VIDEO: Rep Pramila Jayapal’s nearby town hall

January 26th, 2024 Tracy Posted in Politics, White Center news Comments Off on VIDEO: Rep Pramila Jayapal’s nearby town hall

(Also published on partner site West Seattle Blog)

(WSB photos, video)

Our area’s U.S. House Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a West Seattle resident when not in D.C., held a town hall meeting Wednesday night in her home neighborhood. She and her constituents brought up a wide range of issues, from the Israel/Hamas war to college costs to health care to UAPs (aka UFOs).

Rep. Jayapal said the community meeting at The Hall at Fauntleroy was one of more than 100 town halls she’s had since taking office seven years ago. “We may not agree … but whatever it is, I want to talk about it.” We recorded the town hall in two parts – first, her half-hour introductory remarks:

If you don’t have time to watch, here are our notes:

She said “funding for community-based projects” is part of the job – and that she has helped secure $50 million, with $17 million to come “as soon as we pass the government funding (legislation).” She mentioned food-bank funding and emergency housing as some of what that money goes toward. Other funding on which she’s worked included something showcased at a port event earlier in the day, %18 million toward truck electrification.

If you are associated with a nonprofit, she said, her office can help you look for federal grant money. And for individuals, they can help you navigate federal agencies. “Our job is to try to help you navigate what is sometimes just crazy bureaucracy,” or inaccessibility. They won’t necessarily be able to solve every problem for you but they can at least help you get an answer. This includes Social Security, Medicare, and immigration issues, she added. She hailed her staff’s tenacity in pursuing solutions for constituents. Specifically, she said, she’s hearing from constituents who have felt strong-armed into Medicare Advantage plans – or are having a tough time getting back onto traditional Medicare. She says she’s been pushing to get the federal government to crack down on Medicare Advantage-related fraud – she thinks those offerings shouldn’t even have Medicare in their name.

On other matters, she said this has been the least productive Congress ever – barely 20 bills passed by both houses and signed into law in 2023. Funding to keep the government running is usually finalized by year’s end, but isn’t yet – “this is the craziness we’re dealing with, we still have not funded the government.”

She accused the House’s Republican majority of holding the funding “hostage to their extreme ideas.” She says that includes solving the “broken” immigration system, but contends that the Republicans don’t want to do anything so the border mess will remain an election issue. She said immigration worked well decades ago when arrivals were allowed to work right away, and instead now they’re hung up in bureaucracy. Right now, Ukraine aid and border policies are all tangled up, she said. She also said they’re working to restore the child-tax credit to help lift families out of poverty, but that too is tied up with other matters.

She also mentioned the Foreign Intelligence Act, “protecting privacy,” with a bill passed out of the Judiciary Committee but still stuck on its way to get to the door. And the farm bill is awaiting reauthorization. She also said she will “not stop fighting” for abortion rights and gender-care rights, noting that she herself has had an abortion and is “proud mom of a trans daughter.” She moved from there to drug-cost issues, including capping insulin prices. Other issues she touched on: Some student-loan debt cancellation (see her website), infrastructure, tax-code changes, climate, antitrust enforcement. Also: “I know it isn’t enough and we have a lot more to do …” like ending the Senate’s filibuster rules. “You can’t just change the rulers, you’ve gotta change the rules.”

Then she got to the most intense current issue: “The terrible attack by Hamas on Israel, and Israel’s horrific war in Gaza, that’s happening right now.” She said she’s been calling for a ceasefire “to get to safety and peace for both Israelis and Palestinians. … Military action does not get us to where we need to go.” A ceasefire would mean more hostages could be released and “innocent civilians” won’t be killed, whether Palestinian or Israeli – “we have to see them as the same, they are the same.” She contended that Israel’s war on Hamas is only radicalizing more people. “We have to be thinking how we get to a durable peace in the Middle East,” where Israelis and Palestinians “live side by side.” She said she’s met with families “of dozens of hostages” … “I will continue to hold space for all the pain is out there … we have to get to peace … more military action only gets us more military action.” She was soundly applauded. In segueing to Q/A, she declared, “I’m fighting for freedom, for families, for faith” – not just religious faith, but “faith in our democracy,” the nation where she arrived at age 16.

From there, it was on to Q/A, which lasted almost an hour; the Israel/Hamas war was the most frequently mentioned issue, but far from the only one. Here’s the video, followed by our toplines:

First speaker in our video thanked Jayapal for her position on Gaza “and for also mentioning Ukraine,” for which the commenter advocated continuing aid, then asked, “How do we get more money (for Ukraine)?” Rep. Jayapal replied that it’s “tough” because “aid to Ukraine is something that Republicans say they’re not voting for.” She said she will have a tough time for voting for it if it’s “tied to bad border conditions” or a certain level of Israel military aid.

Second speaker wanted to talk about Alzheimer’s disease and thanked Jayapal for supporting a “national plan.” Jayapal promised to continue advocacy and support for resources.

Third speaker was 11-year-old Maya. “I was wondering why there was a lot of older people here,” which drew laughter. “My dad was saying it’s because younger people are not as interested in politics these days, and I was wondering what can be done about that.” Big applause. Rep. Jayapal said, “We need you!” – to talk to her friends and make sure they understand that decisions being made now will affect them for many years.

Fourth speaker said he’s been following news about UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, formerly UFOs). He said he didn’t know if they’re real but if they’re not, a lot of government money is being wasted on them, so he wanted her support for those trying to find out the truth. She recapped the July 2023 hearing, legislation that’s been proposed, and she said she supports protections for whistleblowers, which could be important in getting to the truth.

Fifth speaker read from a statement that related to the “war on terror” and watch lists; Rep. Jayapal asked her to contact her staff so they could help her offline.

Sixth speaker voiced a concern about health care, as an entrepreneur having a difficult time finding an affordable health-care option. Rep. Jayapal said she’s been fighting for universal health care “because one of the places that gets most screwed in our current system is small businesses.” She acknowledged that the Affordable Care Act was “good for a lot of people” but not everyone – those who are paying overpriced premiums for high-deductible policies are subsidizing private companies’ profits. She said “I don’t have an answer for you” but “we’re working on it.”

Seventh speaker identified herself as an immigration attorney who works with children and asked where things stand and whether there’s “any hope of an asylum system.” Jayapal said the status of what’s been negotiated is “unclear” on some things; regarding asylum, there is money in a pending bill to hire more people to help, but it’s not clear right now that the bill is going to go anywhere.

Eighth speaker brought up the “upcoming election” and voiced various fears – from the current administration’s support for the Mideast fighting to the Republicans’ attacks on the trans community, of which they said they are a member – “my tax dollars are going to this genocide.” Jayapal said she’s doing what she can; that was countered with, “You’re doing the bare minimum.” She countered that she’s one of few voices in Congress for a ceasefire.

