Led by Drag Queen Miss Texas 1988, and hosted by yours truly, the Washington Bus, alongside The Stranger, after years of absence we brought back Candidate Survivor—a spectacular, wacky, yet policy-focused and youth-led candidate forum for this year’s Seattle City Council races. With an exciting program that included candidate talent shows, lip-syncing for life, and a spicy showdown at the end, we at the Bus hoped to truly reach and encourage young people to vote in this upcoming local election.
This year, candidates came through with a harmonious musical of instrumental prowess. Performing on the guitar, keyboard, bongos, and harmonica, District 2 candidates Tammy Morales and Margaret Elisabeth, alongside D4 candidate Ron Davis, D5 candidates Nilu Jenks and Shane Macomber, and finally D3 candidate Joy Hollingsworth all played music for the crowd. We saw incredible ad-libs and remixes from Joy, Tammy, Nilu, and Ron as they sang lyrics that rang true to their districts and their constituency. D1 candidate Maren Costa wowed the crowd with a disappearing trick-turned twins that juggle trick while D1 candidate Stephen Brown recited presidents in order, almost getting to all of them before hitting time. Andrew Ashiofu of D3 brought forth an incredible spoken word poetry performance while D6 candidate Dan Strauss instigated a lutefisk eating contest (that he actually ended up losing…) And last, but not least at all, candidates Andrew Lewis of D7 gave a mean tweets presentation while ChrisTiana ObeySumner of D5 slayed the talent show down with an incredible Burlesque performance of Separate Ways by Journey.
Moving into the lip-sync round—District 1 candidates fought in lip-sync combat performing 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton while District 2 ran the show with an incredible performance of Run the World (Girls) by Beyoncé. District 3 came through with a lip-sync performance of Run This Town, and then the scrappy candidates of Districts 4, 6, and 7 all competed with each other to perform Lizzo’s Truth Hurts better than the others. And finally, District 5 threw down with Hey Ya! by Outkast. With all these acts coming together, the audience finally chose the final five to move on to our Spicy Election—voting with their voices. Then, the illustrious Miss Texas 1988 interpreted the roaring electorate, and sent Maren Costa of District 1, Tammy Morales of District 2, Andrew Ashiofu of District 3, Ron Davis of District 4, and ChrisTiana ObeySumner of District 5 to the final round.
After a brief intermission, candidates returned to a set-up reminiscent of a “Hot Ones” challenge, where Bus & Stranger staff asked spicy questions while candidates ate spicy vegan nuggets. Candidates who advanced to our spicy final round faced questions that challenged their progressive values with topics like reparations and corporate taxation. In the end, after various superlatives were awarded and audience cheering was calculated, Andrew Ashiofu of District 3 emerged victorious—grasping Candidate Survivor victory through an incredible spoken word poetry act, an intensive lip-sync showdown, and his even spicier answers to our spicy questions.
Throughout the exciting night, our Fellows at the Washington Bus canvassed the crowds in order to make sure everyone attending had a plan to vote in this upcoming election. Candidate Survivor—though a spectacle on the stage and a night event filled with colorful lights and funny quips—is primarily a Get-Out-The-Vote event, where we engage younger voters in the political process and encourage greater turnout. At the Bus, we’re proud of the amazing work our staff and program participants have been doing in order to build political power for youth, and Candidate Survivor supports this by bringing accessibility for younger voters—engaging them where they are in a language and environment that excites them. Together, with our volunteering candidates, partners at The Stranger, and the amazing youth who turned out for our event, we continue to prove that young people give a damn about local elections.
We want to express our gratitude to all of you, our incredible supporters, for making events like these possible. Your continued dedication to empowering youth and promoting positive change in our community fuels our work! With your support, we hope to host many more Candidate Survivors and countless other electoral events for years to come. And remember, if you’re a voter, remember to turn in your ballots by August 1st and use your Democracy Vouchers. If you are waiting until the last second, we recommend dropping your ballot at your nearest ballot drop box to ensure King County Elections receive and count your vote.
Let’s make our voices heard, because young people give a damn about local elections.
Greetings Bus Riders!
The Washington Bus is incredibly proud of the powerful legislative advocacy and political organizing we undertook this past legislative session. This year we saw how the Bus and our community came through and secured incredible wins with a robust legislative agenda! Our agenda covered four core issue areas with 16 bills that were introduced that we worked on and advocated for!
