by Chamidae Ford
Tosh Sharp, a civil service commissioner and Tukwila community leader, recently announced his campaign for Tukwila City Council seat one. He is currently unopposed.
Sharp launched his campaign because of his desire to create change in Tukwila that he feels would benefit the residents of the increasingly diverse city.
“Historically, I’ve been just a man of action,” Sharp said. “I know that sounds like a cliche, but the way that I am, when I see something that needs to be fixed, or it needs to be addressed, I kind of just do it.”
While he never intended to run for office, Sharp believes being on the City Council will allow him to have a larger impact on the community. One area of his focus is on policing in Tukwila.
During his time in Tukwila, Sharp has had two encounters with police officers in which he was treated as a threat during moments when he had been attempting to report a crime. While discussing these interactions with his neighbors who shared similar experiences, he recognized a pattern within the department.
“Issues like law enforcement are kind of a big deal to me, especially how I was treated here in Tukwila. So I wanted to fix it. And the only way to fix it is by getting involved,” Sharp said. “I discovered that by just talking to my neighbors. The community I live in right now is predominantly immigrants from East Africa. [And] they were echoing the same things that I experienced, except worse.”
Following these experiences and conversations, Sharp joined the Community Oriented Policing Citizen’s Advisory Board as a way to hold police officers more accountable.
“What I’ve been able to do is talk to the chief, put questions to him that the community brings to me and I get to challenge him,” Sharp said.
Sharp stressed that there needs to be a change in how police officers view their role in the community.
“As far as the relationship we have with police, the police need to be more customer-driven,” Sharp said. “Like: ‘I’m here to help you. I’m here to serve you.’ I mean that’s part of your motto. You’re not here to enforce the law. You are here to help me and in doing so you maintain and uphold the law. And so it’s just a different perspective.”
Many of Sharp’s goals and concerns about Tukwila stem from his own lived experience, growing up in a financially unstable single-parent home. Having paid his way through college and attending night school to get his degree, Sharp is comfortable with hard work and has a desire to address the city’s finances as well.
“We live in Tukwila, we have budget issues,” Sharp said. “We want to do all these nice things for people, and that’s fine. But in order to do that, you have to get your financial house in order. And that’s really what I want. I want to provide value to the citizens of Tukwila. And the only way to do that is … looking at what we’re spending our money on and then offering options to the people and then getting the things that they actually need that they actually want.”
By getting the “financial house in order,” Sharp hopes to address some of the issues of accessibility facing commuters who live or work in the city.
“I believe that, with the full weight of city government, we can increase the availability of bus service that makes it a little bit better for folks who need to use it every day,” Sharp said. “Not everyone can drive, and a lot of the folks I talked to and represent can’t afford to have to park. So they have to use the bus. And as far as just moving around the city, the bus services could be a lot better.”
Another one of Sharp’s main concerns is addressing rising housing costs. He wants to tie the minimum wage to inflation to combat the ever-climbing cost of living.
“The best way to get people to afford the property here and to afford housing is to pay them enough money so that they can afford to live here,” Sharp said. “It will make sure that folks who are just starting in that workforce at $15 an hour or whatever it happens to be, still have the same buying power they did when that legislation came in.”
Sharp’s platform as a community-focused leader who’s available to the public is the cornerstone of his campaign.
“I’m the guy that will tell you: ‘Look, we can’t afford it.’ Or ‘look, that’s not the most ideal way to do things.’ And I’m not going to give you a non-answer because the worst thing about asking a politician a question is not really getting a real answer and not being able to seek them out,” Sharp said.
Ultimately, Sharp is just hoping to reinforce the idea that Tukwila is a great place to live.
“I’m here to safeguard your money, add value to the city, and make a decent, good decision that you’ll be happy with [so] that you will have no problems calling yourself a Tukwila resident,” Sharp said. “And at the end of it, you’re like, ‘you need to move to Tukwila because it’s really great here. They’ve got great things, amenities, and they got great leadership that’s open and honest.’ That’s what I offer.”
Chamidae Ford is currently a senior journalism major at the University of Washington. Born and raised in Western Washington, she has a passion for providing a voice to the communities around her. She has written for The Daily, GRAY Magazine, and Capitol Hill Seattle. You can reach Chamidae Ford at IG/Twitter: @chamidaeford.
Featured Image: Civil service commissioner and Tukwila community leader Tosh Sharp recently announced his campaign for Tukwila City Council. Photo courtesy of Tosh Sharp.
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