As a council member, my top priority will be to address the most urgent needs of our community. Too many of our people go without basic necessities - food, housing, healthcare, etc. This is unacceptable, and the people of our city deserve better.
There are several factors that contribute to the struggles Burien faces, but one major underlying cause of these problems is poverty. 15.2% of Burien residents live at or below the poverty line – well above the state average. When tackling the most important issues in our community, we should be focused on addressing the root of these problems, not just reacting to them as they spring up. Recognizing that poverty plays a monumental role in the myriad of conflicts we face here allows us to minimize, and help prevent, many of these problems.
For example, when we are considering how to reduce the number of kids dropping out of our schools, we need to recognize that hundreds of Highline Public School students experienced homelessness each year. Kids who face poverty are more likely to drop out of school early, and those who do are more likely to remain in poverty throughout their lives.
When looking for ways to address crime, we need to be aware that people in households at or below the Federal Poverty Level face more than double the rate of violent victimization compared to people in higher-income households; their poverty makes them more vulnerable. We should also acknowledge that non-violent crimes like theft are often impacted by economic status; people who can’t support themselves or their families, who can’t access the things they need, turn in desperation to crime.
Conversations on how to reduce drug use and addiction in our community should include acknowledgment of the fact that people who are homeless are more susceptible to drug addiction, and those who use drugs are more likely to seek treatment when they have stable housing.
And, of course, the issue of homelessness itself; we have people living on the streets, exposed to the elements and at-risk for any number of ills that disproportionately affect the homeless. We need to face the fact that there are too many people our society is failing, and letting slip through the cracks. Part of the solution to this issue revolves around ensuring there is enough affordable housing for those who need it, but also making sure that people can gain access to it, and working to prevent those who currently face housing insecurity from losing the homes they do have.
Because of all this, some of my primary goals for this city are:
- Establishing a $16 minimum wage
- Creating additional tenants’ rights and establishing rent control
- Making a heavy push to bring more affordable housing
- Creating and maintaining strong support systems for the most vulnerable, including low-barrier shelter for those currently experiencing homelessness
- Focusing on harm reduction strategies proven to mitigate and prevent the negative impacts of drug use and addiction on individuals and their community
Additional policy goals of mine include, but are not limited to:
- Establishing municipal broadband to ensure everyone has access to such an important utility
- Ending the city tax on menstrual hygiene products that impacts accessibility for these necessary items
- Continuing the effort to make Burien eco-friendly and sustainable
There are many other issues we need to address here in Burien, but I feel these are some of the most pressing problems we should be directing our attention to. If elected to office, my focus will be on bringing these issues to the forefront of our policy discussions, and demanding immediate action. We need leaders who understand the urgency of the problems our people face, who aren’t afraid to speak out on behalf of those who so often go without a voice in the forming of public policy. I urge the people of Burien to stand with me in the effort to move our community forward.