Darya Farivar, Candidate for 46th LD State Representative

Darya Farivar, Candidate for 46th LD State Representative

On this midweek show, Crystal chats with Darya Farivar about her campaign for State Representative in the 46th Legislative District - why she decided to run and her thoughts on addressing issues such as homelessness, housing affordability and zoning, healthcare accessibility, progressive revenue and effective spending, education funding, climate change, and ballot access.

About the Guest

Find Darya Farivar on Twitter/X at @DaryaForHouse.


Campaign Website - Darya Farivar: https://www.daryaforhouse.com/


[00:00:00] Crystal Fincher: Welcome to Hacks & Wonks. I'm Crystal Fincher, and I'm a political consultant and your host. On this show, we talk with policy wonks and political hacks to gather insight into local politics and policy in Washington State through the lens of those doing the work with behind-the-scenes perspectives on what's happening, why it's happening, and what you can do about it. Full transcripts and resources referenced in the show are always available at officialhacksandwonks.com and in our episode notes. So today I am excited to welcome to the program a candidate for the 46th Legislative District in Northeast Seattle running for State Representative - welcome, Darya Farivar.

[00:00:49] Darya Farivar: Thank you so much for having me, Crystal and Bryce. I'm really excited to be here and to talk with you all about my campaign and the issues that are important to me and what I want the 46th to look like. So thank you for a warm welcome.

[00:01:01] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. Thank you for joining us. The 46th doesn't have competitive races very often - it's been a decade basically since the last one, so this is a big opportunity for everyone in the 46th. I'm very happy that people are getting the chance to know you better. Just starting off - what is your background and what made you decide to run for office?

[00:01:25] Darya Farivar: Yeah - there are a lot of different things that pushed me towards this decision to run. First and foremost is that the 46th is my home - I've lived here my whole life - I grew up here, I went to grade school here. My parents - when they fled Iran because of the revolution, they actually met at Roosevelt High School, which is my high school. And it's a very sweet story about how they met, but I'll spare you the details. They ended up putting down roots in the Lake City neighborhood and we've been there ever since. And I love this community fiercely - it is such a tight-knit community, a strong community. But it's also one that's been struggling pretty significantly over the years. In Lake City, I'm not really able to go anywhere without seeing folks who are experiencing homelessness, housing instability, mental illness, and substance use - and seeing folks get pulled into the criminal legal system when they don't get the help that they need.

Those are my top priorities for this race - not just 'cause I see folks who are struggling every day, but also because it's the work that I'm doing in the Legislature right now. I'm the Public Policy Director at Disability Rights Washington, so I spend my days working on civil rights legislation, mostly at the intersection of challenges that Lake City is experiencing. I think it's really critical that we're electing folks who have a strong understanding of how to navigate Olympia successfully. My entire job relies on me being able to do that successfully - managing an organization's legislative agenda and legislative strategy. And I don't think that can be underlined enough - Olympia's a difficult place to participate and try and get bills passed.

And I think it also relies on folks having a deep understanding of how these issues and this policy really translates to on-the-ground work. And I have some understanding there as well - I'm really lucky to have been part of a team that's overseeing 12 different behavioral health diversion programs across the state. There are programs that are doing well - well enough that they've been funded by the Legislature to keep going. And they're doing that really hard work of trying to meet people where they're at and provide help as soon as help is needed. And I know that we can create a state system even beyond just behavioral health that's built on that concept. And that's what I'm looking to do.

[00:03:43] Crystal Fincher: Excellent. And I have definitely appreciated the work that you and others have been doing with Disability Rights Washington and the wins that you've been able to achieve, the work that you continue to do to try and make our state more equitable and help it serve everyone. You have talked - I've heard you talk before - about those challenges facing Lake City and the district at-large. And there are more homeless people now, more people struggling with being able to pay rent, to find shelter than there have been - than we've seen before. What can be done to help people stay in their homes and to get off of the street? What are your plans for that?

