In the 37th District, newcomer Chipalo Street, left, is running for House of Representatives while incumbent Rebecca Saldaña, right, is running for State Senate. (Courtesy of campaign)

The 37th Legislative District has one open seat created by Rep. Kirsten Harris-Talley retiring after just one term. In a South Seattle Emerald op-ed, Harris-Talley cited her frustrations with the way things operate within the Democratic caucus for her decision to bow out. The opening in Position 2 has attracted a handful of progressive candidates, but only Chipalo Street returned a questionnaire to The Urbanist during the primary. Street also sat for an interview with the committee.

Andrew Ashiofu, Nimco Bulale, and Emijah Smith are the other candidates vying for the open seat. Update: Smith made it through the primary and then submitted a questionnaire and sat for an interview. Her questionnaire is now including below.

Senator Rebecca Saldaña is up for reelection and returned a questionnaire. She has served since 2016 and is running unopposed. We didn’t interview in this race, but we have a strong questionnaire and voting record to base our decision on.

In Position 1, Sharon Tomiko Santos has represented the 37th since 1998. She did not return a questionnaire. Her sole opponent John Dickinson did return a questionnaire but it was one of the worst we saw. Dickinson bragged about never riding light rail and opposes House Bill 1782 and its push to loosen single family zoning restrictions and expand missing middle housing options in cities statewide. But it gets worse.

Dickinson’s big policy ideas are painfully bad. To prevent school mass shootings, Dickinson suggests arming students, citing an eight-year-old relative he says is a protégé sharpshooter. His proposed transportation “fix” is a series of elevated roads in tubes, dubbed “the LoWay,” which he bills as a way to deal with traffic congestion and pollution. Basically, the High Line, but with electric cars jammed in instead of landscaping, for some season. In other words, Tomiko Santos is effectively running unopposed.

In redistricting, the 37th District lost SoDo, Pioneer Square, part of Madrona, and a chunk of Renton. In gained the western edge of Beacon Hill and a piece of Seattle University campus. The new map is even more centered around Southeast Seattle, and is a decidedly left-leaning district.


Chipalo Street 2022 Urbanist Questionnaire Responses – LD37 Pos. 2

What is your top priority for the upcoming term, and how will you achieve it? 

Stable and affordable housing is a requirement for creating vibrant communities. As a compassionate landlord, I understand problems in the housing market and power imbalance between landlords and renters. I want to fix the forces which have created the current housing crisis and strengthen our safety net so that temporary hardships do not end in people losing their homes. I will champion:
• Funding rental assistance to help families navigate the COVID pandemic and other temporary life hardships
• Reducing the shortage of missing middle housing by ending exclusionary zoning in transit rich areas
• Continuing state investment in affordable housing
• Providing housing vouchers so that working people can have support to live in existing housing so that they don’t have to wait for longer term measures to bear fruit.

Education is a proven path that can lead to economic opportunity, and I am an example of this. I’m committed to making sure kids in south Seattle have the educational opportunities which lead to fulfilling careers and stable lives. To do this I will champion:
• Expanded access to quality early education
• Ensuring Washington schools lead the nation in STEM offerings
• Increasing access to collegiate education by first funding free 2-year college
• Expanding apprenticeship programs. The trades are an undervalued means of offering post-high school educational opportunities. Two of my best friends from childhood are journeyman electricians and I’ve been impressed with their post-high school education during apprenticeship and career stability provided by the trade. 

Washington State adopted a “Target Zero” goal of ending traffic deaths by 2030, but fatalities are trending in the wrong direction. What do you propose to rectify this situation?

Like many issues, traffic deaths disproportionately impact communities of color. As the most diverse district in Washington State, it’s not a surprise that the 37th LD has two of Seattle’s most dangerous roads: Rainier Avenue South and Martin Luther King Jr. Way South (per info from South Seattle Emerald article).

We need to focus on making these streets, and others, safer for pedestrians. The South Seattle Emerald’s analysis of SDOT data shows people on foot account for nearly 40% of fatalities, although they’re involved in fewer than 5% of all collisions.

What is your stance on Rep. Jessica Bateman’s missing middle housing bill (HB 1782) that failed to pass last session and would you support similar legislation to legalize abundant housing statewide? If so, what steps will you take to ensure its passage in the upcoming session? If not, what policy to promote housing growth and affordability do you support?

I fully support this bill. My blessings from the tech industry have allowed me to start a small real estate company which views rental properties as a long-term relationship between the landlord and tenants. 30% of my tenants lost work during the pandemic; however, I’ve managed to keep them all housed to ensure they stay safe and healthy. I have personal experience with the issues HB1782 tries to streamline.

