Sheley Secrest in the 37th
Sheley Secrest
Legislative District 37
Prefers Democratic Party

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?

When my youngest son faced placement in Special Education I had to fight like crazy to convince the school that he was talented, gifted and able to learn.  In my fight, I learned that I was not alone. I partnered with others who wanted to reform education and I was appointed by the Governor to serve [the rest of this candidate’s answers were cut off since they were over the 50 word limit].

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?

Close tax loopholes- The state must look at which corporations receive tax exemptions in exchange for services and then check and see if those corporations are actually living up to their obligation to continue their exemption status.

Job creation through transportation infrastructure projects- Build a bridge and give small business  [the rest of this candidate’s answers were cut off since they were over the 50 word limit].

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?

I will fight to ensure that budget cuts are not made to the safety net programs that carry this State forward.

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?

As an accomplished civil rights leader, I am a watchdog against policies that discriminate on race.  To address the consequences of racism, I will continue to agitate, organize and give voice to the victims of oppression.

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?

Washington needs living wage jobs- Over the past decade, people have secured jobs in low-wage sectors.  The rich are getting richer and the poor, more poor.  Once elected, I will advocate for the reinstatement of Affirmative Action in education and public contracting to bring more opportunities to those historically left behind to secure employment.  I’ve been active with the Seattle and the Sea-Tac Minimum wage increase and would like to see hardworking people be able to become self-sufficient with a decent wage throughout the state.

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?

Utilize the Community Reinvestment Act to ensure that banks are serving the communities that they are required to serve.  Strengthen protections against predatory lending by enforcing actions taken by lending institutions who violate usury laws.

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 like to implement Ban-the-box restriction on employment and housing applications.

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 a step in the right direction; however, Washington State can expand public healthcare beyond those living at the poverty level of 138% to include more of the working poor.  Washington can do better at providing services under its Charity Care.  Currently, the state has nothing in place to provide oversight to hospitals who are given exemption in exchange of providing care regardless of income.