[00:04:28] Darya Farivar: Yeah, it is certainly easier to keep folks in their homes at the beginning, rather than wait for folks to - for example, you have to be homeless for a night in order to access a lot of housing services. And that just doesn't make sense - to wait for someone to lose absolutely everything before intervening is not okay. It's not helpful. It's incredibly traumatizing to the individual. And it's also just not a good use of our funds too, and the very little resources we have as a state. So building up supports and tenant protections and making sure that - if it's a hundred dollars between someone experiencing homelessness or being able to stay in their home, making sure that we can find that to keep folks there, making sure that we've got those rental subsidies available for folks.

And then also looking at folks who, unfortunately, did make it to that point and crisis, where they did end up on the streets - trying to look at what the underlying reasons that pushed them over the edge. And for many folks, it's disability. National numbers show that 40% of folks who are experiencing homelessness actually identify as having a disability. Now we can have a whole conversation about identifying as having a disability versus actually being diagnosed as having a disability - and very often, a lot more folks meet diagnosis criteria than actually identify with it - especially folks who are having behavioral health challenges. And so when I look at what's happening there, I see disability and I see behavioral health as a big part of it. And so I look at our behavioral health system - and our behavioral health system is missing the entire front end of it. We're waiting for folks, again, to fall through every last crack in the system before even attempting to provide help. And that's not working, right? There's so many folks that are struggling and suffering because of that - because either themselves or their loved ones have reached out for help and they haven't been able to get it. And leaving folks to access our last-resort behavioral health options and using those as the cornerstone of our system is not working. And so really focusing on diversion and intervention and making sure we're building up things like our newly established 988 hotline - making sure there's services to go along with that. Mobile crisis teams, options to have behavioral health professionals actually responding to crisis and getting folks into things like pure respite and crisis stabilization - that's what we need to be investing in.

[00:06:58] Crystal Fincher: That certainly makes sense. And you're right - it is critical to keep people in housing and to intervene before we get to the point where they're at-risk or at the point where they're losing it. Affordability is a major, major contributor to homelessness and it's a big challenge that we're facing statewide - really countrywide - but definitely in this district. One big item that is attempting to help is Representative Jessica Bateman's missing middle housing bill that didn't successfully make it through last session but is coming back - looks like it has momentum. Do you support and will you vote for the missing middle housing bill?

[00:07:40] Darya Farivar: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. We are missing something around 250,000 units of housing across the state. That is a huge and terrifying number, right? And the way that we're gonna be able to address that is by making meaningful changes in the way that we're looking at density. I think - one of the things that I'm seeing a lot along the campaign trail is that folks have been pushed into this kind of false choice between extremes. It's either single-family zoning or it's apartment buildings, and folks don't see a lot of what's in the middle - and what's in the middle is where that conversation is happening or where it should be happening at least.

The reality is that we need density. We need density now. And what that density's gonna look like is going to be different neighborhood to neighborhood. And we have to be flexible in allowing for that individualization and reality of the landscape we're working in. Seattle neighborhoods are just very different neighborhood to neighborhood - they look and feel different and the capacity that they have for density is going to vary. And so we have to stay open to that and have to push back against this all-or-nothing approach. There is so much that we can do in the middle.

[00:08:50] Crystal Fincher: I think you're absolutely spot on with that. There are people who think that - okay, I'm gonna have some 20-story building - anytime someone talks about absorbing density. But also there are issues, as we saw in this last session, about what is the middle and where does it stand? Are you talking more in terms of sixplex and anything in middle like that? Are you talking higher density? What does the middle look like to you?

[00:09:19] Darya Farivar: I think it depends on the neighborhood and the folks that we're talking about. I think sixplexes are a great place to start. I will never pretend to be an expert on that legislation. I'm always the first person to jump up and say, this is an issue I need to learn more about. I am no expert in housing zoning and how that policy is shaping up, and I'm really comfortable saying that because I know that the experts are around me. And I know that there are people that I can call on who are having much more in-depth conversations around this and understand the nuance and the detail with that.

For me, it's about talking to folks who are being displaced and figuring out what's gonna keep them in the neighborhood. That's what the middle is to me. How do we keep folks, for example, in a neighborhood like Lake City that is seeing a lot of new development and growth, how do we make sure the long-term residents - like my family, like my parents - are able to age in place and stay in the neighborhood that they have chosen and grown to love.

