The Urbanist Elections Committee invited state legislature candidates in the Seattle metropolitan region to fill out our questionnaire to participate in our endorsement process. We based our endorsement decisions on those questionnaire responses and on follow-up Zoom interviews. Below are the responses by Sherae Lascelles, who is running in Legislative District 43, Position 2. Former House Speaker Frank Chopp has held the seat since 1994 and is seeking re-election.
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)
There is unbelievable suffering in our district. Countless folks are unsheltered, many are barely making rent, and others are criminalized for their attempts to survive. Human services are inadequate and inaccessible; cultures and communities are being uprooted to make room for investors; adults are sharing small studio apartments so they can afford to keep the lights on. That we have gotten to this point is an indictment of our current officials and a clear sign of how broken our systems are. Instead of empowering communities to create solutions using their local knowledge of their needs, the State spends taxpayer dollars paying wealthy consultants to draft policies that have largely served to increase harm, reduce equity, destroy lower-income neighborhoods, and leave us with a city and region only accessible to the privileged. At the core of our politics is the belief in harm-reduction; the idea that part of solving any problem is first stopping the problem from getting worse, and that includes ensuring that the communities most impacted have a real voice in the process. I will focus on reducing the harms of the COVID-19 crisis, as opposed to lining the pockets of those who paved the way for harm as was done in 2008.
Would you vote for a bill that ends the ban on rent control in Washington?
Why or Why not? (50 words or less)
As more people are displaced from our communities, the 1981 Raegan era rent regulation ban has only served to benefit wealthy real estate investors who are disconnected from the communities they provide housing for. Allowing for municipalities to reduce harm from rent increases is one piece toward solving displacement.
What role do you see the state playing in enacting land use reform, and what should that reform prioritize? (200 words or less)
We stand on stolen land in Washington, and land use reform must come from authentic engagement with the populations that will be affected with a focus on engaging with and providing reparations to Indigenous and First Nations residents and other Black and Indigenous People of Color who have been displaced violently and repeatedly throughout history.
What should be the major components of a climate package? (50 words or less)
1. Reduce barriers for mass timber construction. 2. Work directly with affected populations — with emphasis on Black and Indigenous People of Color communities — to provide the resources to clean up environments, enable food sovereignty, build resiliency in community, and amend relations. 3. Increase State funding for green infrastructure projects, including green union jobs.
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)
1. Significantly increase State funding for housing and anti-displacement programs. 2. Focus on housing as a right (decommodification, beautiful new units of publicly-owned social housing, and land-use reform) 3. Increasing State funding for homelessness services including shelter, healthcare, and harm reduction. 4. Ending the practice of sweeps, and treating this issue as the crisis it is with compassion for underhoused individuals and families.
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)
1. Passing more progressive taxes to fund more equitable access to education instead of relying on property taxes as the primary funding mechanism. 2. Comprehensive and mandatory sex education that includes full gender identity and active consent content in all school districts. 3. Increase funding for State Community and Technical Colleges 4. Reduce barriers to student housing. 5. Take tangible steps toward a tuition-free future. 6. Provide childcare to every parent in the State of Washington.
Do you think Washington state should have an income tax?
If yes, what is the legislative path? If not, would you pursue any tax reform? (100 words or less)
With enormous budget shortfalls incoming, it is going to be crucial to ensure that wealthy residents of Washington are paying their fair share not only via an income tax, but also a significant wealth tax. If they are not interested in re-investing in the communities that supported the foundation of their wealth to scale, then an income and wealth tax will put the money in the hands of government agencies who will. These shortfalls will also be covered by defunding the carceral system including but not limited to municipal police departments, Washington State Patrol, and the Department of Corrections.
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, though we must work hand in hand with community towards divestment altogether in fossil fuel technology to reach our long-term goals. In this engagement, communities that have been hit the hardest by pollutants must be prioritized first through a restorative justice lens by providing material support to make greener options accessible.
What percentage of the state’s transportation budget should be for alternatives to cars, such as transit, biking, and pedestrian infrastructure? (100 words)
The vast majority of investment in statewide transportation is car based currently, and that dynamic needs to be flipped in order to provide multi-modal transportation services to all communities, including rural communities. In order to grow and maintain these programs in the wake of I-976, we must de-fund the Washington State Patrol and re-invest in multi-modal transportation.
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).
Both, and. Autonomy and agency are key, and we must ensure that climate friendly options that fit the needs of all community members AND are accessible to them are available. These options must be provided along with adequate educational outreach to encourage climate friendly decisions.
The Urbanist Elections Committee’s Take: Vote Lascelles
The Urbanist was founded in 2014 to examine and influence urban policies. We believe cities provide unique opportunities for addressing many of the most challenging social, environmental, and economic problems. We serve as a resource for promoting urbanism, increasing political participation, and improving the places we live. The Elections Committee consists of community volunteers and staff members of The Urbanist and is a standing body representing the political values of our organization.