by Shasti Conrad
Local elections don’t just matter: They are a matter of life and death for far too many in our communities.
About a month ago, I learned that my hometown of Newberg, Oregon, became the center of attention for all the wrong reasons. The local school board voted to ban symbols such as Pride flags and signs declaring that “Black Lives Matter,” calling them “political statements’’ and therefore inappropriate for school. What they really did was politicize humanity and, in the name of “neutrality,” help the oppressor.
As someone who also had to navigate predominantly white spaces as a student of color, my heart went out to students who, in that vote, witnessed representatives of the community invalidate their entire existence as a mere “political statement” that didn’t belong in a classroom setting.
The fact that Newberg is my hometown galvanized me to take action. And I am now working with people in Newberg to hold school board members accountable for this, by supporting recall efforts for Brian Shannon, and making the Newberg School District more welcoming and equitable. And while the story of Newberg is deeply personal to me, it is also far from unique. These incidents are happening in schools all around the nation and in our own backyard.
Continue reading OPINION: School Boards and Local Elections Are Ground Zero for Our Values
by M. Anthony Davis
It’s okay for two things to be true at the same time. We don’t have to conflate topics. We can recognize nuances within conversations, and even split topics and have multiple discussions simultaneously. Seattle mayoral candidate M. Lorena González has every right to question Bruce Harrell’s stance on sexual abuse, which she has done in debates.
She has the right to question statements Harrell made in support of former Seattle Mayor Ed Murray who had been accused of sexual abuse by multiple victims. While these statements are true, they do not excuse the use of racially charged tropes in a campaign ad. And while it is our duty to stand up for victims of sexual abuse, it is also our duty to take a hard stand against racism.
Continue reading OPINION: It’s Possible to Both Stand Up for Survivors and Against Racism
by Lola E. Peters
Act One was the campaign. We met the players, learned their public backstories, got hints about their character, and were introduced to the context of their stories. Act Two was the primary: a much shorter period where we learned about ourselves. Through social media, on Zoom calls, and over outdoor happy hour snacks we asked, “Who are you voting for?” or “Can you believe so-and-so is voting for so-and-so?” The end of Act Two revealed who were the players representing minor, though no less important, voices but no longer primary participants in the current play. We also learned whose dramatic arcs would move forward to the next act.
Here I sit, in the lobby, looking around at my fellow voters, wondering what they were thinking.
Continue reading OPINION: Political Intermission
by Shasti Conrad
As we prepare for the upcoming Aug. 3, 2021, King County primary election, I find myself doing what I can from raising voter awareness to relentless canvassing, textbanking, and candidate support to channel that energy that we all had for the 2020 presidential election. On that day about 331 million Americans saw their hard work pay off in the successful transfer of power from one leader to the next (Although a small portion of those folks still question the legitimacy of that election, every court in America has found it to be true). On that day we, the American people, said “no” to the bigotry that many across the world thought was irreparably permuting our nation.
While presidential elections may have been my start in politics, from presidential campaigns to the Obama Administration, I hope more than anything to leave a legacy as a strong advocate of local elections. In times like these where forests are burning, where many in our cities are unhoused, and where white supremacy continues to linger under the surface, local elections are the forefront of our democracy. It is incumbent on all of us to vote in every single cycle.
Continue reading OPINION: The Importance of Voting in Local Elections
by Phil Manzano
When talking about his run for Renton City Council, Joseph Todd’s voice breaks slightly and wavers. “I’m sorry, I get a little emotional here.”
He recalls George Floyd’s death a year ago, which sparked a worldwide racial reckoning.
“When we saw a man get murdered in daylight, it begins to bring home, for real, for real, that these systems are trying to kill you,” Todd said. “So that’s why when we created the Renton Residents for Change, it was really all about, ‘We have to get ahead of this.’”
Continue reading Will Local Governments Reflect the Changing Demographics of South King County?