Photo of Seattle City Council Candidate Sara Nelson

OPINION: Why I’m Voting for Sara Nelson

by Bishop Ray A. Rogers, Sr.

My name is Bishop Ray A. Rogers, Sr. I was born and raised just blocks from Franklin High School. I grew up playing kickball on the John Muir playground, riding my bike up and down Mount Baker Boulevard, and pop-locking at Mount Baker Community Club dances. As a fresh-faced high school student, I remember the pride I felt watching the Empire Way street signs come down and the MLK Way signs go up. I also remember the pain just a few years later, as I watched the same neighborhood ravaged by the crack epidemic of the nineties. Today, I serve my community through Circle of Love Outreach.

My mother was a strong woman who advocated better opportunities for people of color. My father marched with the Black Panthers as a clergyman and advisor and preached in the iconic and historical Goodwill Missionary Baptist Church.

My parents taught me early on about the power of one’s voice, and the need for people who were willing to become the voice of their community. I learned that change doesn’t have to come with violent rhetoric and division, but with clear, honest, and genuine motives that bring people together. Sara Nelson is that kind of a leader.

Why I like Sara Nelson: When I think about leaders, I remember that some of the greatest I’ve met didn’t lead from the walls of their office. Many simply stood beside me during Saturday afternoon community feeds or shared footsteps during peace vigils and marches. The voice of encouragement, compassion, and genuine concern.

That’s what Sara Nelson is all about. She has a true interest in your story — truly listening, and oftentimes, relating. She has a story as well, one of overcoming addiction. She brings an honest and true empathy for others that is often found in those that have gone through trials and tribulations of their own.

Sara and I have shared many deep conversations, and I find that there are many areas where we are in agreement. I would like to share them with you.

Reducing violence is a priority for me. I’ve seen too many young lives lost. Sara is committed to reducing easy access to firearms for those at higher risk of engaging in violence. This includes daily data reported from court proceedings. Reducing violence also comes with more community engagement programs, including mentoring, work preparedness, and gang intervention services.

Improving relationships between police and communities of color. Sara will champion interwoven procedural justice and implicit bias reduction into law enforcement training and operation. Abolishing the police is not the answer. Instead, we must sponsor and foster opportunities for more police/community partnerships. This includes community leaders policing their very own neighborhoods in a collaborative effort with law enforcement. We need to reform the police in a manner that holds officers accountable and keeps everyone safe. And we need to fund it accordingly. Good policing requires more investment, not less.

Transformational change in how Seattle governs. Sara brings a new perspective as both a small business owner and someone who has faced the aforementioned trials of life. She brings compassion, understanding, and empathy as only someone with her background can. She brings concrete policies that will mend the disconnect that the current council has with our neighborhoods. Remember, Sara has real policy-making experience and is capable of navigating the complexity of local government. She’ll hit the ground running without distractions or being railroaded by the status quo.

Helping our homeless neighbors is important, and Sara Nelson has real solutions aimed at getting people out of tents and into short, medium, and long-term housing, as well as directly funding mental health and addiction treatment. I was once homeless. Because of my addiction, I lived for months in the park next to the Courthouse, the same block where Circle of Love Outreach later held community feeds (prior to the park’s closing).

There is so much more I want to tell you about Sara Nelson. But I will end this by saying that Sara is my friend, and I hope that you will consider her your friend as well. A genuinely good candidate and a genuinely good person, Sara Nelson.

Bishop Ray A. Rogers, Sr. stewards Circle of Love Out Reach in Seattle.

📸 Featured Image: Sara Nelson (Photo by Alex Garland)

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