and the county needs to do the best it can with the services it provides. She also noted that Seattle is the only city potentially pursuing annexation right now.

Asked about veterans’ issues, both mentioned veterans in their families and said it’s vital to ensure veterans can get the care they need.

An attendee who said she had worked in sexual-violence prevention asked what the candidates would do in that area. Braddock mentioned her proposal for consent education becoming part of health education in schools. Nguyen said he agreed and also wanted to strengthen laws and procedures related to assaults.

WHAT’S NEXT: Upcoming forums announced for both candidates include:
-Tuesday (October 9), Admiral Neighborhood Association (6:30 pm, Sanctuary at Admiral, 42nd/Lander)
-October 17th, Delridge Neighborhoods District Council (7 pm, location TBA)
-October 18th, West Seattle Chamber of Commerce (6:30 pm, DAV Hall, 4857 Delridge Way SW)

VOTING: November 6th is Election Day – get your ballot into a drop box by 8 pm or get it to the US Postal Service (remember, stamps no longer needed!) in plenty of time to ensure it’s postmarked by that date.

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ELECTION 2018: 34th District State Senate candidates @ October meeting of North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

September 22nd, 2018 Tracy Posted in Election, North Highline UAC, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on ELECTION 2018: 34th District State Senate candidates @ October meeting of North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

As noted in WCN coverage of the September North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, next month, NHUAC plans a forum with 34th District State Senate candidates Joe Nguyen and Shannon Braddock. That’s now less than two weeks away – Thursday, October 4th – so they’re reminding you to be there! 7 pm Thursday, October 4th, at NH Fire District HQ (1243 SW 112th).

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ELECTION 2018: 34th District State Senate update

August 9th, 2018 Tracy Posted in Election, White Center news Comments Off on ELECTION 2018: 34th District State Senate update

In case you haven’t already caught the updates on our partner site West Seattle Blog, or elsewhere, the third primary-election count is out, and here’s how the full 11-candidate field for the open 34th District State Senate seat stands:

Joe Nguyen 10,505 29.82%
Shannon Braddock 9,014 25.59%
Lois Schipper 3,408 9.68%
Sofia Aragon 3,109 8.83%
Darla Green 2,866 8.14%
Courtney Lyle 2,184 6.2%
Lisa Ryan Devereau 1,152 3.27%
Debi Wagner 1,128 3.2%
Annabel Quintero 911 2.59%
Hillary Shaw 585 1.66%
Lemuel W. Charleston 361 1.02%

Full updated results from King County are here. The election will be certified August 21st, and ballot-counting will continue until then, usually with daily updates.

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VOTE! Primary-election ballots due Tuesday

August 6th, 2018 Tracy Posted in Election, White Center news Comments Off on VOTE! Primary-election ballots due Tuesday

Tuesday is your last chance to get your ballot into either a dropbox or a mailbox. It’s not a long ballot (here’s what it looks like) but you have three major decisions:

34th District State Senate: 11 people are running in this district that includes White Center and vicinity as well as West Seattle, Vashon and Maury Islands, and part of Burien. Which two will advance to November? Here’s the order in which they’re listed on the ballot, with party preference – the names link to their infopages on the state website:

Joe Nguyen (Prefers Democratic Party)
Lois Schipper (Prefers Democratic Party)
Sofia Aragon (Prefers Democratic Party)
Courtney Lyle (Prefers Republican Party)
Hillary Shaw (States No Party Preference)
Annabel Quintero (Prefers Democratic Party)
Lemuel W. Charleston (Prefers Democrat Party)
Shannon Braddock (Prefers Democratic Party)
Darla Green (Prefers Republican Party)
Debi Wagner (Prefers Independent Party)
Lisa Ryan Devereau (Prefers Democratic Party)

For WCN and/or our partner site West Seattle Blog, we have covered four forums in this race, all with video: White Center Chamber of Commerce‘s forum, West Seattle Chamber of Commerce‘s forum, West Seattle Democratic Women‘s forum, 34th District Democrats‘ forum.