One of my properties is in downtown Bonney Lake. It is a single-family house on a large lot with a detached three car garage and an existing two bed, one bath unit on the second floor above the detached garage. The living unit above the garage was never permitted when it was built, so I decided to permit it to provide another unit of housing.

I’ll save you the details here (I am happy to discuss in the interview) but three years later I’m still battling with the city to get it turned into a legal unit, despite the fact that it’s near transit, there’s plenty of existing parking, and I wouldn’t be expanding the footprint of any existing structure. Restrictive zoning laws have prevented me from making it an ADU or duplex. My only saving grace is that the lot was big enough to subdivide and turn each building into a single-family home. At some point in the future, I’ll have two separate properties after at least $65,000 in fees/permits, $72,000 in carrying costs, $17,000 in ancillary changes on top of all material and labor. Then we wonder why there aren’t affordable houses.

Statewide minimum zoning and density standards are a step in the right direction. They would have gone a long way towards reducing the cost and time of adding a unit in my experience. That said, this is not the only thing we need to do to address our housing crisis.

Would you vote for a bill that ends the ban on rent control in Washington? Why or why not? Would you support statewide rent stabilization similar to Oregon?

Yes, I would vote to end the ban on rent control. It’s a tool that some localities may want to use.

Yes, I would support a statewide rent stabilization measure similar to Oregon.

Washington State has ambitious climate goals, but isn’t yet on course to meet them. What do you see as the missing pieces?

Climate change is such a large issue that we’ll need to employ many strategies if we hope to change the rate at which our planet is warming. Below are just a few options.

Providing clear guidance about carbon targets will help businesses plan. Investing in, and incentivizing, low-carbon replacements in carbon-intensive industries will help alleviate the transition. Carbon offset programs (eg. cap and trade) provide an option to those industries where carbon is a unescapable byproduct of running the business. Finally, using our world class research institutions, like UW and WSU, to develop carbon mitigations (eg. sequestration) will help us undo the damage we’ve already done to our environment.

We should also incentivize growth in new industries. For example, investing in green provides jobs in rural communities helps avert the impending climate disaster and contributes to maintaining existing industries (eg. agriculture and seafood) that rely on a healthy ecosystem.

Transportation and housing can also play a large role in helping us achieve our climate goals. In cities, we must continue to invest in mass transit and increase density overall, and specifically around our transit infrastructure.

For those people who won’t or can’t give up a personal vehicle, building out a network of EV charging stations will help people move to cleaner forms of personal transportation.

Under what circumstances, if any, would you support adding highway lane miles?

I think public funds should first go towards mass transit and other infrastructure that moves us away from personal vehicles. That said, we will likely need to invest in highways for specific reasons. First, we are just starting to make investments for people who live in rural areas to move away from personal vehicles. Second, highways are critical to things like freight mobility which are linked to our union jobs.

What reforms of the Growth Management Act do you support, if any?

The Growth Management Act needs to be updated to prevent sprawl, an outcome which nicely accrues towards efforts to head off the impending climate disaster. Bills like HB1099 explicitly require cities and counties to account for emissions that contribute to climate change. HB1782 increases density around transit which moves us away from personal transportation, and SB5042 close loopholes that lead to sprawl. Finally, fully funding the measures passed in HB1220 make sure that we implement future changes in equitable ways.

Do you think Washington state should have an income tax (yes/no)? If yes, what is the legislative path? If not, would you pursue any tax reform?

Washington State has one of the most regressive tax codes in the country and it needs to be amended so that everyone pays their fair share. I support implementation of an income tax and capital gains tax. Unfortunately, it appears that the state constitution will make this hard so we may have to try new approaches to taxation, like a wealth tax.

In addition, I support taxing residential property based on how it’s used in urban areas with tight housing supply. For example, your personal residence should have the lowest rate. A property used for investment should pay a higher tax rate. A vacant property should pay an even higher tax rate as sitting on homes as a future investment does not help our community house people now.

What more should the State be doing to increase mobility for those who cannot drive or chose not to, a constituency which composes about a quarter of the population?

Investments in mass transit, like light rail expansion, are a good step in the right direction. Increasing the walkability and bikeability of our cities will both improve mobility for those who cannot drive but also reduce traffic deaths.

What approach will you take to promoting public safety?

Public safety is a topic that is unfortunately near and dear to my heart, as I was beaten by the police during college at Brown University.

