Zak Idan

Applying for: Tukwila City Council, Position 5

Below are the answers Zak Idan 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?

I would say that my greatest strength is my education and work experience in construction engineering and urban planning. I believe this background will allow me to excel at the issues that city council’s face on a regular basis. On top of that, it provides me with keen insight on how to move Tukwila into the future and create a city where everyone can thrive. I think my biggest weakness is that I’m new to politics. While I have a good handle on policy, I understand that there is more that goes into passing good legislation. I endeavor to develop the kind of relationships that will allow me to pass good policy. 

2. What are the best & worst jobs you’ve ever had? Why?

I wouldn't necessarily categorize it as a "worst" job because truthfully, it was a learning experience for my teenage self. But if I had to choose, it would come down to busing tables on Pier 59. From the stress of having to deal with impatient patrons who weren't always friendly, compounded with the stress of being on my feet all day and carrying heavy plates. Not to mention the plethora of responsibilities  that didn't necessarily match my pay. 

Being a youth soccer coach was by far the most fulfilling job I've had.Taking young underprivileged athletes and giving them a sense of unity and purpose by guiding them through the trials and tribulations of learning the game. It gave me the privilege of being their mentor both on & off the field, and greatly impact the course of their lives.

3. Why is this position a good fit for you?

I was born in Somalia. At 13, my parents fled the civil war in Somalia and together we came to the United States. I graduated from Evergreen High School with an AS Degree from Highline Community College as a result of excelling in the running start program. I then went on to earn a bachelor's degree in Construction Engineering Management. Today I work for King County as a Project Control Engineer in the Department of Natural Resources.

I am active in my community, helping to promote small, minority-owned businesses. I also serve on several boards and commissions including the Tukwila Police Advisory Board, OneAmerica, and the Matt Griffin YMCA. I also volunteer with Action Tukwila and as a youth soccer coach. Finally I make it a point to work closely with the immigrant community here in Tukwila, to help pave the way for those who want to experience the American Dream, just like I have.

I believe that my education, work experience, and community involvement have prepared me to sure on Tukwila city council and to be an effective leader. I believe that tukwila has a bright future, but it is going to take people who are willing to work hard and smart to ensure that our city reaches its potential.

4. What makes you the best choice for workers in this race?

I am prepared to go into this position and fight for the rights of and benefits of everyone who works in Tukwila. I believe that Tukwila is poised for greatness and want to lead the way toward creating and attracting good living wage jobs that provide benefits for their workers. I am a proud member of the Technical Employees Association and support the right of all workers to organize. I believe that everyone has a right to a fair wage and good working conditions. This is why I have the support of the MLK County Labor Council, the King County Democrats, the Working Families Party and many other unions, organizations, and elected leaders who fight for everyday workers. 

5. What do you think is the single biggest issue affecting workers in your area? What would you do to address it?

I believe the biggest issue that workers are facing in Tukwila is a lack of living wage jobs. I am committed to working on leveraging the resources we have in the area to try and attract good living wage jobs to the city and to provide support programs for entrepreneurs. I would like to work closely with local schools, business, and labor organizations to develop training and apprenticeship programs that are strategically targeted to the needs of or city. I would also like to look into creating a program that provides assistance to local entrepreneurs, small business owners, and workers to help them navigate regulations and labor laws.  

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.

As A board member of Abukar Islamic Center, which is part of the Interfaith Economic Justice Coalition, we stand against all forms of discriminatory bias. This included our fight for the prayer rights of many hotel & airport Workers. As well as being instrumental in leading the minimum wage initiative, and also fighting for worker's back-pay. The collaboration of the many Organizations like Working Washington, community leaders and faith groups was vital to our fight and the reason for our win.

7. What would be your top single priority if elected to this office? How would you define success or failure on this issue?

My top priority is economic development and specifically finding ways to encourage the growth of living wage jobs. I believe that success could be defined in a couple of ways, first, are we able to attract more business to open up and create jobs the city. Second, Do the existing businesses in Tukwila have the support they need to grow and create more jobs. Finally, is the median family income in Tukwila growing at a faster rate than it previously was. These are a few metrics that we can look at that will provide an indication of how successful any new programs or policy positions are at growing jobs and wages in Tukwila. 

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?

I will oppose any policies at the local level that are aimed at undermining or chipping away at the rights of workers. Right now, South King County and Tukwila in particular are being targeted by the Freedom Foundation and conservative candidates that oppose unions, want to lower the minimum wage and oppose worker rights and benefits. We need to stand strong against these efforts and prevent them from spreading any farther than they already have. I will also lobby in Olympia and Washington DC, if need be, to stand up for the people of Tukwila. 

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.

The rise of housing costs and the lack of inventory are huge problems for the entire region. I want to make sure that the people who currently call Tukwila home are able to continue living here and the those would like to move into the city have the ability to do so. I want to work with developer to encourage multifamily housing projects along Tukwila International Boulevard and around Tukwila’s South Center Urban Center. I support efforts like Tukwila Village that provides housing units that help fill the needs for market rate housing, affordable housing, and senior housing.  

10. Many Uber drivers live in the Tukwila area. Do you have ideas about creating benefits for workers in the gig economy?

Uber recently opened up a facility in Tukwila and I know lots of people in Tukwila who are currently active in the gig economy. Some are doing it out of convenience, but many are doing it because their current jobs don’t pay enough or they are struggling to find full time work. First, I think that the best remedy for this is to grow the number of living wage jobs in the area so people aren’t forced into gig work that doesn’t necessarily meet their needs. Second, we need to come up with solutions that will provide these workers with the kind of benefits that all workers deserve. I am open to having a dialogue with you or anyone else who has thoughts about how we may be able to accomplish this.