The Bus has a lot to be proud of in this session and gush endlessly about in this blog post, but we would be remiss to not start out with the amazing Bus session stars, our Winterns! Our Winterns came through, learned about their bills and our issue areas, and learned how to mobilize their peers. Backed by our organization and community, Bus Winterns:
- Researched our existing buckets of core issue areas and selected bills they were interested in working on during session,
- Contributed to our robust legislative agenda through our Let Youth Thrive section, where Winterns chose their own bills to add and advocate for during session.
- Learned the ins and outs of the legislative session and engaged in intense community mobilization. Returning to our roots as the Washington Bus, our Winterns participated in our very first in-person Youth Power Lobby Day in collaboration with Latino Community Fund! We had 35 young people descending on the capitol and they made our youth agenda known.
- Winterns and Bus community met with 11 legislators and legislative offices during our Youth Power Lobby Day. We heard amazing speeches from legislative champions Sen. Yasmin Trudeau and Rep. Sharlett Mena!
- With our agenda at the forefront, the Winterns met with several members on Ways and Means to ensure that our bills made it through the fiscal-committee cutoff and were prioritized for floor readings and votes. Every single bill we worked on that made it through the gauntlet of its house of origin went on to survive the opposite chamber and become a law.
- Executed a powerful advocacy and lobbying strategy that ended up with an astonishing 443 actions taken by our Bus community.
Our Wintern Adaora even had the amazing opportunity to write and publish an article in the Everett Herald advocating for the Wealth Tax, a key policy on our legislative agenda. In continuing the advocacy train, Bus Staff engaged with local media in podcasts such as “All Policy Is Local” and Hacks and Wonks in order to advocate for Democracy bills that were running through the senate. Also, for the last few weeks we had our amazing Campus Organizer Edgar, who showed up and helped guide our amazing Winterns through Olympia. We’re so glad to have you Edgar! I hope you read this.
We also wanted to highlight how thrilled we are on getting SB 5208, Updating Online Voter registration passed. Why? Because this is a bill that we came up with after noticing barriers young people were facing with our current online voter registration system, brainstorming with our partners in Oregon. We collaborated with Senator Trudeau and the Secretary of State’s office and advocated hard to move it forward, getting it signed into law within one legislative session.
Moving forward, the Bus is determined to continue our legislative advocacy. This session we got 6 bills passed, but we’ve still got 10 more to work on. Moreover, we’ve got many more issues that we’re really excited to work with, like expanding the right to vote to 16 year olds in local elections. And a huge shout out to statewide democracy vouchers (HB 1755), which didn’t get a hearing, yet, but we are determined to get passed next session.
Writing and passing legislation is no easy task—but we’ve got a lot of allies in the wings in Olympia who do their part to make a better world possible. The Bus wants to make some space to shout out and thank our various prime sponsors and supporters, the legislators who made things happen, and sparked powerful conversations.
Huge thanks to Senator Yasmin Trudeau for championing SB 5208! Also known as the “Online Voter Registration Update” bill, which makes registering to vote online more accessible by allowing applicants to provide the last four digits of their social security number to verify their identity! And another huge thanks to Representative Tarra Simmons & Senator Sam Hunt, who championed HB 1229 and SB 5112, bills that provided a plethora of well needed updates to our voter registration system. For that, we crown these three Registration Royalty, as our special way of shouting out their incredible leadership in improving our democracy.
Can we get a “woot, woot!” for Senator Claire Wilson for championing SB 5225? This bill aims to increase access to the working connections child care program. At the Bus, all think this is incredibly amazing and totally based. Not only does it expand access to undocumented students, but it also expands eligibility to include many child care employees, which is critical to ensure we have childcare workers and that more students and workers are able to afford childcare! We’re proud to dub Senator Wilson as our amazing Childcare Champion.