[00:10:11] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. And when it comes to that, you talk about zoning being essential and important. Is that the only thing that's necessary for keeping rents down, or do we also need to be looking at other policies beyond missing middle housing in order to make sure that we can stabilize rents and keep our communities affordable?

[00:10:30] Darya Farivar: I think it's definitely part of it. I don't think that it's all of it. I think there are a lot of creative conversations happening about what we can be doing - not just to increase density, but actually put land and housing back in the hands of, again, folks who have been in these communities longest. Lot of conversations around building up nonprofit housing, which is really interesting and exciting to me. Trying to talk about land co-ops and joint ownership models - where if you can't afford to own all of the home that you're living in, you can own a piece of it. Really interested in having some more conversations about these grassroots solutions - things that communities of color have been talking about for a long time and trying to find ways for the state to support that. Not insert ourselves in the middle of it, but find a way to support that sort of mutual aid that's already happening naturally in a lot of different communities.

[00:11:27] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, I think that's wise to look at. I also wanted to talk about - you have such a deep background in disability rights, which is so tied to our healthcare system. And you talked about some of the things you want to accomplish there. We are at a crisis point in many ways where we're looking at staffing shortages in basically every element of our healthcare system. I just read news that a intermediate transport company - taking people from the hospital to different appointments or to other care centers that are necessary and routine - is just shutting down. We have shortages of nurses, of frontline people, of ambulance drivers, just everywhere in the system. What can you as a legislator do to help address our capacity issues, our staffing issues across the healthcare system? And what else would you do to make sure better healthcare is more available to more people?

[00:12:28] Darya Farivar: When I look at the workforce shortages across the system, especially in caregiving fields, two things really come to mind. And I'm really drawing from my experiences working with those diversion programs across the state. And they had two major challenges to address - how do we, where is the place to divert someone to housing? And also how do we keep our staff? And the fact that that was one of the biggest concerns, along with housing, is not a fun conversation, right? Because ultimately it comes down to making sure staff feel appreciated and they're being well taken care of. And the reality is that the rates just aren't there - this last legislative session, the Legislature increased rates by about - I believe it was 4% - though I'm probably getting this number wrong now that I haven't looked at the bill for months now. But we increased it just a little - oh, I think it was seven, 7% - that's right, because Massachusetts also increased their rates, but about 15%. And that is much closer to where we need to be. If we want to make sure that folks are gonna get the services and care that they need, we have to take care of the people who are caring for those individuals. And right now, I don't think we're doing that in Washington. The reality is we can think up all of the fabulous new programs that we want to see, but until we have folks to fill them, those are all just dreams and ideas. And it does come down to making sure people are paid a thriving wage - not surviving, not just barely scraping by - a thriving wage.

And, the other issue that comes up here is that - especially in behavioral health, folks are really sick. Folks are - again, we're waiting for the system - we're waiting for folks to fall through every last crack in the system before engaging. And so by the time folks get into a place where they're receiving care from a healthcare provider, behavioral health professional - they're in a really, really bad state and it's really hard to help that individual. That can't be said enough. So to help our workforce situation, we have to cough up the money, we have to pay people better. And we need to not wait for folks to fall through all the last cracks in the system. We have to actually intervene earlier so that it is easier, and in a lot of situations safer for staff to intervene and provide the care that folks need.

[00:14:58] Crystal Fincher: And obviously we're having so many of these conversations, whether it's about trying to get our unhoused neighbors into housing and the frontline workers that we're relying on doing that, or within the healthcare system. How much we are paying and taking care of these people is part of every conversation, which also gets back to a conversation about revenue. And do we have enough to take care of everyone we need to take care of? And the general consensus is - generally no. And a lot of conversation about implementing more progressive revenue measures in order to do that. Do you support more progressive revenue? And if so, what kind - what are you in favor of?