Ninth speaker said that President Biden is losing support with young people because of the action in Gaza and said he should stop sending weapons and “accomplish a peace agreement” if he wants to regain that support.

Tenth speaker asked what’s the best way to communicate with politicians, especially those who don’t share the same views. And she wanted to know what Rep. Jayapal thinks about the “criminalization of homelessness.” The reply was that she doesn’t believe that can be allowed to happen – “we need to build more housing, invest in more housing … long-term supportive housing …” Regarding the first question, she said research helps, as does “organizing people in (other members’) districts” to speak to an issue of disagreement.

Eleventh speaker said she works at Neighborhood House. She said more assistance is needed for low-income families – people line up hours in advance – and “the price of groceries is so, so high.” Specifically, she advocated for supplemental funding to help with food. Rep. Jayapal said that was “never (before) a partisan thing” – yet now it is – “there are so many hungry people in our country.

Twelfth speaker was concerned about politicians who seem to have jobs for life. Rep. Jayapal said she agrees that term limits are important – like limits on how long you can hold positions leading committees.

Thirteenth speaker asked about the congresswoman’s “commitment to student-debt relief.” She said she’s fought for it before and is fighting for more, as well as backing a “College for All” bill that she says would make college tuition-free for everyone.

Fourteenth speaker asked about universal health care and wondered why the US has to “reinvent the wheel” instead of having a system like the EU. Rep. Jayapal said “it’s very hard to dismantle” the current system of private companies and private insurers when they have so many lobbyists. “Every time we try to move in this direction we get this massive pushback … I share your frustration.” She said that while it’s seen as a “far left” position here, it would be seen as “centrist” elsewhere in the world; the only way to change that, she said, is to “build a big movement” to force change.

Fifteenth speaker asked about walking and biking safety. “Local action can’t fix a nationwide issue,” she said, noting the preponderance of large SUVs, for example. Rep. Jayapal said some federal “Safe Streets” money was indeed allotted to Seattle, and said she’s cosponsoring a national commitment to zero fatalities by 2050. She said she also has signed a letter to the USDOT supporting walking/biking safety as criteria for grants.

Sixteenth speaker said he has voted Democrat for 40 years but is going to have a hard time voting for President Biden because of the current Mideast fighting. He asked Jayapal to convince him why he should. She said she can’t “make a moral argument about what America is doing in Gaza” and that she doesn’t agree with everything the president does but “we are in a space right now where the threats against our democracy are so real … if you think what’s happening now in Gaza is horrific, imagine what’s going to happen when Donald Trump gets into the White House. … Don’t step away from democracy.”

Seventeenth speaker said “our government’s a little too male, pale, and stale.” She then asked how much money and weapons the U.S. has provided to Israel, and said she’s disgusted about what’s happening in Gaza. She also complained about a particular political action committee that Jayapal described as “dark money.”

Eighteenth speaker (first joking that he’s a “pale male” but “not stale.”) said that with crime in Seattle, a lot of people are “buying weapons, and I’m concerned about that.” Then he segued into concern about college costs

Nineteenth speaker wanted to know how Rep. Jayapal would “fight for a free Palestine even after a ceasefire.”

Twentieth speaker, identifying himself as a naturalized American, wanted to know what she’s doing about “moving country-of-origin quotas.”

Twenty-first and final speaker had a letter to submit for her signature – she asked that it be provided to her staff.

Rep. Jayapal then delivered some quick answers to the final questions. For public safety, she said services are needed as well as gun-law reform. Regarding college costs, state and federal aid used to cover 70 percent of the cost – now they cover 30 percent, as the federal government has disinvested in education, so correcting that is important. Regarding Palestine, she said she agrees it’s troubling that there’s no discussion of the lasting peace, of a two-state solution, everything is focused on the military situation right now. Regarding the immigration question, she said things are rather convoluted right now – per-country caps are disproportionate – “these are really big issues” that are part of the immigration-reform proposal.

And after an hour and a half, she wrapped up, offering words of thanks (and photo ops).

CONTACTING REP. JAYAPAL: Contact info for her Seattle and D.C. offices is here; getting help with a federal agency, as she discussed, is addressed here.

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Our area’s new King County Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda introduces her team

January 12th, 2024 Tracy Posted in King County, Politics, White Center news 2 Comments »

(From left: Chris Lampkin, Melanie Kray, Councilmember Mosqueda, Kamilah Brown, Erin House)

This week, Teresa Mosqueda took office as District 8’s King County Councilmember. Today we received this photo and announcement introducing her team:

King County Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda on Tuesday announced her staff at her historic swearing-in Tuesday, bringing together an all-star team to do the vital work of District 8.

“I can’t serve the district all by myself – I’m incredibly excited for my new staff joining me at the County,” Mosqueda said. “I’ve got a great team here who are all veterans to working in the political realm, but each bringing a different wealth of knowledge and experience that will benefit everyone in District 8 and across King County.”

Mosqueda brought over Erin House to serve as her Chief of Staff. House, who served as Mosqueda’s Chief of Staff at the Seattle City Council, will manage the office and policy work as well as focus on housing and homelessness, transportation, energy and land use and the environment. House previously served as a Strategic Initiatives Advisor at the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, where she worked on major citywide and long-range initiatives, including Link light rail expansion and community planning projects. She also served as Coalition and Outreach Manager for Seattle for Everyone, where she worked with a broad coalition to advance the first-ever comprehensive package of affordable housing policies in Seattle, and worked with Futurewise, a statewide growth management and civic planning organization, on projects promoting equitable and environmentally sound housing, transportation, land use, and environmental policies./

Chris Lampkin will serve as Deputy Chief of Staff, staffing community relations and communications, as well as working on policy related to labor and business, human services, Crisis Care Levy implementation, Harborview Medical Center, and community relations. Lampkin most recently served as the Political Director for SEIU Healthcare 1199NW where he worked to empower over 33,000 Registered Nurses, Healthcare and Behavioral Health workers of the union to grow their voice and lift standards for the communities.

Mosqueda brought a familiar face back to Council with Kamilah Brown as Director of Office Operations and Special Projects. Brown previously worked in the office of King County Councilmember Larry Gossett before going on to serve as Policy Director to [now former]Seattle City Councilmember Andrew J. Lewis over the last four years. Brown will focus on public health, constituent services, scheduling and special projects.