KEEPING CORRECTIONS ACCOUNTABLE:
It’s undeniable that our correctional facilities are in crisis. Nationwide, in 2020, around 6,182 people died in U.S. prisons. Locally, people are dying in our correctional facilities, and that includes privately owned detention centers. It’s a grim reality that we face every day that the conditions in which we keep our incarcerated neighbors is, if left unattended, deadly. Because of these grim realities, we are incredibly thankful for Representative Lillian Ortiz-Self for championing HB 1470, known as the bill regarding “Private Detention Conditions.” This legislation ensures that proper inspections of our detention centers are conducted, along with a swath of other regulations which keeps these centers accountable and saves lives. For that, we are incredibly grateful for Representative Ortiz-Self for Keeping Corrections Accountable.
PROTECTING INDIGENOUS LIVES:
Indigenous women and people make up a disproportionate amount of missing persons and murder cases in our nation. And in collaboration with a uniquely positioned coalition, Representative Debra Lekanoff & Senator Manka Dhingra championed HB 1177 and SB 5137, which established a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People Cold Case Investigations Unit. We want to thank Representative Lekanoff and Senator Dhingra for Protecting Indigenous Lives through establishing this investigations unit, and we look forward to continuing to work with community and the legislature on future legislation that will further our fight to end the disparities in missing persons and murder cases in our nation.
FEEDING OUR KIDS:
Across the nation, more and more states like Minnesota, New Mexico, and potentially Rhode Island are adopting free school meals for our public schools—which absolutely feels like a straight-forward policy, feeding kids in a place where they’re legally mandated to be. Surprisingly, the lunch line is a place where some of the most blatant examples of wealth injustice can be seen. Youth who don’t have the money often go days without healthy meals (or meals at all), which impact their ability to learn and grow. Representative Marcus Riccelli put down a proposal through HB 1238 that would establish free school meals in our public school systems. We’d like to thank Rep. Riccelli for putting forward this legislation for Feeding Our Kids. We are bummed that it did not fulfill its intentions and are looking forward to expanding this legislation again once we’re able to.
THANK YOU, WE’LL BE BACK!
BRING THE ULTRA-WEALTHY TO HEEL:
Economists and working families both know the unfortunate reality that Washington State has the most regressive taxation system in our country. With each year under this regressive tax model, funding our public schools, public infrastructure, and support systems for communities in need become more and more difficult. However, Senator Noel Frame and Representative My-Linh Thai rose to the occasion to challenge our regressive tax model with a progressive proposal: SB 5486, a Wealth Tax. More specifically, an incredibly narrow property tax on extreme wealth. While this bill did not pass into law, we are determined more than ever to fight for progressive tax models. For too long, the ultra-wealthy have not been paying their fair share in taxes, and we thank Senator Frame and Representative Thai for their bills to Bring the Ultra-Wealthy to Heel, and we hope to continue working with the two on future legislation that will correct our regressive tax model.
FUND WORKING PEOPLE:
Time and time again it’s becoming more difficult for working families to catch up with rising costs with stagnant wages. However, Representative Liz Berry brought back to the table an amazing proposal to create a guaranteed basic income pilot program through HB 1045, which would have provided 24 payments to around 7,500 qualifying participants in an amount equal to 100 percent of the fair market rent for a two-bedroom dwelling unit. A basic income program would be a game changer for working families, allowing them to catch up, afford their expenses, and keep themselves housed. And for that, we thank Rep. Berry for putting forth legislation that would Fund Working People. Though this bill did not pass the legislature yet, we continue to be determined to work on solutions to keep people furthest from wealth justice and economic equity housed, fed, and thriving.
We are so excited to jump into the 2023 Legislative Session! Read about our priorities below.
Democracy Done Right
We are stoked to be leading on three priorities: Statewide Democracy Voucher program for Legislative races, Updating Online Voter Registration (5208) to make it more accessible, and a Constitutional Amendment to allow 16 and 17 year old voting!
Also look out for:
- Automatic Voter Registration (SB 5112), a bill we backed last year and that is making some movement right off the bat! It had a hearing last week in the policy committee and passed out of committee.
- Even Year Elections, a bill we’re keeping an eye out for this one to return to the state house after passing it in King County this Fall!
- Cost Free College: We’re working with Communities For our Colleges to get a bill that would make community and technical colleges cost free for all!
- Free School Meals for K-12 students (HB 1238/SB 5339) No student should go hungry at school, and no kid should be in debt for food, which is why we’re supporting OSPI’s push to make all school meals free for all students!
