Housing is a basic need and everyone in King County should have a place to live. But housing has become unaffordable for too many.  King County can and should do more to ensure our neighbors experiencing homelessness are housed. As a member of the King County Women’s Advisory Board, I have advocated before the King County Council for increased investments in affordable and permanent supportive housing. As a King County Councilmember, I will make tackling the affordable housing and homeless crises a top priority. While King County has helped to lead regional efforts to create affordable housing and advance approaches to address homelessness, the County must act with urgency to acquire more land and scale up known solutions to create more affordable housing, and address the root causes of homelessness. I will work with community and those with lived experience to deliver on the following: 

  • Acquire, construct, preserve and subsidize affordable housing so that everyone has a place to live and no household is cost burdened. King County should work with the cities and regional partners to secure a dedicated funding source to help create affordable housing to meet the goals of the Regional Affordable Housing Task Force. 
  • Expand missing middle housing and transit-oriented development to allow for the creation of more affordable housing connected to services, amenities, and transit. Consistent with Councilmember Girmay Zahilay’s missing middle housing resolution work to lower barriers to construction of more multi-family housing. 
  • Increase access to affordable housing, behavioral, and physical health care for those experiencing homelessness through shelter, permanent supportive housing, and affordable housing options. In partnership with the King County Regional Homelessness Authority and those with lived experience, scale up peer navigation models to help our unhoused neighbors connect to housing, increase access to 0-30% AMI housing and expand JustCARE, Health Through Housing, and other programs that work. 
  • Preserve affordable homes for tenants and fight against displacement, build on the King County Equitable Development Initiative, increase renter protections and adopting a Fair Chance Housing ordinance to address housing discrimination; 

Climate change is an existential crisis that is affecting all of our communities and disproportionately affecting Black, Indigenous and communities of color, immigrant, and low-income communities. King County must be a regional leader in urgently tackling climate change and advancing climate justice. As an environmental attorney and activist for climate action and justice, I have advocated for statewide and local measures to reduce carbon emissions and rapidly transition off fossil fuels. I am running to be an environmental leader on the King County Council because we need more urgent action to address our climate crisis and create a more sustainable future. 

The County has taken significant steps by adopting and moving towards implementation of the King County 2020 Strategic Climate Action Plan and the Sustainable and Resilient Frontline Communities Section centering climate equity and community.  But the Council must more actively engage and partner with frontline communities and develop policies to advance climate action and justice through clean transportation and transit-oriented development, equitable green jobs, green buildings, and investments to electrify and transition off fossil fuels. The County should further environmental protection through the restoration and conservation of open space, recycling and solid waste infrastructure, and necessary upgrades to our wastewater treatment system to maintain clean water and prevent spills. 

If elected, I hope to deliver on the following priorities: 

  • Advance climate action and justice by partnering with disproportionately impacted communities to increase transit and electrify buses and vehicles, increase energy efficient buildings by implementing green building codes and transitioning to electric heating, cooking, and cooling, and incentify missing middle housing and urban development.
  • Establish an equitable pathways to green apprenticeships and jobs to advance sustainability and ensure an equitable and just transition to a clean energy economy; 
  • Upgrade King County’s wastewater treatment systems to ensure we are protecting our clean water and preventing additional wastewater pollution; 
  • Invest in King County’s solid waste infrastructure, create new recycling markets and increase the purchasing of recycling content to achieve zero waste of resources by 2030; 
  • Steward sustainable use of natural resources by working with the King Conservation District, continuing to protect open space, and empower local communities towards sustainable stewardship; 

Sarah presenting the King County Women’s Advisory Board’s Recommendations on Improving Childcare Affordability and Access to the King County Council

The pandemic laid bare the existing inequities in King County and the need for increased investment in services for all our communities. As a citizen advocate and member of the King County Women’s Advisory Board, I have advocated for increased and equitable investments in child care, behavioral health and services for survivors of gender-based violence. Since the pandemic King County has utilized County and federal funding to increase investments in housing, behavioral and public health, services to support survivors of gender-based violence, and local businesses, but even these investments are not adequate to meet the need. King County has also declared racism as a public health crisis. King County should partner to increase service delivery and actively dismantle racism to better ensure the health of BIPOC communities, youth, the elderly, veterans, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable populations so all in our community can thrive. If elected, I would work to: 

  • Urgently address the behavioral health crisis by working with community to pass the King County levy to build crisis care centers, increase treatment beds, and expand the workforce of behavioral health providers countywide. Invest in additional Mental Health and Drug Dependency (MIDD) providers and continuing professional education. 
  • Help to end Gender-Based Violence through youth led education, effective prevention strategies, mobile advocacy, and behavioral health & housing investments to meet the complex needs of survivors; 
  • Build on Best Starts for Kids and child care investments to ensure that all children and families in King County have the support to thrive. Continue to invest in child care subsidies and the workforce of child care providers through retention and wage boosts. 
  • Expand investments in youth, including before and after development programs to address educational inequities and end the school to prison pipeline.  

