As we emerge from the pandemic and witness the dysfunction at the federal level it is even more important that Washington state leaders are focused on service to their communities. We are at a pivotal moment and I have worked hard to address the most pressing issues impacting the 34th District – like funding basic needs programs, working to alleviate climate change, and tackling the root causes associated with homelessness. However, there is still a great need in our communities and much more work to do.
Increasing Public Safety
Our current system does not work. We need to be proactive instead of reactive to truly address issues with public safety.
One of the fundamental problems is that we continue to ask our peace officers to do too much.
Public safety is an outcropping of rampant inequality, underinvestment in communities, not having adequate resources for everything from schools and public transportation to access to nutritious food. Officers and other frontline workers are then tasked with the impossible job of dealing with the fallout of a broken system.
We can address public safety by investing in people’s basic needs, funding behavioral and mental health services and making investment to train law enforcement officials so we all can have a safe and accountable system.
Addressing Climate Change
The drivers of climate change in Washington are well-known: emissions from transportation and our building stock. Both are responsible for the overwhelming majority of greenhouse gas pollution in our state. While we’ve made progress on these issues at the state level, passing a clean fuels standard, the climate commitment act and other climate policies that will lower emissions,
Washington state must continue to lead the fight against climate change given inaction at the federal level.
- Reduce the disproportionate health impacts in communities of color by prioritizing investments into clean energy infrastructure that brings down emissions, like expanding public transportation access to get people out of their cars and into multi-modal transit alternatives.
- Incentivize environmental stewardship and create good-paying jobs by investing in renewable energy manufacturing and siting facilities in Washington state.
- Prevent additional contamination of our water and air by investing in our stormwater and runoff prevention infrastructure to make it more resilient and prioritize those systems serving communities of color bearing the brunt of the pollution in our state.
Gun Violence Prevention
For years, there’s been an epidemic raging in the state that elected leaders have not done nearly enough to address: gun violence. Just as we came together to act with urgency to slow the spread of COVID-19, we can bring public health officials, community leaders, and healthcare providers together to end this epidemic. The communities bearing the overwhelming brunt of this violence have been clamoring for help for far too long.
Our response to COVID-19 has proven that local government can act swiftly and effectively to keep people safe. My proposed response to the epidemic of gun violence focuses on 5 key strategies to treat the epidemic of gun violence like the public health crisis that it is:
- Fully funding community-resource centers to support traumatized victims of gun violence and help provide the economic and emotional stability they need to live safe lives.
- Make sustained investments in meeting people’s basic needs.The map of where firearm homicides are most commonstrongly correlates with the map of how impoverished or under-resourced an area is, and experts have shown that poor social mobility is linked to higher rates of gun violence. Investing in people, especially during childhood, will reduce gun violence.
- Provide permanent, safe, and readily available housing for those imminently at-risk of gun violenceto interrupt the cycle of conflict before it becomes deadly. People who live with an individual who poses a threat to them or are involved in conflicts in their neighborhoods need a safe option to remove themselves from those situations. By ensuring people have a safe place to stay temporarily until that conflict can be resolved, we can prevent gun violence and avert needless tragedy.
- Dramatically scale up investmentsin community-based violence prevention organizations with dependable, recurring revenue — not just one-time grants of emergency federal aid. This epidemic long predates COVID-19, and the organizations doing the essential work of preventing violence in our communities should not have to spend their energy fighting for scraps. If we’re truly prioritizing preventing violent crime, our budget must reflect those priorities.
- Relentless advocacyto enact common sense gun safety legislation. We’ve made some progress in recent years notably phasing out high-capacity magazines and I believe assault style weapons should also be prohibited.
Housing Affordability and Homelessness
Study after study has told us what it will take to address this situation, and what we need now are more leaders who will act with urgency and be accountable to solve one of the most important issues in our state.
We must move from a reactive system that only addresses the problem once it’s too late, to one that is proactive.
- Quickly expand emergency housing options, which are not replacements for permanent housing but a means to help individuals find a safe place inside to get back on their feet.
- Invest in proven solutions to help people get into housing with wraparound services that fit their needs through newly created programs like JustCare.
- Expand community-based substance use disorder and mental health treatment facilities.
- Work in coordination throughout the state and with our Regional Homelessness Authority along with community-based organizations to dramatically scale up the direct aid to people experiencing homelessness.
It is many times cheaper to keep someone housed than it is to get them out of homelessness. For this region to alleviate homelessness, we must stem the flow of individuals who become unhoused.
In fact, 75% of individuals experiencing homelessness are transitory and can be served by addressing basic needs to get them housed and stable.
To prevent more people from becoming unhoused we need to create permanent supportive and affordable housing to solve the root causes of the homelessness crisis.
No one person or jurisdiction can do this alone. It will require leaders with the urgency and humility to work together.