My friend and I were walking from campus onto a public street when campus police stopped us and asked to see our IDs. Brown’s campus is open to the public, and so are public streets, so we were annoyed that we were being harassed for our IDs. I kept on walking but my friend stopped, showed the police his ID, and identified me. Instead of letting the issue drop, the Brown police called in an APB for me.

The Providence Police Department picked up the APB and caught up with me. If you read the police reports, an officer approached me and asked me to talk. I walked around the cop. The cop grabbed me. I tried to push the cops hands off me and spin away with my hands up. At which point the cops used the “least amount of force on the subject to safely subdue [me].”

The “least amount of force” injured me badly enough that the police had to take me to the hospital for medical attention before taking me to jail. The least amount of force was enough for a bystander to say she was traumatized by watching the incident. Even if you believe the police’s account of the incident, I find it disturbing the police thought that was an acceptable level of force to use to simply identify a person who wasn’t even suspected of a crime.

But, I don’t believe the police report because I was that student. All I remember is getting hit in the back of the head, being beaten, screaming my name and that I was a Brown student in the hopes someone would hear and I wouldn’t just disappear.

Despite this experience, I still believe police are a part of public safety, but not the only element. I want a professional police force which can be held accountable when a few officers betray their sacred oath to keep us all safe.

We currently ask police to do too much and put them in some situations for which they are not equipped to handle. I would like to see our society think more comprehensively about the role of policing in public safety so that they proactively build relationships with the community, we only ask them to enforce things that can only be done by an officer (eg. social workers respond to nonviolent mental health crises instead of police, counselors in schools instead of police), and they have the training to deescalate situations so that force is used truly as a last resort.


Emijah Street 2022 Urbanist Questionnaire Responses – LD37 Pos. 2

What is your top priority for the upcoming term, and how will you achieve it?*

I am tremendously proud of the work I’ve done in our communities across the 37th LD to lift up good public policy, change laws, and advocate for equitable solutions. I have worked hand in hand with families to bring our expertise to state lawmakers. I am running to represent my community in the 37th district to continue and expand this work. My vision is simple; healthy families and healthy communities. 

My priorities are all rooted in achieving racial justice so that our diverse communities in the 37th district are safe, free and thriving. My top issues include housing and anti-displacement strategies, health care, education, reform of the criminal legal system and creating true community safety.  I will be advancing legislation and investments across these priorities. My top priority for my first term will be increased health care access and health safety including reproductive rights, maternal health, and behavioral health investments to expand access to mental health care. 

My approach includes bridging strong connections between those in the 37th who are impacted by the decisions of the state legislature, moving in my values of integrity and collaboration, and using my advocacy skills and expertise to move priorities through the legislative process.

Washington State adopted a “Target Zero” goal of ending traffic deaths by 2030, but fatalities are trending in the wrong direction. What do you propose to rectify this situation?*

I support increased state funding and capacity support to implement structural improvements to improve traffic safety for pedestrians, bikers, transit riders and drivers. I am mindful that such improvements often only come to lower income communities as part of public investments that also spur gentrification. Too often those public investments never benefit the people in our lowest income communities that have been marginalized and denied resources over time, because they are priced out as public improvements arrive.

I will support legislation that incorporates safety improvements into strategies to create community-supported  and equitable development. That means providing housing and economic opportunities for all people, including Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color as we invest in public and traffic safety. Community safety projects to reduce traffic injuries and deaths should be shaped through community engagement and prioritized first for the most dangerous intersections and corridors.

What is your stance on Rep. Jessica Bateman’s missing middle housing bill (HB 1782) that failed to pass last session and would you support similar legislation to legalize abundant housing statewide? If so, what steps will you take to ensure its passage in the upcoming session? If not, what policy to promote housing growth and affordability do you support?*

I support the missing middle housing bill and would support similar legislation to legalize more housing options across our communities and cities. I will be in dialogue with the communities in the 37th and with my legislative colleagues to build support for such legislation. Single family zoning is intertwined with a legacy of racist city design and the enforcement of racial segregation, and moving toward supporting greater density is part of undoing the impact of that racist legacy and creating communities where all of us can live and thrive. Any legislation that promotes housing growth should be combined with anti-displacement strategies and support for creative, community-controlled, land stewardship and affordable home ownership.

Would you vote for a bill that ends the ban on rent control in Washington? Why or why not? Would you support statewide rent stabilization similar to Oregon?*

Yes I will vote to end the ban on rent control and support rent stabilization. Our communities in the 37th district, and across our city and our region and state are in a renter crisis. Rent stabilization keeps families safe and housed, is cost-effective and is a solution at the scale of the problem. Rent stability means more affordable housing and that means better lives for people in my district and our state. I would support a statewide rent stabilization law incorporating lessons learned from states like OR that have recently implemented the policy, and incorporating input from residents who are impacted by housing instability.

