A few years ago at the Climate Solutions annual breakfast, there was a memorable line that I frequently think about: the transition to a low-carbon economy will be the greatest opportunity for equitable growth in the 21st Century. I agree with this. Seattle, because of our progressive values and our natural reliance on a low-carbon grid, can and should lead by example for the country.
I am the environmental candidate in this race. As Vice Chair of the House Transportation Committee, I led on the legislative authorization of Sound Transit 3 with landmark requirements for affordable housing, secured $500 million for housing and education in Seattle, and passed bills that are making our roads and rail system safer.
Seattle has not had a truly effective, progressive, environmental Mayor in our history who has placed this as a very top priority in our city’s development and growth. This has motivated me throughout my career and made me the right candidate to lead Seattle in a bold low-carbon, smart growth agenda at a time when we’re seeing federal retrenchment.
In my first year I will establish a vision for Seattle’s green, low-carbon, environmentally just future. We need a comprehensive plan for transit-oriented growth that locates density strategically and incorporates affordable housing and housing for the homeless. This is a part of shifting our transportation system away from single-occupancy vehicle trips and more broadly away from fossil fuels. To accelerate this shift, we need to support green education in partnership with the Seattle Colleges and the University of Washington's clean energy programs to prepare today's students for the carbon-free economy of the future
Creating pathways out of poverty through new green jobs will be the cornerstone of a larger push for environmental justice. We know that the areas where communities of color, immigrants, refugees, and lower-income communities live are our city’s most polluted, leading them to suffer the greatest adverse public health effects. The City’s Environment and Equity Initiative has been addressing this by involving these communities in environmental planning that advances race and social justice. As we build on this start and implement the ideas developed in the Equity and Environment Agenda, we need to ensure that those most affected by environmental inequity continue to have agency as we make progress toward a healthier, cleaner, and greener city for all.
- Leading the country on climate change. With the federal government withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, cities and states need to fill the void. I will make Seattle a leader on this issue by convening a summit with other progressive cities and developing an inter-city compact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Our leadership should start with fully divesting Seattle City pension funds from fossil fuels.
- Moving to a low-carbon economy. We can encourage greener growth by adding development points for new green building innovations, advocating for low-carbon fuels, building out Seattle City Light’s infrastructure for electric vehicles, and transitioning the city’s fleet to electric vehicles.
- Greening our transit system. I will personally lobby in Olympia for bike and pedestrian funding, Safe Routes, electric vehicle infrastructure, and to hold the line against any attempts to gut Sound Transit’s leadership model.
- Involving communities of color and lower-income communities in crafting and implementing solutions. The framework of city-wide programs and initiatives should provide space for flexible, creative, neighborhood-level initiatives that take into account the experiences and cultural practices of local communities, including immigrants and refugees, and that directly address their concerns.
- Seeking partners among nonprofits, communities of faith, and private businesses. We should expand the Environmental Justice Network in Action by actively recruiting organizations with the on-the-ground knowledge and relationships to make effective change.
- Cleaning up our waters. I support a dedicated funding source for Puget Sound clean up and policy solutions based on polluter-pays principles. We can use tax policies and incentives that reduce point-source pollution, runoff from transportation infrastructure, and adverse impacts from development. I will protect existing habitat and opens space by focusing development in urban centers and making transportation investments that support urban density. Finally, I will work closely with regional, statewide, and federal partners on the management of water quality in Lake Union and Lake Washington.