Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Lessons Learned Against Legislative Experience When Shukri Olow Challenges King County Council Dave Uptegrove

Dave Uptegrove is seeking a third term on the King’s Metropolitan County Council, where he hopes to use his nearly 20 years of legislative experience to build affordable housing and address the backlog of the judiciary. Shukri Olou wants to replace Uthrove on the council, planning to share his life experiences as a refugee and mother in order to build affordable housing and increase rental assistance.

Uptegrove and Olow, both progressive, vie for a seat on the District 5 Council, representing SeaTuck, Des Moines, Kent and South Renton.

Uptegrove has represented the district since 2014 after serving 10 years in the State House of Representatives.

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Olow, 34, of Kent, an organizer with a doctorate in education, works in the county dispensing funding from the Best Starts for Kids collection. She was born in Somalia, but fled with her family to a Kenyan refugee camp, where she lived for six years until she came to the United States at the age of 10.

If elected, she will be the only black woman elected to any position on the County Council anywhere in Washington.


“When I talked about the problems with housing, you know that for six years of my life I was stateless. I grew up in a refugee camp. I received a Section 8 (Housing) voucher that allowed our family to stay put, ”Olow said. “I offer a different perspective on how communities should be involved, how we need to build trust, how we need to build relationships that are authentic and deliberate.”

Uptegrove, 50, from Des Moines, chaired the State House of Representatives Environmental Protection Committee, and County Councilors worked to make it difficult to build fossil fuel projects – pipelines and oil and gas storage facilities – in the county.

He named his move to block funding by a new county to service T-Mobile Field as one of his most proud legislative achievements. The Mariners Stadium ended up receiving $ 135 million, up from the $ 180 million originally offered before Uptegrove objected, arguing that the money was better spent on housing.

“By getting the courage to take a position, we were able to allocate $ 50 million for the purchase of housing, which was returned back to the community,” said Uptegrove.

Uptegrove says his top two priorities if he wins a third term will be finding places in South King County for more permanent auxiliary housing and increasing funding for courts and prosecutors.

The county has acquired eight buildings, mostly former hotels, in the past two years to convert them into shelters and auxiliary housing. One of them is in the Uptegrove area and he says he would like to bring more. By the end of next year, the county expects to have 1,600 housing units with 24-hour staff for people with chronic homelessness.

But there was also a rebuff from the mayors of the suburbs, whose cities preferred to divert money from the program.

“In the next term, I will use my experience and connections to support these investments in South King County in partnership with cities,” Uptegrove said. “Make sure we get people living on the streets and in parks away from the streets, out of parks and into housing with services and support.”

Olow said her campaign’s four priorities – building affordable housing, investing in public health, supporting small businesses, and redefining public safety – were chosen after meeting with more than 700 residents over the past year.

She wants to expand COVID-19 emergency rental assistance after the pandemic ends and is proposing to build 37,000 affordable housing units.

She does not have a proposed source of funding for any of the proposals, but she says she will speak with the state legislature about finding more progressive funding sources.

“I think there is an opportunity to take a deeper look at our county’s budget and how we currently allocate funding and see if it aligns with our values ​​of racial justice,” Olow said.

Both candidates are unsure if the current funding level is right for the sheriff’s office, or if it should be cut or increased. Uptegrove said they will learn more later this year after reviewing the work of the county’s new Public Safety Advisory Committee, which advises the county on hiring a new sheriff and potential police reforms.

“It remains to be seen whether this will require more or less funding,” Uptegrove said. “I know this: people in my area do not want to see reductions in their local police, it was clear to me.”

Olow said she didn’t get a chance to look at funding for the Sheriff’s Office, but most of the county’s budget goes to public safety, and we need a “better balance.”

“We need to be able to support primary services and investments, including funding community organizations that help support young people and provide public safety through a restorative justice lens,” she said.

Both candidates raised almost the same amount – about $ 225,000 each. Olow has been approved by State Senator T’wina Nobles and Mona Das and State Representative Jamila Taylor. Uptegrove is approved by US Representative Adam Smith, Attorney General Bob Ferguson and MLK Labor Council.

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