Rounding out her staff is Melanie Kray, Public Policy Director for District 8. Kray comes over from Mosqueda’s team at the Seattle City Council. She will focus on public safety, homelessness, utilities, immigration and arts and culture. Kray has her law degree from the University of Washington and served as the Rule 9 legal intern for UW Law’s Race and Justice Clinic, helping to manage cases in various stages of post-conviction proceedings.

Click here to watch a short video, and learn more about Mosqueda’s team here, including full bios and other staff information.

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Swearing-in day for our area’s new King County Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda

January 9th, 2024 Tracy Posted in King County, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on Swearing-in day for our area’s new King County Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda

(Photo courtesy King County Council)

Teresa Mosqueda‘s move from the Seattle City Council to the King County Council is complete with today’s swearing-in ceremony at the county council’s first meeting of the year. Administering the oath of office in the council chambers downtown was Councilmember Mosqueda’s husband, Manuel Valdes. Mosqueda was one of two newly elected councilmembers sworn in today, along with Jorge Barón; they are making history as the first Latina/o members elected to the county council. Mosqueda, who succeeds Joe McDermott in representing District 8 (including White Center, West Seattle, Vashon and Maury Islands, and Burien), will chair two committees – here’s the announcement:

The King County Council on Tuesday voted for Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda to chair two key committees in her first year on the council. Mosqueda will serve as Chair of the Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee and the Regional Transit Committee.

“I’m thrilled to be chairing the Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee,” Mosqueda said. “My biggest priority as a King County Councilmember is to improve the health of our residents, and as Chair of HHS we get the chance to focus on those priorities with urgency. The committee will have purview over the Crisis Care Levy implementation so that families will know where to turn if their loved ones are struggling and need help, and first responders will have a place to bring people in need. Critically, this committee has preview over affordable housing, which I will continue to champion with an emphasis on serving communities most at risk of displacement creating more affordable housing, and investing in the workforce serving our most vulnerable to keep people housed.”

The HHS committee’s jurisdiction includes health services provided to the community by county agencies and branches; public health programs, including those related to the protection, promotion, and provision functions of the department of public health and the structure of the public health centers; and human services programs, including review of human services-related levies.

Mosqueda, who was sworn in to represent District 8 on Tuesday, will also serve as Vice Chair of the Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee, and will sit as a member of the Budget and Fiscal Management Committee, the Local Services and Land Use Committee, and the Employment and Administration Committee.

“I’m also very excited to be Vice Chair of Councilmember Dembowski’s Transportation, Economy and Environment committee,” Mosqueda added. “These are huge issues for District 8 and the entire county – from supporting the vitality of small businesses and workers, to addressing the transportation and growing environmental crises of folks across our region. Investments in economic stability, climate justice, and accessible transit all create healthier communities and thriving local economics. I’m thrilled to get to work on these priorities with my colleagues and community.”

Tuesday marked a historic moment in the history of the King County Council as Mosqueda and Jorge L. Barón – who was sworn in for District 4 – mark the first Latinos to serve on the Council. With a growing population of people of color and immigrants and refugees in King County, this marks a significant moment for representative democracy, especially given the diversity and largest ethnic population in District 8.

Full committee assignments will be posted here this week.

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ELECTION 2023: Teresa Mosqueda leads King County Council District 8 race

November 7th, 2023 Tracy Posted in Election, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on ELECTION 2023: Teresa Mosqueda leads King County Council District 8 race

The biggest race in our area is for the County Council District 8 seat that Joe McDermott is leaving after 13 years. In tonight’s first and only round of results, here’s where the race stands:

Teresa Mosqueda – 16,189 – 50.18%
Sofia Aragon – 15,929 – 49.37%

Mosqueda, a citywide Seattle City Councilmember and North Delridge resident, spent Election Night at a party downtown, too far for us to go interview her, but she has sent a statement saying in part: “It’s been incredibly motivating to connect with community leaders and neighbors across this district. The outcome of this election is a testament to our campaign’s deep community engagement and collaborative work to support community-led solutions. Thank you to every endorsing community member, labor union, organization, small business, and elected leader who generously offered their time to help make this result possible. I appreciate your support and look forward to working together to deliver on diverse needs across District 8.”

Second round of results will be out around 4 pm tomorrow.

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King County Council passes proposal to prevent unincorporated-area businesses from going cashless – starting in two years

June 28th, 2023 Tracy Posted in Businesses, King County, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on King County Council passes proposal to prevent unincorporated-area businesses from going cashless – starting in two years

Announced by the King County Council:

The King County Council on Tuesday voted 5-4 to approve legislation to require retail businesses in unincorporated King County to accept cash. The measure, brought by Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, is meant to ensure everyone has access to the economy, including people who cannot or choose not to access bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial tools.

“This legislation has been an important and sometimes challenging balancing act – trying to protect consumer access, support local businesses, and adapt to a changing world all at the same time,” Kohl-Welles said. “I am very pleased that the legislation as passed addresses this emerging equity issue in a way that is creative, proactive, and collaborative. Further, it signals that as technology continues to rapidly change as we appear to be moving to a cashless society, there is a place for everybody in our local economy.”

During and even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses in the Seattle area and beyond began shifting to cashless operations, leaving people who rely on cash with fewer options to purchase food and other essential consumer goods. Research, however, shows that cashless businesses most impact communities of color, seniors, people with disabilities, immigrants, refugees, kids, the houseless, and low-income communities.

At least 2.1% of Washington residents are unbanked, meaning they don’t have bank accounts, credit cards or other typical financial services, according to the 2021 FDIC Household Survey. Five-year estimates put that number even higher – at 3.1%. More than 17% of residents are underbanked, meaning they might have a bank account but often rely on alternative financial services, such as money orders, check-cashing services, and payday loans.

If applied to unincorporated King County, these figures mean more than 7,000 people could be unbanked and more than 42,000 people could be underbanked.

The ordinance requires that retail businesses in unincorporated King County accept cash, unless exempted, for most in-person retail food and consumer goods transactions, and to not charge higher prices than for another form of payment. The requirement would not apply to a number of situations, such as transactions by mail, phone or over the internet; those when an employee is not present, such as at a kiosk; for transactions in which a deposit is required or for over $200 in a single transaction; or to businesses providing a device to convert cash to a prepaid card. The Executive branch will be required to analyze enforcement and implementation mechanisms and make a recommendation to the Council on an enforcement mechanism and any other implementation measures by December 1, 2024. The law will take effect on July 1, 2025.

To acknowledge safety concerns raised during the committee hearings, retailers will be able to apply to the Hearing Examiner for an exemption from the requirement to accept cash based on the unique hardships a retailer faces, including but not limited to history of theft, distance to a banking institution, home-based businesses, and businesses with only one employee on site at a time.

