Emijah Smith, Candidate for 37th LD State Representative

Emijah Smith, Candidate for 37th LD State Representative

On this midweek show, Crystal chats with Emijah Smith about her campaign for State Representative in the 37th Legislative District - why she decided to run and her thoughts on addressing issues such as community representation, housing affordability and zoning, homelessness, public safety, mismatch between passed policy and subsequent implementation, education funding, and climate change.

About the Guest

Find Emijah Smith on Twitter/X at @ElectEmijah.


Campaign Website - Emijah Smith: https://www.electemijah.com/

South Seattle Emerald’s 37th LD Representative Position 2 Debate (October 4, 2022) - Moderated by Crystal Fincher: https://www.officialhacksandwonks.com/sse-37th-ld-debate-2022


[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.

Today, I'm very excited to have a guest joining us from the 37th Legislative District who's a candidate for State Representative. Thank you so much for joining us today, Emijah Smith.

[00:00:49] Emijah Smith: Thank you - I'm happy to be here.

[00:00:51] Crystal Fincher: Happy to have you here. I guess just starting out - I would love if you could just share what experience you're bringing to this race and why you decided to run for office?

[00:01:03] Emijah Smith: As you know, I'm a mother, I'm a grandmother. I'm raised and rooted, been living in the 37th my whole entire life basically. I have historical context of the community, as well as current context. I chose to step into this role because I've been in Olympia for over 10 years - locked arms with families, bringing our youth forward - to really advocate for meaningful change that we want to see in our community. Advocating for universal preschool, advocating for stable and affordable housing, food security, the broken tax system, racial justice - you name it - the things that are important to really ensure that our families are healthy and our communities are healthy. So I've been doing the work and I want to - I'm here to be a bridge builder, really - to say, I'm in Olympia, this is your space. I'm told when I'm out here canvassing all the time that we really - the 37th wants to transform status quo. So people are like - I'm a great champion for the voiceless, they know I have the credibility and the consistency of doing the work. So having that current real lived experience of the lives of the 37th, having demonstrated experience in Olympia, and really having some really powerful relationships with families and our children in the 37th is the reason why I step into this opportunity.

[00:02:29] Crystal Fincher: And it is a unique opportunity and you bring up something important - which you talk about - the context of how the community used to be versus how it is today, which is different. The district has grown, it has changed, the composition of people who are there are different. As you look at how the 37th Legislative District has changed, what do you think is the most important thing you as a representative can do to connect with the community today, while not displacing any further the community that has been left out and preserving the culture and heritage and history of the district?

[00:03:10] Emijah Smith: Thank you for asking that question. I am from the historic Black community of the Central District - raised there, grandparents there, parents there - and really seen firsthand, really, the love and the investment in our community. Although it started out with redlining, that's how the community came to be. It's been a very joyful childhood experience that I had there - it felt safe - until that failed War on Drugs came into the community. And I believe those policies - steeped in racism, the over-policing, the criminalization of addiction, and the lack of resources - just as a young person, I was committed and committed myself to say, I'm going to go to college, I'm going to do any and everything I can to bring resources to the community, bring healing to the community, as well as restoration. So in that process of those policies, I believe that's really key to what started the displacement and the gentrification - because of those poor policies that were just really targeting a community that I believe was vulnerable at the time.

And so being - having the privilege to stay in my community, I have not been pushed outside of Seattle - doing all that I can to ensure that me and my children can stay in place with regard to the taxes and things. I have really seen and built relationships with the new faces in community - so through my, as a PTSA president at my children's elementary school as well as my kids' school currently, really seeing the families that are coming in, having the opportunity to learn some of the issues that they care about. But in addition to that, along the way - again, since as a youth - been advocating for community building and development and making sure that folks can stay in place. So fighting for or advocating that taxes can be reduced for low-income communities - a Black community's average income in Seattle is around $50,000, probably a little bit less. How can one - how can anyone - survive and live in Seattle with the rents and the cost of living? It's impossible. And so our elders and our seniors are just holding on.

But I will say - going to Olympia, really, with King County Equity Now and other organizations in our ecosystem - really holding the Washington Finance and Housing Commission accountable to ensure that our dollars were coming back to community so that we can get the developments like the Africatown Plaza, Ethiopian Village, Elizabeth Thomas Homes, Petah Village - these are all community investments that are in the 37th. And so to be on the frontline doing that work is what we have to do, is what I do. This is a people's campaign, this is about people-powered policy. And I have found along the way, although I have a Master's in Public Administration - seen on the professional side of the academic side of how to move policy - I have found the most meaningful policy has always come from community voice and community's power.

[00:06:09] Crystal Fincher: I would agree with that. And you talk a lot about the need to make sure people can afford to stay in there. You just talked about the average income of Black families being around $50,000, which is half - less than half now - of what the median income is in the entire City of Seattle. So there is a huge gap, with historical reasons behind that, and that absolutely needs to be addressed. When it does come to housing and just the ability for people to continue to live where they've been living, to stay in the housing that they currently have, to age in place - what are the most impactful things you can do to help to keep housing affordable?

