The Urbanist Elections Committee invited candidates in the Seattle metropolitan region to fill out our questionnaire and participate in our endorsement process. We based our endorsement decisions on the responses and follow-up interviews.
Below is the response from Jessica Bateman, who is running for State House District 22, Position 2.
What lessons about government revenues and fiscal priorities from the wake of 2008 would you apply in responding to the Covid-19 crisis? (200 words or less)
Washington’s current tax system has a regressive structure that has a disproportionate impact on working families, vulnerable individuals, low wage workers, and people of color. This regressive tax structure restricts our ability to invest in our communities and constrains local and state revenue that in turn decreases our ability to provide an adequate safety net, foundational public health services, education funding, and other essential programs that benefit Washingtonians. This is a system that was a problem in the wake of 2008. Now, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, we need to look towards reforming our tax system so that the cost of funding vital services does not only fall on the shoulders of working people. I support increasing taxes on capital gains, pass through business profits, mansions and high value real estate, and an excise tax on unreasonably high salaries. In addition, we should invest in the Washington working families tax credit to provide money back to working Washingtonians. Additionally, we should amend the state constitution to allow for a graduated income tax and income-based property tax credits or rebates for low income households. These ideas are aimed at turning our tax system in Washington into one that is more equitable for the community.
Would you vote for a bill that ends the ban on rent control in Washington? Yes
Why or Why not? (50 words or less)
Housing and rent prices continue to rise faster than wages can keep up, and more and more families are spending up to half of their income on housing costs. This puts people at greater risk of falling into homelessness. Rent control policies that balance the need to build more affordable housing, but that prevents excessive rent increases for tenants could be an important tool to ensure stable, and affordable housing for renters.
What role do you see the state playing in enacting land use reform, and what should that reform prioritize? (200 words or less)
It is our responsibility as policy leaders and elected officials to make the best use of our limited land, amid growing populations and the need to protect our precious natural resources. We know that communities are strongest when they are affordable, diverse, and connected. I support land use that centers development in urban areas to keep neighbors close to school, transportation, work centers, and services.
What should be the major components of a climate package? (50 words or less)
I support reducing our carbon emissions and invest in long-term clean energy solutions. I support becoming more energy-efficient by purchasing green power, investing in electric vehicle fleets, using solar energy, building alternative transportation systems, adopting climate reduction goals, and adopting a sea level rise response plan.
What should be the top strategies for the state to fix the cycle of segregation, disinvestment, gentrification, and unaffordable housing in our cities? (200 words or less)
Housing insecurity is a direct effect of cycles of segregation, disinvestment, gentrification, and unaffordable housing. One strategy for the state to fix these cycles is by addressing the crisis of homelessness. I led the campaign to pass the Home Fund, an affordable housing initiative creating permanent supportive housing for our most vulnerable community members. We have increased the capacity for youth shelter, created a stability site, tiny house village, and funding to faith-based organizations to host tiny houses. The state should also take more steps to promote diversity and inclusion. As chair of the general government committee I worked to include language in our citizen advisory applications to include diverse life experiences as criteria for consideration. I sponsored our Olympia’s Sanctuary City Resolution within one-month of the current president being elected.
What’s your roadmap to fixing educational inequities in Washington state? How can Washington state comply with its constitutional duties regarding education? (200 words or less)
Washington state must continue working to reduce class sizes in public schools. A reduction in class size is proven to improve learning especially for children living in poverty. In addition, it is important that we increase the diversity of school staff in order to expand accessibility to all children in the community. In order for the state to provide all Washington students with a quality education, we have to start expanding the reach of our schools to account for students with various backgrounds. Students whose first language is not English or whose socioeconomic status is lower than that of their classmates are at risk for being overlooked and under-supported in our current public education system. In order to support these goals, we need a tax structure that not only enables us to invest in our public education system, but also a robust social safety net, and foundational public health services.
Do you think Washington state should have an income tax? Yes
If yes, what is the legislative path? If not, would you pursue any tax reform? (100 words or less)
During my first year of office the City was presented with a proposal to impose an income tax to pay for college for Olympia students. I supported and endorsed the measure despite significant opposition from the business establishment in Thurston County and the likelihood that it would be appealed. I fundamentally believe we must change our tax system in Washington to be more equitable, to provide a robust social safety net for all people and invest in education and workforce opportunities that enable more people to earn a living with dignity.
While California and Oregon have passed a clean fuels standard aiming to meet their climate goals, Washington did not, as the bill stalled out last session. Would you vote for it? If not, what is the route to meeting our climate goals? (150 words or less)
Yes, I would vote to pass a clean fuels standard. I’m proud to live in a community whose citizens are so committed to protecting our climate, our green spaces, and our region’s natural beauty. Olympia has set ambitious emissions reduction targets with the support of neighboring cities in Thurston County, and we are currently developing strategies to meet these goals. We must create an actionable plan to reduce our carbon emissions and transition to becoming carbon neutral.
What percentage of the state’s transportation budget should be for alternatives to cars, such as transit, biking, and pedestrian infrastructure? (100 words)
In order to reduce our climate impact, we must begin to utilize methods of transportation that reduce our carbon emissions. We must change the way people travel, reducing vehicle miles traveled and increasing multimodal transportation. I am interested to learn more from Urbanist members and supporters about what percentages of the state transportation budget make the most sense to achieve aggressive but realistic multimodal options.
What should be a higher priority: electrifying personal vehicles or reducing the number of trips made in personal vehicles? Explain how to achieve your priority. (50 words).
Reducing the number of trips made in personal vehicles should be a higher priority. We must promote environmentally sustainable land use to minimize the amount of impact we have on it, and decreasing trips in personal vehicles will decrease the overall impact from transportation. We should turn our attention to increasing multimodal transportation. In Olympia we need to increase density downtown, along our corridors, in our neighborhood centers while increasing infill throughout the community. In addition to building energy efficiency and alternative transit options, density also supports people interacting with their neighbors and friends which is supportive of positive health outcomes. Growing our neighborhood centers will also help us achieve our goals of people having amenities within walking distance of their home, which increases the likelihood that they will walk, bike, or take the bus.
The Urbanist Elections Committee’s Take: No Endorsement
Owen is a solutions engineer for a software company. He has an amateur interest in urban policy, focusing on housing. His primary mode is a bicycle but isn't ashamed of riding down the hill and taking the bus back up. Feel free to tweet at him: @pickovven.