It’s unclear how many businesses in unincorporated King County have gone cashless, but Kohl-Welles intends the legislation to serve as a proactive tool to protect consumer access as this trend continues.

Of those who still use cash for most purchases, the largest shares are people of color and those with the lowest incomes, according to data from the Pew Research Center.

The legislation garnered a wide range of community support, including endorsements from the ACLU; ARC of King County; Asian Counseling and Referral Services; Banchero Disability Partners; Be: Seattle; CAIR-WA; Chief Seattle Club; El Centro de la Raza; Faith Action Network; Indian American Community Services; King County Sexual Assault Resource Center; League of Women Voters; Low Income Housing Institute; MAPS-AMEN (American Muslim Empowerment Network); Northwest Immigrant Rights Project; Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action; Purpose, Dignity, Action (Public Defenders Association); Rainier Beach Action Coalition; Real Change; Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness; Solid Ground; Transit Riders Union; UFCW 3000; and the White Center Community Development Association.

Legislation to address this issue has already been passed in New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and the states of Colorado, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. At the federal level, the bipartisan Payment Choice Act was passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives last year and has not yet been acted upon by the Senate. In addition to this Act, a similar Senate bill has also garnered bipartisan sponsorship.

“[Our vendors] ask you to allow [those] in unincorporated King County to buy a cup of coffee,” said Tiffani McCoy, Advocacy Director at Real Change. “To buy a bagel. To buy lunch. To buy diapers. To purchase whatever it is that they need.”

In response to the final action on the legislation, which included the addition of several amendments, Kohl-Welles said, “To produce meaningful change, compromise is often necessary, and contrary to the popular maxim, the perfect is not the enemy of the good. Even so, as amended, this legislation will promote the equity that our county holds to be its true north, helping real people, many of whom are too often overlooked, to live and engage in commerce in a way that works for them.”

Among those voting “no” was the Councilmember who represents this area, Joe McDermott.

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VIDEO: Who will be your next County Councilmember? 2 candidates answer 34th District Democrats’ questions at forum

June 12th, 2023 Tracy Posted in Politics, White Center news Comments Off on VIDEO: Who will be your next County Councilmember? 2 candidates answer 34th District Democrats’ questions at forum

(Also published on partner site West Seattle Blog)

(WCN photo: King County Council District 8 candidates Teresa Mosqueda and Sofia Aragon)

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

With ballots going out one month from today, the start of primary-election voting is fast approaching.

Our area’s highest-profile elected local position will be on the primary ballot without an incumbent. Saturday afternoon, the 34th District Democrats held a forum for that race – King County Council District 8 – as a prelude to their endorsement voting this Wednesday.

We recorded video and took as-it-happened notes. Vying for the seat that County Councilmember Joe McDermott is leaving after 13 years are at-large Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda and Burien Mayor Sofia Aragon. They shared the stage for 45 minutes at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center in North Delridge. (Participation was limited to candidates eligible for the 34th DDs’ endorsements, as spelled out here; the third candidate who filed for the seat is Goodspaceguy.)

34th DDs’ chair Graham Murphy welcomed attendees and Chris Porter moderated. First, here’s our video:

For those who don’t want to – or have time to – watch the video, we also summarized their replies. Take note that our summaries do not represent everything they said, nor are they direct quotes unless you see words/phrases/sentences within quotation marks. We’re summarizing the questions, too.

First, Porter asked a sort of icebreaker: Name your favorite food in District 8 (which also includes Burien, West Seattle, Vashon Island, and more).

Aragon: Tung Kee Mi Gia.

Mosqueda: Marination.

Then, opening statements.

Aragon: Running because she “wants all county residents to thrive.” She grew up in South Seattle and then her family moved to unincorporated KC for affordable housing. Like her mom, she became a registered nurse. That “taught me to be an advocate for others.” She advocated in Olympia. “Strong public policy creates opportunity.” She took a stand against hate as Burien mayor and works to collaborate with the county. She also tries to promote “respectful debate” on the Burien Council.

Mosqueda: Lives “just four blocks away” (from Youngstown). She spent much of the introduction time talking about endorsements she’s received so far. “They have seen me in action.” She says she is running for this position “to invest in our health” – which she says is a county focus. “We can do more to invest in the health and well-being” of county residents.

Question: Homelessness remains a crisis and hasn’t been effectively addressed. What new solutions will you offer? Are sweeps effective?

Aragon: Burien has an emergency (like other cities). The council is “hands-on.” There’s a “really significant gap in emergency housing.” Burien has promoted some forms of housing but needs more emergency housing, a “transitional place” so people can access services too.

Mosqueda: The solution is “housing and health services.” She touts her track record of housing investments. “The solution is additional housing .. sweeps traumatize people .. we know from human-service providers it’s so difficult to find these folks again” (once swept) and to “get them off the street. The solution is getting people off the street.” She would vote against sweeps as a county councilmember.

Question: The King County Regional Homelessness Authority’s progress has been questioned and it’s in some turmoil. Will you continue to support it (given comments made by its departing CEO)?

Mosqueda: She and other city councilmembers supported creating it. Homelessness is a regional crisis. City has been largest contributor to KCRHA. At county council, she will continue supporting it – investing in the human-service workforce, too, as they are underpaid. That will help ensure “a safety net that is strong.” She also supports tiny houses.

Aragon: She has worked with KCRHA CEO in the Burien situation and appreciates the organization’s availability to help coordinate. “We had great conversations around sanctioned encampments” and (KCRHA CEO Marc) Dones said the data doesn’t show good outcomes from them, so Burien is not supporting them. Many nonprofits are at the table and need better coordination to collaborate.

Followup: Porter recaps Marc Dones’ comments on KCRHA not doing enough on root causes and presses for the candidates’ observations on that.

Mosqueda: “Systemic racism is absolutely part of the reason” for homelessness and low pay for human-service providers. A “disproportionate number of people of color are homeless.” Unable to build generational wealth. “That’s why housing instability is so prevalent among people of color.”

Aragon: “Unhoused peopole are at a crisis in their lives and we have to think about what are the factors that put them there.” That “goes back to education, jobs” … she teaches about health as a registered nurse, and notes that “community conditions” and behaviors have a great effect too. She appreciates Dones’s comments.

Question: Housing is increasingly unaffordable in KC. What needs to change to make more affordable housing, especially for people making under $20 an hour?

Aragon: “There’s been a lot of progress in standing up affordable housing … (they’re using) four models in Burien” including equity building with Habitat and ecoTHRIVE. Current legislation to maximize land we have, two or three houses instead of one per lot.

Mosqueda: Housing has been unaffordable for years for 2/3 of King County households. This is a crisis. More people need to be able to live near where they work. She asked a West Seattle business owner who “looked at a parking lot across the street’ and told her it should be housing so their workers could be close. Market not picking up housing for 0 to 50 percent mean income. Incentives for density.

