Tacoma News Tribune
We endorse: Lakewood, University Place area needs these road-tested state legislators

Tacoma News Tribune | October 3, 2018 By the News Tribune Editorial Board Can you give us a reason not to endorse a pair of proven incumbents? That’s the question we posed to both challengers running for the House seats in Pierce County’s 28th District. Democrat Mari Leavitt and Republican Maia Espinoza made reasonably good cases why they could represent the 28th, an area that encompasses Lakewood, University Place, Fircrest, Steilacoom and DuPont. But in the end, neither challenger persuaded us that voters should toss out a pair of level-headed, even-handed legislators with keen understanding of their complex district, from the gates of JBLM to the grounds of Western State Hospital to the beaches of Anderson Island. For the House Position 1 race, voters may feel they’ve seen this movie before. Rep. Dick Muri defended his seat against Leavitt just two years ago. But this time, Leavitt could very well rewrite the ending. In 2016, Muri won with 52 percent support; fast-forward to the 2018 primary elections, and Leavitt grabbed 53 percent of the vote. Credit Leavitt, 50, for knocking on a lot of doors with a message heavy on progressive themes such as affordable housing and women’s reproductive parity. As former deputy director of Pierce County’s human services department, the UP resident speaks knowledgeably about gaps in the safety net. As an orthodontics practice owner, she’s no stranger to small-business obstacles. Leavitt’s growing popularity is evidence the Blue Wave has hit the swing district. Muri, 64, of Steilacoom, appears undaunted by primary results; instead, the retired Air Force officer focuses on the mission ahead. While Muri’s a reliable Republican teammate, he’s also known for bipartisanship. Case in point: his work with Democratic colleagues this year to modify review procedures for sexually violent predators so they’re not released early. Mental health tops his priority list, particularly with the ongoing assaults, mismanagement and other problems at Western State. The former Pierce County Council member is also a player on transportation issues and an advocate for rail safety, cheaper car tabs and electric vehicles. Yes, this pro-life, Second Amendment-loving conservative has a heart for the environment. With a career built on integrity, plus a tenacity that got him inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame last year, Muri is worthy of a fourth term. In the House Position 2 seat, Rep. Christine Kilduff, a 52-year-old University Place Democrat, and Maia Espinoza, a 29-year-old Lakewood Republican, are portraits in political contrast. But Kilduff is no lemming reflexively following her caucus. In her first two terms, Kilduff opposed an income tax, voted against higher gas taxes and was one of 14 legislators to reject a terrible bill limiting public access to legislative records. (Muri was another.) She also broke with the Pierce County delegation on freezing bridge tolls because it extended debt payments for more years. was another.) She also broke with the Pierce County delegation on freezing bridge tolls because it extended debt payments for more years. A short conversation with this former 18-year state assistant state attorney general and former UP School Board president reveals a formidable intellect that’s an asset in Olympia. Kilduff’s two-term track record lends credence to her mantra: “Fundamental fairness for all and effective government.” Honorable but not flashy, like the lawmaker herself. Espinoza is a private school music teacher who grew up in the 28th and supports GOP causes such as school vouchers and charter schools. Espinoza and her husband also run a small industrial supply company. She’s an organizer in the Hispanic community, including founding the nonprofit Center for Latino Leadership. The Pacific Lutheran University alumna brims with passion and confidence, but she could build credentials by serving in local elected office first. The same could be said of Leavitt. Voters of the 28th should return their incumbent representatives for two more years. Their to-do list is long; let them at it. CHECKING THEIR RECORDS The TNT Editorial Board is partnering again this year with Verify More, a nonpartisan nonprofit watchdog that coordinates background screenings with candidates’ consent. In the 28th District, Dick Muri, Mari Leavitt and Christine Kilduff all participated in the screening; Maia Espinoza did not. To see the database, go online to verifymore.orgRead More

King 5 News
Tacoma schools in one of ‘most difficult positions’ in state, lawmakers say

