Strong public schools are the backbone of a strong community. Our schools in Washington should be some of the best in the country, but due to years of inaction by our legislature, many of our schools and many of our students continue to fall behind. We have a long way to go to meet the obligations put in front of our legislature by the McCleary decision. After Republicans passed the largest tax increase in state history last year – with their property tax hike that will impact families across Southwest Washington – they claimed that our education system is now fully funded. However, it is clear that it’s not. We can, and must, do better for all kids. Until every child has a classroom instead of a portable, until our teachers are compensated fairly for the much needed work they do, until our school districts have the tools and resources they need to think proactively about each kid, we are not there yet. That’s why I will work tirelessly with my colleagues to ensure that our schools receive the funding they need to give our students, teachers, and staff the tools and support they need to be successful.
Thousands of our neighbors in Clark County leave home every day to head to Portland for work. But we can create and keep these jobs right here at home. The current tax burden placed on small businesses makes it tough to get off the ground and start turning a profit. I will work to cut red tape and reduce the tax burden on small businesses, so we can create jobs that stay right here in our community. Additionally, we need to identify ways to help working families with the balancing act of making ends meet and spending enough time at home. I will be a strong advocate for equal pay for equal work, reducing the cost of child care, and working to make sure that the jobs we create in our community offer living wages.
Far too much of our time and money is wasted sitting in traffic every day. For years, infrastructure improvements have been held up by partisan bickering and political game-playing. While residents of our region need solutions, we have only seen stalling from Olympia. We cannot continue to kick the can down the road. I support the I-5 bridge and believe that we need to move forward with a plan to move more people across the bridge in a safe, quick, and affordable manner. I will work with transportation experts, residents from our community, my colleagues in the legislature on both sides of the aisle, and in Oregon, to identify and move forwarded with these sorely needed infrastructure projects.
Washington State recently increased property taxes to pay for education. While these increases for local schools is extremely important, we have to have a balanced approach when it comes to our tax system. I do not support an income tax – as I know firsthand being a lifelong resident of the 17th LD, which is a border district – that an income tax is not popular. I think all options should be on the table for discussion and debate and look forward to working with my colleagues on finding ways to alleviate the burdens of ever-growing property and sales taxes, which disproportionally impact our low-income neighbors, seniors, and working families.
I believe Housing needs to be a priority of all elected officials at the city, county and state level. In 2016 I was a supporter of the City of Vancouver’s Prop 1 Affordable Housing Levy. I would support legislation that gives local municipalities authority to explore and act upon Rent Control policies and incentives to encourage alternative and affordable housing types. Affordability is an issue not only for people facing or at risk for homelessness; working families are also struggling to ensure they have housing security as costs increase – particularly around growing metropolitan areas. There are many actions the state can take to address this, from direct investments like the Housing Trust Fund to market regulations encouraging low-income and workforce housing, as well as protections for tenants.
Gun violence in our country accounts for nearly 32,000 preventable deaths annually. These staggering numbers do not include far more preventable injuries, lifelong impacts of gun violence on survivors, families of victims, and financial costs to taxpayers. In Washington State, more people die annually from gun violence than motor vehicle accidents. It’s an unacceptable toll – and it’s our responsibility to take action. Through collaboration with community partners we can create common sense gun safety policy and laws and education to reduce gun violence. I am a strong supporter for common sense gun safety laws. As someone who has worked in the field of social services and public education for 20 years and is a sister of a police officer, I want to see our communities, schools and neighborhoods be safe.
Washington is one of the states that led the nation in enrollments in private insurance through the Affordable Care Act, yet hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians still have no health insurance. Crushing healthcare costs have made it difficult to strengthen our economy, with families and businesses all struggling to make ends meet. Our state legislature led the way in creating the Health Benefit Exchange envisioned under the federal Affordable Care Act while expanding access to Apple Health. We still have uninsured populations and a growing number of insured people who cannot afford the care they need and deserve. Behavioral health and mental health care is one of the most urgent needs in our state. We need to provide adequate resources, treatment and support services to help keep people from cycling to crisis.
Working families disproportionately experience the toll of environmental injustices every day. High pollution levels and increased exposure to environmental hazards at home and at work are a reality for many people. Climate Change is real and the science behind it is real. We must prevent and address the human and economic threats and invest in policies to grow the production of clean energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean manufacturing and infrastructure upgrades that create family wage jobs.
I’m a strong advocate for women’s rights, civil rights, human rights and labor/union rights. As an elected official, I would sponsor, support and vote for legislation that protects a woman’s right to choose, access to healthcare for all families and public policy that support women in the workforce. We cannot have economic justice without racial justice in our nation. Even now, as anti-union forces try to break the strength of working people across Washington State and our country, the roots of so-called right-to-work legislation are steeped in a history of racism as a thinly-veiled attempts to drive a wedge between workers of color and their white brothers and sisters. I will continue to speak up, stand up and advocate for our communities of color, LGBTQ+ community and immigrant community. Simply put: Hate is not allowed in our 17th Legislative District.