Washington State has ambitious climate goals, but isn’t yet on course to meet them. What do you see as the missing pieces?*

The urgency of the climate crisis is fully upon us. We have access to knowledge and resources to address it, and what’s missing is courage and commitment to act at the scale and urgency required. 

My vision of true climate justice puts Indigenous sovereignty and knowledge at the center and the voices and experiences of BIPOC, poor, and working class people at the table as well. What’s good for us will be good for everyone, especially in the fight against the climate crisis. This includes having access to new green union jobs in emerging industries, climate-friendly home refits, leaving fossil fuels in the ground, better labor rights for those who work outside, changing how we build new buildings and more.

The singular way we will reverse the trend of climate change is to turn back carbon emissions. This can mean investing in renewable energy sources, expanding transit and non-car transportation, and taking a very critical eye to any expansions of fossil fuel infrastructure. I hope we can through these measures and more turn back the clock on carbon emissions to stable targets.

Under what circumstances, if any, would you support adding highway lane miles?*

I will lead with my values. I will not support  new highway miles in the 37th district where I know the community and it is clear to me that additional highways would cause additional harm. At this time I can’t describe specific circumstances under which I would support adding highway miles anywhere in WA State. I will have to learn more about local communities and their needs before I make decisions about new highway miles proposed or considered in other parts of the state. I will focus on investments in public transit and employ a race equity analysis and work to understand local needs as I make decisions.

What reforms of the Growth Management Act do you support, if any?*

I support changes to the Growth Management Act to require that planning include strategies to reduce emissions and increase climate resiliency in our communities as well as ongoing technical assistance, monitoring and funding to ensure that the provisions regarding housing and racial disparities added by HB 1220 are fully and effectively implemented and deliver outcomes that address racial inequities in housing and planning and actually improve the lives of Black &  Indigenous people and people of color. 

Do you think Washington state should have an income tax (yes/no)? If yes, what is the legislative path? If not, would you pursue any tax reform?*

I have, and will continue to fight for economic justice through progressive tax reform. My priorities include strategies that create equitable access to wealth and land ownership among Black people and people of color and support autonomy and land access for Indigenous peoples. I support a wealth tax, the capital gains tax that has already passed, the proposed anti-displacement property tax exemption, among others. 

Yes, I do think Washington State should have an income tax, as it is part of the path toward fair taxes that generate the revenue we need to take care of each other and build safe, thriving communities and reduce the unfair burden of high sales taxes on low- and middle-income Washingtonians. The legislative path to achieve that outcome requires a long view of both electoral strategy and community engagement and mobilization. All our tax reform should create not only more revenue, but also advance economic justice and equity.

What more should the State be doing to increase mobility for those who cannot drive or chose not to, a constituency which composes about a quarter of the population?*

As I move with my values as a leader, I will continue to  listen to those most closely impacted by issues to craft solutions, and that includes connecting with and consulting with Washingtonians who choose not to drive or can not drive, to identify what is needed to expand mobility options. Some areas I want to look at are increasing transit frequency and efficiency and making sure we are connecting people to where they need and want to go, structural changes to our roads that make it safe for pedestrians and bikers, expanding safe routes to school, controlling and reducing transit cost especially for lower income people, strengthening and improving options like Access that provide transit for people who use wheelchairs or have limited physical mobility, ensuring that ride sharing programs are accessible and available to lower-income people and accountable to serving our communities equitably, and eliminating racial profiling in fare enforcement. 

What approach will you take to promoting public safety?*

I will take a holistic approach to promoting public safety. My lived experience as a Black mother and grandmother, who came of age in the Central District during the failed War on Drugs, informs everything in how I see the world and our campaign, including safety. 

Public Safety means to me that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color aren’t targeted by law enforcement unjustly and the violence against our communities ends. It means to me that all people can feel safe and cared for moving through their lives in their neighborhoods without fear. It also means to me that we all take part in keeping each other safe, and knit together and hold together the fabrics of our communities ourselves and care for one another when unsafe situations or violence occurs and work together to right the wrongs when it does.

I will promote public safety through supporting community-informed policies that strengthen police accountability and interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline as well as by advancing policies and investments so that everyone has access to health care, affordable housing, good jobs, and high-quality and equitable public education.