Also of note on your ballot:

U.S. Senate: Incumbent Maria Cantwell has 28 challengers. Which two of the 29 candidates (all listed here) will make it to the general election?

King County Prop 1: Replacement levy for Automated Fingerprint Identification System Services

TO VOTE: This is the first election with prepaid postage, so if you send your ballot via US Postal Service mail, you do NOT need a stamp. (Be sure it’ll be postmarked by Tuesday night.) You can also use a county dropbox up until 8 pm Tuesday – there’s one at the White Center Library (1409 SW 107th). The full countywide list is here.

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VIDEO: Six candidates for 34th District State Senate share stage in White Center Chamber of Commerce-presented forum

July 25th, 2018 Tracy Posted in Election, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on VIDEO: Six candidates for 34th District State Senate share stage in White Center Chamber of Commerce-presented forum

By Tracy Record and Patrick Sand
White Center Now co-publishers

Six of the 11 candidates vying for the open 34th District State Senate seat shared a stage last night in a forum presented by the White Center Chamber of Commerce.

As moderator Aaron Garcia was careful to point out in the early going, it was not a debate – more an opportunity for community-building. Toward that end, no sparks flew; the participants differ more in style than in substance. Those participating were, from left on the stage as seen in our video above:

Sofia Aragon
Shannon Braddock
Joe Nguyen
Lois Schipper
Lem Charleston
Hillary Shaw

Schipper lives in White Center; Aragon lives in Burien; the other four live in West Seattle. All are on your ballot as Democrats except for Shaw, who filed with “no preference” regarding party. They are running to succeed Sen. Sharon Nelson, the Maury Island-residing Democrat who decided not to run for re-election.

The forum was held outdoors at TommySound studios in South Delridge. Note that in our summary below, what you’ll read is not the entire answer each candidate gave, but rather our highlights, noted as it went on, and we paraphrase rather than quote (unless you see something in quotation marks); to get the entire response, watch the video.

This is the only forum we’ve ever seen where candidates were given a test – in this case, to complete one side of a Rubik’s Cube-style puzzle – to determine who would go first. After about five minutes, nobody had done it yet, so Garcia went with whomever was closest – Schipper.

First, each candidate was challenged to include in their opening statement how they would support the Duwamish and Coast Salish people.

Schipper talked about her work as a nurse, her status as the only WC resident on the panel, and said she’s currently working on a program that includes support for Native families. She said her priorities include support for early childhood education.

Nguyen talked about his status as the child of immigrants and a former resident of what is now Seola Gardens. He said health care is one of his biggest concerns, especially with memories of a family crisis years ago. Regarding supporting Native people, he said housing affordability, health-care availability, and economic opportunity are vital.

Braddock – who ran for Seattle City Council three years ago and lost to Lisa Herbold by a handful of votes – talked about her status as a mother of three and longtime community advocate, including work with WC-headquartered WestSide Baby. She has worked in recent years for County Executive Dow Constantine and County Councilmember Joe McDermott. She mentioned support for “reasonable gun laws.” And she voiced concern about the hate-crime attack against Burien’s Mayor Jimmy Matta. She did not address the question about supporting Native people.

Aragon said she is a registered nurse, moved here from the Philippines and attended law school before working as a policy advocate in Olympia. She grew up in South Seattle. Health-care is a major concern for her too, as is inclusivity. She also did not address the Native-support question.

Shaw said she helped found West Seattle’s Fairmount Park Elementary PTA and has often been to Olympia to advocate for public schools. She is concerned about tax reform and school funding. She did address the question about Native support and said that, having worked in schools, honoring the cultures of families and receiving equity training were among her experiences.

Charleston opened by expressing his condolences for the family and friends of the Kent police officer who died this week. He made a point that he is “not a Democratic party insider” and he thinks things can be done better – he was the first to mention the problems of homelessness and drug abuse. He mentioned his background as a minister and said creativity needs to be applied to deal with problems. He did not answer the Native-related question.

