By Michael Ninen, Washington Bus Summer Fellow
When I talk to my friends about voting, too often I hear that they do not plan on voting in an election because the person they wanted to represent them didn’t win and make it to the November general election ballot. A big argument against voting in the upcoming November election is dissatisfaction coming from a system that undermines the votes of many in the primaries. For example, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders were removed from the ballot, which essentially voided their votes. It doesn’t feel great when a system that is already lacking in its representation ends up leaving out many of those who may want to participate. While it is important to vote within the current system, that doesn’t mean we can’t actively work to change said system. You may be wondering; how can we change that? FairVote Washington, a non-profit advocacy organization, believes that they have the solution.
FairVote Washington is an advocacy organization that is fed up with the current way our voting system works. They advocate for ranked choice voting and they want to bring it to our home state. Ranked choice voting is actually a system used all around the world successfully to properly represent the population. Here’s how it works in simple terms. With ranked choice voting, voters have the opportunity to rank in order of preference who is on the ballot. If there is no overwhelming majority, then the candidate with the least amount of support is removed from the ballot and a second round is conducted. Instead of throwing out the votes of a lost candidate, like those from smaller political parties, they get a second choice to voice their support. If your top choice is removed, your vote is then moved over to your second choice. This process continues until one candidate has a majority of votes. There are no lost votes in this system.
A Call to Action:
If ranked choice voting interests you, then you can support FairVote Washington in launching this same system in our state. You can find out more about ranked choice voting and FairVote Washington’s chapter on their Website fairvotewa.org. While this blog briefly looks into the basics of this voting system; it does not cover the complexities of how it should work in complete detail. To find out more please visit their website and, if you so please, sign the petition to launch this voting system here.
In The Patriot Act on Netflix, Hasan Minhaj talks about ranked choice voting. Watch the 30-minute segment at this link to hear more about why our current voting system needs to change!
By JaNaya Hall
From the moment I can remember Seafair has been a high point in all my summers. Let’s talk about a summer without Seafair.
The Beginning Of An Era?
From the moment the famous virus known as “Ms. Rona” arrived, I’m sure no one expected it to linger this long and certainly not to scare this country as much as it has over the months.
Since Corona, our communities as a whole in Seattle have faced so much heartbreak and hurt, from police brutality, all the way to being quarantined for nearly four months. Though we understand the importance of the Stay at Home Stay Healthy order, it has definitely impacted the mental health of our youth not being able to be social, see friends, or enjoy the summer we were all looking forward to. Since its arrival in July of 1972, Seafair has had ahuge effect on the Seattle community and has always been known for the big crowds. Obviously with our current health crisis, big crowds can no longer be. One might ask, “why couldn’t there be virtual Seafair festivities?” I know I did. With that being said, here are some questions you could ask yourself, as well as activities to stay both physically and mentally healthy.
Could the future of our summers really be all in our hands? What could you do?
- Limit social gatherings
- Social distance
- 6 feet apart
- Air hugs 🙂
- Elbow taps
- Sanitize after touching things others might’ve touched
- Wear your mask anytime your outside your household and around others
- Find new indoor activities
- Learn a new language
- Learn a new recipe
- Try new foods
- Play some board games or imessage games
- Work on mental health
- Get a therapist/find resources
- Accept your feelings and sit with them but don’t let them consume you
- Focus on the present
- Write down your feelings and try to understand them
- STAY HOME, STAY HEALTHY!
- Get involved with ‘Defund The Police’
- Sign petitions
- Share links to petitions on your social media
- Take this beyond a hashtag & continue the fight when the “trend” doesn’t
- Listen to your Black and POC friends on what you can do as an ally
- Take walks
- Volunteer with The Bus!!!
Although this may be frustrating, it is not impossible. This summer, in the Washington Bus Fellowship I have learned how to expand my mind as well as an understanding of what it is to appreciate your community. This may be long, but I assure you, we’ll be back soon!
Written by: Megan Thao, Washington Bus Fellow July 21st, 2020
Whether you are coming into the age of voting or you haven’t exercised your right to vote before, here’s why you should vote in the Primaries this year!
What are the Primaries?
The Primary Election is the race that leads to the General Election. Your vote in the Primaries dictates who is going to be on the ballot for the General Election. Your ballot will also include nominations for your state legislatures, state Governor and plenty of other local officials awaiting your vote. Ballots went out July 17th and stay open until August 4th!
YOU SHOULD! Primaries allow you to choose who you want to vote for in the General Election, allowing you to take part in the statewide change that will happen after the election of the next President. The Primaries also affect you locally. The local officials you vote for will be the ones controlling your state’s budget, advocating for your state’s schools, and even affecting your state’s parks and recreation. Voting in the Primaries allows you to build the community you want to live in.
I’m ready to vote, what do I need to do?
- Make sure you are registered to vote!
- Do your research! Take accountability and learn about the candidates, statewide and locally. You can also reflect on the issues you care about and see how different candidates align with what you value.
- Put the pressure on your friends and community to vote. Every vote counts and what matters to you should be heard!
