Sisters and Brothers,
Like so many of you, I want to live in a city based on social justice. A city free of discrimination and poverty, with racial and gender equality, where all people can work and live in dignity.
But the reality in Seattle is far different.
Our city is becoming increasingly unequal and unaffordable. In one Seattle, glittering fortunes are being made for the super-rich and the major corporations that dominate its landscape. The other Seattle, where the rest of us live, faces skyrocketing rents and underfunded services.
While the Mayor and City Council give sweetheart deals to billionaire developers, we’re left with “stakeholder” committees and empty promises.
Instead of investing in desperately needed mass transit, this same arrogant political elite is doubling down on the Bertha boondoggle, threatening to rack up hundreds of millions of dollars in cost overruns while safety concerns mount.
The political system in our city and throughout the country is beholden to corporate cash. A Republican-controlled Congress brazenly champions the interests of Wall Street. Here in Seattle, where the Democratic Party has governed for decades, big developers and downtown business interests nonetheless dominate city politics.
I am committed to building an alternative to this model of corporate politics. We need political representatives who are independent of corporate cash and corporate parties, who will give voice to the needs and aspirations of working people.
Together we made history in November 2013 when you elected me as a grassroots candidate that did not take a penny in corporate donations. I ran as an unapologetic representative of working people with a promise of passing a $15/hour minimum wage and shaking up the cozy relationship between downtown businesses and the majority of the city council.
In line with the principles of the political party I represent, Socialist Alternative, I pledged to stay accountable to working people by taking only the average worker’s wage. Seattle City Councilmembers pay themselves $120,000 per year – the second highest amount of any city council in the country. Inevitably, such a salary removes councilmembers from the realities of life for poor and working people.
I only accept $40,000 per year after taxes. This amount is roughly the full-time take-home pay of an average Seattleite. The remainder of my salary goes to a Solidarity Fund to help build social justice movements.