by Cliff Cawthon
On Wednesday afternoon, after much speculation, Washington State Labor Council (AFL-CIO) Political and Strategic Campaign Director, Teresa Mosqueda announced her candidacy for Seattle City Council’s Position 8. The position is one of the council’s two city-wide seats.
Mosqueda’s describes herself as the “collaborative candidate” that “can get things done for voters” as she presently faces off against six other candidates including tenant advocate, Jon Grant and NAACP Vice President, Shelley Secrest – both South Seattle residents.
The University of Washington Graduate says her broad base, willingness to work with the business community as a labor advocate, and her connections across the city are the reasons she’s characterized herself as collaborative.
Denver-born, and Olympia-raised, Mosqueda now resides in Queen Anne. She is a graduate of the University of Washington, with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the Evergreen State College.
Well known in labor circles, she can claim a number of high-profile workers’ rights victories including the passage of I-1433.
According to Mosqueda she helped draft and lead that initiative’s campaign, which established a $13.50/ hr minimum wage for Washington Workers within the next four years, as well as seven days of paid sick leave. Prior to her work with the State Labor Council she worked extensively in public health policy, including on Washington’s [Health] Exchange board under former Governor Christine Gregoire and current Governor Jay Inslee.
Like Jon Grant, she intends to participate in the Democracy Voucher program to ensure “grassroots participation”. Her 75 endorsers are a varied mix, including politicians, lobbyists, lawyers, community leaders, health field professionals, and labor organizers.
The Emerald spoke with Mosqueda briefly late Wednesday evening about her motivations for running for office, and what Councilwoman Mosqueda would mean for South Seattle.
Emerald: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us, let’s dive right in as I’m sure you’re tired from what has been a big day. What are your priorities, vision or message for South Seattle residents?
Teresa Mosqueda: For the residents of South Seattle and other areas that may have been less well-resourced over the years, my interest is making sure that we look at every policy and every investment through an equity lens. Meaning, what can we do for policy, for public health policy in the city to make sure that we’re investing where there’s the most disparity. If you look at a map of Seattle and you look at the areas where there’s the most low-income residents and the areas with the most disparate health outcomes, it’s in some of the areas in South Seattle.
Emerald: For the record, you live in the Queen Anne neighborhood, right?
Mosqueda: Yes! And believe it or not, I rent a one-bedroom. [Before living there] I didn’t realize that it was one of the higher renting areas of the city. I think we see the million dollar homes but, I didn’t realize that I was in good company with other renters there as well.
Emerald: So relating to where you live, what do you think of mixed-use zoning and development?
Mosqueda: I think there are some really good steps being taken with the city. Though, the conversation is still to be had with the community about making sure, as we build up and build out our communities, that it reflects our community values. And I think that we all recognize that there’s not enough affordable housing-period.
Again, I see this as a public health crisis…you have to have a roof over your head…My interest, especially as a renter, and someone who has looked to see what it [may take] to buy one day, is to take my perspective personally and also the community’s perspective on what is affordable and more to find some immediate solutions.
Of course, there’s a tie-in with homelessness and that’s a part of the conversation. We have to create more affordable housing but that’s a part of a broader conversation about what do we do to create community…what else are we going to be providing in the surrounding community? [We] want not just homes where you still have to commute a long ways but walkable and livable communities that you can call home.
Emerald: Do you have any specific unique affordable housing policies that you are championing?
Mosqueda: This is one of the areas that [I’ll be providing updates on] as policy develops more discreetly. It’s not an area that I [can address] with deep knowledge in…what I can say is that we’ll be building a platform collectively with individuals who want affordable housing, small businesses who want to see it established in these new [urban] village centers.
And I think we have to work collaboratively with developers who say that they want to see more affordable housing for a path forward. I know that we have such similar values in the city [in terms of] wanting to fulfill our commitment on affordable housing.
As more buildings go up, we have to think about how do we get housing now and not how do we get affordable housing 10 years from now.
Emerald: You serve an important role on the State Labor council and you mention workers’ issues in the press release you sent us earlier, what are some of the specific policies related to this issue.
Mosqueda: There should be a comprehensive list and evaluation of the potential policy changes that might be coming from the federal level. Whether that’s workplace raids on our community, whether that’s having an increased knowledge of individual workers rights and the ability to say when and if policy changes on the federal level that erodes the workers’ ability to speak up that we collectively, here in Seattle, say that, ‘what’s good for workers, is good for the economy.
What’s good for workers is good for business, and prosperity. There has to be a way, here in Seattle to get above the fray, above the noise and stay together and protect workers’ rights. I think that we can do that in Seattle.
Teresa Mosqueda’s full policy positions can be viewed on her campaign website
Clifford Cawthon is a Seattle based writer originally from New York’s queen city, Buffalo. Clifford has been civically engaged since he was a teenager in Buffalo and his advocacy work taking him to places as far away as Cuba. He’s also an alumni of the University of Manchester, in the UK, where he graduated with an M.A. in Human Rights and Political Science.