2020 was unlike any year in history. With the current social unrest, and devastating impacts of COVID-19, we must move forward prioritizing frontline workers and their families, our neighbors experiencing homelessness, and other groups that have been severely affected, especially communities of color. Sarah has lived in Tacoma’s District 2 for over 15 years and truly knows the people of her district - they are her neighbors, have served with her on boards, take her spin classes, and go to her temple. She is committed to being a voice for everyone in her district and ensuring that taking care of the people of Tacoma is a priority.
Don’t see a policy or issue you are interested in right now? Connect with Sarah and share your ideas with her!
Ensure affordable housing
Tacoma is experiencing a housing crisis. With the cost of housing continuing to skyrocket, we are seeing many of our residents displaced. To solve our housing shortage we need to look at housing through an equity lens. Through her work on the Human Rights Commission and working with the Housing Equity Task Force, Sarah helped develop the Home in Tacoma Project. The project has an ambitious goal to create many different housing types throughout the city. Tacoma’s housing crisis disproportionately impacts people of color and Black families in particular. By righting the historic wrongs of redlining and other racist policies, the City of Tacoma can create a new movement and diverse types of housing throughout the city. A strong housing plan must include the missing middle housing, that provides more flexibility in housing types in our City.
Sarah believes we need to continue to incentivize development that includes affordable housing choices, but also allows flexibility in regulations that still incentivize social responsibility. We need to continue to create more housing to have the available housing stock for lower income housing.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically amplified the need for affordable housing in our communities. As many families in Tacoma are navigating the difficulties of job loss or housing insecurity as a result of the pandemic, it is imperative now more than ever that we ensure that there is adequate affordable housing in Tacoma.
Combat the homelessness crisis
With a lack of affordable housing in Tacoma, it comes as no surprise that we as a community are facing a homelessness crisis. In a part of the country that is so innovative and dedicated to serving our community, it is unacceptable that so many of our community members are experiencing homelessness. In addition to the crucial work to ensure affordable housing (as mentioned above), Sarah is dedicated to investing in other creative housing solutions for these community members including transitional housing, co-housing where people have shared living areas and private areas, and working to create more housing options and opportunities for all members of our community. These solutions are not only affordable, pragmatic, and gradual, they are essential for ensuring the safety and health of our communities.
Connecting our community members with the resources they need is a crucial step in helping our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness get back on their feet. In the homeless community, there are always underlying reasons people are unable to successfully navigate many societal norms like housing themselves, having a job, and taking care of their essential needs. Helping people address mental health challenges also helps the community at large by making neighborhoods more livable and reducing the unhealthy byproducts of homelessness.
Without meaningful and significant effort to develop affordable housing opportunities, in the next few years we will see more grandparents and disabled veterans become homeless. Families who work for low wages will no longer be able to achieve housing security. How we address the homeless crisis today will determine whether we help our struggling neighbors secure stable housing or allow members of our community to become chronically homeless. With her experience as a land use planner, Sarah is committed to leading the fight against homelessness in Tacoma by working with our partners in the state, county, and non-profit community to tackle the crisis at all angles. No longer will we allow the homelessness crisis to be put on the back burner.
Disability Services & Inclusion
We as a community need to expand our definition of diversity to include people with disabilities. For too long we have isolated people, especially students, by labelling what they “can’t” do. We put students with disabilities in special ed, assuming they have special needs.
Try this: A quick search of “people with disabilities” on google reveals that there are many ways to talk about serving disabled neighbors in our community. We should start with the language we use, like throwing out “special” because often, people with disabilities’ needs are the same basic needs of everyone else. Those with disabilities should be able to participate in the same way as everyone else does in society.
Talking about disabilities is important because disability represents yet another intersection of diversity. A disability exists when activities such as walking, talking, reading or learning are in some way limited.
As a Tacoma City Councilmember, I will work to ensure disabled people have a voice. And beyond amplification, I want to listen to those in the community who are navigating “normal”. We need to find out how we can be more inclusive without removing disabled people’s control of their lives, and autonomy.
I am listening to people in my community who know more than I do about disabilities. And as an elected official, I will always listen, learn, and grow to better serve our community.
Thank you for always reaching out with more information, and thank you sincerely for sharing.
Create more family-wage jobs
In addition to housing security, Sarah believes that ensuring access to family-wage jobs is one of Tacoma’s most pressing issues. With a lack of employers providing family-wage jobs in Tacoma, many of our community members are left unemployed or are forced to travel out of Tacoma to go to work every day. Sarah will work to fix this issue by incentivizing many industries that are located outside of Tacoma to open local offices so that people do not need to leave our jurisdiction to find work. Further, wages over the past 40 years have not kept up with the increase in the cost of living. The median income of a family of four in Pierce County is $54,000, which is not sufficient for a family to provide reasonable housing and achieve a middle-class lifestyle. Sarah is against anything that lowers wages and will focus on making livable wages available for our families and community members.
While students are learning from home and parents return to work, many families are left without necessary childcare. Sarah will support working families by creating more affordable childcare options while parents go back to work.
Commitment to equity in our community
Sarah knows that systemic racism and inequity exists in our community and strongly believes that our community leaders need to double down on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Getting to work serving the Office of Equity and Human Rights is one of the things Sarah is most eager about. For years, Tacoma has been leading on real, authentic systemic change rooted in a powerufl anti-racist framework; but Sarah knows there is still much to do. Making structural change in matters of equity means electing leaders that not only courageously represent their community, but act as fearless allies amongst the winds of change.
From equal access to employment opportunities, to a fair justice system, Sarah knows that pushing for more equity is a critical step to healing our communities. Sarah brings a new and unique perspective to promoting equity at the city level, always advocating for increased representation on our civil service boards and in elected positions.
Urgent action to address environmental issues
Especially in the Port of Tacoma, Sarah understands the necessity of protecting our natural resources and the environment. The Port of Tacoma poses many different environmental challenges that we as a community must expeditiously navigate. Challenges such as air and water pollution, heavy metals, and fossil fuel emissions. Improving our environmental situation in and around the Port of Tacoma does not, however, need to come at the cost of jobs or our economy. Sarah believes we as a community must create more jobs in the renewable energy sector to decrease our reliance on the fossil fuel industry. We can strike a balance between the critical work of keeping our environment healthy and making sure families can provide for themselves with good jobs. Climate change poses a costly existential threat to both lives and infrastructure. It is imperative that we combat this crisis as quickly and effectively as possible. It is our responsibility to protect the environment so our children and grandchildren can have access to clean water and air, and a thriving green energy sector.
Support public education
Our children are the future, and Sarah wholeheartedly believes in the importance of investing in our education system. The quality of a child’s public education should not be determined by zip code, race, family income, or disability. We must invest equitably in all public schools across the county because all children should have access to high quality public education. It is equally important to invest in our teachers and support them in helping our children grow and thrive. As we navigate the challenges of education during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more crucial to support our educators and families. We must also provide affordable childcare and adequate technology to all families in Tacoma.
Mitigate the impacts of COVID-19
Our communities have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic in many ways. We have lost community members, friends, family, loved ones to this horrible virus, our schools have shut down, and our economy has been seriously impacted by lockdowns. As a small business owner herself, Sarah knows firsthand the struggles of keeping a business’ doors open even in the best of times. These times, as we all know, are far from easy for anyone. Sarah believes we must follow the direction of healthcare experts on how to safely reopen schools and the economy while doing everything possible to support small businesses and families just trying to stay afloat. In order to keep our communities safe, we must fight this virus while also protecting our jobs and economy.