(Also published at partner site West Seattle Blog)
By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor
After five years as one of the Seattle City Council‘s two at-large members, North Delridge resident Teresa Mosqueda says she feels a “pull” toward a different role in local government – that of King County Councilmember.
Mosqueda announced this morning that she is campaigning for the seat that District 8 County Councilmember Joe McDermott is leaving after more than a decade. The newly remapped district stretches from downtown Seattle to Burien, also including West Seattle, White Center, and Vashon and Maury Islands, among other neighborhoods (see the map here).
Mosqueda talked with us in West Seattle just before her announcement. She says she will continue with her City Council job – which isn’t up for a vote again until 2025 – while campaigning for County Council. (If she wins the new job, the remaining city councilmembers would have to appoint someone to fill the rest of her term.) Though the County Council represents three times as many people as the City Council, it toils in less of a spotlight, generally with far less pressure and scrutiny. Mosqueda wouldn’t mind: “Everyone asks, aren’t you going to be bored? I say, no!”
She says what’s “pulling” her toward the County Council are two issues in particular – health and housing. County government has “more purview over public health and behavioral health.” On the latter, she’s supportive of the behavioral-health levy the County Council just voted to send to voters in April. And she sees even more areas of the county in need of workforce housing, especially Vashon and Burien. She wants to work with the state legislators who have housing in the spotlight this session. The county also runs the major transit system – Metro – and “working families need round-the-clock transit – we need to reimagine that.”
Those working families, Mosqueda continues, also need more access to child care and other support. She expresses admiration for the county’s voter-approved Best Starts for Kids program. She sees possibilities for “building on the work we’ve done in Seattle,’ recalling a tour of the West Seattle Junction four years ago, when a small-business owner told her more child care and housing would help their workers.
Beyond West Seattle, she mentions other parts of the city that are part of County Council District 8: “I have served these communities and know them.” But she says she’s no stranger to the non-Seattle areas of the district – her family gets health care in Burien, for example, and visits that community’s Seahurst Park. Her heart, however, is in the North Delridge neighborhood where she lives with her husband and their 3-year-old daughter – “this is the kind of walkable, livable neighborhood I want everybody to have.”
Mosqueda also observes that serving District 8 would be about serving a diverse population, with an increasing number of people of color as well as immigrants and refugees. Representation matters, she declares, noting she was shocked to learn that of the more than 130 people serving on county councils in the state of Washington right now, only three are people of color. During and before her city work, she says she has fought for those who aren’t (yet) at the table.
Veering off the issues she cites as those about which she’s most excited, we ask about others – public safety, for one. She first mentions work that the county has done on diversion, and touches on community-safety work aside from law enforcement, though she also mentions respect for the King County Sheriff’s Office and Burien Police Chief Ted Boe, “who’s gotten a lot of praise for working on restorative justice.”
In the nuts and bolts of governing, we also ask what she’s learned as the City Council’s budget chair. “It’s been my goal to really change the culture of how we approach budgeting,” and Mosqueda feels she and her colleagues accomplished that through increased scrutiny including “deep analysis.” She also mentions looking further into the future, taking a closer look at a six-year projection that she says had previously been buried in the information councilmembers would get and mostly ignored.
Might she try to do something like the JumpStart tax on a county level? No specific proposals planned but she is interested in legislative action giving local governments more flexibility.
Regarding a District 8 topic that hasn’t been discussed much lately but remains unresolved – North Highline annexation – Mosqueda says she wants to talk with residents about their needs, “hear from folks what they want to see, whether it’s self-determination or annexation or …” Bottom line, she thinks job 1 is to find out if people feel they’re being appropriately served by the county.
She plans to start conversations with potential constituents immediately and already has meetings planned tomorrow in Burien; she expects to “front-load” her City Council responsibilities during the week whenever she can so she can be out campaigning Fridays through Sundays. She thinks she can win people over by showing up on doorsteps and promising to make change on their behalf. “If folks are excited about a workhorse, a listener, someone who takes action …” then, Mosqueda says, she’s their candidate.
WHAT’S NEXT: Mosqueda is the first announced candidate in this race. The field won’t be final until the official filing week in mid-May. Voting for the August 1st primary will start in July.