Councilmember Tammy Morales has been an active representative of District 2, before
and during her tenure as Councilmember. In 2019, she was elected to represent the
Chinatown-International District (CID), SoDo, Georgetown, Rainier Valley, along with
Beacon Hill on the City Council. After her 4-year term in office, she is now set to run for
re-election, with a new, advanced, and organized framework to understand the needs of
the represented neighborhoods. Morales has worked with members of the community to
address issues like displacement and homelessness.
Being a strong advocate of racial equity, Morales also hopes to highlight ideas
surrounding representation of communities within the district and city. Additionally,
affordable housing for the public has also been on her agenda, which stemmed from her
previous vision to tackle homelessness. Morales launched her re-election campaign on
February 1. She spoke with the International Examiner about her re-election campaign
and priorities for a second term.
International Examiner: What made you want to be a council member?
Councilmember Tammy Morales: So I ran in 2015, and that was the first time. I came close, but I didn’t win. I ran because what I see in the South End, the CID and communities of color is that there is a long history of neglect. I’m trained as a
neighborhood planner, so I have a real interest in community engagement, and bringing
people to the table to make decisions of how their neighborhoods should grow. I think
as a City Council member I would have the ability to influence what our land use codes,
or what our economic development policies are, how we create opportunities for small
businesses to thrive , all of the things that I get excited about around community
economic development. I decided to run because I felt like there were a lot of things that
the city could be doing but that the investment that is needed was not happening.
IE: How has your experience been for the last 4 four years in office?
CM: Well, I didn’t expect to have a global pandemic and national uprising as part of my first four years in office, so it’s been hard I will say. I think we are all dealing with trauma, a global health crisis where I think we probably all know friends and family members who died as a result of COVID. Our businesses were crushed, our communities have been suffering and all of that happened on top of the already existing systems that really weren’t serving Black and brown people very well. So I think it really compounded a lot of the existing challenges in our communities. So it has been hard, I don’t think anybody would say that the last four years have been a walk in the park. I’m excited that we seem to be coming out of at least some of this as a city; we received a lot of federal support that we were able to deploy for small business stabilization for commercial affordability support, so that our small businesses would have some kind of tenant protection. We were able to do a lot of eviction prevention work and tenant assistant work so that renters could at least try to stay in the city.
IE: What committees were you part of during your time in office?
CM: Well, my first two years I was chair of the Economic Development Committee ,which also includes the Office of Civil Rights and Arts. I sat on transportation, public safety, homelessness. I have the Department of Neighborhoods, and the Department of Education and Early Learning, so my focus has shifted a little bit to young people and their experience in the school system. There are so many mental health challenges and anxiety that students have when they come back to school, especially because of COVID-19, so that’s been interesting.
IE:You mentioned previously, and in the past that you have spoken a lot about concerns surrounding housing and racial equality. How have you been able to deal with these topics because they often seem to be sensitive to a lot of people?
CM:Before coming into City Hall, I worked as a community organizer, so I have a lot of
relationships and experience with community advocates, and all of them bring a racial
equity and a racial justice lens to the work that they do. That’s just been a part of how I see my work, which is why I would be interested in anti-displacement strategies.
For example, I do a lot of work with community organizations, so I really did bring those
experiences and principles into my decision making. I kind of follow three principles in my office that help me make decisions about house or budget to support. They are: Repairing the harm done to black and brown communities, democratizing access to power and resources, and then planning for the 7th generation. I use that framework to help me make decisions about what we’re doing. When I first started, I was the only one talking about racial equality and asking questions about who is impacted by this, who was part of the decision making, who brought you this idea, who benefits from this idea, and is this information going to be available in other languages so that community members really understand what’s being suggested here. Those are the kinds of questions that I always ask in committee.
IE: Did you receive any concerns or feedback from the public with the plans that
you aimed to implement?
CM: I think the people in the district also appreciate the priority I bring to ensure that we
are talking about things in a way that prioritizes equity. But if we’re talking about anti- displacement, housing affordability, more transit more safety for elders who are trying to walk around the neighborhood, or for kids who are trying to get home from school of the
sidewalk, these are things that everybody wants and so I don’t get a lot of push back on those broader neighborhood safety issues, because that’s what we’re trying to do. We are trying to build healthy communities, safe communities, but also neighborhoods that are vibrant, interesting and affordable – where people don’t get pushed out anymore. That’s the work I’ve been trying to do and those are the kind of goals and priorities that we have so people are happy.
IE: How have your experiences in the past four years in office shaped your
CM:I’m trained as a neighborhood planner. So the things that I think are important for
community members are housing, transportation and neighborhood businesses. What
I’m really interested in understanding is how can we as a city use the power of our policy-making to really create neighborhoods where everybody can have access to the things they need. That hasn’t really changed, and it is the vision that I have for not only the district, but for the whole city.
It’s just important to me that everything we do supports the idea that everyone deserves
to have a stake in the city; everyone deserves to be able to share in the prosperity of
the city. That’s really important because we are heading down the path where this really
is a place that only the very wealthy can afford.