[00:15:46] Darya Farivar: Absolutely. There's no way around it. We need more revenue and it has to be progressive revenue. We have to figure out a way to establish a state income tax. And I know that there are really brilliant people who are working on that. We - I'm really supportive of the capital gains tax, of the state excise tax. I'm really interested in finding ways for folks who are making a ton of money to really just pay their fair share - we're not asking for anything earth shattering. We're asking for folks to pay what is fair and for folks to really make sure that we're not putting the burden on folks who are ultimately accessing the social services that we are paying for - that they are ultimately paying for. That doesn't make any sense whatsoever. We have the most regressive tax structure in the country and that is something for us to be deeply ashamed of. So there's no way around it. We absolutely have to have progressive revenue.

And at the same time, we also need to keep having this conversation about - are we spending our money wisely? Are we working with what we have the best we can? And I think the answer is also no. I don't think we're spending our money the best way we can possibly spend it. And looking at the behavioral health system is where I see one of those examples so clearly. One of the things that comes with waiting for folks to fall through the cracks in the system is that it is really expensive to get them into the care that they need. And sometimes - oftentimes - they tip over that line, over the line where you get care and into a really expensive system, which is the criminal legal system. And we are dumping so much money into that system as a way to try and compel people into getting care - when we could have been intervening earlier and saving money and saving lives and saving trauma. And we're not doing that. And so I think that there is - I think we have to keep having that conversation as well. When we want to pay for something or we feel that we have to pay for something, we find the funding for that. And in that system it has become really clear that we are spending the vast majority of our money on the criminal legal system and on expensive, really in a lot of ways ineffective institutionalization, when we could be doing a lot more earlier.

[00:18:11] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. Expensive, ineffective, inefficient. And it's just not accomplishing what we need it to - I completely agree with you there. Another option that's currently being discussed is Representative Noel Frame's wealth tax that she had proposed that has some broad support. I assume you also are in favor of implementing that?

[00:18:33] Darya Farivar: Absolutely.

[00:18:34] Crystal Fincher: Makes complete sense. Also in the conversation - just about education and public schooling. We are in the Seattle School District - kids are just getting back to school after a teacher strike. And there's so many issues that teachers brought up that they're facing that are - that they're struggling with - and fundamentally boil down to still receiving insufficient funding at the state level from just where we're at in terms of class sizes, special education funding - those class sizes, the staff, just the ability and training to implement those programs and support kids in the way that they need to be supported. Counseling resources, which are more necessary now than they've ever been. In your role as a legislator, what can you do to help increase the amount of funding for schools and to make sure that we're doing the best job to educate our kids and prepare them for a successful life?

[00:19:37] Darya Farivar: Yeah, yeah. So school funding, man, this is the kind of forever conversation, right? This is our paramount duty and we are failing pretty significantly. And one of the areas that you see this really clearly is in special education, is with disabled Black and Brown students especially. When I look at the way that we are funding education and - yeah, when I'm looking at the way we're funding education overall, right? The fact that we are funding based on enrollment is a problem. And we're seeing that more and more show up today - especially like in Seattle Public Schools. And so we really need to rethink that and really make sure that we are funding, I think, based on need, based on where that need is and how much that need is. And it's just not working - what we've been doing is not working, so changing the way that we are funding education fundamentally - it needs to happen.

The other area that I look at in funding - for special education specifically - is around inclusion. We know that isolation and segregation and restraint leads kids into the school-to-prison pipeline. And yet our funding formulas encourage it. Our funding formulas say that you get more funding for students who spend time in a segregated classroom setting. It directly encourages against inclusion and that's not working either. And we need to flip how we are funding inclusion and special education as well. And this is another area where there's a lot of great experts working on this, right? A lot of folks who have been having these conversations about whether we stick to the prototypical model for funding or do we change it up. And it's another area where I really want to get in and listen to the folks who have been working on this, who have been the experts working in the community on this as well, and listen and figure out what can I do best. For every issue that is not my expertise, I'm really interested in listening and learning and taking direction from folks who know much better than I what's going on and how I can get in there and be the best ally I can to push these issues along in a way that really keeps folks, and in this case students, who are furthest from opportunity, which I really think are Black and Brown students with disabilities at the center of these conversations. And make sure that what we set out to do, which is support these students, ultimately carries through and our end result really does support those students.