First question by Garcia following the opening statements was about how the candidates would advocate for policies to support small businesses in White Center.

Nguyen said he has started businesses and cultural competence is vital to help people doing that.

Braddock opened her reply by saying she realized she hadn’t answered the Native-related question; she said environmental equity would be important. Regarding businesses, recognizing barriers, incentivizing “women and minority-owned businesses” would be important, she said.

Aragon said small-business owners share concerns with other residents – maintaining “a good quality of life,” including good schools, infrastructure, law enforcement. Building relationships will be important, she said.

Shaw said she is a small-business owner (albeit without a bricks-and-mortar storefront) and that tax fairness would be vital.

Charleston said he’s the son of a small-business owner and he thinks it’s important to educate business owners about everything “that’s available to them.”

Schipper suggested that patronizing the small businesses in the community are a vital first step, as would be having the four Chambers of Commerce in the 34th District team up to get things done.

Next question: Should the hotel-motel tax go to help with homelessness or Safeco Field?

Braddock said that the stadium is a public facility and does have legitimate maintenance needs but some money should be bonded for affordable housing.

Aragon talked about the housing crisis in general before saying it’s important to look at who’s benefiting from state fees and how that could be “more fair.”

Shaw said she’s not very familiar with the issue but “at the state level, there needs to be adequate funding for homelessness.”

Charleston said, “We teach our kids to get their work done before they go play,” so, applying that, “taking care of a stadium is trumped by taking care of homeless people…. Take care of the homeless people and then go play.”

Schipper noted that the Kingdome wasn’t paid off when it was demolished, and pointed out that three Board of Health members declared a “disaster” related to homelessness. Rather than bonds from tax dollars, money, she said, should be applied to emergency relief to keep people from becoming homeless.

Nguyen said he hasn’t heard any support for “upgrading the suites at Safeco Field” and that doing it is “tone deaf.” But “taking on debt for housing when we already have money” doesn’t make sense to him either.

Next question: Do you support a statewide $15/hour minimum wage?

Aragon said yes, and she doesn’t support staggering it.

Shaw said “a livable wage is super-duper important but it’s important and essential to have a conversation with business owners.”

Charleston said $15/hour isn’t even a livable wage – in this district, he said, a livable wage is about $29/hour, and businesses need breaks so they can pay their employees what it takes to live in Seattle.

Schipper said she supports $15/hour and agrees it’s not enough for livability.

Nguyen said he supports $15/hour and he would eliminate B&O tax for “small and medium sized businesses” so that they could support it. He said he would not take money from organizations that don’t support it.

Braddock said she supports it and also supports making the tax system less regressive, figuring out “how to tax wealth and not work.”

Next question: Annexation. Where do you stand regarding having White Center (and the rest of unincorporated North Highline) being annexed by Seattle or becoming a standalone city or becoming part of another community?

Shaw said it’s not up to her, she would want to help the community discuss it.

Charleston said he’s talked to people in White Center and it has pros and cons. But it’s unsustainable as it is.

Schipper said as she understands it, about half the people don’t want to be annexed at all, the other half support Seattle.

Nguyen said the community should vote “and decide where they want to go.” He talked about gentrification and said it’s making it hard for his relatives to stay.

Braddock said she would support a community vote on annexation; a state role is in providing a tax credit for annexation, and access to that needs to be maintained. She believes the community needs the type of resources that are available through Seattle.

Aragon said displacement needs to be addressed at the state level underlying the community discussion/decision.

Next question was about education funding and the declaration that the state has fulfilled the McCleary requirements – though not everyone agrees they’ve been fulfilled – so what’s your message to educators?

Charleston said people need to lean on legislators. It’s shocking what parents have to buy for their kids that the schools should supply, he said. He also brought up fair teacher pay. “You always get what you pay for.”