Before, during, and after the pandemic I have been a public transit rider and advocate. I started taking Metro as a teenager to get from Queen Anne to high school in the Central District and now commute with my son to his daycare and my job in downtown Seattle. To me—like so many King County residents—the bus has always meant mobility and freedom—to get to school, to work, to local businesses, and to the great destinations our county has to offer. In addition to being a rider, I am a longtime transit advocate. While serving as President of the UW Graduate and Professional Student Senate at UW Law, concerned that the UW’s U-Pass was threatened because of declining revenue, I worked with fellow student leaders to advocate for and win a universal U-pass to save the program. Most recently, I helped to mobilize community members and Democrats to urge their policymakers to support local and state transit investments. 

Presenting the GPSS/ASUW proposal universal U-Pass proposal to the Board of Regents.

The King County Council has an important role in delivering safe, reliable, and equitable public transit to the region. As your King Council Councilmember, I will work to create a world-class public transit system where every community member has access to reliable, affordable, fast, and safe transit options.  While King County has led in delivering public transit options, our current system does not ensure that all our neighbors have access to fast, reliable, affordable public transit and the impact of the pandemic has left the County with work to do to help Metro Transit recover.  In King County and in the 4th Council District, lack of transportation and transportation costs disproportionately impact communities of color, disabled people, youth, and those with fixed incomes. As your King County Councilmember, I will work to elevate community voices and particularly those disproportionately impacted by bus deserts and lack of access to transit options to further mobility access and justice. Together we can deliver on the following priorities: 

  • Improve Metro bus access, reliability, speed, and safety. Restore and increase service hours, availability, and routes through the 4th Council District and speed up the transition to zero-emission buses. Build a coalition to pass a countywide measure to fully implement Metro Connects to deliver faster, reliable, and accessible bus service that connects every community member to the regional transit system and helps to build a workforce of bus operators, mechanics and other staff. Work with our partners in the labor community to direct funding to more and better incentives to hire and retain the staff who make Metro possible.
  • Deliver light rail to Ballard and equitable transit-oriented development. As our region is growing rapidly, work to ensure that light rail to Ballard is delivered on time, connects to existing transit, and fully utilizes opportunities for transit-oriented development in a way that creates additional affordable housing and connects our communities.  
  • Fully implement an income-based fare structure to ensure that everyone can ride transit. King County recently implemented a zero-fare policy for youth so that now all youth can ride transit for free. King County should build on this program by fully adopting an income-based fare system that includes a transit pass program for all our neighbors that cannot afford to ride. 
  • Create a program to require larger employers and provide incentives for medium and smaller workers to subsidize transit passes for all their workers modeled after the Transit Riders Union’s ORCA for all campaign. Currently, higher wage earners are more likely to receive subsidized transit passes than lower wage workers who are more cost burdened, have longer commutes, and are disproportionately women and BIPOC. King County should build off the success of existing programs and design programs to put fully subsidized transit passes in the hands of the workers who need them most. 
  • Work towards truly restorative enforcement policies. King County has taken big steps to move away from punitive and towards restorative fare enforcement, but we must continue to work with Sound Transit and other agencies to move towards just and equitable fare enforcement. 

King County must do more to ensure that all community members feel safe and connected in their communities. This requires re-imagining our public safety and criminal legal systems through rooting out racism and racial disparities and increasing investments in upstream community-based solutions, diversion and reentry programs, and gun violence prevention. When youth and community members are in crisis, King County should lead with appropriate interventions and diversion into behavioral health and substance abuse treatment, housing, and community-based programs. Adult detention should be limited and include appropriate services and supports to break the cycle of recidivism and barriers for the formerly incarcerated. 

  • Continue progress toward the achievable goal of zero youth incarceration and end the prison pipeline through continued and expanded investments in early interventions, restorative justice, and youth diversion programs.  
  • Enhance public and community safety by reducing crime, and recidivism by investing in crime prevention strategies and continued expansion of behavioral health and substance abuse treatment services, diversion programs and alternatives to incarceration. 
  • Reduce gun violence by partnering with King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and government to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous community members and invest in evidence-based community-based programs to interrupt the cycle of gun violence;
  • Re-imagine the King County Correctional Center and create a King County reentry pilot program to help criminally legally involved individuals access vital services to reduce recidivism and address racial disparities. The King County Jail is failing too many criminally legally involved individuals, particularly those with chronic mental health and substance abuse conditions, and needs to be resized and re-imagined. King County should ensure alternatives to the King County jail are available for vulnerable populations with chronic mental health and substance abuse conditions. King County should pilot a voluntary reentry program to reduce recidivism by ensuring that those who exit the King County Correctional Center are connected with health, housing, skill development and mentorship.