Tacoma

City Council-at-Large Pos. 6

PCYD's Endorse Lillian Hunter

Three candidates running for this position responded to our questionnaire:
Meredith Neal
Lillian Hunter
Sarah Morken Primaried Out

Two candidates did not respond to our questionnaire:
Maria Johnson Primaried Out
Gregory Christopher Primaried Out

These candidates have chosen to not participate in our Voter's Guide. Please refer to your Official Pierce County Voter's Guide information.

Candidates are listed in the order they will appear on your ballot.
There was a primary for this office.
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Sanctuary Status

Do you support Sanctuary Status for the area you would represent? Please explain.

Meredith Neal

Yes

Yes. I would support the City of Tacoma become a sanctuary city as it legitimizes the protections many departments in our city are already offering.

Lillian Hunter

Yes

Yes. As an immigrant myself, I believe in protecting all of our constituents and doing so “cleverly” so as to not get on the national radar screen. There is no legal definition for Sanctuary Status and it is a lightening rod with the regard to threats from our disappointing national leader. I subscribe to the model developed by my Danish relatives in World War II: protect masses of Jews, get them evacuated to safety (when the time came) and doing so without the German occupying forces realizing what was going on. My parents were part of this action. The Danish Resistance set the standard for underground resistance. We could learn much from their mode of operation. I am dismayed that this has to be part of our world. How far we HAVE NOT come. Unacceptable!

Sarah Morken

Yes

Yes. Tacoma Police Department should not contact or collaborate with ICE when they encounter a person who they suspect is undocumented.

PCYD & WA Democrats Resolutions

What resolutions from PCYDs or the WA Democrat State Party do you align with?
(PCYD: Decline to Sign I-1552, Petition: Tacoma City Council: Protect Undocumented Immigrants #HereToStay)

Meredith Neal

I support both.

Lillian Hunter

Decline to Sign: All members of our community deserve our protection, respect and consideration. As a former teacher and alternative high school principal, I saw firsthand the emotional toll on individuals who were excluded from protections, respect and consideration. I fought for them then - I continue to do so now (but have expanded beyond the school yard.)
Protect Undocumented Immigrants: We have had a total systems failure with regard to immigrants. It is unfair and inhumane to penalize people who are already here and blame them for those failings. I came here as an immigrant - it wasn't easy and we persevered. My family would not have made it if we had been constantly looking over our shoulders. The whole thing stinks. I am appalled that there is any consideration of deportation of families and children who have been here for decades. No! It's wrong, wrong, wrong. They are here and part of the fabric of our community. Let's not start shredding.

Sarah Morken

Both of those. I’m not aware of other resolutions by the Democratic Party

Goals & Needs of Constituency

If you could achieve three accomplishments in your coming term, what would they be?

Meredith Neal

I have three things I want to work on and accomplish if elected. Affordable housing, living wage jobs, and infrastructure improvements. Tacoma has historically been fairly affordable and had many good living wage jobs, and both of those are in danger. For housing, I believe that we need to add more housing inventory at all levels, and we need to review building incentives to more strongly encourage affordable units in new projects. To grow our living wage jobs, we need to strengthen city support of new and growing businesses, attract good employers with living wage jobs, and encourage more workforce development and skilled trades apprenticeships. To address infrastructure I want to make sure we are planning our developments around transit hubs to create spaces where people can live and work in Pierce County.

Lillian Hunter

Millennials have come of age in a period where housing prices and student loan debts continue to rise while wages remain stagnant. As your council member, I will prioritize the following:
1. Increasing the minimum wage isn’t enough! Minimum wage jobs are still on the bottom rung of the earnings ladder and will never realize a family wage middle class income. We need to support business to grow and establish living wage jobs and create pathways for people to get the training needed to secure those jobs. We need to support hard working young people who want to increase their earning income capacity by providing access to education and training with affordable tuition. I’ve spent my career in public education helping others learn the skills they need to provide for their families and to live a life with dignity.
2. Insist that any development is smart development! Building massive micro-units without consideration of neighborhoods, parking, transportation and services run the risk of becoming Tacoma’s tenements of tomorrow. Strategic design with long term vision is critical. We must also require developers to engage in Community Workforce Agreements (hiring local, union workforce) in return for expedited permit processing and create long term win/win strategies.
3. Restore public confidence in local government: citizen involvement, careful listening, and due process. Too many Tacomans are falling behind – city government can do better.