Question: Seattle, Tukwila, Seatac have higher minimum wages (than state/federal). What should the minimum be in KC including unincorporated areas?

Mosaueda: While working as a labor advocate, she worked for years on the minimum-wage issue. Touts track record to support those increases. That supports businesses and local economy. KC doesn’t necessarily have jurisdiction to raise everywhere but hopes for investments in good economic opportunities for all. The county itself also should be a good employer.

Aragon: We need to secure a living wage for everyone. Everyone needs to be at the table when we talk about this. Burien for example is mostly small businesses. Need to discuss how to get to living wage.

Followup: (since neither had directly named a number) What would that wage be?

Mosqueda: Get it closer to $20. Even in Seattle, the minimum is not keeping page with inflation. We should look at the “actual minimum” right now, which is actually more like $35.

Aragon: (still not naming a sum) She’s running a nonprofit as executive director. She appreciates unions speaking to elected leaders.

Question: Earlier this week, the Seattle City Council voted down a proposal to match city law with the state’s new drug-possession law, with Mosaueda among the “no” votes. King County Prosecutor is not going to prosecute. How should these cases be addressed?

Aragon: I’ve had conversations. “We want a uniform policy across the state. It is inefficient and creates gaps when one entity is different.” Public safety is local government’s job. “We need to do everything we can to address this epidemic.”

Mosqueda: There does need to be unanimity across the state. But the city does not have to mirror that. Three examples in recent history where state made changes in gross misdemeanor and cities didn’t have to change their laws. Need to have a dialogue with prosecutor. We have better return on our investment “when we treat addiction like the public-health crisis it is.”

Followup: Years ago, then-Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes put out a statement that the city would deprioritize marijuana enforcement. Remaining tickets still mostly went to black/brown folks. Does that disturb you?

Aragon: We’re talking about bias in the system. During COVID, that was a factor too. “We have to work as a county to root out what that bias is.”

Mosqueda: The reason she voted no is “precisely because of the disproportionate affects on people of color. Addiction affects people who are housed and unhoused.” But the legislation was just to target open public consumption, so it would only have exacerbated effects on POC. The solution is harm reduction.

Question: What is your biggest environmental concern in KC and what about the disproportionate effects of climate-change/environmental problems on BIPOC people?

Mosqueda: Cars are the biggest problem. For housing I am concerned with people being able to get to work without using cars. Focused on building affordable housing closer to work. More ways to help people get around without cars, even to visit places like Vashon. Wants to increase access to Water Taxi all day long.

Aragon: Burien was one of the first cities to pass a climate action plan. Carbon emissions come from homes too. We are prioritizing funding to help people modernize – heat pumps, for example. Promoting electric cars. Just launched RapidRide H Line. Need to really understand impact of environmental problems on human health. Burien is an airport community. Must be aware of impact That’s why we preserve greenspaces.

Last question: How can Public Health – Seattle & King County prepare for next pandemic?

Aragon: As a smaller city of 52,000 people, Burien pushed to make sure there’s data for all communities and which strategies worked. Pop-up clinics became important. She serves on governor’s Public Health Advisory Board, first time a city rep has been involved. “We need to look really hard at public-health system …” to be sure it truly promotes equity.

Mosqueda: Health is her passion in public policy. “We were on the front line across the globe” during the pandemic. “We had made investments in an actual footprint …. that model served us very well” … she’ll
invest in expanding PHSKC footprint for more services. She wants to see a Public Health District.

Then, closing statements.

Aragon: The unincorporated area where she lived long ago is actually modern day Issaquah and Sammamish. Investment can determine whether “area thrives or simply survives.” Role of local government is public safety, public health, prevention

Mosqueda: She wants to move to county council to focus on directly investing in publiv health – committed that “every single piece of policy … I will continue to prioritize the social determinantns of health” – economic resilience for small businesses, workers with good living wage jobs

34th District Democrats members will vote on their endorsements Wednesday. If you’re not registered to vote yet, there’s plenty of time – here’s how.

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Question for your state legislators before Tuesday’s online town hall? Send it now!

March 10th, 2023 Tracy Posted in Politics, White Center news Comments Off on Question for your state legislators before Tuesday’s online town hall? Send it now!

With another six weeks to go for the State Legislature, our area’s three legislators are planning an online town hall Tuesday (March 14th) for updates and Q&A.

State Senator Joe Nguyen and State Representatives Joe Fitzgibbon and Emily Alvarado represent the 34th Legislative District, which includes White Center. They’ll be online live at 6:30 pm Tuesday, on YouTube via the WA Senate Democrats and WA House Democrats channels, as well as on their social-media pages. (No call-in option, though.) You can send questions in advance now – use this form. (Want to know what each legislator has sponsored so far this year? Use this search.)

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ELECTION 2023: Burien Mayor Sofia Aragon registers campaign for King County Council District 8

February 3rd, 2023 Tracy Posted in Election, King County, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on ELECTION 2023: Burien Mayor Sofia Aragon registers campaign for King County Council District 8

(Also published on partner site West Seattle Blog)

The first declared candidate for King County Council District 8 is currently on the Seattle City Council; now we have a second candidate, who’s currently on the Burien City Council. We’re frequently checking the state list of people registering election campaigns, and this afternoon it had an addition: Burien Mayor Sofia Aragon, registering a campaign for the County Council seat that Joe McDermott is leaving after a decade-plus. Burien’s mayor is chosen by fellow councilmembers; Aragon has held the title since last year, and has been on the council since 2020. Two years before that, she ran for 34th District State Senator, finishing fourth in a primary field of 11. The City of Burien website describes Aragon as “a registered nurse and attorney (who) worked in Olympia for over a decade to advocate for affordable and accessible health care, protecting public health, workplace safety, and ensuring differing opinions are included when developing public policy.” She currently is executive director of the Washington Center for Nursing (Burien city councilmembers serve part time). The field for the County Council race won’t be final until the official filing week in mid-May; the August 1st primary will send the top two finishers to the November primary.

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ELECTION 2023: Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda is first candidate announcing run for King County Council District 8

February 2nd, 2023 Tracy Posted in Election, King County, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on ELECTION 2023: Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda is first candidate announcing run for King County Council District 8

(Also published at partner site West Seattle Blog)

(WCN/WSB photo by Patrick Sand)

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.

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POLITICS: 34th District Democrats’ leadership election

January 11th, 2023 Tracy Posted in Politics, White Center news 1 Comment »

(Also published on partner site West Seattle Blog)

After two years as chair of our area’s biggest political organization, the 34th District Democrats, Carla Rogers watched tonight as her successor was elected.