[00:22:21] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, that absolutely makes sense. And I appreciate your candor. Sometimes we hear politicians who - I have every answer, only I can implement the solution. And reality is no one ever does. And even those who think they do inevitably encounter some things that noone ever could have anticipated - like a pandemic, or things like that where it's just new - and having an infrastructure set up to be in communication and in community with people most impacted, people on the ground while bringing your principles, your perspective, your own experience through there is really important. And so I just appreciate you being candid about that and being willing to listen and learn. I think that says a lot about a candidate who does take that perspective.

[00:23:16] Darya Farivar: Thank you.

[00:23:17] Crystal Fincher: Sure.

[00:23:18] Darya Farivar: I'm really glad to hear that. I will just also offer - working in a co-governance model is what I'm interested in. That's how I work with legislators when I'm lobbying and trying to bring advocates in. And I think because of that, we need more organizers as legislators. And that's exactly what I'm trying to do. We need to be co-governing - these decisions - we're elected to represent the people, our constituents, but ultimately we're making decisions that are gonna impact them directly. And so we have to stay in constant communication with folks who are gonna be impacted by it.

[00:23:48] Crystal Fincher: In another area where - right now - folks who are least able to mitigate the impacts of climate change are most impacted by it. We're seeing it here locally, whether it's people being exposed to and endangered by extreme heat and extreme cold. Just today as we're recording this, it's another dangerous air advisory because of wildfire smoke and that being a direct threat to people's immediate health with asthma and increased heart attacks, lung irritation. These are all things that are impacting our communities and communities that are most vulnerable. What are your priorities for mitigating the current impacts the climate change on these communities and addressing just greenhouse gas emission reduction overall?

[00:24:41] Darya Farivar: Yeah, I think it all comes back down to holding corporations accountable for the pollution that they have created and put on these underrepresented marginalized communities. It comes down to making sure, again, we're holding people accountable in a lot of different ways. And so there's just no way around that. We need to do a better job of doing that. The Climate Commitment Act is here, which is exciting and it's making some progress. It does seem to really rely on cap and trade measures, which is a start - but cap and trade measures also allow for folks who have the money to pay off those fines and keep producing pollution as they have been. And that's not the kind of accountability that we so desperately need. It's a start - it's a good start - but if we're really gonna be meeting these climate goals, we need to be a lot more aggressive about it. And say - that's enough, you need to stop producing and operating as you have been, because it is deeply harming the world and these communities that we say that we're trying to do right by. And so again, making sure that those communities have a direct line of communication into this process - that they're not just actually - beyond having a line of communication, making sure that they're at the table is gonna be really critical, especially indigenous communities.

I am really interested in getting involved in transportation as a climate justice issue. That's the angle that I am also most familiar with - Disability Rights Washington has an incredible Disability Mobility Initiative, and I've been able to learn so much from the work that Anna Zivarts is doing there, and I hope to continue. And hope that we can build on that work. We know that cars and trucks are our number one cause of pollution. And so we have to address that head on and what that means is making sure that public transit works for everybody. It has to work for the folks who are relying on it - for example, folks with disabilities who don't have another option, public transportation is it .And also making it efficient enough so that folks who do have cars and can make the choice see it as the more efficient option, see it as the better option for them in every way. And there's a lot that we can be doing there. In the 46th, we've got some brand new light rail stations, which is really exciting. I'm a big fan of the light rail - used to take it to work every day before COVID - and they're closer now. But we gotta make sure that those are connected up with our bus routes as well. We gotta make sure that it is safe to get from point A to B to C.