Written by Miki Kusunose, High School Bus Volunteer
We are pumped to announce The Washington Bus’ first round of endorsements! These candidates are advocating for a future we believe in and are empowering young people every step of the way.
T’Wina Nobles– State Senator, LD 28 (parts of Tacoma, Firecrest, University Place, Lakewood, Steilacoom, DuPont)
Running for State Senate in Legislative District 28, the current President of the Tacoma Urban League and two-time University Place School Board Director is pushing for access to quality education, workers’ rights, empowerment of women and girls, and addressing the housing crisis in her campaign.
She champions working with the community: “I will not create policy that is attempting to deal with discrimination due to race, ability, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression without ensuring that there are activists, community members, and organizations at the table in partnership.”
With experience in education, Nobles advocates for the voices of youth. She wants to ensure all students have their voices heard and pursues equity in the education system. As a co-founder of Ladies First, a program supporting young women in schools, she wants to elevate and amplify the voices of women. Nobles seeks to serve her community as she channels her experience from previous community work, from the Poverty Action Network to Multicare’s West Region Mary Bridge Board.
Jamila Taylor– State Representative LD 30 (Federal Way, Des Moines, Auburn, Algona, Pacific, Milton)
Taylor seeks to represent Legislative District 30 as a State Representative. As a business owner, attorney, and a consultant to businesses and nonprofits, she believes the state needs leaders who can address the “shared concerns about post-COVID-19 economic recovery, homelessness and affordable housing, public safety, health care, and equity.”
“I believe that despite Washington’s attempt to be a progressive region, the vestiges of racially discriminatory practices and policies still have impact on communities of color.” Taylor continues: “My presence as a woman of color in the state legislature is not enough. I must be willing to have the difficult, and critical conversations, in public AND behind the scenes.”
Taylor believes incorporating the voice of youth is critical to politics and strives to embody that ideal in her campaign for State Representative: “ I support a fair and equal democracy and will urge all of my constituents towards civic engagement.”
Mari Leavitt– State Representative LD 28 (parts of Tacoma, Firecrest, University Place, Lakewood, Steilacoom, DuPont
As a champion of health care, Leavitt strives to address inequities in her community. Leavitt is running for State Representative of Legislative District 28. Her experience as a State Representative, a PTSA leader, a business owner, and a mother makes Leavitt a multi-faceted community leader.
“As a daughter of a Japanese mother and mother of two African American children, and one who has lived in multicultural environments as a military kid, I’m especially aware of the critical nature that equity is to health, education, and employment options for the success of disadvantaged young people. Every decision I make is viewed through a lens of equity for communities.”
Leavitt values the voice of youth in the community: she has worked with college leadership groups to increase civic engagement and co-founded the Community and Technical College Student Voice Academy. Her experience as Vice Chair of the College and Workforce Development Committee let her listen to the voices of student leaders from across the state.
Jesse Johnson– State Representative LD 30 (Federal Way, Des Moines, Auburn, Algona, Pacific, Milton)
As one of the youngest figures in the State Legislature, Johnson advocates for young voters: ” I think having the perspectives of more young people in elected offices and other positions of power is essential if we are going to address the challenges facing young people — affordability, education, and opportunity and the global challenge of addressing climate change.”
He channels his experience as a community leader and council member in Federal Way as he works to address the disproportionate effects of climate change on low income communities, continues to support De-Escalate WA for gun reform, and pledges to fight for criminal justice reforms.
Johnson carries a plethora of experience when it comes to involving youth in politics. He currently works as a Staffing Analyst in Workforce Planning and Development for Highline Public Schools and has committed countless hours in organizing youth forums, youth violence prevention programs, and providing apprenticeship/post-secondary education opportunities.
Marko Liias– Lieutenant Governor (Statewide!)
The current State Senator to the 21st Legislative District now seeks to run for Lieutenant Governor. As the first millennial elected to State Office himself, Liias is a fervent advocate for incorporating young voices in today’s world of politics.
Liias channels his commitment to serving the youth and translates it into legislative action: “I have put an emphasis on the issues that matter to young people in Washington, including higher education and debt reform, increased wages, and investments in a clean energy future.”
As one who identifies as LGBTQ+ as well as a white man, he has used his experience and understanding of his position to represent the voices of Washingtonians that are often marginalized and underrepresented. He is a member of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, which addresses affordable housing and homelessness, has helped create the Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention, and champions mental/behavioral health measures, along with many others. Liias writes: “I am a proud, lifelong Washingtonian. I would not be who I am or what I am, without this place. As I take this next step, I am more committed than ever to expanding opportunity and building on the progress we have made together.”
Written by Miki Kusunose, Bus Volunteer
For many teenagers like me, the Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor have felt monumental and oftentimes overwhelming. As people my age approach adulthood, the deep scars of society, the kleptocratic realities of this country, and the realization that the biases within ourselves are intrinsic to systemic racism, are emerging in the consciousness of my generation. In short, it is a lot to process.