[00:06:52] Emijah Smith: Again, it's - there's a few things. I currently sit on state-level housing justice coalitions and Housing Trust Fund coalition - really speaking to those policy teams in Olympia designated by the governor to look at housing, really speaking - so this is a statewide collective, but we speak directly to the barriers that are at hand. We speak to the historical racial injustice and marginalization as well as policy that has created such barriers and marginalization. We bring the real lived experience of folks of - this is the barrier to even applying for housing, these are the reasons people are denied housing. But your system, through the Department of Commerce, also has these barriers because it's set up for organizations that oftentimes don't look like the most marginalized to get the funding because they've had the decades of opportunities to build the capital or had the experience. And right now, in order to develop housing from communities that are marginalized, they have to - in order to apply, you have needed to have already built some housing. Well, how does one do that if the resources are barred, or I won't say that they're scarce, but they're limited. So we're trying to talk to the Department of Commerce and really advocating there - those are the things that I'm doing.

Also looking at taxes, right? Too many seniors have reached out - just trying to stay in place, they're on limited incomes - either retirement, social security - and they just cannot afford the taxes that keep going up in prime areas, particularly like the Central District. But I would love to say that all of the Seattle proper, the taxes keep rising because property values keep rising. I'm even speaking with families who are new, who are the new faces who've come in and bought a home and they're like - they're concerned if they can even keep the current home that they've had maybe for the past five years because the taxes just keep rising. And when taxes rise and you're a property owner, of course you're going to pass that on - most do - to the renters. So property taxes are definitely to be in place, we need to look at incomes - provide a level of income of how much your property taxes need to be, some things need to be exempt - particularly for our seniors. The cost of living is already so high - people are having to choose between prescriptions, food, or rent, or mortgage, or paying those huge taxes.

So those are the things that I'm looking into. My value is that everyone should have a home. No one should be unhoused. And I know people are making choices due to other reasons to choose if they should be housed or not. But nevertheless, housing should be available. I'm heartbroken to even share, but just two weeks ago I came across a family - a mother, two children, 4 and 10, living in tents just - not too far, maybe a couple miles from my home - and not for me seeing the child being rejected to going to the bathroom maybe to wash up. I was like, Can I speak to your mom? The mom was willing to share the story and I immediately reached out to some people I know who professionally work sheltering families and luckily they answered the phone, then they called someone else and that person answered the phone, and we were able to get the family into at least some emergency shelter. But I'm telling you, a 4-year old and a 10-year old out in the woods in tents - that is unexcusable and that was in the 37th. And I'm willing to do any and everything that I can to ensure that that's not happening to anyone else. But the reality is I know that it is.

[00:10:41] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and there are a lot - there are a lot of things that need to be done to address this issue. Legislatively, in your capacity as a legislator, certainly legislation that is in process that could potentially help a lot of other things that are needed. I guess one of the things that will be coming up in this upcoming session, should you be elected, is the missing middle housing bill, sponsored by Representative Jessica Bateman, to address the shortage of housing supply which experts say is a necessary component of addressing this, not necessarily the only component, but one of the necessary components. Do you support that missing middle housing bill?

[00:11:20] Emijah Smith: I do support missing middle housing. I also support some level of rent control. We have to create a pause - again, I'm meeting single people who are afraid of - what can I do? So yeah, I do support that. I think that those things are happening. I've also talked to families just in general throughout my years of engaging in community - where there's low-income housing - there's not enough low-income housing, first and foremost, so people can even apply for that. But there's a lot of low-income working class families in the 37th who need to stay in place. Then there's also affordable housing and if you need to make $80,000 or more just to try to get into that one-bedroom, things are impossible. So middle housing is definitely needed.

Whenever I look at legislation, I have to look at the racial equity impact of that legislation. I don't like to jump on anything without understanding the unintentional harm, 'cause we don't want to create more inequities. We don't want to increase the disproportionality on anyone. So that - one thing about me as a leader, as a legislator, in that role representing community will definitely be looking at the fuller impacts, not just quick looks, let's just move and make a quick decision. 'Cause what we don't want to do is invest a lot of time and a lot of money and still causing more harm in community.

[00:12:41] Crystal Fincher: And then in terms of addressing housing, we need to get people sheltered - first and foremost - no matter what people are dealing with. I think you have expressed several times that people do deserve housing, period - even if they're dealing with an addiction, dealing with behavioral health issues. Not only do they deserve that, but that's helpful in stabilizing or getting to the point where they can stabilize the issues that they're dealing with. We do have challenges with availability of services to help people - whether it's behavioral health services, substance use disorder treatment - we do wait for people to fall through all the cracks and maybe even become involved in the criminal legal system before they have access to any kind of intervention and then it's much harder to address that problem by that time. How do you plan to address the availability of those services?

