A strong education system builds a strong state. When people have access to a high-quality education starting with K-12, people have a stronger chance of obtaining economic stability. In Washington, not all schools are meeting the challenge to build a strong foundation for success. Students of color and low-income students are disproportionately affected by the achievement or opportunity gap in Washington state. How will you reduce or eliminate the achievement gap and ensure that all people have access to a high quality education?
I will support increased funding for teachers and their professional development, smaller class sizes and universal kindergarten. Public private partnerships between businesses and schools can help to ensure that especially marginalized students will develop an understanding of the work place and what employers look for in applicants today.
Washingtonians need a strong infrastructure and the resources, critical investments, and community services to support a vibrant and inclusive community and economy. What changes will you propose to our state’s revenue structure to ensure that we can adequately invest in our communities?
As a Washingtonian Congressmen, I will fight for federal funding on projects that will benefit my constituents. Revamping federal tax code for a modern era, closing loopholes, and ensuring that the poorest among us do not pay a higher percentage of their income than the wealthiest among us will be among my top priorities.
3. SAFETY NET
A strong safety net is the foundation of a strong state and workforce. Programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and similar programs such as Housing Essential Needs and Aged Blind Disabled (HEN and ABD), are keeping many of our families, children, and disabled adults alive. What will you do to protect funding for basic need services that provide a safety net for Washington families?
We live in a social democracy; we have already agreed that we should care for the disenfranchised in our communities. TANF and other programs are drastically underrated and currently are not even 1% of the federal budget. I will support increases in TANF and will fight to maintain its current level of funding/reauthorization.
4. RACIAL JUSTICE
Institutional racism is a daily burden that our communities face when accessing housing, credit, the ballot box, and interfacing with the criminal justice system. This oppression is often codified in the rules, allowances and governance of these institutions as “business as usual” and creates significant consequences for people of color. What will you do to address the consequences of institutional racism that create barriers for our members’ ability to prosper?
Manufactured problems like the drug war, alleged voter fraud provide political cover for conservatives to lash out against minorities and contribute to a lack of affordable housing and educational opportunities. I am pro-marijuana legalization and so are the majority of Washingtonians. This policy can curtail discrimination that occurs within the drug war.
Wages have stagnated while cost of living has increased, making it difficult for low income families to meet their basic needs. What would you do to help low income families support themselves?
I believe that a strong middle class being paid a minimum wage job pays down our deficit, finances our social safety net and can create a more equitably distributed society. A thriving middle class is not the product of a vibrant economy; it is the cause of a vibrant economy.
6. DEBT AND LENDING
Everyone, regardless of their income, should have fair and reasonable consumer protections when they borrow money. Fringe financial industries like debt settlement companies and predatory lenders push our communities into a cycle of debt. How would you protect Washingtonians’ ability to avoid this cycle of debt?
The finance industry has run amok in recent years ever since the abolishment of the Glass-Steagall Act. Curtailing predatory lending on Wall St and on Main St is a key culture shift that needs to take place immediately. I will promote the work of consumer protection advocates like Elizabeth Warren and Washington’s Patty Murray.
7. CRIMINAL JUSTICE
People leaving the criminal justice system face many roadblocks to reentering their community. This includes housing and employment discrimination and mounting debt from legal financial obligations. What changes would you make to the criminal justice system? Please include any ideas you have to reduce these roadblocks to reentry.
I would support reevaluating which crimes receive felony sentences and the ability of convicted non-violent felons to vote. There are various obstacles in housing and in employment that should be mitigated by treating felons like the humans they are.
8. HEALTH CARE
Health and well-being is critical for all Washingtonians to thrive. Everyone should have high quality, essential health care services including reproductive health and preventative medicine. What will you do to ensure that all Washingtonians have access to affordable, high quality, and culturally appropriate health care?
The Affordable Care Act is the right step forward at this time. Yes, there are issues, but they are issues that can be and will be overcome. Fostering a cultural shift away from reactionary medicine to preventative care will have a significant and lasting impact on Americans and Washingtonians’ health.