Sarah Morken

I would help my fellow Tacomans stop the construction of the fracked gas plant in our port and fight for a climate bill of rights that would provide legal protection for people to take non-violent direct action against further fossil fuel projects in our city. Housing is a human right. I would help my fellow Tacomans get quality, publicly funded housing built in Tacoma. The housing would be democratically run by the tenants. I would help us set up publicly funded community safety committees, democratically elected by the communities they would serve. I would like to see funding diverted from the police department and instead spent on community safety committees.

What are the top five needs of your constituency?

Meredith Neal

Affordable housing, living wage jobs, access to services, infrastructure improvements such as adequate public transit, and a safe community.

Lillian Hunter

1. Jobs and economy: we need to support the businesses that survived the recession and help them grow new jobs. Concurrently, we have to build the local workforce by providing affordable, accessible training opportunities.
2. Housing: people need to have the capacity to earn a living wage in order to afford decent housing (See number1). Affordable housing has to be done smartly and with long range goals in mind. Building hordes of micro-units is short sited if not balanced with family friendly construction. We need to plan housing that allows for new families to expand – 400 square foot units won’t suffice.
3. Environment: There was a time when Tacoma was known for the “Tacoma Aroma”. Tacoma was also home to one of the most toxic and polluted bays in the country. Over the past few decades, concerned citizens have worked diligently to improve and preserve the quality of our air and water. We will not go back to the days of polluted air and waterways. I will work to ensure Tacoma gets its fair share of economic stimulus and federal aid to support clean air and water which will help existing businesses upgrade operations for environmental gain. We must also be clear with potential investors that our standards for clean air and water will not be compromised. This is not an unreasonable expectation of any port city in this era.
4. Mental Health and Homelessness: The “”revolving door”” approach to mental health and homelessness isn’t working. The city must collaborate with our regional partners, service providers, faith-based communities, and law enforcement, fire, and EMS to address the root causes of homelessness, substance abuse and similar problems in our community. We must establish a strategic long range plan with measurable goals with regard to solving these issues and helping people to a preferred future– and be accountable for the actions. We cannot afford to make the same mistakes as Seattle – throwing money at the issue with no game plan and then wondering why the homelessness continues to spiral out of control.
5. Public safety – we need to restore public safety workforce staffing to pre-recession levels to include police, fire and emergency services. It is not OK for citizens who are burglarized to be told nothing can be done. During the lean years, the City budget was balanced by not filling vacancies in these departments when people retired. This practice spread our public safety officers too thin which is not a good environment for crises decision making.

Sarah Morken

Homes. A healthy climate. Reformed unions. Living wage jobs that help people and the environment.

Connecting with Young People

How do you plan to involve the voices and needs of young people?

Meredith Neal

I look forward to engaging with younger members of our community through making myself accessible.

Lillian Hunter

I've spent 32 years as an educator dedicated to at-risk youth. I have always valued their voices and their potential. I intend to be a full time city council member and work diligently at community outreach to hear all voices including those of our youth. Young people are our future. I will bring clear focus, citizen involvement, active outreach, innovative thinking and common sense to the council.

Sarah Morken

By continuing to collaborate with young activists that Youth Activism of Pierce County. By listening and

Police-Minority Relations

Do you have any plans for improving police-minority relations? Please explain your response.

Meredith Neal

Yes

Yes. I would like to see increased communication and engagement between officers and the public. Project PEACE, and TPD talks are a great first steps but I would like to see more officer engagement with the public.

Lillian Hunter

Yes

Yes. Continuation of the Peace Project (creating opportunities for police and youth dialogue in schools) is great example of pro-active relationship building. I support this program at schools and throughout the community.
It is imperative that our police are not expected to be Immigration Control Enforcers. Preventing, reducing, and solving crime happens when there is trust between law enforcement and community members. If people become afraid to interact with police fearing possible immigration action, public safety will be compromised.
We must restore the public safety workforce staffing to pre-recession numbers. Police (and firefighters) cannot engage in quality work and building relationships when they are spread too thin. This sets the stage for overload and potential calamity. Any profession that has been asked to do too much with too little for too long will become compromised. The public safety workforce must also be afforded regular, ongoing training opportunities in cultural competency and best practices in working with all constituencies - including our minority communities.

Sarah Morken

Yes

Yes. Defund the police and set up community safety committees democratically controlled by the communities they serve.

Homelessness

How will you advocate for the homeless population? Including in regards to city camp sweeps and voting rights?