Schipper said she’d been a longtime Highline Public Schools parent and teachers aren’t getting what they need, so the McCleary situation isn’t settled yet. Teaching is a tough job and needs a fair wage, she said.

Nguyen said his wife has been a special-education teacher and he also knows what parents are being asked to do. Educators should reflect the diversity of the community; a loan-forgiveness program would help many educators, and he too said teachers should be able to get to a livable wage sooner.

Braddock said she agrees that schools still aren’t fully funded and that teacher salaries and special education funding “need to be addressed.”

Aragon said that changing communities mean teachers need to adjust to those communities’ needs too. She would support talking to school districts to find out what barriers and challenges were getting in the way of implementation.

Shaw said this was her “laser-focus issue” and an issue she could “talk about for hours” and that basic education is “nowhere close to being funded. … Our public schools are the foundation of a healthy democracy and we are failing them.”

At that point, there was a break to hear from Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Steve Strand about last Friday’s deadly stabbing nearby, and other South Delridge crime issues. (That too is included in our video.)

After Lt. Strand spoke, Garcia asked about public safety.

Schipper that she believes guns are at the root of “some of the problems that are erupting.”

Nguyen noted that he and some others put together a forum after a deadly shooting in Burien. He talked about going on a ridealong and seeing that most calls had to do with mental health or homelessness, and that officers need different training to cope with that.

Braddock said that overall, “we need resources for training and tools” to effectively enforce laws.

Aragon said she helped found a racial-equity team among lobbyists when she was in Olympia and recognizes the “need for communities of color to be engaged in the legislative process.”

Shaw said she supports de-escalation

Charleston too but said that as a person of color, he has more concerns about being pulled over than “many of those in the audience.” He serves as a chaplain for public-safety and SPD has ‘reached out to the community’ to try to help “squash the misunderstanding between the blue and the black and brown folks.”

Next question: What specific gun-safety legislation will you author?

Nguyen: Age limit, ban assault rifles/high-capacity weapons, require insurance to buy guns/ammunition. He also said mental-health services are vital because many gun deaths are suicides.

Braddock said, all of those plus safe storage.

Aragon said Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense has endorsed her and that “anything we can do to narrow down the availability and the risk” would be important.

Shaw said she too is a “Candidate of Distinction” as labeled by Moms Demand Action and that she supports “common sense gun laws.”

Charleston mentioned that he served in the US Marine Corps and that he recognized how vital it was to understand a weapon. Society has a “large amount of ignorance” about the dangers of firearms, he said.

Schipper said safety, including gun storage, is what will make a difference. “I’m not (saying) people should have their guns taken away, but they need to be secured.”

Next question: How would you address mass incarceration and do you support the “No New Youth Jail” movement?

Braddock spoke about the importance of keeping youths from getting into the criminal-justice system in the first place. She said she supports the work of the activists ‘because they are making the facility better’ but she said the facility is being built because it’s required by the state, and she said it’s needed because youth who commit serious crimes shouldn’t end up in adult jail.

Aragon said her law school, Loyola, “was the birthplace of youth justice.” She said some places in Chicago are “lawless” and she doesn’t want to see that happen here. She didn’t address her stance on the “no new youth jail” movement.

Shaw said that resources for youth would be important in heading off problems “down the road.” Regarding “no new youth jail,” she wasn’t entirely certain about the movement’s goals.

Charleston said,”If you’ve got the money to build a multimillion-dollar correctional facility for children, you have the money to prevent them having to go to a facility” like that. He said it takes a supportive community “to take care of the kids.”

Schipper said more money for restorative justice is important but she also thinks it’s important to have a facility when youth have to be held, so that they don’t get sent to adult jail.

Nguyen was the only one to declare, “No youth jail. Right off the bat.” He spoke about trauma at young ages leading to trouble for youth and said the money for a jail should be “invested in actual people.”

