Dispatches

The latest on local issues, education on class struggle, chapter news, and actions.


Introducing Seattle DSA’s 2017 Candidate Survey

SDSA Candidate Survey

 

With two months to go before the deadline to file for candidacy for municipal office, Seattle already has a bevy of candidates lined up for three key races. Two at-large councilmembers as well as a mayor will be elected to four-year terms come election day, Nov. 7, 2017.

Challenging Mayor Ed Murray in the primary are activists Nikkita Oliver and Andres Salomon as well as Casey Carlisle, Mary Juanita Martin, Jason Roberts, Alex Tsimerman and Keith Whiteman. In the at-large Position 9 seat primary, incumbent Councilmember Lorena González faces Marguerite Richard and Eric Smiley. With the exit of Councilmember Tim Burgess from the at-large Position 8 seat, the field is wide open. Former Tenant’s Union head Jon Grant will face off against Washington State Labor Council policy director Teresa Mosqueda and King County NAACP vice president Sheley Secrest, as well as Ryan Asbert, Hisam Goueli, Jenn Huff, Mac McGregor, Rudy Pantoja, James Passey and Charlene Strong.

We are fortunate in Seattle to have civic engagement that produces eight or nine-way local races, but we run the risk of becoming mired in evaluating candidates based solely on resumes, media appearances or vague associations of one’s own. To help voters distinguish between platitudes and real, tangible policy and action, the Seattle Democratic Socialists of America’s Activism and Communications Committees have put together a 13-query questionnaire to help cleave candidates’ views into discernable positions on issues that are vital to members of Seattle DSA.

All candidates currently filed received their surveys starting on March 8 and have been asked for a response by April 8. If a candidate does not respond, the Activism team will attempt to formulate the candidate’s position based upon publicly made statements (or actions, as the case may be). Watch this space for a complete roll-out of candidate responses starting sometime in late April or early May.

You can read the survey for yourself below. For more information on City of Seattle elections, visit the city’s website here. A non-partisan primary will be held August 1, 2017.


1.) Why did you decide to run for mayor/city council?

2.) Seattle city employees will soon have the right to 12 weeks of paid parental leave and four weeks of paid family leave, following an 8-0 city council decision. How will you extend these benefits to all workers in the city?

3.) How do you plan to use the city’s regulatory capacity to enforce recent minimum wage gains and prevent wage theft by employers? What do you think the minimum wage should be?

4.) In response to Trump’s threats to cut federal funding for cities that oppose his policies, Seattle activists, led by the Transit Riders Union, are advocating for wealth taxation to “Trump-proof” the Seattle budget. Do you support this effort? Will you support further progressive reforms to our regressive tax system?

5.) The new youth jail planned for the Central District (also referred to as the “Children and Family Justice Center”) is now running over budget at $225 million prior to its construction. Do you support this facility? What is your plan for disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline and using common resources to produce better outcomes for marginalized youth?

6.) What is your plan for addressing the city’s ongoing housing crisis and the criminalization of our homeless population? Do you support the city’s sweeps of homeless encampments?

7.) Do you oppose state laws preventing Seattle from enacting rent control legislation and other forms of rent stabilization?

8.) Soaring rents are forcing people of color out of their historic communities in neighborhoods like the Central District and South Seattle. How do you plan to address the needs of communities being displaced by gentrification?

9.) Seattle plans to open a safe-consumption site, implementing a harm-reduction strategy for drug users. Do you support this initiative? If so, how will you handle possible objections from neighborhood associations and other groups opposed to having safe-consumption sites in their “backyards”?

10.) In 2011, the the Department of Justice found that the Seattle Police Department engaged in patterns of excessive force, violating both the Constitution and federal law. How will you address SPD’s ongoing pattern of violence, particularly in communities of color? Do you support the use of independent prosecutors in cases of alleged police misconduct? What steps will you take to strengthen civilian oversight of SPD?

11.) Do you support the construction of the proposed police precinct in North Seattle?

12.) In the wake of the city council’s vote to divest from Wells Fargo in support of climate justice and indigenous rights, do you support divestment of Seattle’s pension funds from companies that invest in fossil fuels?

13.) The recent arrest and detention of Seattle resident Daniel Ramirez Medina, a DACA recipient, shows that the Trump administration is willing to harass and deport even legal immigrants. Without a plan for enforcement, Seattle’s status as a sanctuary city is merely a title. What is your proposed protocol for upholding the rights of DACA recipients and other immigrants (including those who are undocumented), and enforcing Seattle’s status as a sanctuary city?


