What I care about, what I’ve done, and where we go from here

Immigrants & Refugees

Seattle’s immigrant and refugee communities will continue to face added challenges and opportunities in the coming four years. The election of Donald Trump as our 45th President has only strengthened my resolve to continue to advocate for Seattle’s immigrant and refugee communities. One of every five Seattle residents is foreign born. Immigrants and refugees add value to our culture and economy. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, Washington’s population grew by an estimated 40,000 unauthorized residents between 2009-2014, making our state just one of six states with a growing unauthorized population as national numbers have declined. The fear of being unfairly targeted is supported by President Trump’s “Contract with the American Voter,” which includes several anti-immigrant actions in the first 100 days, including deporting millions of unauthorized people, restricting entry to the U.S. from “terror prone regions,” and canceling President Obama’s executive order that provides thousands of DREAMers relief from our archaic immigration laws. Japanese internment camps have also been used to justify a proposed Muslim registry. Phony stickers have appeared throughout Seattle falsely advertising, “rewards paid for information leading to the arrest of illegal immigrants,” carrying the Department of Homeland Security emblem as well as the ICE website, ICE.gov. President Trump’s campaign promises necessitate the creation of a legal defense fund to protect families at risk of being torn apart by unjust and shortsighted immigration policies. If re-elected, I will work to create a legal defense fund because Seattle must be a role model for justice, compassion, and opportunity for all members of our society.

Safe Communities

As chair of the Council Committee on Gender Equity, Safe Communities & New Americans, public safety remains a top priority. During the 2017 city budget, I advocated for several key public safety investments. The City’s 2017 budget now allocates new resources needed to help make our city a safer place. Major public safety investments include $491,000 for mobile advocates for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, $75,000 to establish a Chinatown/International District public safety coordinator, $20,000 for culturally and linguistically competent public safety surveys for the Chinatown/International District neighborhood, a proviso for community engagement regarding Body-Worn Video (body cameras) funding, and the creation of a special task force on South Park neighborhood public safety and livability.

I am committed to continuing my work to provide greater accountability and oversight when it comes to our police force. Last year, the City submitted proposed police reform legislation to the U.S. Federal Court. Earlier this year, the federal judge approved the City’s ability to legislate a police accountability ordinance that would (1) make the Community Police Commission permanent, (2) create a new Office of Inspector General and (3) increase civilian staffing at the Office of Professional Accountability. Community has been demanding this type of legislation for years and this will be the year that the City Council, under my leadership, will take a broad view at our police accountability system with an eye towards implementing systemic change that will lead to sustainable bias-free and constitutional policing.

I am also committed to continuing to work with neighborhoods to ensure we have enough police officers and that we have the best-trained officers to ensure we are meeting the needs of our communities. This year the City will be evaluating the resurrection of it’s Community Service Officer program, which was retired almost 20 years ago. The CSO program, if reinstituted, would assign non-essential law enforcement functions to civilians so that we can free up our sworn officers to focus on addressing serious crimes.

Lastly, I was also pleased that the Council was able to pass two new measures to address gun violence throughout the city. The first measure would create a gun violence tax on the sellers of firearms and ammunition to fund gun violence prevention programs and the second would require the mandatory reporting of lost or stolen firearms. We all know that senseless gun violence has no place in our city and I will continue the fight to keep firearms out of the hands of those who may be a danger to themselves and others.

Working Families & Paid Family Leave

Over the past two years I have worked tirelessly to ensure that Seattle’s booming economy benefits all its residents and workers. Our city and region are leading the nation with progressive minimum wage laws that will provide many of our working class the opportunity to work their way into the middle class. In 2014 Seattle became one of the first major cities to implement a $15 per hour minimum wage. As a councilmember, I co-sponsored Seattle’s new secure scheduling law, which guarantees certain hourly workers two-weeks notice of any schedule changes, a minimum of 10 hours between shifts, and a pathway for existing part-time workers to work additional hours. In September, the city council unanimously passed the secure scheduling law making Seattle the second major city in the U.S. to pass this law. The city council also endorsed Initiative 124, which will greatly improve working conditions and require sexual assault protections for Seattle’s hotel workers, many of whom are immigrant women.

But we must do more to provide economic security to our working families. This year, together with labor, business and worker advocates, I will be pushing for a paid parental and family leave policy for all Seattle workers. Our city is a national leader on progressive policy and we must lead the charge when it comes to combating workplace gender equity. Seattle workers must have the support they deserve when they adopt, birth or foster a child or when a family member becomes seriously ill.

Further, I want to continue to grow our economy by working with both the business community and workers to ensure we have family wage jobs in all parts of the city. Our economy is booming but many are still being left behind. We need to support local small businesses, especially women and minority-owned businesses, to promote greater equity and to diversify our economy for the long term.

Housing Affordability

We must continue to ensure that everyone in Seattle has fair access to affordable housing. Thanks to legislation passed by the city council in August, landlords will no longer be able to discriminate against working class people based on income source or give special incentives to employees of large corporations. The legislation also requires that landlords accept all housing vouchers and rent to the first qualified individual who applies. I am also grateful to Seattle voters who overwhelmingly supported the doubling of Seattle’s housing levy to $290 million. The passage of the housing levy means we are on track to produce and preserve 2,150 affordable housing units and assist 4,500 homeless families and individuals.

Although we’ve done much to address Seattle’s housing crisis there is still much to be done. As more people are drawn to our vibrant neighborhoods and booming economy, many working families will continue to struggle with finding affordable housing. That is why the city council, along with the Mayor, commissioned the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) advisory committee in the fall of 2015. I continue to support many of the HALA’s recommendations, including changes to zoning laws to support smart growth in neighborhoods served my mass transit.


Thanks to the voters of Seattle the Move Seattle Levy was overwhelmingly passed in 2015. The revenue generated from this measure will help our economy and invest long term in the health and safety of our city’s transportation system. The new funding is balanced with a commitment to multimodal, bike and pedestrian infrastructure and will help ensure out transportation system is interconnected and that goods and services move throughout our city seamlessly. I was also proud to support ST3 this past year, which will help provide traffic relief regionally and ensure long-term economic viability.

We have more to do to ensure we continue to meet the needs of neighborhoods throughout the city. Investments in sidewalks and other alternative modes of transportation continue to remain a priority for me and I look forward to working with leaders throughout our region to meet our pressing transportation needs.

Protecting LGBTQ Youth, Civil Rights & Homelessness

One of the accomplishments that I am most proud of was sponsoring and passing legislation that would ban the horrendous practice of so-called conversion therapy for minors in the City. The legislation, which I worked to author with the input of the LGBTQ community, adds a new chapter to the City’s human rights code that prohibits licensed mental health providers from engaging in conversion therapy on children. The law creates a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for those who engage in this harmful practice. Seattle joins Cincinnati, Miami Beach and Washington DC as the fourth city to ban gay conversion therapy.

Prior to joining the Council I worked as a civil rights attorney fighting for the rights of those who have been disenfranchised. I want to continue this work on the council by working to address social inequities when it comes to homelessness and other critical issues facing our city. I love Seattle. It is an amazing place to live and work but we can continue to do better. Just over one year ago the city announced a state of emergency when it comes to our homelessness crisis. We must continue to improve how we deal with our unsheltered neighbors, including the growth of unsanctioned encampments. It is unacceptable that we have more than 3,000 people – many of whom are women and children – living outside. I continue to be committed to a “Housing First” model, addressing known inefficiencies in our emergency shelter system and increasing accountability for city-funded services.

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