Next topic: Housing and homelessness. What’s the state’s role and what does each candidate plan to accomplish?

Aragon said she’s on the low-income-housing board and mentioned a trust fund whose budget wasn’t passed in time last year so, she said, the state lost $200 million in funding. She said she supports permanent housing.

Shaw said she helped homeless people as part of a volunteer program in New York but has never seen anything as bad as it is in Seattle now. “We have so many resources, we need to find a solution.”

Charleston said, “If you really want to end homelessness, you need to stop making it a business … it’s big business right now. All the volunteer agencies set up around homelessness cost a lot of money.” Same way that President Eisenhower warned war would become big business, he elaborated. So it needs to be managed, he said.

Schipper said “look(ing) at the drivers on homelessness” is key – such as income inequity, mental and physical health services. She said regional solutions are needed.

Nguyen said he serves on the Wellspring Family Services board, dealing with family homelessness, and that you can’t treat homelessness “like a monolith.” Women often become homeless while fleeing a domestic-violence situation, for example, he said. Seniors, renters, distinct groups need distinct help in staying in their homes.

Braddock talked about building the Housing Trust Fund back up to fund affordable housing. She also supports using surplus properties to build/provide housing. “Treatment on demand” also is needed and can make a difference, she said.

Closing statements:

Shaw said she welcomes having conversations about “how we can improve.”

Charleston took up the Native question that had been asked earlier and said that the Duwamish Tribe needs to be federally recognized. The city named after Chief Seattle “has a whole lot of problems.” But he said it’s good that none of the candidates has been elected before, so they’d be coming in with fresh eyes.

Schipper noted that the Legislature “is a citizen legislature” and pointed out that she’s done work “on the ground” in communities for 20 years – “in the community, with the community.”

Nguyen said, “This community raised me,” helped his family in its time of need, “gave me a voice.” He also noted that the 34th has never been served by a legislator of color, and he thinks what’s wrong is that the people have never been reflected by their representatives.

Braddock said the citizen legislature needs a perspective like hers, “a single mom of school-age kids who works outside the home” She mentioned child-care, education, income inequity, and her experience working with King County government.

Aragon recalled a line from “Hamilton” – “winning a war is easy, governing is harder.” She said she’s seen a lot in her years of advocacy, and she considered the tough work when she was asked to consider running. “A lot of good things can be done.” She, like Nguyen, said she’s proud that she would represent the “diverse community.”

And after more than an hour and a half of Q&A, the forum ended. Again – voting goes until 8 pm August 7th. Ballot postage is now prepaid so if you choose to use the US Postal Service to send yours, no need to use a stamp. Or you can put it in the dropbox at the White Center Library.

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TONIGHT: State Senate candidates’ forum presented by White Center Chamber of Commerce

July 24th, 2018 Tracy Posted in Election, Politics, White Center Chamber of Commerce, White Center news Comments Off on TONIGHT: State Senate candidates’ forum presented by White Center Chamber of Commerce

One last mention in case you haven’t voted yet in the 11-candidate 34th District State Senate race – six candidates have RSVP’d for tonight’s White Center Chamber of Commerce-presented forum just across the line in South Delridge, 6-8 pm at TommySound, 9409 Delridge Way SW: Sofia Aragon, Shannon Braddock, Lem Charleston, Joe Nguyen, Lois Schipper, Hillary Shaw. All welcome.

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FOLLOWUP: Highline Schools levy passing

February 13th, 2018 Tracy Posted in Election, Schools, White Center news Comments Off on FOLLOWUP: Highline Schools levy passing

From Highline Public Schools:

It appears the Highline Public Schools levy measure will pass, with early results showing 57.67 percent voting in favor of renewal.

“I am grateful to voters for their support of our students and schools. Local funding for our schools is critical,” said Superintendent Susan Enfield. “It allows us to provide the quality education our community expects for our children, which goes beyond the minimum funded by the state.”