Tax the Rich, Fund the People
- Guaranteed Basic Income Pilot Program (HB 1045), which we were proud to support last year is back with a pilot program! This program would give people experiencing poverty a monthly cash payment that’s enough to cover fair market rent in their county, because no one should struggle to stay housed.
- Wealth Tax (SB 5486 /HB 1473) Our state has the most regressive tax structure in the entire United States. This bill includes people with more than a quarter of a billion dollars in a modest wealth tax will also be coming up soon this session! (A gentle reminder that if you were trying to save up $250,000,000 and saved $100 a day it would take 6,850 years to reach a quarter billion dollars. We’re still talking about an astronomical amount of money.)
Let Youth Thrive
Look out next month to find out what our Winterns want to advocate for under our Let Youth Thrive bucket! They set the agenda here!
Check out the document below for more details.
Legislative Priorities 2023
Show some love for our amazing fall interns: Salina, John, and Bailey! We’re so excited by their ideas for making lasting, meaningful political change in Washington!
Hello, my name is Salina (she/her) and I am a student at North Seattle College studying psychology. I chose to intern with the Bus this fall to assist in amplifying the voices of young people within our communities in politics and civil engagement. I am excited to expand my knowledge and carry the skills I learn here both professionally and personally. In my free time I enjoy writing, binge watching shows and spending time with loved ones.
Hi, I am John Paul Purugganan (he/they) 🙂 I am a 4th year Political Science and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies Student at the University of Washington. My passions include fashion and skincare, social justice, and personal growth.
My name is E. Bailey Medilo (they/he) and I am a college student, community organizer, and general nuisance local to the South End and International District neighborhoods of Seattle, WA. I am incredibly passionate about fiction writing, political campaigns, and restorative justice. I enjoy reading, cartoons, and graphic design.
The Youth Endorsement Leadership League has their endorsements for the general election! Keep an eye out for these endorsed candidates and ballot issues across WA!
Things to know about Ballot Measures: There are a few charter amendments and a few Propositions/Initiatives on the ballot across Washington that are really important to pay attention to, because they will change the way we vote, the representation we get, or raise the bar for minimum wage.
- In King County:
- Everyone in King County can vote YES for Charter Amendment 1 to move certain county elections to even years. Why? Voter turnout among young people and communities of color are significantly higher in even years than odd years. Our elected officials should be elected when the most people are turning out so that we can have a more representative democracy.
- In Tukwila, voters can support raising the wage to a livable one! With the rising cost of living in King County as a whole— and as we enter another recession— it’s more important than ever that we support workers in our community with living wage jobs! Vote Yes on Initiative 1!
- In Seattle, voters can bring Rank Choice Voting to Seattle Elections! We’re excited for RCV and have been working at the Legislative level to bring it back to Washington. Right now Seattle is one of 3 jurisdictions working on it right now. But the ballot question is a doozy so let me break it down. There are two options on the table and two questions to answer. The first question asks “Should either of these measures be enacted into law?”, aka should we change our elections? We say, YES! The second question is “Regardless of whether you voted yes or no above, if one of these measures is enacted, which one should it be?”, to which we emphatically support voting for 1B aka RCV. Again, that’s YES on question 1, and 1B for question 2 and you gotta vote for both parts to bring RCV to Seattle!
- Clark County can vote to bring RCV to Southwest Washington in a much simpler fashion! There’s a number of charter amendments proposed that would affect elections and governance in Clark County. The first one on the ballot is Proposed Charter Amendment 10 Concerning Ranked Choice Voting. An Approved vote is all you need to get RCV.
- San Juan County will also be able to get RCV by voting Approve on Charter Amendment Proposition 3! It is also one of several charter amendments proposed in San Juan County.
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||Julia G. Reed
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All of these candidates were endorsed because when the YELL team (a group of 10 young participants) read their questionnaires and learned about the issues facing communities across Washington and the work candidates wanted to do to address them, they were impressed.
Read more about some of the reasons YELL was excited about some of the candidates below, by YELL participant Saba Mir:
26 State Senator Emily Randall
- YELL loved her for many reasons but especially because she’s a Queer Latina, passionate about healthcare access; she talks about intersectionality in depth, supports all voting reforms we’re excited about, and connects housing to jobs.
