Liz Berry

Priorities

If the devastating effects of COVID-19 have taught us anything, it is time to prioritize people: workers, working moms like me, families, students, kids, retirees.

We need to be uplifting the people who have uplifted us during this crisis like our health care workers, grocery workers, sanitation workers, transit workers, farmers, child care workers, teachers. Receiving the sole-endorsement of the Washington State Labor Council and seven labor unions that represent more than 550,000 of our state’s bravest frontline workers is the proudest moment of the campaign: SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, SEIU 925, SEIU 775, Washington State Nurses Association, UFCW 21, Teamsters Joint Council and the Aerospace Machinists Union District 751.

This is what this race is about for me and why I am running.

It’s about rebuilding an economy that works for everyone.
It’s about making child care affordable for all working families.
It’s about building a world-class public education system.
It’s about making critical investments in health care for all.
It’s about putting our planet first.
It’s about making our region affordable for everyone to thrive.

My priorities have shifted to thinking about what needs to be done to rebuild healthy communities, shore up our broken economy, and get people back to work. We must immediately expand paid sick leave, protect medical benefits, provide emergency cash assistance, expand unemployment benefits, and provide rental relief and a temporary moratorium on evictions. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to create an economy that works for all of us. This will be my top priority in the State House.

Bring accessible, affordable child care to all working families, and pay child care providers a living wage

I am a full-time working mom with two young kids. My son George is four and my daughter Eleanor was born in September. Our family struggled to find child care after George was born. I know first-hand how this issue impacts families and our community’s ability to thrive.

The research is clear: quality child care is the best investment we can make to set our kids up to be kindergarten ready and succeed. We must expand the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) and Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) to create universal access to child care for all families.

Far too many child care workers – who are mostly women, women of color, refugees, and immigrants – earn poverty wages which results in high turnover. It is unacceptable that 39% of the state’s child care workers rely on some form of public assistance. Our state’s future depends on a workforce that is healthy and sustainable, so they are best able to set our kids up for a life of opportunity and success. We must pay providers a living wage and ensure they have health care coverage.

Affordable, accessible child care is one of the best investments we can make in our working families. I am proud to have earned the sole endorsement of SEIU 925 who represents over 12,000 family child care providers in Washington state. They trust that I will be a leader on this issue in the legislature.

Fully fund public education

The first campaign I ever worked on was in 1988 when my mom, a special education teacher, ran for a seat on our local public school board and won. I was five years old, and I still remember putting up yard signs, stuffing envelopes and knocking on doors. That experience profoundly shaped my belief that providing a world-class public education system for all of our children is paramount. Today, I am a proud public school parent: my son George is a student in the Seattle Preschool Program at Daybreak Star Preschool located in Discovery Park.

We have to acknowledge that new progressive revenue is needed to fully fund public education, and we must elect public officials who are willing to stand up and do what is right. This includes paying educators competitive and professional wages, and also ensuring that our students have access to critical instructional staff, like teachers, librarians, counselors, nurses, health services staff, emotional learning educators and special education providers. I will be a champion in the legislature for reducing class sizes and caseloads to improve the quality of the classroom and educational experience for both students and teachers.

I am committed to creating a safe learning environment for all students and educators. I will be a partner in building a public education system that promotes equity, eliminates discrimination, and combats racism. COVID-19 has only exposed the inequalities that hinder students’ ability to thrive. Many of our students rely on school lunches and don’t have access to computers or internet at home. This is simply unacceptable. We cannot fix public education without addressing systematic poverty.

Urgent action to address climate change

COVID-19 has taught us that sweeping societal changes are possible. It has also has shown us what happens when we ignore science and research. If we react to climate change with the same intensity and urgency, we can create a Green New Deal for all Washingtonians.

As an environmental advocate, I have worked to fight climate change at a federal level as Legislative Director to Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and at a local level as a citizen activist. I believe our actions must be big, bold and transformative if we are going to curb climate pollution. I am committed to fighting for real action to fund clean energy technologies that will decarbonize our economy, and build a green infrastructure that will create good union jobs. This includes enacting a Clean Fuel Standard and imposing a tax or fee on polluters. We must clean our air and water, restore and protect the health of our beloved Puget Sound, electrify our energy needs as quickly as possible, and preserve our beautiful landscapes, while ensuring racial and economic equity throughout the process. This is what climate justice means to me: children who live in Georgetown have a right to breathe the same quality air as children who live just a few miles away in Magnolia. It is our responsibility to preserve and protect our environment so that all citizens have access to healthy air, water, communities and lands. This is about equity and fairness as much as it is about saving our planet.