The levy bridges the gap between what the state funds and the education Highline provides students. The approved levy pays for critical needs, including teachers, staff, school nurses, safety and security officers, counselors, social workers, special education, Camp Waskowitz and athletics.

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ELECTION NIGHT RESULTS: After the first vote count, here are the toplines

November 7th, 2017 Tracy Posted in Election, White Center news Comments Off on ELECTION NIGHT RESULTS: After the first vote count, here are the toplines

King County released its Election Night vote tally just after 8 pm. Here are notes of local interest:

KING COUNTY SHERIFF: Johanknecht 52 percent, Urquhart 48 percent

KING COUNTY EXECUTIVE: Constantine 75 percent, Hirt 24 percent

KING COUNTY PROPOSITION 1: Yes 66 percent, No 34 percent

SEATTLE PORT COMMISSION POSITION 1: Creighton 51 percent, Calkins 49 percent

SEATTLE PORT COMMISSION POSITION 3: Bowman 67 percent, Abdi 33 percent

SEATTLE PORT COMMISSION POSITION 4: Steinbrueck 63 percent, Shridhar 37 percent

NORTH HIGHLINE FIRE DISTRICT COMMISSION POSITION 1: Giba 56 percent, Maples 44 percent

Full countywide results here.

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LAST HOUR TO VOTE: Get to the dropbox by 8 pm

November 7th, 2017 Tracy Posted in Election, White Center news Comments Off on LAST HOUR TO VOTE: Get to the dropbox by 8 pm

Patti, Liz, and their canine companions posted for us at the White Center Library ballot dropbox late this afternoon. Also there, volunteers from the White Center Community Development Association, cheering for everyone who brought in their ballot. The dropbox at 1409 SW 107th is open until 8 pm – so if you are voting at the last minute, get there as soon as you can. First results are due by about 8:15 pm.

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White Center scene: Ballot van at Greenbridge

February 9th, 2016 Tracy Posted in Election, White Center news Comments Off on White Center scene: Ballot van at Greenbridge

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No voting for this area today, but the King County Elections ballot van is at Greenbridge as usual, until 8 pm – just over the line in the Seattle Public Schools district, today is a special election for two levies. We stopped by to photograph Joe and Mary at the van, 9720 8th SW; as of noon, they had received 49 ballots.

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VOTE! Ballot van at Greenbridge until 5 pm today, 10 am-8 pm on Election Day

November 2nd, 2015 Tracy Posted in Election, White Center news Comments Off on VOTE! Ballot van at Greenbridge until 5 pm today, 10 am-8 pm on Election Day

Voted yet? Until 5 pm today, and again 10 am-8 pm tomorrow (Tuesday), you can drop your ballot off, NO POSTAGE REQUIRED, via the King County Elections ballot-dropoff van outside Greenbridge Library, on 8th SW, south of SW Roxbury. We photographed Mark and Marvin there with the van on Saturday.

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‘Best Starts for Kids’ levy campaign launched in White Center

August 9th, 2015 Tracy Posted in Election, Health, White Center news 1 Comment »

(Photo courtesy Best Starts for Kids campaign)

Though the August ballots are still being counted, the November campaigns are on, including a countywide levy that will be on your ballot: Best Starts for Kids, aka King County Proposition 1. The campaign for your “yes” vote began with a Thursday media event in White Center – here’s the news release shared by the campaign afterward:

The proposed six-year levy would invest in prevention and early intervention strategies to increase the number of children in King County who reach adulthood healthy and ready to contribute to the region’s prosperity

King County Executive Dow Constantine and other elected officials and community leaders from throughout King County urged voters to approve the Best Starts for Kids initiative that will appear on the November 3rd General Election ballot.

Best Starts for Kids is an initiative to improve the health and well-being of King County by investing in prevention and early intervention strategies based on the latest brain science that identifies key developmental milestones.