Meredith Neal

I strongly believe that our homeless need stability before they can be expected to take further steps to get off the streets. In January I participated in the point in time homeless count. Many of the people I met were chronically homeless and dealing with mental health and substance abuse issues. To address these issues people first need a stable space with access to basic things such as clean water, bathrooms, and access to services. I do not believe that camp sweeps are the right way to approach this issue and support the city establishing a safe space for these individuals. Then the real work of address why these individuals are on the streets can begin.

Lillian Hunter

Mental Health and Homelessness: The ""revolving door"" approach to mental health and homelessness isn't working. The city must collaborate with our regional partners, service providers, faith-based communities, and law enforcement, fire, and EMS to address the root causes of homelessness, substance abuse and similar problems in our community. We must establish a strategic long range plan with measurable goals with regard to solving these issues and helping people to a preferred future– and everyone needs to be accountable for the actions. We cannot afford to make the same mistakes as Seattle – throwing money at the issue with no game plan and then wondering why the homelessness continues to spiral out of control.
Reasons for homelessness and the needs of the individuals involved are complicated. A one-size fits all plan cannot be adequately executed. Multiple options must be available with assistance to help people get to a level of functionality, independence, and a life with dignity including shelter, food, safety, self sustainability, and their rights as citizens.

Sarah Morken

I already spoke about public housing. The voting issue for the homeless is huge. If you don't have an address thats a huge barrier to many things including voting. Until the housing issue is improved, I would need to discuss the issue with a lot of homeless people themselves to help figure out ideas for voting access.

Net Neutrality & Internet Privacy

Would you advocate for Net Neutrality on a Federal Level? Please explain your response.
Note: There was an error when creating the questionnaire that originally required a 2250 character response. Any additional characters candidates added as filler only have been removed.

Meredith Neal

Yes

Yes. I support Net Neutrality as the internet it is a vital source of information for all and is a fundamental way to exercise free speech.

Lillian Hunter

Yes

Yes. The internet is the new millennium’s public utility. Just as we expect that all people would have access to the same quality of clean running water and electricity in this modern age - so should the access to internet (and information) be made accessible. This was a primary focus of the Tacoma Public Library when I served on the Board for seven years. We cannot deny access to information to our citizens. Information access by only the elite few fosters oligarchy and fascism and is not consistent with opportunity for all.

Sarah Morken

Yes

Yes. I would need to investigate what grass roots groups are working on this issue and find out how to support them.
It seems like Tacoma is in a good position to help with this fight because we have our own publicly owned broadband system. As secretary for Jobs with Justice I supported the fight to keep Click network publicly owned, rather than leased to a corporation. Tacomans should have free internet.
Admittedly, is an important issue that I am not super informed about. The efforts of corporations and the government to provide preferential treatment of some data over other data is a symptom of capitalism. My activism is rooted in helping my fellow working class see capitalism for what it is, a system based on exploitation of people and nature for the profits of a few. I’m a socialist because I think we need a democratically planned economy based on the needs of humans and the environment and I think it is up to the international working class to fight for this. Under a socialist system Internet would be free for all and democratically controlled, not for profit.
We need a workers’ party in the US, independent of the Democratic Party. Obama’s appointee to the FCC, Wheeler tried to undermine Net Neutrality. As long as the internet is controlled by privately owned corporations, this type of issue will continue to crop up.

How would you protect people in your area from having their info sold through ISP?

Meredith Neal

I would support increased education and awareness so users know how to disable trackers and protect their privacy. Within my ability I would also support policies that require service providers notify users that they are collecting information and provide materials on how to opt out.

Lillian Hunter

Let’s start with a new President sooner rather than later. The recent federal legislation which wiped out privacy protections and will allow our personal information to be sold is a travesty. In the meantime, we need to be vocal with our Federal representatives to reverse this action. On a local level, as the debate about CLICK services continues, one caveat for future negotiations and contract requirements is to secure an assurance that CLICK will not sell private information. That could be a defining issue which ultimately makes or breaks CLICK’s future in Tacoma.

Sarah Morken

I don't know. I would need to consult with technical experts on this issue.

Incumbency, PCYD's Involved & Campaign Consultants

Are you an incumbent to this position?

Meredith Neal

No

Lillian Hunter

No

Sarah Morken

No

Do you have any staff from PCYDs currently working or volunteering for you? If so, what are their names?

Meredith Neal

No

No, former member Alisa Lee is managing my campaign

Lillian Hunter

No

I would welcome your assistance.

Sarah Morken

No

No.

What consultants for this current campaign have you worked/collaborated with?

Meredith Neal

Archway LLC

Lillian Hunter

Progressive Strategies; Kess Smith, Nic Van Putten and Ben Anderstone

Sarah Morken

None.