The Emerald invited top candidates running for Seattle City Council’s District 9 position to tell readers why they deserve South Seattle’s vote. Voters have until Aug. 3 to cast their vote in the primary election.
by Nikkita Oliver
The Souf End is my home and I do mean “Souf.”
My first community organizing experiences were at Graham Elementary School where I served as the program assistant, and later program director, of the Mekong Learning Center. As a Black student and educator, I have experienced anti-Blackness and school pushout in our education system. Black, Native, and brown youth targeted by the school-to-prison-to-deportation pipeline taught me how important it is to trust their brilliance in improving their educational experiences in the classroom and after-school. Working alongside our South End students and families, I learned how to center the needs of those most impacted by systemic oppression in our solution-building and policy-making.
In the South End, we are resilient, mobilized, and creative. We have plans for our neighborhoods and a vision for what it means for us to thrive — for our families to own homes, for our children to inherit our legacies, and for our elders to age in place. We are also systematically disenfranchised and economically dispossessed by a city government that loves to flaunt its Race and Social Justice Initiative. In our neighborhoods, the growing racial wealth gap, housing affordability crisis, gentrification, over-policing, and the epidemic of gun violence are a part of our daily reality.
Our region has seen immense economic growth, but if economic growth destroys our neighborhoods and climate, is it a boom or a bomb?
Every election, politicians promise to divert resources to the South End. They promise shared economic prosperity, sidewalks, jobs and educational opportunities; they promise to show up when called upon; and to invest in the solutions and strategies we have identified will most empower our future vision for our neighborhoods. The fact is, however, that these same politicians rarely do. I have lived through many such elections, full of fleeting, seldom-kept promises to the South End community — especially to our Black and brown communities who continue to be pushed out of the City. The difference between me and my opponents is that what happens to the South End also happens to me.
This is why I have not waited until an election to stand with the South End of Seattle. I have been organizing in and with South End communities for nearly 17 years. I, like so many on the edge of displacement, worry that this will be my last year being able to afford housing in Rainier Beach.
Over the next four years, I will work with our communities to address our reliance on regressive property taxes and levies and to generate sustainable and progressive revenue streams. I will fight for community benefits agreements and anti-displacement policies so that new developments reflect our communities’ vision and priorities while supporting our right to thrive and age in place. I will push for investments in cooperatives and community land trusts because we need both affordable housing and homeownership opportunities if we are to close the racial wealth gap. I will work with our partners in organized labor and in education, many of whom have endorsed the Nikkita4Nine campaign, to promote quality education, thriving union jobs, affordable transportation, housing for all, and a Green New Deal.
I walk it like I talk it, but you don’t have to take my word for it:
Sean Goode, Executive Director of Choose 180*, shares, “Nikkita came to our city [17 years ago], served as a chaplain at Alder, a dean of students at Seattle Urban Academy, helped launch Freedom Schools, became the director of Creative Justice, was driven to get their law degree in pursuit of righting wrongs perpetrated upon our youth, ran for mayor, and now is running for council. Everything they have done since they have chosen Seattle as their home has demonstrated why we should choose them to represent us.”
Jerrell Davis (Rell Be Free), musician & community organizer, shares, “KO [Nikkita] has put their time, energy, and lifeblood into young people and the South Seattle community at large through real relationships. I’ve been on teams and campaigns with them for years. They always bring brilliance and an open heart to the spaces they organize in. I trust and expect that their political platform and their actions as Council Seat 9 will include, invest in and stay authentically connected to the South End.”
When I moved to Seattle at 18, the South End opened its arms, gave me a home, and raised me up. I promise to keep paying it forward. Vote Nikkita Oliver for Seattle City Council, Position 9 (citywide).
*Quotes in individual capacity
📸 Featured Image by Susan Fried.
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