Applying for: Seattle City Council, Position 8
Below are the answers Teresa Mosqueda provided to our ten-question job application. All answers are copied verbatim from what we received from the candidate.
1. What would you say is your greatest strength, and your greatest weakness?
Greatest Strength: The ability to use my lived experience as a working woman of color to inform the way I build broad coalitions and generate effective policy solutions.
Greatest Weakness: My greatest weakness is that I really truly love using pie charts to explain all of my policy solutions. It is honestly difficult to resist color coding and extensive visuals for my vast number of power points. If you need a pie chart for any upcoming presentation - I’m the leader for you!
2. What are the best & worst jobs you’ve ever had? Why?
Best Job: The best job I have had would be my current position at the Washington State Labor Council AFL - CIO, in this position I have been able to put my passion for economic justice into action by fighting for workers rights against retaliation and providing workers with a platform to have their concerns heard. I have had the honor of championing equitable legislation like raising the minimum wage and achieving paid sick leave for all workers. In this position I have also been able to continue building the labor movement to be intersectional so that all workers are benefitting from our achievements.
Worst: The worst job I have had was at an Italian restaurant in Olympia. I experienced wage theft and when I confronted the owner he became verbally violent, I quit and demanded to get paid for my work. In that situation I was able to speak up in English and not fear retaliation. This is a privilege many in our communities to not have.
3. Why is this position a good fit for you?
I am the most qualified candidate for city council to make a difference for our city. I have extensive experience building broad coalitions around policy changes that have made a difference for working families, small businesses, seniors and children in our communities. I know the hard work it takes to pass legislation, working collaboratively with diverse stakeholders, and never writing anyone off or closing to door to a conversation. I am interested in making sure the progressive policies that our city has passed work for the smallest businesses as well as the lowest wage workers. I am eager to build a Seattle that is inclusive and equitable for all our communities.
4. What makes you the best choice for workers in this race?
I am the best choice for workers because of my proven track record of standing up and fighting for workers rights. I have dedicated my entire career to ensuring that all workers in our city are protected. Now, more than ever, we need someone in office who has a proven record of effective progressive policy and coalition building. My approach to advocacy around workers rights is always holistic - understanding that housing, healthcare, affordable childcare, and accessible transportation are vital to the prosperity of workers.
5. What do you think is the single biggest issue affecting workers in your area? What would you do to address it?
The single biggest issue affecting workers in my area is housing. First and foremost, housing is a human right - workers should be able to live and retire in the city they work in. Many of our workers are being pushed out of our city due to housing not being affordable. This impacts their access to basic resources like childcare and transit. We need to look to holistic solutions to not only treat the problems, but to fix them. We need to create more housing, and especially affordable housing, which means holding developers accountable and working with communities to create the right kind of housing for our city’s needs. When we start by putting a roof over our heads, we are able to address the rest of our issues more acutely, efficiently, and holistically.
6. Describe a specific situation where you took action to support workers fighting for their rights. What was the experience like, and what did you learn? Bonus question: tell us about a time you engaged with workers with Working Washington.
I was able to participate and stand in solidarity with the Fast Food workers who striked on May 15th 2014. As part of the global day of protest against low wages which was organized with Working Washington. I walked with workers back into their work places after the day long strike to show that we in the community and in organized labor were standing in solidarity. To show that we would be watching to make sure no worker experienced retaliation for exercising their rights to strike. This day of action was inspiring for me because it spoke to the power of the labor movement, workers were able to reclaim the narrative around passing minimum wage which was successful because of the movement built by workers. I learned that the most powerful tactic we can use as working people is to always connect our struggle to the global movement. This day of action’s intentional solidarity with the global day of protest was deeply powerful for me.
7. What would be your top single priority if elected to this office? How would you define success or failure on this issue?
My single top priority would be affordable child care for all workers. No worker should have to pay more than 10% of their income on childcare. This is the most expensive city in the country to have childcare. Economic justice is about creating an economy that works for all, as part of my intersectional approach to solving the affordability crisis, I know increasing access to affordable childcare is a necessity. Achieving this would be a huge step to creating healthy communities and doing right by working families.
8. What can you do in this office to resist attacks by the Trump Administration on the rights of low-wage workers, who are disproportionately women, people of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ?
In order to protect the rights of those most marginalized it is imperative that we center them within the policy making process and make sure the policy truly works for them. This means making the policy making process accessible. I believe that policy solutions should be made within community, from the beginning, so that those most marginalized are truly protected within the legislation. I have always stayed in the trenches with the policy I work on, ensuring that the implementation of the polices is accountable to the intentions. In the era of Trump, we need to make sure that the policies that protect the rights of those most marginalized are effective and accountable to the needs of the community.
9. Tell us how you plan to address affordable housing, especially for minimum-wage and part-time workers, as well as for those left homeless because of high housing costs.
Housing is an issue that is foundational to the health of our communities. Affordable housing, along with homelessness, is one of the most pressing issue facing the city of Seattle. Although Seattle’s booming economy has brought great benefits to our community, housing supply has not kept pace with demand resulting in skyrocketing costs. Many people, especially those at or below the poverty line - a community which includes many people of color, are priced out of Seattle housing market. This situation creates significant negative outcomes in economic and social mobility, disparate health outcomes, as well as environmental degradation and urban sprawl.
I support greater dialogue with Seattle communities to ensure that development includes affordable housing options and does not lead to gentrification or displacement. Development without gentrification is possible and we must find a path which enables individuals to live in the city where they work. I am a renter – and if elected I would be the only renter on council. I will work with the community to enact policies which increase the affordable housing stock while maintaining the character of Seattle’s unique neighborhoods. Seattle needs to work together with communities who are developing their own affordability strategies from the ground up, as well as with stakeholders across sectors who share our values and commitment to a more affordable city.
My housing plan includes:
1) Expand community land trusts, co-ops, and create diverse housing options around transportation hubs.
2) Increase access for low-income homeowner and senior property tax exemptions to prevent displacement.
3) Bond against our voter-approved housing levy dollars to fund building more affordable homes.
4) Support a tenants’ bill of rights and rent stabilization efforts.
5) Assess wealthy investors sitting on developable empty lots not contributing to the housing needs.
6) Turn city-owned, developable land parcels into affordable housing rather than letting them sit vacant
10. How would you support advancing the rights of workers in non-traditional jobs, including domestic workers and workers in the gig economy?
Making sure that our movement always includes all workers, I would support their rights by working directly with workers in those industries. We would work collaboratively to ensure that their rights to collectively bargain are protected - as I do now in my current position. I would work with other workers rights advocates and with the workers themselves to strategize organizing and help with the education around their rights to prevent retaliation. Throughout this process, as I always have, I would work to make sure we are centering those most impacted and empower them to drive the policy solutions.