Rebecca Saldaña 2022 Urbanist Questionnaire Responses – LD37 Senate

What is your top priority for the upcoming term, and how will you achieve it?*

Further righting our upside down tax code, so we can have sustainable resources so the state can be the partner Washingtonians need to address our most pressing needs: equitable transit oriented housing and economic development, racial equity, and care infrastructure without having those that can least afford it paying the most. I will use the interim to build a multi-sector, statewide coalition of advocates, work with colleagues to draft policy agendas, and organize so this becomes par of our democratic senate priorities.

Washington State adopted a “Target Zero” goal of ending traffic deaths by 2030, but fatalities are trending in the wrong direction. What do you propose to rectify this situation?*

We passed Move Ahead WA that significantly increased funding into active transportation investments and authorized expanded use of traffic safety measures, including camera enforcement on vehicles. We also furthered the work to apply metrics to hold our highway and roads investments to higher standards of delivering on safety that includes a health and equity screen; and funded studies to better understand the non-driving residents and their interaction with our public right of ways. I commit to work with communities to build on these investments to get us back on track with our “Target Zero” goal.

What is your stance on Rep. Jessica Bateman’s missing middle housing bill (HB 1782) that failed to pass last session and would you support similar legislation to legalize abundant housing statewide? If so, what steps will you take to ensure its passage in the upcoming session? If not, what policy to promote housing growth and affordability do you support?*

I support it. I will work with Rep. Batemen, advocates, and colleagues to figure out the pathway forward for the middle housing bill that will work for WA State.

Would you vote for a bill that ends the ban on rent control in Washington? Why or why not? Would you support statewide rent stabilization similar to Oregon?*

I prime sponsored rent control legislation, and would be supportive of statewide rent stabilization similar to Oregon. I want to work with our housing justice champions and smart legal minds to find the best policy that will have the best chance of prevailing in a legal challenge.

Washington State has ambitious climate goals, but isn’t yet on course to meet them. What do you see as the missing pieces?*

Implementation and enforcement. We need to agencies to staff up and community stakeholders to be at full capacity to implement strongly the laws we passed in the past three years.

Under what circumstances, if any, would you support adding highway lane miles?*

As you all know we recently passed Move Ahead WA. We primarily focused on decarbonization investments, increasing multimodal investments, equity and preservation and maintenance. However, in order to get it through both chambers there were a handful of highway expansion where it had some nexus to mobility, resiliency, and safety. Moving forward, I do see possible need of replacement and adding capacity, so rapid transit can be safely added to current right of way infrastructure.

What reforms of the Growth Management Act do you support, if any?*

We need to embed equity and climate science into our GMA. I would like to see us using technology, neighborhoood, regional planning models that help fast track equitable green carbon neutral builds rather than punish small developers and homeowners who want to welcome neighbors or build ADU, co-housing, etc into our urban growth centers, and in our adjacent. I want creative solutions to incentivize passive housing and conservation and deincentivize mcmansions and make sure cities that carved themselves out of full responsibility paying their fair share into our common infrastructure from schools, social services, and behavior health have an opportunity to equitably contribute.

Do you think Washington state should have an income tax (yes/no)? If yes, what is the legislative path? If not, would you pursue any tax reform?*

I am from the 37th LD — yes I think if we had an income tax, we could talk more holistically about having a more right sized tax base that is actually progressive. However, our focus must be to defend the capital gains law we already passed and make sure it implements. Also, I support the diligent work led by Rep. Frame in building shared knowledge, analysis and recommendations from the tax work group, and think we need to build on their work. In the immediate, I think we must pursue a wealth tax, we must realize and strengthen the working families rebate program, and we must take time to read and study to make sure that we do not repeat our racist tax history led by our federal government. I am reading and highly encourage all urbanists to read the The Whiteness of Wealth by Dorothy A. Brown.

What more should the State be doing to increase mobility for those who cannot drive or chose not to, a constituency which composes about a quarter of the population?*

I was just speaking with Anna Zivarts of the Mobility Justice Initiative about how we work with our state agencies, local government, labor and the private sector to look at the way we hire, do our work. Historically, we have put barriers to employment and participation where it is really not necessary. We can leverage the workforce “shortage” and the urgency of climate change to advance more inclusive and climate just practices and policies. Rather than the ones rooted in ableism and our addiction on driving personal vehicles.

What approach will you take to promoting public safety?*

Investing in prevention, community infrastructure, ending the school to prison pipeline, and real reinvestment in BIPOC health and leadership. supporting a team of professionals with living wages, that includes badged officers to support community when they are crisis.

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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.