Graham Murphy (right) is now the 34th DDs’ chair, winning the only contested seat of the night; David Toledo also ran for the spot. Murphy promised to lead the group forward as it prepares for two key election years – with an open City Council seat this year, and a presidential race next year.

Others elected at tonight’s online meeting:

1st Vice Chair – Rachel Glass
2nd Vice Chair – Jordan Crawley
State Party Representative – Chris Porter
State Party Representative – Roxanne Thayer
King County Central Committee Representative Bunny Hatcher, Leah Griffin (alternate)
King County Central Committee Representative – Ted Barker, Preston Anderson (alternate)
Treasurer – Julie Whitaker
Secretary – Steve Butts

ENDORSEMENTS: The 34th DDs voted to support passage of Seattle Initiative 135, the “social housing” measure that is the only thing on Seattle ballots for the February 14th special election. (White Center/North Highline have nothing this time around.)

Also endorsed: Longtime 34th DDs member Chris Porter, in his bid for re-election as a King Conservation District supervisor. This is an entirely different election that’ll be held online, with three weeks of voting starting January 24th.

APRIL ELECTION? While votes were counted in the chair contest, the group heard from two elected officials – King County Executive Dow Constantine and County Councilmember Joe McDermott – who both mentioned the behavioral-health levy that’s expected to go to King County voters in April.

The 34th District Democrats meet second Wednesdays of most months – watch for updates at

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ELECTION 2022: Vote by Tuesday!

November 6th, 2022 Tracy Posted in Election, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on ELECTION 2022: Vote by Tuesday!

If you haven’t returned your ballot yet, you’re running out of time. You need to either get it into USPS mail ASAP, so that it’s postmarked by Tuesday, or get it into a King County Elections dropbox by 8 pm (sharp!) Tuesday night – White Center has one, outside the library (1409 SW 107th).

One big local issue on the ballot is the Highline Public Schools bond measure, Proposition 1. It would raise half a billion dollars for projects including a new Evergreen High School.

Also big: An open seat in our area’s state legislative delegation. Rep. Eileen Cody is retiring; Emily Alvarado and Leah Griffin are the two finalists for Cody’s seat, 34th Legislative District House Position 1. Here are video interviews we published recently on partner site West Seattle Blog – first video below is Griffin, second is Alvarado:

Griffin and Alvarado also were at last month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting; here’s our report.

The ballot also includes a King County charter amendment that would change elections, moving County Executive, County Councilmembers, County Assessor, and Elections Director to even-numbered years. Plus there’s a King County levy proposal, the Conservation Futures Levy.

Besides those issues, the ballot includes U.S. House, U.S. Senate, two other 34th Legislative District races, Secretary of State, King County Prosecutor, and 17 judicial positions, only two of which are contested. Two state advisory measures are on the ballot too. Not registered to vote but eligible? You can still do that in person Monday or Tuesday. But if you are already registered and waiting to fill out your ballot, don’t wait any longer!

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State House candidates, school levy, more @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council this Thursday

October 3rd, 2022 Tracy Posted in North Highline UAC, Politics, White Center news 2 Comments »

The biggest local races on next month’s ballot will be the highlight of Thursday’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting. Here’s the announcement:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting
October 6, 7 pm – Via Zoom

NHUAC is pleased to be hosting a forum for the candidates for the 34th Legislative District, Leah Griffin and Emily Alvarado. This is a great opportunity to hear from the candidates and ask questions on issues that impact our lives in North Highline/White Center.

Additionally, we will be joined by Deputy Bill Kennamer who will provide information on crime trends and Vickie Fisher, who will provide information on the Highline School District Levy.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 894 4172 0967
Passcode: NHUAC2022 (Case Sensitive)

Or by Phone: 253 215 8782
Meeting ID: 894 4172 0967

Passcode: 758440156

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ELECTION 2022: Voting is about to begin

July 13th, 2022 Tracy Posted in Election, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on ELECTION 2022: Voting is about to begin

checkbox.jpgKing County Elections announced today that the ballots for the August 2nd primary are in the mail – so voting is about to begin. No ballot measures for our area, but there are races to narrow down – including U.S. Senate, U.S. House District 7, Secretary of State, 34th District State Senator and 34th District State House Position 1, which has no incumbent as longtime State Rep. Eileen Cody is retiring. You can see all the candidates listed, with links to their websites, here. You can send your ballot back by postal mail, as long as it’s postmarked by August 2nd, or take it to an official dropbox (here’s where to find them – including the one outside White Center Library). Not registered? It’s not too late – go here.

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ELECTION 2022: 34th District State House contenders debate tonight

May 26th, 2022 Tracy Posted in Politics, White Center news Comments Off on ELECTION 2022: 34th District State House contenders debate tonight

The fields are set for the August primary. The marquee local race in our area this time around will be for 34th District State House Position 1, from which Rep. Eileen Cody is retiring after more than a quarter-century. The first debate/forum in the race is tonight (May 26th), 6:30 pm online, with the 34th District Democrats and West Seattle Democratic Women hosting the two Democrats who are running, Emily Alvarado (left) and Leah Griffin (right). 34th DDs chair Carla Rogers says all are welcome to attend; register here to get the link. In addition to being a public forum, this also is a prelude to the 34th DDs’ endorsement meeting, which Rogers says is set for June 8th.

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WEDNESDAY: 34th District Democrats’ first meeting of 2022

January 11th, 2022 Tracy Posted in Politics, White Center news 1 Comment »

Our area’s largest political organization has its first meeting of the new year Wednesday night (January 12th), online. Here’s the plan for the 34th District Democrats‘ meeting:

Agenda – January 12, 2022
6:30 pre-program
7:30 call to order

6:30 pm – Zoom opens for pre-meeting program: NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) presentation on the effects of the pandemic on mental health

7:30 pm – Call to Order

Opening Ceremonies (15m)
Approval of Agenda and Minutes (2m)
Budget and Membership Report (10m)

Membership Vote: Schools First Capital Levies Donation

Division of Holiday Gifts Budget

Candidate Spotlight (6m)

Judge Kuljinder Dhillon

King Conservation District Supervisor Kirsten Haugen

2021 34th LD Democrats Awards Presentation (20m)

Announcements (10m)
Resolution to Consider (10m)
Executive Board Election (5m)
Good of the Order
Adjourn 9 pm

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VIDEO: King County Executive candidates answer questions @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

October 9th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, Politics, White Center news Comments Off on VIDEO: King County Executive candidates answer questions @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

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(Added: Video of the full NHUAC meeting, including the forum)

With the start of general-election voting just days away, most of this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting was devoted to a “town hall”-style forum featuring the two candidates for King County Executive. We’ll report the rest of the meeting separately, but want to note first that incumbent County Executive Dow Constantine and challenger State Senator Joe Nguyen have another online forum tonight (7 pm Saturday, presented by the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, viewable (updated link) here).

