As part of our endorsement process at The Urbanist, we ask candidates to complete a standard questionnaire to better understand and evaluate their positions on housing, land use, transportation, and other important issues. We then share this information with our readers to help inform their own voting decisions.
This year we are considering selected candidates running for US Congress, Washington State Legislature, and King County Prosecuting Attorney. Starting this week, we are publishing the questionnaires in full, concluding with our official general election endorsements in mid-October.
The following questionnaire was submitted by Melanie Morgan running for Legislative District 29A, which covers South Tacoma, Lakewood, Parkland, and Spanaway, as a Democrat. Morgan’s opponent, Terry Harder (Republican-Tacoma) did not submit a questionnaire.
Do you consider yourself an urbanist?
Do you support an income tax?
How do we keep Sound Transit 3 (ST3) timelines on track given that the Trump administration is slow-walking or eliminating grants for transit projects and construction costs are skyrocketing?
I would side with Governor Inslee’s stance that Washington state should continue operating as independently of the Trump administration as possible. Sound Transit is a vital resource for so many of our citizens, especially those who commute long distances for work within the Sound, so I believe that it is imperative that we keep its development projects on track with current plans.
What is your position on the Sound Transit car-tab tax? Would you support a plan that cuts Sound Transit’s budget?
I understand the importance of funding public transportation; however, I would rather accomplish this through a method that does not disproportionately affect low-income community members who rely on their cars for transportation. Instead of the excise tax, I would like to see this transition into being supplemented with more progressive taxes. I would not support a plan that cuts Sound Transit’s budget, especially as a lack of transportation in my district is one of my platforms.
How will you leverage state resources to increase affordable housing?
I would leverage state resources by helping to pass a progressive tax structure, to increase revenue, so that programs are not having to lobby for funding.
Washington is ranked as having the most regressive tax code in the nation. Rich households pay a much lower effective tax rate than poor households. What, if anything, do you propose to do about that?
This is an issue that I feel very strongly about. In office, I will fight to reform Washington’s tax code and earn our citizens a more progressive system that does not unfairly penalize low-income people.
How should our state address climate change and would you back a carbon tax bill similar to what Governor Inslee has proposed?
I believe that a carbon tax is necessary but that it must not be regressive. Lower-income communities should not have to bear the brunt of paying for carbon and climate change, especially since they are often disproportionately affected by it. A price on carbon should be scaled appropriately and should primarily target high-emitting corporations. I believe that my party’s core values include protecting the health and wellbeing of our citizens, being responsible stewards of our environment, and ensuring social equity. Since climate change threatens all three of those values (and threatens our very existence on this planet), it is absolutely critical to address it; however, we must not do so in a way that furthers economic inequity.
Would you vote to permit local transit agencies and police departments to implement camera enforcement of transit lanes in order to keep buses moving through traffic bottlenecks? Why or why not?
I would vote for this, as it would incentivize transit use (especially for I-5 commutes), which would positively impact the environment and improve travel times for our commuters.
How can we protect and preserve the open spaces in Washington State?
Open spaces, such as parks and preserved land, are increasingly important in our increasingly urbanized age; I believe that it is vital that Washington citizens have access to clean, beautiful open spaces, even if they live in a highly urban area. I will support bills that further the preservation of such spaces and will not vote for measures that threaten such preservation for economic gain, for example.
What is your favorite mode of transportation and why?
The light rail and Sounder trains through Lakewood and Seattle provide really positive public transportation experiences with beautiful views and quick travel times. However, it is the bus system that is my favorite. However, it is the most accessible and least accessible in my district. The further south in Tacoma you go, the further and further the bus stops are. People in my district are unable to get to viable jobs due to the lack of transportation. I was there, and had to ride the bus to work, and it would take a long time to get from one end of Tacoma to the other. My vision is to expand transportation, and make it more accessible for my district.
The next time the state legislature crafts a major transportation funding package, what do you want to see in it?
The most important feature, to me, would be assembling a board of citizens who use and/or rely on public transportation and using their feedback on what they need as we consider new funding packages. We have a great need for express buses and other options for commuters. I believe much of our current system is working well (except for scheduling delays, particularly with the Sounder Train, which many of my constituents use to commute north for work). As someone who, personally, relies on my car pretty heavily, I would love to see more support for a better transit system for Pierce County and specifically the Parkland/Spanaway area.