by Nicole Grant
Martin Luther King County Labor Council
and David Rolf
Special to the SGN
Seattle has become a beacon to the nation, pioneering cutting edge policies to address income inequality and improve the lives of workers. We led by implementing a $15 minimum wage and paid sick leave, creating a fully funded Office of Labor Standards, and requiring that new development in the city must contribute to creating more affordable housing. We passed landmark legislation criminalizing wage theft, mandating secure scheduling for retail and food service workers, restricting the use of arrest and conviction records in hiring, and requiring that community members be hired on local construction projects.
These victories did not happen by accident. It took a lot more than t-shirts, bullhorns, and good intentions to get policies that put billions of dollars back in workers' pockets passed and implemented. It happened because Seattle's labor movement came together with other grassroots, civically-minded organizations and with experienced elected leaders to do the hard work of developing innovative progressive policies and building broad coalitions of support for them.
Our two organizations helped lead the way for $15, secure scheduling, paid sick leave, ban-the-box, and the other victories workers have won in Seattle. Now, we are enthusiastically supporting Jenny Durkan for Seattle Mayor. As President Obama's U.S. Attorney, Durkan has the dedication and experience Seattle needs to unify and advance in this dangerous, turbulent time for our nation. If this race is about who will be more successful actually improving the quality of life of people of Seattle then the choice is obvious: Jenny Durkan.
Workers are supporting Jenny because we know she will deliver on the bold agenda she has outlined in this campaign: two free years of community college guaranteed for every Seattle public high school graduate, rental subsidies for those at risk of being pushed out of their apartments and the city, a major expansion of low barrier shelter and micro-housing to get people out of dangerous and unsanitary tent cities that Seattle's homelessness crisis caused. We know she'll deliver because we've seen her do it time and again.
When the anti-LGBTQ, anti-environment, union-hating Evergreen Freedom Foundation started attacking union rights for Washington workers, Jenny stepped up, working pro bono to oppose them. When the Seattle Police Department was found to be engaging in biased policing and excessive use of force, Jenny stepped up, negotiating a federal consent decree that has led to Seattle police use of force incidents declining by 60 percent. When right-wing Republican Dino Rossi tried to overturn the results of the 2004 gubernatorial election - which he lost by 133 votes - Jenny stepped up, successfully defeating him in court. When poor and minority people in our state were not receiving the protections they needed, Jenny stepped up, forming one of the first civil rights divisions in any U.S. Attorney's Office in the nation.
We've both worked with multiple mayors, with front row seats to see the sausage get made, and we know that creating positive progressive change is not easy. Mayor of Seattle is not an easy job, or an entry-level position in government. Talk is cheap - it takes experience and political skills to build coalitions to create positive change.
Jenny Durkan has that experience and those skills.
While she is well-intentioned, it's obvious to us that Cary Moon does not. Let's get real about Moon: the truth is that unlike Seattle's threatened working class families, Cary Moon has barely had an actual job, one where she worked for a living and drew a paycheck, in decades. While Jenny Durkan was in court fighting for workers with lung cancer who were exposed to workplace toxins, Cary Moon was hanging out and being rich.
Now, on a lark, Moon wants one of the toughest and most important jobs in Washington State, one that involves oversight of more than 10,000 employees in more than 30 departments?
Meanwhile, Moon has taken contradictory or poorly-considered positions on several important issues in the scant months of her candidacy. High-earners income tax? She told the audience at an April 20th Democratic Legislative District forum she was against it, then later reversed herself and said she was for it. Mandatory Housing Affordability? She wants to go back to the drawing board, even as rents increase every month. And she stirred controversy among some Chinese-American leaders for an article she co-wrote that pointed to 'Chinese money' as a cause of housing hyperinflation, coupled with her proposal to tax non-resident real estate buyers. Her political party affiliation? The day she announced her candidacy she told the Stranger she'd have to 'get back to (them) about that' before later deciding to be a Democrat. Her commitment to economic justice and equity? Pretty impressive on the stump, until you realize she bought the primary by writing herself a six-figure check. In contrast, Jenny is a badass brawler with a long track record of standing up and winning for the little guy and gal, and for the interests of working families at the federal, state, and local levels. We want the tough, experienced, woman who will deliver real results.
Seattle is facing unprecedented growth and unprecedented challenges. Our region is growing by 100,000 people every year. People are flocking to a civic capitol that is welcoming, safe and prosperous. To lead in these times, tackling homelessness, housing affordability, environmental degradation, transit capacity and transportation gridlock, we need a powerhouse who unites our city against the Trump threat. These are tough and complicated problems. They aren't going to get solved with the dreamy promises of a novice. It's going to take principled, experienced leadership and a proven ability to build coalitions.
Jenny Durkan offers that; Cary Moon doesn't. That's why Jenny is our choice for mayor of Seattle. Please join us in supporting her this November.
Executive Secretary and Treasurer
Martin Luther King County Labor Council
This guest editorial first appeared on The Stranger SLOG 10/26/17.
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