And I think an area that - it doesn't always get the attention that it really needs when thinking about transportation - is also pedestrian safety infrastructure. That is, at the most basic level, sidewalks. In any Seattle neighborhood - if you walk around that neighborhood, there is going to be a problem with the sidewalk you're walking on. There's gonna be a route that's like trying to climb out of it - there isn't gonna be a curb cut, it's gonna be some issue with it. And that's an issue that DRW has been working on over the years, which is really exciting also. Just recently we were getting some of this construction and new sidewalks put in in Lake City - fabulous - always one of the last neighborhoods to get improvements like this, but I'm excited. It's just down the block from me now - there's a real sidewalk there and I can safely walk on 35th, a really, really busy street. Making sure that there are sidewalks where there haven't been, repairing those sidewalks, and also having that hard conversation about whose responsibility is it as well - 'cause right now it's the homeowner's responsibility to figure out how to improve their sidewalk. And that is not equitable. We talk about all of our regressive taxes and the burden we are putting on property tax as a way to fund and fix everything. It's really difficult for a lot of the homeowners, at least in my neighborhood, to be able to stay. And just adding sidewalk repair as one other additional thing is not going to help. And frankly, folks aren't doing it - it's not working, folks aren't repairing it. And folks who are trying to access transportation are bearing the brunt of it. Folks, whether they're walking or rolling, are having to go into the middle of the street to get to where they need to go. And I digress from your original question, Crystal, but I think that it is a huge part of making sure that our transportation system is genuinely accessible and safe for folks to access, to get folks out of cars.

[00:29:31] Crystal Fincher: No, you're absolutely right. And our transportation system is most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions - out of all of the different sectors, it's transportation. Highways are conversation there - historical conversations about - oh, there's traffic, let's widen a freeway - without regard for the reality, the fact that widening freeways actually worsens traffic and it worsens greenhouse gas emissions. Will you be voting for a transportation package that includes further highway expansion?

[00:30:05] Darya Farivar: No, absolutely not. I will not be - there's so many other better ways that we can be spending our money. It's incredibly expensive and I just think that we can do better. And our public transportation system really needs that funding - and that's the future, right? I think transit and technology is the future, so we need to embrace it now and not later. Seattle has a very interesting history when investing in city infrastructure, especially transportation infrastructure, and we've seen the results of waiting and waiting and delaying and delaying - the future is here. We gotta invest in it now.

[00:30:43] Crystal Fincher: I completely agree. In terms of just - obviously, you talk to lots of people, lots of groups who are sitting here and I've asked you questions. What issues do you see - issue or issues, do you see flying under the radar that you aren't asked about very often, or that people don't regularly invite you to talk about, but that you feel are necessary to talk about and address?

[00:31:07] Darya Farivar: Wow. I would say overwhelmingly people want to talk about public safety. That's the number one thing that people want to talk about. And I am always happy to talk about it - it really is a lot of what my priorities make up - is that kind of topic area and conversation. There are a lot of issues that are flying under the radar as a result of that. One that I am really interested in that I haven't been able to talk a lot about is access to the ballot and voting. We have seen that it really makes a difference. You need to be able to show up and vote - in my race, we saw that made a difference, right? We ended up with 32% of the vote - we won the primary. That's huge - we're really excited about that. And I think one of the reasons we did that was because we were so committed to going out and earning every single vote, and just trying to engage people who haven't been engaged in this process before. And voting advocacy has been a significant part of my work at DRW and something that I really want to continue to work on - making sure at least, first and foremost, folks have access to the ballot. There's some really interesting conversations happening about electronic ballot return which would be an absolute game changer in Washington to make sure that folks are able to vote even easier. And make sure that people who are ultimately gonna be most impacted by these decisions that our lawmakers are going to make have a voice and a vote into this process. I'm really interested in doing work around making sure that that ballot is accessible.

In Washington, we've got mail-in voting, which is great and it increases access for a huge population, but not everybody. Many folks with disabilities are not able to access it still because you need to be able to read and write and see the ballot. And that leaves out a huge chunk of people. And these are the same people who are also relying on our public transportation system and are gonna have a hard time getting to a vote center as well. So what can we do to make sure that folks really truly have a voice in this process? It's an issue that's really important to me, especially as a first-generation Iranian - coming from a background, a family history where your vote didn't count, your voice didn't matter. It was in fact dangerous for you to speak up. This was one of the appeals of coming to the United States for my family - is that you actually get to participate in this process. And that someone like me, from my background, is able to actually run for office and do it without a target on my back as well. So I think it just can't be talked about enough. There's a lot of work to be done there. I'm really excited to be working on it through my role at Disability Rights Washington and hopefully more to come in the upcoming sessions to really improve it.