Dignity Shouldn’t Be A Luxury. Period.

    art by our own Eva Giselle!

 

We’re excited to announce that Seattle DSA has partnered with local women’s shelter & resource center Mary’s Place to host a feminine hygiene product drive! We launch this month-long drive on International Women’s Day in solidarity with women in need.

You may bring new, unopened items to any event hosted by Seattle DSA this month. Yep, we’re talking mainly about tampons/pads* but also deodorant, soap, shampoo/conditioner, even lip balm. A team will drop off donations at Mary’s Place after our general meeting on April 6th. For a full wish-list see http://www.marysplaceseattle.org/support-us/share-your-stuff/. We are happy to collect and deliver anything you bring.

Sounds great but…what does this have to do with socialism?

  • SDSA believes everyone should be able to live a full and dignified life. As anyone who has had a period can attest, access to menstrual and basic hygiene products is essential not only for physical health, but for mental health and well-being. We want to take this opportunity to help those in need have necessary sanitary items with dignity, free from discrimination or restrictions.
  • Over their lifetime, a menstruating person will spend on average $3000 on tampons/pads alone. Adding to the cost, Washington state does not consider these items to be a “necessity,” therefore, they are taxed at the same rate as ordinary retail goods. Especially true in King County, our regressive sales tax of 9.5% means low-income and homeless people are spending a disproportionately high percentage of their income on mandatory sanitary items every single month, on top of already inflated costs for women’s products. Taxing items women need as a consequence of their biology is a form of sexism.
  • This brings us to the Pink Tax. This is the insidious practice of increased pricing for branded “women’s” products vs. “men’s.” Anything from children’s toys to clothing to haircare to razor blades cost more when they are marketed as being for women or girls. This practice preys upon societal expectations for women and is an example of the infuriating inequality perpetuated by a capitalist system.

*Although we support your personal preferences and efforts to be environmentally friendly, we ask that you do not donate menstrual cups or reusable pads for this drive. If you have questions, contact ash@seattledsa.org




Tax the Rich, Not the Poor

Standing in Northgate’s Idris Mosque on Feb. 20, Seattle mayor Ed Murray delivered an election year-State of the City speech, outlining proposed taxation strategies in between promising a headline-courting war of litigation with the Trump administration. In addition to the suggestion of a levy to address the city’s homelessness emergency, Murray is endorsing a 2 cent-per-ounce tax on “sugary beverages” that could net $16 million a year intended for closing educational gaps “between white students and African American/Black students and other historically underserved students of color.”




YDSer a First Responder Amdist J20 Chaos at UW

Reporting by Tom Livingston

For many people, hearing the word “protest” conjures lurid images: noise, confusion, running, police batons, hands crushed on pavement and chain-link fences. We’re trained in the United States to think of the police as the protester’s natural adversary. Actions in the past have revolved around protester’s reactions to enforcement personnel and vice versa. Amidst tactics there is always a limited, confined sort of chaos. But nevertheless that relationship has been static; an inexorable visual conflict between the masses of a people and the kevlar and steel of the state which, from space and without politics or violence, could be mistaken for a peculiar ballet.


SeaTac International Swarms With Dissent

The following is a report from Seattle DSA organizer Doug Woos on the direct action taken at SeaTac International Airport on Jan. 28.

As a former New Yorker, the idea of going to John F. Kennedy International Airport without needing to catch a plane is totally bizarre. However, that’s exactly what thousands of people did last Saturday. By 1 p.m. on the West Coast, I was seeing pictures of demonstrators occupying a whole parking garage and, in Seattle, I was hearing stories from friends about relatives who were suddenly, shockingly, unable to get into the country. I don’t know whether Trump’s people knew how many Iranian nationals attend graduate school in computer science, but I hope they know now.

While a rally was scheduled in Westlake Park for Sunday evening, given what was happening at JFK, O’Hare, Dulles, Logan, etc., it was clear we needed people at SeaTac on Saturday. My friend Joe created a Facebook event for a protest and linked it to the Westlake event’s wall. Joe’s event (which I ended up as a co-host on) became the online rallying point for the protesters converging on SeaTac. My roommate and I met Joe at our department at school, where we made some posters, then boarded light rail down to the airport. On the way, we reached consensus on a rallying point and starting time via the Facebook event. Someone contacted the ACLU to make sure we wouldn’t be interfering with them. Everything happened fast and organically.