“Best Starts for Kids is our opportunity to transform the way we invest in our children’s future by focusing on what works,” said Executive Constantine. “This is how we will transition to effective upstream solutions that can prevent negative outcomes, including mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and incarceration – and put every child in King County on a path toward lifelong success.”

Executive Constantine was joined by King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, campaign co-chairs Matt Griffin and Michelle Sarju, and many more. The event was hosted at Educare School of Greater Seattle, an innovative Head Start program in the White Center neighborhood of unincorporated King County.

“Investing in children early in their lives provides the best opportunity to help them make the right choices and achieve their full potential,” said Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus. “The earlier the investment, the greater the return. Healthy kids are more likely to become productive adults, avoiding issues that can put them into the criminal justice system.”

Best Starts of Kids is informed by research by James Heckman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist who found that investing early in a person’s development – starting with prenatal services – delivers the greatest return.

Heckman, Director of the Center for the Economics of Human Development at the University of Chicago, has devoted his professional life to understanding the origins of major social and economic problems related to inequality, social mobility, discrimination, skill formation and regulation, and to devising and evaluating alternative strategies for addressing those problems.

“The aim is to make the latest research and tools available to every parent and caregiver, and ultimately to produce talented, creative and successful adults who will help us remain a prosperous region,” said campaign co-chair Michelle Sarju.

The Metropolitan King County Council voted overwhelmingly across party lines to support Best Starts for Kids and place the issue before the voters this November. Approval of the initiative would make King County one of the first metropolitan areas in the nation to adopt a unified, comprehensive plan, based on science, to ensure all children can develop the cognitive, emotional, and social skills necessary to succeed in life.

“This is a great investment opportunity not only in kids but in our community,” Councilmember McDermott said. “Increasing the percentage of healthy children who become successful adults can help reduce spending on criminal justice, reduce homelessness and enable us to target mental-health and drug-treatment options to those who need them.”

Best Starts for Kids will complement Seattle’s preschool program and similar efforts by increasing the number of children who arrive at school each day healthy and ready to learn.

Half the proceeds from the levy will be invested in early childhood development, from birth through age 5 when 92 percent of brain growth occurs. That includes early intervention services that can prevent developmental delays from becoming lifelong disabilities and nurse home visitations that help at-risk mothers deliver healthier babies.

Current community-based programs in King County that increase the likelihood a baby is born at a healthy weight and that help prevent developmental delays from becoming lifelong disabilities are limited in part because the vast majority of the County’s General Fund budget must pay for the criminal justice system, including law enforcement, courts and jails.

The six-year levy, at 14 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, would cost the average King County property owner an estimated $56 per year, or about $1 a week. The levy would be overseen by a citizen’s oversight board and generate an estimated $58.3 million in 2016 for the following allocations:

• 50 percent to early childhood development, from birth through age 5, when research shows that 92 percent of brain growth occurs.

• 35 percent to sustain the gain by providing early intervention services to address problems such as depression and developmental disabilities as the brain continues to develop through age 24.

• 10 percent to reinforce a child’s progress by improving the health, social, and economic outcomes in the communities where they live.

• 5 percent to pay for evaluation, data collection and program improvement.

The levy would immediately fund a program designed to help survivors of domestic violence from becoming homeless. It will be based on a successful pilot project created by the Gates Foundation.

“We all want to live in a place where every child has the chance to succeed,” said campaign co-chair Matt Griffin. “This is a chance to move our community forward and ensure that our children have the fair start to life that they deserve. It’s just the right thing to do.”

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VOTE! Ballot van is at Greenbridge until 5 pm today

August 1st, 2015 Tracy Posted in Election, White Center news Comments Off on VOTE! Ballot van is at Greenbridge until 5 pm today

Quick reminder – if you haven’t voted yet, do it! And get your ballot over to David and Jeffrey with the King County Elections ballot-dropoff van, which is at Greenbridge today until 5 pm (again Monday 10-5 and Tuesday 10-8), on 8th SW south of Roxbury.

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