OPINION | Why We Don’t Have to Vote for Our Race/Ethnicity in Local Elections

by Sharon Maeda

There is no such thing as a post-racial society, as was proposed when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. And despite the recent rise in racially motivated crimes, vandalism and harassment of BIPOC communities, some things have changed for the better. We no longer have to wring our hands and hope for the best when a person of our racial or ethnic group is not ready for prime time, but we still feel compelled to vote for them out of ethnic solidarity.

We can vote for people we know have integrity and a commitment to bringing justice to our communities in these uncertain times. We can vote for the person who most closely shares our values, who we can trust, who is supported by those we respect, and who we know will listen when we raise important issues, policies and crises. We no longer have to vote for someone who is “like us.”

As a self-proclaimed political junkie, I learned long ago that supporting (or not) a candidate based on one community, one issue, or one statement is short-sighted. Part of our responsibility as voters is to do enough research to be confident that the person we are voting for is capable of doing the right thing when under pressure or when completely unforeseen problems arise. Two years ago, who could have known that the struggle of women and our allies that was fought over 50 years ago would become an issue again. From civil rights to a woman’s right to choose, we have been bombarded with serious issues that we thought were legislated and enshrined long ago.

At the local level, policies and programs related to education, gentrification, hate crimes, homelessness and the Seattle Police Department—to name a few—will undergo changes before elected officials and agencies implement lasting solutions. We can never predict what problems will arise when a person takes office, or how he may succumb to pressure and vote in a way we could not imagine. But that’s why there are deadlines and elections. If we don’t like what an elected official has done, we can vote for him in the next round. This is how democracy works.

Diversity is at the forefront this year because we have candidates of color competing against each other. There is no longer the unofficial positioning of an “Asian place” or a “black place” that existed when Seattle City Council members Sam Smith and Norm Rice or County Council members Ruby Chow or Ron Sims were in power. I remember the disappointment and concern raised in both the black and Asian communities when Gary Locke and Norm Rice faced each other for governor. Many of their friends and supporters were the same people in both communities. Although I was friends with Locke, I had been friends with Rice and his wife, Dr. Constance Rice, since our graduate days at the University of Washington. I volunteered for Rice’s campaign and was criticized for not supporting an Asian candidate. Since then, I’ve thought a lot about racial and ethnic voting.

Today, there are no fewer than eight races in King County alone in which both candidates are people of color, from Auburn (City Council Position 5: Robin Mulenga vs. Clint Taylor) to Renton (City Council Position 5: Ed Prince vs. Marvin Rosete). and many others competing in other races.

Here in the South End, women of color are competing in two major races, and voters have real choices.

King County Council

Ruby Chow was a pioneer who won election to the council for the first time in 1974, but only once did more than one person of color sit on the council at the same time. Ron Sims and Larry Gossett served simultaneously for two years before Sims was named to lead King County when CEO Gary Locke became governor.

For the state’s most populous county, home to Washington’s only minority congressional district, this fact is a bit of a shock. Councilman Girmay Zahilay, and before him Larry Gossett, have been the only people of color on the council in recent years.

In King County Council District 8 this year, Seattle City Councilwoman Teresa Mosqueda ran against Burien Mayor Sofia Aragon. guarantees that the Colored Woman will join Sickly, who runs unopposed. The district covers most of South Seattle and surrounding areas, from West Seattle to First Hill and Capitol Hill, through Downtown Seattle, Pioneer Square, Chinatown International District, Little Saigon, Georgetown, SoDo and South Park to White. Center, Tukwila, Burien, Maury and Vashon Islands. Voters should look to see which of these women can best serve this diverse district and not just be the first Filipino or the first Latina.

Aragon, a registered nurse, is a good person who has been an advocate for nurses in Olympia, she was a Burien council member and the current mayor. She recently voted to ban camping on city property. She is supported by the former governor. Gary Locke and State Representatives. Mia Gregerson and Eileen Cody. She was supported Seattle Times.

Mosqueda is a longtime advocate for justice who has worked as a community and health advocate and labor organizer and currently serves on the Seattle City Council. It is supported by most labor unions and community/ethnic PACs (political action committees that are allowed to endorse candidates). She’s approved Stranger.

If Aragon had been in a different race or not against Mosqueda, I would have felt comfortable voting for her. But Mosqueda’s decades of progressive work for justice make this an easy choice. I will vote for Teresa Mosqueda.

Seattle City Council

Unlike the King County Council, the Seattle City Council has much more diversity. Beginning with Wing Luke in 1962, Sam Smith in 1967, and Liem Tuay in 1969, 18 people of color have been elected to the city council. In November, the top two candidates will be incumbent Tammy Morales and newcomer Tanya Wu. Thus, a woman of color will hold the seat in the second district. Voters have a real choice, although there are significant differences between the two candidates.

Morales is a progressive Latina Jew who has invested $250 million in the area and has worked to address issues of homelessness, racism in Black and Asian American communities, the need for more mental health services and gentrification at the policy level. She is supported by Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal; many trade unions; former elected officials Velma Veloria, Mona Das and Larry Gossett; and current King County Councilman Girmay Zahilay. She was approved Stranger.

Wu is a Chinese-American small business owner and former local TV journalist who became an advocate for the Chinatown International District as her family’s building was rebuilt after a fire and the COVID-19 crisis. During the months of campaigning, she has improved her knowledge of the issues, but she still lacks a broader understanding of the very diverse District 2. She has the support of the former governor. Gary Locke, elected officials Sharon Tomiko Santos and Bob Hasegawa, and the Master Builders Association Affordable Housing Council.

Full disclosure: I cannot vote in this race. I live just off Rainier Ave., across the border of District 2 and District 3. I firmly believe in what former Parkland student leader David Hogg called his gun rights organization “The Leaders We Deserve.” The residents of District 2 deserve a City Council member who practices democracy. I grew up learning that registering and participating in voters was more important than getting a driver’s license to come of age, because, as happened to my family and 120,000 people of Japanese descent during World War II, “they could send us back to concentration camps.” if we don’t do it.” Do not pay attention. Tanya Wu, as reported in Stranger, did not register to vote until she was 37, saying she was too busy to vote. In my opinion this is disqualifying despite recent good work in one area.

So, in both the King County and Seattle City Council races, I support two wonderful progressive women of color running against two Asian American women because Teresa Mosqueda and Tammy Morales are the proven leaders we deserve and need secure our democracy. And I will continue to recruit amazing young AA&NH/PI and other BIPOC men and women to run for office in future elections.

The South Seattle Emerald is committed to providing space for diverse viewpoints in our community, recognizing that differing viewpoints do not negate mutual respect among community members.

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by participants on this website do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and views of Emerald or the official policies of Emerald.

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