On Thursday night, NHUAC’s Liz Giba moderated the forum, opening it by explaining that the organization does not endorse candidates and is focused on White Center and the surrounding unincorporated areas. She also noted that both candidates live in north West Seattle. Below is our recap – the questions and answers are reported as our summarizing/paraphrasing rather than exact quotes, except what’s within quotation marks.

****QUESTION: Both were invited to introduce themselves including where they were born and educational/employment background.

CONSTANTINE: Born at Swedish Hospital, lives in the same West Seattle neighborhood where he’s lived his whole life. He graduated from West Seattle High School and is a UW graduate , law school too. Qualifications: Lawyer, state legislator, county councilmember “and I think I’ve proved my ability to get difficult things done.” He touted the COVID response, responses to the climate crisis and entrenched racism, and more. “We’re moving forward with an agenda we’ve been pushing for years.” He also said the county’s been recognized for fiscal prudence.

NGUYEN: He was born at Virginia Mason Hospital, raised in White Center, graduated from Kennedy Catholic High School, went to Seattle University and has degrees in economics, finance, and humanities. He’s in analytics and strategy at Microsoft. He’s the first legislator of color in the 34th District. He talked about caring for his father after a disabling car crash, and the community giving back – “ever since then I felt compelled to serve the community at whatever level possible.” He says he’s part of “the most diverse Legislature in the history of Washington state.” But many issues “are at the local level.” He said he believes “talent is universal but opportunity is not.”

****QUESTION: King County just released the draft North Highline Sub-Area Plan, which appears to complete NH transition to a high-density neighborhood. In light of the analysis of Seattle’s urban-village strategy, which does not reduce BIPOC displacement, this is troubling: “Housing and equity are very connected.” Do you agree that King County should use findings of Seattle’s racial equity analysis to make decisions for NH? If not, what should be done?

NGUYEN: Hasn’t reviewed the analysis but believes more affordable housing is needed, more housing in general. But you also meed resources to mitigate growth – transit, utilities, etc. And how do you mitigate for possible displacement effects?

CONSTANTINE: This is a conversation we’ve been having for many years. You can’t be against displacement and against affordable housing. The development will keep coming … the plan was co-created with the community. What happened in West Seattle overwhelmed the intention – demand overran the supply. “We need not allow that to happen in White Center,” but aggressive action will be needed.

****QUESTION: In 2011, White Center CDA commissioned an opportunity analysis that found WC is a low-opportunity neighborhood. In 2015 King County named it a neighborhood of opportunity. But programs are not enough … Data shows North Highline with health challenges, poverty, child mortality, and other problems at a higher rate than West Seattle. (Stats were displayed.) Also some NH schools are majority poverty-level students, compared to schools in West Seattle. As executive, how can you assure NH students have the opportunity to achieve their potential?

CONSTANTINE: You have to focus on lifting up people in the community. That’s why we worked on a community-needs list, participatory budgeting, focusing on helping the White Center HUB project by transferring county-owned property … that’s also why North Highline (and Skyway) should be part of a city. Burien or Seattle. Tax base would provide urban services. Proud that through Best Starts for Kids we’ve been able to invest heavily, keep families from becoming homeless … “It’s my determination that we’re going to continue these kinds of investments. … We have to break loose of these historic racist realities.”

NGUYEN: Experienced the disparities firsthand, attending school in White Center. “Right now King County doesn’t have a dedicated office of economic development,” and that would help. “There are resources like Best Starts for Kids, nonprofits serving this area” … He repeats, “opportunity is lacking but talent is not,” as he has observed in his work with a nonprofit. “These are things that I experienced back in” (the ’80s).

****QUESTION: North Highline suffers from people experiencing “mental distress.” She brings up high-profile crimes, shooting, arson. “Gunshots are common. the sheriff’s office is underfunded, deputies are spread thin.” How as executive would you reduce crime, trauma, and related problems?

NGUYEN: Some of this is an effect of economic distress. Many calls are for non-criminal activity. Have community-safety officers to assist with noncriminal offenses … “so we can break that cycle and won’t see the same person over and over again.”

CONSTANTINE: “Many of these questions are why I created a Department of Local Services.” He said he came to the area the day after the shootings outside Taradise Café. Yes, having more community service officers is important, but also other kinds of responses, like community interveners. “It’s gotta be a multipronged approach.” He has two mental-health street teams and proposed funding for two more – at least one would circulate to areas such as White Center and Burien. He said he also came to the neighborhood after the Lumber Yard fire and that $108.000 has been provided to help, and additional resources are being identified to help the WC business district in this time of crisis.

****QUESTION: People in need are being segregated economically. I would like to hear both of you say you’ll correct that, to allow poor people to live in more affluent neighborhoods.

NGUYEN: Redlining is a reality. More density is a solution. Innovative anti-displacement strategies like community land trusts can help. More resources such as transit, job opportunities, would help too.

CONSTANTINE: Economic diversity is important to everyone. That’s a two-way street, it means protecting people from displacement even as outside economic pressures cause pressure. And in more affluent neighborhoods, cities need to make more room for more types of housing. Affluence, the way we’ve seen our region transform, are powerful forces.

At this point in the forum, Giba invited others to ask questions.

****Question from NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin: Development in her neighborhood has been haphazard. Lots have been clear-cut. What about the neighborhoods? Developers are calling every week seeking to buy property. How do we protect what we have?

CONSTANTINE: The Sub-Area Plan includes development standards. Some cities like Seattle have “much more refined standards for neighborhoods.” Touts his Land Conservation initiative. Mentions the new greenspace in Boulevard Park.

NGUYEN: Talks about a document to protect urban canopy. Development needs to be “mindful of how we protect our greenspaces.”

Following up, Giba mentions the White Center HUB plan proposes development in a forested area. “Is there some way to put it elsewhere?”

NGUYEN: He’s seen renderings and thinks it’s incorporating some of the landscape, but it’s not a bad spot (for the project) overall.

CONSTANTINE: He agrees that every razed lot is a lost opportunity. Plans need to address that.

****Question from NHUAC’s Pat Price: The new greenspace (that Constantine mentioned) is on the edge of South Park, practically in Seattle. A study conducted over a decade ago suggested that White Center could improve access to and availability of parks. We haven’t heard more about what’s possible. What about all that land off Myers Way? Any plans to do something there?