King 5 News | September 11, 2018 By Allison Sundell State lawmakers wrote in a letter Tuesday that Tacoma Public Schools is “in one of the most difficult positions” of any Washington school district and vowed to fix inequities in the legislative funding formula during the 2019 legislative session. “We recognize that the funding formula agreed upon in 2017 disproportionately affected Tacoma Public Schools and a few other districts,” eight state Senators and Representatives wrote in a letter to Superintendent Carla Santorno and Tacoma school board members. The letter was signed by Sens. Steve Conway, Jeannie Darneille, Jake Fey, and Christine Kilduff and Reps. Laurie Jinkins, Steve Kirby, Dick Muri, and Steve O’Ban, who all have a portion of Tacoma Public Schools in their legislative districts. Lawmakers pledged to focus on improving equity for high-poverty districts, addressing levy capacity and salary regionalization factors, and funding special education, health care, support staff, and institutional education costs. Educators at Tacoma Public Schools, which has about 30,000 students, have been on strike since Wednesday night. Members of the Tacoma Education Association voted to strike after contract talks failed before the first day of school Thursday. The school district asked the union to enter a binding arbitration process Monday where both parties present their case to a neutral third party and must adhere to the arbitrator’s decision. However, the union declined. The negotiations stem from a legislative fix to the McCleary decision, where the state Supreme Court ruled Washington was not adequately funding education. The fix included $2 billion for teacher salaries in the current budget. However, Santorno has criticized the funding model, saying the cap on local levies hurts districts like Tacoma. “Solving the McCleary challenge was never the end of the education funding discussion, nor was it ever the only policy discussion when it comes to schools,” the letter acknowledged. … Read More

80 Middle School Girls Build and Program Robots for Competition at Amazon DuPont Fulfillment Center

By The Suburban Times May 24, 2018 On Wednesday, May 23rd, Amazon partnered with Girls FIRST Washington and the Olympia Robotics Federation to host a day-long robotics competition at Amazon’s DuPont fulfillment center. Amazon also surprised FIRST Washington with a $5,000 donation to support Olympia Robotics Federation and Pioneer Middle School robotic teams. Nearly 80 students from Pioneer Middle School participated in a day-long robotics challenge where the girls learned how to build and program a robot and participated in a mock robotic competition. Amazon managers were on hand to mentor and encourage girls to pursue their interest in STEM as well as prepare them for the jobs of the future in tech and robotics. The purpose of the Girls FIRST Initiative is to recruit and engage girls 6-18 years old in FIRST programs and support their teams through female mentorship and resources. Washington State Representatives Christine Kilduff and Melanie Stambaugh spoke to students about prepping for the jobs of the future, and they along with Representative Dick Muri helped judge the competition. “We’re excited to be partnering with FIRST Washington and ORF to help girls learn about the STEM fundamentals we use right here in our facilities,” said Ben Alder, General Manager of Amazon’s DuPont fulfillment center. “We can’t wait to see the innovative ideas these young minds come up with, and we’re glad to have the opportunity to support programs to help engage young women and encourage the next generation of innovators.” … Read More

My Northwest
Washington’s new homeowner law erases little-known racist past

By Dyer Oxley May 17, 2018 There is a street in Tacoma that determines the fate of many. And it serves as a historical marker reminding the city of a shameful past which still affects modern residents. “We have a street called 6th Avenue, where there is literally a $100,000 difference in sales price for homes based on which side of that street you are on,” said Anders Ibsen, deputy mayor for the City of Tacoma. “In certain neighborhoods in Pierce County there are 20-year differences in life expectancy between some of the richer neighborhoods and the poorer zip codes. All that is a direct reflection of historical and current racism.” Ibsen, along with State Rep. Christine Kilduff, recently chipped away at one little-known corner of the region’s racist past – language hidden in covenants. These are the ownership documents passed down between homeowners, which can include requirements for the properties — bigoted requirements. The language can also be found in some home owner association agreements (HOA) and was used to segregate communities — known as housing segregation or redlining. Just as 6th Avenue historically divided Tacoma. “In West Tacoma in particular, there are a lot of homes that have really ugly language written into their covenants,” Ibsen said. “Even my mom’s house has some of this stuff written, saying things like, ‘The house shall not be conveyed to members of the Hebrew or oriental race.’ Nasty stuff like that.” Tacoma is not alone. Seattle, for example, has struggled with the same issue, where many homes north of the ship canal have deeds with sentences like: “No property in said plat shall at any time be directly or indirectly sold conveyed or leased in whole or in part to any person or persons not of the White race.” Of course, this language has been unenforceable for decades under Washington’s discrimination laws. But that’s not the point, according to Ibsen. “This language is hideous, it’s hurtful and the impacts of racism are still very real for many people,” he said. “….if you are a Jewish homeowner or an Asian American homeowner, and that language is in your deed, that is something that makes you feel inherently different and set apart.”

Washington’s new law

Tacoma residents have been pointing out the racist deed language more and more recently, and the very inconvenient process to change it. So Ibsen and Kilduff spearheaded an effort to pass HB 2514. It passed the state Legislature last session and it will go into effect this summer.
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