Transportation is Washington state’s largest source of pollution. Access to reliable transportation is one of the biggest barriers to accessing opportunity. Smart investments in our transportation system are critical for our environment, increase access to opportunity, and can help our economy thrive. I am committed to increasing state investments to public transit, improving bike and walk routes, and making bold investments in our infrastructure. We must do all that we can to ease traffic congestion in our region and make commutes shorter and easier. This also means increased housing options, including affordable housing, along transit corridors, and developing neighborhoods to be more walkable and liveable.

It’s beyond time that the state prioritizes fixing our crumbling transportation infrastructure. I will fight for investments into clean transportation solutions that work: speeding up light rail to Ballard, increasing service and reliability for your Metro bus routes, transitioning our gas guzzling bus fleets to all electric batteries, and making electric vehicle ownership the norm not the exception by increasing electric vehicle charging stations and tools to make electric vehicles affordable for everyone. We must also replace the crumbling Magnolia and Ballard bridges so that they are safe and accessible for all users — especially by foot, bike, and wheel. The state legislature plays a huge role in investing in our transportation future, and I will be your transportation champion.

Stop gun violence

As former Legislative Director to Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, I know firsthand the destruction caused by deadly weapons in dangerous hands. On Jan. 8, 2011, the nation watched in horror as a gunman shot Gabby, our staff and constituents. My friend and colleague Gabe Zimmerman, Gabby’s outreach director, was 30. We share the same birthday and started on the same day in Gabby’s office in January 2007. He was the first Congressional staffer killed in the line of duty. Five other people died. Christina-Taylor Green was just nine years old when she was killed.

This experience touched my life in a profound way. Watching Gabby fight for her recovery over the last nine years and continue to fight to prevent the escalation of gun violence taught me about resilience, hard work and grit. 

Gun violence is a public health epidemic that we need to continue to tackle head-on. In Olympia, I will fight to strengthen our laws, and to protect our communities and families from extraordinarily dangerous weapons by banning assault weapons; restricting access to high-capacity magazines; requiring background checks for ammunition sales; requiring reporting for lost and stolen firearms; and allowing for seized guns to be destroyed rather than sold at auction. I will also push for solutions that create and support holistic, community-based programs that interrupt and prevent gun violence.

Health care is a right, not a privilege

Like many, my family has been denied basic health care coverage by our insurance company too many times to count. Let me be clear: this must end. I believe health care is a right, not a privilege, and I will fight to make health care affordable and accessible to all. As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us, we cannot continue to cut critical funding for public health services. Additional investments in preparedness and accessibility to services like testing are essential. It’s time that we stand with workers on the frontlines who are standing up for us during this unprecedented time. They deserve hazard pay, adequate personal protective equipment, and additional paid sick leave.

We must continue to protect people who have preexisting medical conditions by disallowing insurance companies to deny coverage. I will fight to bring down the costs of prescription drugs and expand access to abortion, maternal and reproductive care. We must end maternal mortality, especially for women of color who are disproportionately impacted. I will be a champion to fully fund much-needed services for mental health and substance abuse treatment alongside the experts with lived experience and the health care workers at the frontlines.

Tackle housing affordability and combat homelessness

The lack of both affordable housing and the number of people and families experiencing homelessness has reached a crisis point here in Seattle and across the country. With rents and housing costs rising rapidly, the time for inaction has passed. A healthy economy, community, and future depends on our collective ability to help every person meet a basic human need of shelter and stable housing.

COVID-19 has only put a spotlight on our region’s housing emergency, leaving so many people at risk of losing stable housing during this difficult time. I support an immediate freeze on rent and mortgage payments, and a temporary moratorium on evictions.

Rent regulation measures will end predatory rent increases that have devastated families in Seattle as well as other tenant protections like enacting just cause eviction standards. I support Rep. Nicole Macri’s bill to implement a payroll tax for large business to address homelessness. I also support a “Housing First” model to get our neighbors off the streets as urgently as possible and as a pathway to connect them with much-needed social services. The state is a critical partner in fixing this complex issue that affects our urban, suburban and rural communities alike, and I am committed to solving this emergency.

Tax fairness

Washington state has the most up-side down tax system in the country. We’ve created a combination of taxes that means those people making the least pay over 15% of their income toward state and local taxes, the middle class pays 10%, and the richest pay about 3%. This is wrong and it’s not sustainable. We cannot continue to fund our most vital programs on the backs of the poor and working class, while the wealthy and corporations receive massive tax breaks and don’t pay their fair share. The time to fix this is now. 

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