CONSTANTINE: Park acquisition id “kind of my jam.” Department of Natural Resoures and Parks is “very focused on our service to NH” – he mentioned the recently spotlighted program to hire more people experiencing homelessness to do park cleanup. No new info on parkland negotiations. But see the Sub-Area Plan – “White Center needs more greenspace,” and that will be done “in lockstep with the community.”

****Question from WC resident Sabina regarding the Land Use Plan and zoning amendment: Doesn’t adequately address some issues, such as the west side of White Center (28th/30th/Roxbury) – street infrastructure is subpar – if the density there is going to double, it’s poor urban planning. Nothing in Sub-Area Plan will addresses how those blocks are going to get needed infrastructure. This will exacerbate inequality.

NGUYEN: Agrees that lack of sidewalks is a problem, says state has a package that would fund them in unincorporated areas. “Not only is it a safety issue but also an efficiency issue.”

CONSTANTINE: That infrastructure is part of draft Community Needs List, awaiting more community discussion and input. Good to hear the state might fund unincorporated-area sidewalks, which are badly needed. In addition, “we are focused on some pretty significant investments.” Mentions RapidRide H Line is starting service next year.

****Question from Carmel: She’s a local business owner who works with many others. “We’ve really been hurting with the fires … best way to increase opportunity for business owners would be to join u at our table instead of telling us to come to yours.” Mentions a meeting the next day. Will you attend?

NGUYEN: Yes. My family had a business in that area (years ago).

CONSTANTINE: Will try to cancel a conflict and be there. Top county staffers including Local Services director John Taylor will be there.

****Question from community member Loretta: She feels like NH is more part of Burien than Seattle. Urges the candidates to keep their distance from the Seattle City Council. Meantime, “there’s so much crime out there,” she sees a need for consequences.

CONSTANTINE: He does try to keep his distance from the Seattle City Council, he said with laughter, saying that it includes “fine people” but he disagrees with some of their direction. Regarding crime, “what we’re seeking to do is” earlier intervention, with young people

NGUYEN: Lot of programs are available now that didn’t used to be – need to address ohn a systemic basis.

Both agree more behavioral-health investment is needed.

****Question from Mark from Skyway: Concerned about corruption, vaccine hesitancy, and more in Sheriff’s Office. Sees a lack of concern among deputies for urban unincorporated areas. Since the next Exec will be in charge of the sheriff, please address.

CONSTANTINE: Looking forward to dealing with some of the challenges. Sheriff’s Office has funding challenges, a lot of vacancies. “We need to focus in making sure we have a smooth transition to a new sheriff,” and one who leads the transformation of policing. Need better response times but don’t confuse that with response types – there are calls that don’t require uniformed police fficer.

NGUYEN: Need true accountability. Next Sheriff should be able to hold folks accountable and transform the way things are done.

****Question from Marissa: Speaking as a coalition coordinator, regarding youths’ behavioral health – school practitioners say there’s a big need for behavioral health services for youth, increased by the pandemic. There’s money being spent on it but how is it really supporting the need for services in schools? There’s a big difference between saying there’s a community partner, and having someone being able to get into services. Students are getting referred but can’t always access services. How can we plan for the short-term imminent need for these services in schools, and what are you doing right now?

NGUYEN: State allocated about $300 million. But how we fund schools is inequitable. Meeting with Seattle and Highline school board members to talk about how this looks going forward.

CONSTANTINE: “A lot of these issues come back to the dire lack of behavioral health services” – this all started back in the ’80s, then in the Great Recession the state disinvested … the county’s been scrambling “to prop up this house of cards.” Best Starts for Kids helping. “I’m excited about (its) renewal.” But “we’ve inherited a terrible tax system … this economy could pay for everything we need to live healthy successful lives” but tax system is “grossly unfair.”

They wrapped up after about an hour and a holf. We’ll publish other notes from the meeting separately later today, and also plan to cover tonight’s County Executive forum. The NHUAC event was recorded but we haven’t found a link – if and when we do, we’ll add it.

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TOWN HALL: Talk with four of your elected representatives Sunday afternoon

May 1st, 2021 Tracy Posted in Politics, White Center news 1 Comment »

If you have questions about what’s happening/happened in the State Legislature and/or Congress, the 34th District Democrats are presenting a Town Hall at 1 pm Sunday afternoon with State Sen. Joe Nguyen, State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, State Rep. Eileen Cody, and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. You can send questions in advance via this link; no RSVP required for the event itself – here’s that link.

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YOU’RE INVITED: ‘The Elephant in the Democratic Party – Racism in Political Institutions’

March 4th, 2021 Tracy Posted in Online, Politics, White Center news 3 Comments »

From the 34th District Democrats:

March 27 (Saturday, 10:30-noon) we are presenting a special program called The Elephant in the Democratic Party – Racism in Political Institutions.

Our webpage:

Racism is alive and well in the Pacific Northwest and in liberal spaces. Join us for a 90-minute presentation which will cover the history of systemic racism in political institutions and Progressive policies, and how it continues today. As members and leaders in the Democratic Party, we will gain new tools on how we can listen, reflect, and engage in important conversations that are necessary as we continue the fight against racism.

Presented by Olgy Diaz, who serves as a PCO in the 29th Legislative District as well as on the Boards of Casa Latina, Institute for a Democratic Future, and the National Women’s Political Caucus of WA.

This is a FREE presentation offered to the community by the 34th Democrats.


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Leadership role for 34th District State Sen. Joe Nguyen

December 2nd, 2020 Tracy Posted in Politics, White Center news 2 Comments »

(Crossposted from partner site West Seattle Blog)

As the State Legislature gets ready for its mostly online session starting next month, legislators are choosing leaders, and one from our area has been chosen by his colleagues for a major role. 34th District Sen. Joe Nguyen has been elected as Assistant Floor Leader by the State Senate Democratic Caucus. The announcement explains, “The Assistant Floor Leader supports the Floor Leader in setting Senate floor agendas and works with bicameral and bipartisan leadership to facilitate discussion.” Sen. Nguyen is midway through his first 4-year term and also is on the Transportation, Environment, Energy & Technology, Rules, and Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation committees. The legislative session is set to start January 11th.

P.S. Sen. Nguyen is one of the guests at Thursday’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting.

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TONIGHT: Q&A with your state legislators, county councilmember

November 18th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Politics, White Center news 1 Comment »

6 pm tonight online (Wednesday, November 18th), State Sen. Joe Nguyen hosts a Town Hall Q&A opportunity that will also include this area’s two other state legislators, Reps. Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon, as well as County Councilmember Joe McDermott (and West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember Lisa Herbold). The link for viewing/participating is here (passcode 921647).

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