The Urbanist Elections Committee based our endorsement decisions on questionnaires we wrote and invited state legislature candidates in the Seattle metropolitan region to fill out. We followed up on those questionnaire responses with Zoom interviews to answer lingering questions. Below are the responses by David Hackney, who is running in Legislative District 11, Position 1 against incumbent Zack Hudgins, who has held the seat since 2002.
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)
Funding state government with a regressive sales tax is a bad idea. The Covid-19 crisis has caused a significant revenue decrease because retail brick and mortar establishments are closed or have limited goods and services. As a result, the state government must address a 4-7 billion-dollar budget deficit. The state must resist the temptation to implement significant budget cuts and instead should find ways to stimulate the economy. Cutting education, infrastructure, transportation, healthcare and income replacement programs will prolong the recession. Instead, the state must find new sources of revenue like a progressive income tax, a capital gains tax or a new tax on cloud computing to generate revenue and stimulate the economy. Trickle-down economics is a hoax. The economy does not grow when you provide the top 10% with tax cuts and deregulate the economy. The economy grows when hard working Americans have spending power to buy goods and services, which results in businesses expanding and making capital investments and hiring more workers, who have more spending power. The state must use this crisis to adopt bold progressive initiatives that put discretionary income in the hands of working people and use new sources of revenue to finance these initiatives.
Would you vote for a bill that ends the ban on rent control in Washington? Why or Why not? (50 words or less)
Yes. Rent control provides renters protection from predatory practices by landlords. When you purchase a home, you can obtain a 30-year fixed mortgage, which is essentially a stable price for housing. Renters deserve the same protection. Communities should have the authority to decide the best housing policies for their constituents.
What role do you see the state playing in enacting land use reform, and what should that reform prioritize? (200 words or less)
The state should play a significant role in land use reform. The housing crisis in Washington is the result of a market failure and the state should use land use reform to address this issue. There is an insufficient supply of housing for low-income residents because developers believe they can achieve a higher profit margin on housing projects that sell at a higher price point. The state should acquire land close to transportation hubs and provide tax incentives or direct subsidies to increase the supply of affordable housing. The state should require developers who want access to public land to develop a portion of each project for low-income individuals and families. In addition, the state should require all communities to develop affordable housing and refuse to bow to pressure of NIMBY from residents of more affluent communities. The state should also not attempt to place affordable housing in industrial areas. Promoting affordable housing in industrial areas is a form of environmental racism that exposes communities of color to polluted air and water. The state should focus on land use reform to provide affordable housing on public land in every community and provide economic incentives to encourage development of affordable housing.
What should be the major components of a climate package? (50 words or less)
The goal should be the reduction of green-house gases that cause climate change. The components should be an investment in a green new deal that incentivizes clean energy, public transportation, fuel emission standards and carbon trading. The state must use financial incentives like tax policy to finance these initiatives.
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)
Many of the communities of color in the metro Seattle area were formed as the result of intentional discrimination and red lining. Communities of color were restricted to certain areas like the Central District and the International District. As the mega-corporations grow, their very highly paid employees began to colonize traditional communities of color and build luxury homes, apartments and condominiums the original residents cannot afford. Policy makers take advantage by enacting higher property taxes that force lower-income individuals to sell or abandon property their family held for generations. As communities of color are forced out more gentrification occurs increasing the pressure on the last remaining hold outs to sell and move. The way to break this chain is to provide relief from high property taxes to qualifying families and individuals, and rent control to renters in traditional communities of color. In addition, developers in traditional communities of color should be required to provide affordable housing as part of their construction projects. Developers should also be required to negotiate with community groups that represent communities of color for other amenities in exchange for their support of the project.
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)
First, in this time of crisis, budget cuts for schools should be off limits. Second, the state should commit to providing the resources to meet the educational needs of every student. This includes providing social services so that students come to school prepared to learn. Schools must ensure students have sufficient nutrition and counseling to recover from trauma they may suffer at home. The state must review school policies from a racial equity lense. Racial equity includes eliminating the school to prison pipeline and zero tolerance policies. School should adopt restorative justice and mediation services as an alternative to juvenile justice. One of the many problems with juvenile justice is that is does nothing to resolve the underlying dispute. If the student returns to school, the original dispute is still festering and results in recidivism. Schools must invest in recruiting and retaining minority staff- teachers, counselors, school nurses, advisors and coaches that have the same lived experience as the diverse student population. The state must find revenue to ensure that students in lower-social economic jurisdictions have the same opportunities as there more affluent cohorts. This includes fully funding special education which has yet to be accomplished.
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)
Yes. The path should be less steep in light of the pandemic. Regressive taxes are not only unfair, but they multiply the negative impacts of recessions. The need for additional sources of revenue has never been as clear as now. The current financial collapse rivals the great depression of the early 1930’s, the late 1980’s and 2008. History has taught that austerity programs and trickle-down economics prolong recessions and economic stimulus initiatives help the economy recover faster. The Democrats have a majority in the House, Senate and occupy the Governor’s mansion. The strategy is unity, and pledge to do no harm.
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. In a similar fashion to the pandemic, we need to rely on verified scientific principles to govern public policy. We must make it clear that failure to address climate change will lead to higher costs and irrevocable damage to the environment. First you concentrate on the Democratic majority and you make it a requirement to support clean fuel standards in order to get campaign support. In the same manner, the HDCC would not support a candidate that did not support civil rights, we should treat so-called Democrats who refuse to acknowledge and act on climate change as pariahs. Next we focus on Republicans in swing districts and let them know we will focus on their “flat earth” denial of climate change to voters in a campaign to label them as ignorant and defeat them. The key is to be relentless and not compromise on the future of the planet.
What percentage of the state’s transportation budget should be for alternatives to cars, such as transit, biking, and pedestrian infrastructure? (100 words)
90%. The time for building and improving roads is over. The future of transportation is to get people out of their cars and on to clean public transportation, safe biking and pedestrian lanes on major thoroughfares. The state still needs to ensure that existing infrastructure is safe. However, the emphasis of the state’s policies as manifested in their budget, is to reduce carbon emissions by reducing the number of cars and commercial trucks on our roads.
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).
I would prioritize reducing the number of trips made in personal vehicles. Currently the production of electricity results in carbon emissions. Using more electric cars will slightly improve but not solve our climate change problem. Fundamentally we need to learn how to promote mass transit and safe lane for cyclists and pedestrians.
The Urbanist Elections Committee’s Take: Vote Hackney
Read our endorsements to see our reasons why.
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 various staff members of The Urbanist and is a standing body representing the political values of our organization.