[00:34:11] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. And as now - voters are listening to you and will be trying to make a decision between you and your opponent on November 8th - as you consider this race and your position making it through to the general election with a very unique accomplishment in that all of the opponents who did not make it through to the general election have endorsed your candidacy, which does not happen very often. Obviously they took stock of both candidates and decided you were the clear choice. As you make your case to voters, what do you tell people who are trying to make that decision between you and your opponent, and how will their lives be different if they vote for you when you're elected?

[00:35:06] Darya Farivar: Yeah, we are so excited and I'm really proud of the momentum we have built and the support we've been able to gain. It's been really, really humbling. And in some ways surprising, right? I ran into this thinking - I'm going to do this because I want to win. And most importantly, because I want to make sure that the issues that are important to me see the light of day, and that we have these important conversations about behavioral health in the criminal legal system that I think need to be elevated. And I guess what I would tell folks - I think that there are actually a lot of differences between me and my opponent. I think some of it comes down to professional experience, some of it comes down to lived experience, some of it comes down to philosophy as well. Again, being Public Policy Director, you get a look into the system that many folks do not get. It's a really important part of the process to show up and testify and meet with legislators. But that's about 15, 20% of what's actually happening. Most of that work is happening behind-the-scenes, it's happening at those negotiating tables. And I've been sitting at those tables. I've been a part of those negotiations, right? I've been a part of this kind of maneuvering and trying to figure out - oh, it's 11:00 PM and some random amendment got dropped on your bill. How do we defend against this now? And that is a very, very different look.

We have some really tough issues to address - the ones I'm running on being front and center, really, I think for the entire state. And whatever else the Supreme Court is gonna throw at us. We need folks who can hit the ground running. And we need folks who are going to do it with a particular lens, because what we've been seeing has not been working. We need to make sure that folks who are underrepresented have a voice and a part of this process. I think that not only my professional experience points to that - starting as an organizer working - I started out working with immigrants and refugees who have loved ones with developmental disabilities and trying to figure out how do I uplift their voices and make sure they are front and center in these conversations. And so that experience, but also my own personal experience as being a young, first-generation, Iranian American woman. I really understand what it's like to not have my voice heard because I've been silenced over and over and over again. It's not easy to do this work in Olympia with a lived experience like mine, but I'm going in eyes wide open and with some strong allies in there who are going to help, or are going to be committed to these progressive priorities and trying to move the needle on these issues. And they also recognize that how to do it is by lifting the voices of communities who are most impacted.

Now, figuring out what that looks like is the next challenge. And I have, I think, really demonstrated throughout my career and through my campaign that this is my priority, this is my pillar, this is my kind of north star - is to make sure that communities that haven't been heard are heard in this process. And I just - I can't underscore that enough. I think the way that your career looks and also the way you run your campaign is gonna say a lot about how you're going to legislate as well. And I think I have proven in the team that I have - I have a team of all young women from different backgrounds - from the LGBTQ community, women of color, immigrant women, women with disabilities - you name it, we've got that different representation captured in our team. And like I said at the beginning, these are people who felt left out of the process that now feel like they have a voice in this process, that feel like this is something that they can believe in. And I think that speaks volumes to the Legislature that we're ultimately trying to create.

[00:39:03] Crystal Fincher: Thank you so much for speaking with us today, for helping people to get more acquainted with you, and best of luck on the campaign trail.

[00:39:12] Darya Farivar: Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate the chance to talk with y'all.

[00:39:16] Crystal Fincher: Thank you all for listening to Hacks & Wonks. The producer of Hacks & Wonks is Lisl Stadler, our assistant producer is Shannon Cheng, and our post-production assistant is Bryce Cannatelli. You can find Hacks & Wonks on Twitter @HacksWonks, and you can follow me @finchfrii, spelled F-I-N-C-H-F-R-I-i. You can catch Hacks & Wonks on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts - just type "Hacks and Wonks" into the search bar. Be sure to subscribe to get our Friday almost-live shows and our midweek show delivered right to your podcast feed. If you like us, leave us a review wherever you listen. You can also get a full transcript of this episode and links to the resources referenced in the show at officialhacksandwonks.com and in the episode notes.

Thanks for tuning in - talk to you next time.