Yes we can! Roberto Maestas insisted and persisted in the fight for improved education, better housing, safer streets, health care and other community needs for Latino and other communities.   Lung cancer took his life last month but he continued to be at fundraisers and speak out against police mistreatment of Latinos and other minorities while he could.

Roberto was in demonstrations, sit-ins, and numerous meetings over the years. He was part of the Gang of Four — 4 men who liberated the minority communities from invisibility and powerlessness.  Roberto, the late Bernie Whitebear, King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, and our own Robert “Uncle Bob” Santos reached across the minority divide and together, became formidable leaders against inequality in education, employment, housing, health and social services. Without them, we would not have the strong institutions we have today — El Centro in the Latino community, Daybreak Star in the Native American community, Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP) in the African American community, and InterIm, ICHS and other non-profits in our own community.

We are facing extremely hard times as the state deals devastating cuts for education, health and human services.  As the poor economy disastrously drags on, heightened resentment and anger simmer against our communities, against immigrants and refugees, and against low income people.

Nationally, the fight for immigration reform and the struggle to win health care coverage for everyone must continue.  In our state, the battle is more immediate.  State and local governments are chopping education, health and human services programs due to major budget deficits.  Just as importantly, several initiatives on the November ballot hold critical impacts for us.

Roberto symbolizes the legacy of activism that made our community what it is today.  These tough times demand that we find the inner fire and stamina to aggressively and continuously advocate for food, housing, education, jobs, and health care for our community.  It is up to us to preserve, nurture, and safeguard the victories and gains that activists like Roberto fought for, making sure that cuts are restored and harmful ballot initiatives do not pass.

On November 4, make sure that you and every voter you know vote to benefit our community.

Vote NO on Initiative 1053 which reinstates a 2/3rds legislative requirement to pass taxes, allowing just 17 partisan legislators at the state to block legislation. This was introduced by Tim Eyman and financed by BP Oil, the company responsible for our country’s worst environmental catastrophe. If passed, this will preserve tax loopholes that benefit BP at the expense of Washington families.

Vote NO on Initiative 1107 to repeal small, mostly temporary taxes on soda pop, bottled water, candy and gum, not on groceries.  Enacted by the state to plug the budget hole, these taxes raise $100 million/year to fund schools and health care, especially Basic Health. The national beverage association is spending $14 million to convince us to give them a tax break.

Vote NO on Initiatives 1100 & 1105.  These measures are funded by Wal-Mart and Southern Wine and Spirits of America to privatize Washington state liquor sales. Passage means a loss of $730 million in funding for schools, health care and public safety.  Mini marts and convenience stores will be able sell hard liquor until 2 am, making them easily available to minors.

Vote YES on Initiative 1098. This measure cuts state property taxes 20 percent; eliminates business & occupation taxes for small businesses; and establishes a limited income tax on the wealthiest 12% of households — dedicating $2 billion per year for education and health care. The income tax cannot be changed without a public vote. Bill Gates Sr. promotes this measure to make our tax code fairer to the middle class and boost our economy.

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