A people-first recovery, centering equity
When a pandemic hits and our world gets turned upside down, it lifts the veil on the norms we are supposed to accept as everyday realities. It is no surprise that the years of community organizing work upholding the dignity of Black lives is being accelerated at a time when we have all been forced to slow down, look inward, and think about what it means to be part of a collective body.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and compounded the fault lines of inequities that many people in our district face every day. Those most at risk at this time are people who have been left out of policymaking and investments – Black people, people of color, immigrants and refugees, Indigenous people, LGBTQ folks, and people with disabilities. Just as our organizing for Black Lives is gaining momentum to re-examine the rapid increase in police funding while community and human services investments have dwindled, this COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call for those making decisions about where we spend our state’s dollars.
To build a more just society, we need bold leaders who are committed to putting people at the center of our recovery and leading with equity.
To build a more just society, we need bold leaders who are committed to putting people at the center of our recovery and leading with equity. Here are my guiding recovery principles I will use if elected to represent the 37th district in Olympia:
A people-first recovery: There are already too many people in power who believe the economy is about the well-being of the stock market and corporate profits. I believe the economy is made up of people – people who have the resources they need to live with dignity and care for their loved ones.
People of color, immigrants, and workers earning lower wages are often the ones keeping our economy going – picking and processing food, stocking grocery shelves, keeping our transportation systems running. We should be recognizing people’s essential services with compensation and no-barrier COVID-19 health services, as well as safeguarding them against the risks with workplace protections. This is an especially reasonable expectation for corporations profiting extra at the time of this pandemic.
A people-first approach also means that we have a strong social safety net that will support any family facing a job loss, a health crisis, or a disruption to their wellbeing. It also means these programs are rooted in the trust and dignity of the people who need them. This includes ensuring our state provides resources for those left out of traditional unemployment benefits. And it means making the investments to improve access to quality affordable healthcare.
Leading with equity: The inequities that are baked into our system have the potential to be significantly worsened during this pandemic. People of color are more likely to close their small businesses, get evicted, lose their home or their job, or have their hours reduced.
We need leaders who understand and center equity in policymaking. We must have strong renter protections and a continued moratorium on evictions to keep people housed and prevent further displacement. We must invest in supporting neighborhood legacy, small businesses so they can weather this financial storm, and make sure this pandemic does not cause further gentrification, pushing more people of color and immigrant-owned businesses out of the neighborhood.
Currently, each law passed in Olympia requires a fiscal analysis to determine the cost to the state. It’s imperative we get smarter about investing in communities of color by also conducting an equity analysis. This will allow us to halt bills and budget cuts that will disinvest in communities of color and target resources to those most vulnerable to the harm of this pandemic.
Budgets are moral documents, and a people-first approach and equity lens are values I will bring to the budgeting process.
Investments, not cuts: We need leaders who are committed to not repeating the mistakes of the Great Recession when we slashed essential services when people most needed them and hampered our economic recovery. Programs that keep people housed, fed, and taken care of make all our communities stronger. The hard-fought progress of funding our public-school systems more equitably cannot be lost. I do not believe those who say the only way to weather this recession is with budget cuts when lawmakers have tools at their disposal – options for progressive revenue, such as a Capital Gains tax and rainy day funds – to invest in people. Budgets are moral documents, and a people-first approach and equity lens are values I will bring to the budgeting process.
How is this pandemic and its economic impact affecting you and your loved ones? Let me know what else I need to know. I would love to hear from you.