- “Protecting and expanding voting rights is essential. The past few years we’ve done great work in eliminating barriers to voting, including automatically restoring voting rights to formerly incarcerated folks was a huge win for our democracy. I will support policies that restore this fundamental right and support policies that make voting even more accessible.”
30 State Representative Pos. 2 Kristine Reeves
- YELL was excited about Reeves’ past legislative experience in passing paid family medical leave policies, and her commitment to support affordable child care.
30 State Senator Claire Wilson
- YELL is excited about Wilson’s commitment to fight against corporate tax loopholes, and her focus on educational equity.
34 State Representative Pos. 1 Leah Griffin
- YELL was incredibly impressed with Griffin’s extensive legislative experience in reforming how survivors of sexual violence interact with the criminal legal system because of the ways in which these systems have failed survivors in the past.
- YELL was excited about Griffin’s commitment to youth political participation, and her extensive experience working with youth.
36 State Senator Noel Frame
- YELL was excited to hear about Frame’s passion for improving the existing tax code, and her interest in student debt forgiveness.
- Representative Frame has been a strong advocate for young people and economic justice in the House and we’re excited to see her continue this work in the Senate.
36 State Representative Pos. 1 Julia G. Reed
- YELL was impressed by Reed’s commitment to investing in education of all levels to ensure mental health support and to make students aware of pathways to employment post-graduation.
37 State Representative Pos. 2 Emijah Smith
- YELL was impressed with Smith’s tangible commitment to anti-racism and centering marginalized voices. Her team is made up of diverse community members with intersectional experiences with marginalization.
- YELL was excited to hear about her campaign’s focus on voter registration as a form of racial justice, and her interest in extending voting rights regardless of immigration status.
43 State Representative Pos. 2 Frank Chopp
- YELL was impressed with the way Chopp’s experiences being a first generation college student from a low-income background inform his commitment to free higher education for low-income students, and his commitment to equity in educational systems.
46 State Representative Pos. 2 Darya Farivar
- YELL was excited to endorse a candidate with so much experience with disability rights and public policy.
- YELL was also impressed with Farivar’s commitment to youth empowerment, and her legislative experience at the intersection of the criminal legal system, substance use, mental illness, and homelessness.
47 State Representative Pos. 2 Shukri Olow
- YELL was so excited to hear from Shukri and was really impressed by the work she’s done already and the perspective she’ll bring to Olympia.
- “Our youth have such a vital perspective on our most pressing issues – on climate, on transit, and on education, they are some of the most immediate stakeholders. For BIPOC and Indigenous youth, in particular, our legislators need to hear their voices, and act in their interests.”
Prosecuting Attorney Leesa Manion
- “I know we have a lot of work to do to create a criminal justice system that serves all our communities. It starts with elevating diverse perspectives and by fostering compassion and grace in the face of difference. Systemic change requires communication and collaboration.”
- YELL is excited to endorse the most experienced candidate and one that will not only move the needle forward on Criminal Justice Reform, but also would be the first Woman of Color to hold the position!
Spokane Commissioner District 5 Maggie Yates
- YELL enjoyed hearing about Maggie’s commitments to centering equity in climate justice efforts, and was excited about her educational and work experience with law and public policy.
- By electing Maggie Yates, we have the opportunity to replace incumbent Al French and shift the decades-long Republican control of the Spokane County Commission.
Our Youth Endorsement Leadership League has made their first round picks!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Election season is in full swing, and we have our first round of endorsements from our Youth Endorsement Leadership League, and you heard it here first.
- 26th LD State Senator: Emily Randall
- 30th LD State Representative Pos. 2: Carey Anderson
- 34th LD State Representative Pos. 1: Leah Griffin
- 36th LD State Senator: Noel Frame & 36th State Representative Pos. 1: Julia G. Reed
- 37th LD State Representative Pos. 2: Emijah Smith
- 43th LD State Representative Pos. 2: Frank Chopp
- 46th LD State Representative Pos. 2: Darya Farivar
- 47th LD State Representative Pos. 2: Shukri Olow
- King County Prosecuting Attorney: Leesa Manion
- Spokane County Commissioner District 5: Maggie Yates
- Clark County:
- YES for Ranked Choice Voting
- King County
- YES for Even Year Elections
- YES for Social Housing Initiative 135
Get involved today!