Truth to be told, this reality is not new—we simply have reached the age to come to an understanding of its existence. Systemic racism set foot on this continent in 1619 when the first Black slaves arrived in Jamestown, continued in the Reconstruction era through the rise of Jim Crow, persisted when “separate but equal” became the norm through Plessy v. Ferguson, and seeped into the deepest roots of America as “White Only” signs plastered store windows. Even after the Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s, America failed to acknowledge and uproot this systemic racism and the current condition of Black America serves as a clear testament to that truth. Black people are subject to racial profiling, unequal access to resources, astronomically higher incarceration rates, poorer education, and higher rates of poverty. Systemic racism has stained every inch of the fabric of American society. Again, it is a lot to process and difficult to come to terms with.
But I am hopeful and optimistic. The outrage by young people and the outpouring of support that I am seeing from those around me tells me that the current events will be a true catalyst for change. Nonetheless, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and not know what to do to help out with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Here are a few things that every teenager can do to enact change in our communities.
- Attend your local city council meetings: It is easy to get caught up in the national headlines when keeping up with the news. However, the most effective way to address systemic racism is by addressing it in your local community. As a teenage community member, your voice as a young person carries a powerful conviction especially in a local context. Voice your concerns through a Public Comment during a city council meeting. The Seattle City Council allows anyone to sign up for a Public Comment 2 hours prior to the council meeting. Seattle City Council’s meetings are now all held online. Public testimonies through Zoom are available for the Renton City Council meetings, and written requests can be sent in for Bellevue City Council. Make sure to check your city’s policies on citizen participation for city council meetings.
- Get involved with and/or donate to Bail Funds: Thousands of people are in pre-trial jail in which many of whom need bail assistance to leave. Moreover, many of these people have not even been convicted of a crime—yet, they are held in jail. Incarceration rates for Black people are six times higher compared to white people in Washington State and this leaves many Black people struggling to break loose out of a criminal justice system that criminalizes them. Use-of-Force rates are significantly higher on Black people and unsurprisingly, a disproportionately large number of police complaints are filed by Black people. Donations to the Northwest Bail Fund, for example, can support those in pre-trial jail in King and Snohomish county. Now more than ever, these people need the support to go back to their families and their lives. Bail Funds are an effective way to have an immediate impact on the local community.
- Keep your representatives accountable: Whether it be your district representative into the United States Congress, Washington State Legislature, or local community leaders, these representatives’ duty is to voice your concerns and demands on an institutional level. Do not hesitate from writing emails and letters to your local representatives. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray are the Senators representing Washington State. Pramila Jayapal represents Washington’s 7th Congressional District (Seattle, Shoreline), Adam Smith represents the 9th District (Bellevue, Renton), and Suzan DelBene represents the 1st District (Redmond, Bothell). I also urge you to reach out to Washington State legislatures in your local district: https://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/Home/GetMobileMapView?lat=0&lng=0. Find both your Congressional and Washington State Legislature Representatives in your local district using this website. Equally important is the executive office of King County, headed by Dow Constantine who serves 4 year terms: he will be up for reelection in 2021. The 2020 August Primaries are especially important knowing that the next Attorney General (currently Bob Ferguson) will be elected. The Office of the Attorney General is responsible for criminal justice, public safety, and economic justice amongst many other duties. With the current pressures to reform public safety in Seattle, keeping the Attorney General accountable will be critical to the success of the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Research, have conversations, and engage in introspective reflection: This monumental time offers us a critical time to research about systemic racism that is deeply rooted in American society. It is omnipresent in both the timeline of American history as well as today’s modern American society. Take the time to read books and publications to immerse yourself in how your life is interwoven in this society. A few books that I consistently come across regarding Black history are, So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. I can speak personally to Between the World and Me, and that Coates’s powerful writing, strong conviction, and clear message offered me a deep look into the life of Black man in America. This tumultuous time also makes for a great time to reflect upon yourself. Ask yourself, what privileges do I have because of the color of my skin? How do my actions feed into systemic racism? When do I unknowingly buy into implicit biases based on race? These are difficult, but critical questions to ask yourself as an American.
I hope the four things above can serve as a guideline to how teenagers like me can be involved in this fight for racial equality. Diving deep into your local community as well as yourself during these times can make for transformative conversations and institutional change which will be critical to the success of this movement.
Dearest young artists, we miss you! 🤩 We miss being able to attend your shows, see your work in galleries, and watch you perform. We also know that COVID is disproportionately affecting you.
So here’s the deal: we’re holding a small contest! The details: creatives between the ages of 16 and 35 who are missing income due to the pandemic are encouraged to virtually submit artwork *related to the Bus’ mission.* The contest is limited to ten submissions and the deadline is May 6. Those ten people will automatically receive $25. Then we’ll hold a public vote (because we ❤️ democracy) and the winner will receive $300, second place $200, and third place $100.
We know this isn’t enough to offset how you’re being affected, but it’s what we can do for now (hopefully more to come 🤞🏽). We’ll obviously be sharing your art as widely as possible, too! Use your imagination to tie your art form in with our mission. Ideas: Voting! Census! Immigration reform! Student debt reform! Raising the voices of those historically underrepresented! Then submit your masterpiece to: firstname.lastname@example.org 🌟 Please comment or email with questions!
We can’t wait to see/hear/watch what you create. Take care!