[00:13:39] Emijah Smith: Wraparound services are definitely necessary. I have family members with behavioral health issues and recovering from addiction. And what I have found to be successful is that people can have stable housing, have stability at least for a year, have something stable to be able to address some of the other issues. I've spoken with firefighters who are concerned that they're going to the housing that is being developed for folks with the multiple issues that have disability, mental illness, whatever - there's different issues - but they're being called for something that's not oftentimes a fire or a heart attack or a health issue, and so there's these reservations. Clearly it's showing that we need more investments - we need more investments in our mental health across the board. And we definitely need more wraparound services for those who need it.

And I also would include those who are re-entering from the carceral system - they're given $40 of gate money. If they are not - have a strong support family or community network that could provide housing, oftentimes those folks are really right out in the streets and they're unhoused - and that doesn't support success, that supports recidivism. So the things that I'm looking at is how do we increase vouchers for those who are coming out - it was increased from 3 months to 6 months - but I am a believer in a year's time for stability because I've seen firsthand what it did for family members and community members to stay stable and in place.

I also think about our children. When COVID first happened, there was a lot of children who were even in these tiny homes - they might be sheltered, but how can one learn in such a small space in our weather? So as you know, that just really touches my heart. So we have to utilize the revenue, we have to address our backwards and broken tax system to create the dollars and bring them there. I love Washington State - I'm not someone who wants to leave and go to another state and live. It is vibrant here and I want to do everything I can do to invest - not only in Washington, but in the 37th - we have the revenue, we have the marijuana dollars. So I was advocate last session that provided that $400 million to come to our communities, to go to organizations that can also continue to keep investing in community. So we have the revenue, we have a broken tax system that if corrected, or repaired or fixed - whatever you want to use - we can make some serious change. And if we center that revenue on our basic needs - housing, healthcare, education - our families can be healthy, our communities can be healthy. So that's my mindset. These are some complex issues because of who holds the purse strings, but also who's in place to make those decisions. But my value is where I share with you before - everybody deserves housing, healthcare, education, and I do any and everything I can do to champion and support to ensure that happens.

We also have to look at the policy language, though - that becomes the issue. These big values and these big systems - who's going to disagree? No one would disagree. But oftentimes our institutions are working in silos instead of working together. So a quick decision can come from housing, but you didn't look into Department of Corrections to see - can that really work. And so again, there's unintentional harms that are created and then we have to go back and it takes a long time to keep going back. So we have to be better at talking with each other and looking at the language that's going to make sense for our state and for those people who are most marginalized. And the way that you do that - to save us some time and save us some money - is you talk to the people with that lived experience, 'cause those who are closest to the problems are the best ones with the solutions.

[00:17:30] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely agree - and that feels relevant to some of the challenges that our legislature is having in terms of passing legislation, but sometimes not quite landing the implementation of that legislation in a way that can delay funds getting to the people who it was designed to help, the building of infrastructure to deliver that - where certainly good intentions were there and the policy itself may be sound, but the actual implementation - the how do we deliver this help to the people - has some missing elements that make some complications. How do you think your experience can help address that issue?

[00:18:12] Emijah Smith: I'm a - not to be a pause - to me, the first step is always making space and allowing space for people to be at the table, co-designing with community. I do agree with implementation 'cause once the law is happened and it's going to be sent down to the next group to try to figure that out. We should be having conversation to whoever's going to be sent down to. I think about some of the housing projects that are in the 37th and when they started to change - think it was HOPE VI or HOPE IV - and that started to change. The things that weren't considered at the time is like credit history - when you push people out of where they're staying right now, where are they actually supposed to go? There was housing vouchers that were provided, but the new system of how the people will get the housing wasn't taken into account - first and last month deposit. If you have those type of conversations from start to finish, where can we - that's implementation - so what are some of the the barriers or some of the the snags that we can work out along the process? We would've saved ourselves some hardship, and I think that although with the best of intentions of creating and designing these spaces and building community, we also created a lot of unhoused people. We also pushed people into the carceral system because we weren't talking with each other.

So the way that happens and another example, I believe, is the LFOs - these are called legal financial obligations. There was a lot of advocacy on the state level to ensure that those who were coming out - the big fines - to reduce some of the interest there. Because if someone still has interest and their legal financial obligations were not complete, they could still almost be put right back into jail - and not almost - some people can go back and be jailed for not making payment. Well, how can you make payment if you're just trying to enter? You already can't - might be limited on the job that you can receive, the housing you can receive, you can't even get stable because of that. The implementation once the law changed was that you have to understand how to ask for that when you were being sentenced. And a lot of people did not know - that's part of the implementation. It has to be addressed at sentencing, not after the fact. 'Cause if you try to appeal it, then you can be denied of those legal obligations being removed. Legal obligation interest has somewhat, has been changed - it's being improved as we're moving along, but what does that look like for the people on the ground - that's a whole 'nother story.

So that's - those are the examples that I want to share around implementation. I also think about implementation for our education dollars. There might be some dollars that were sent out to some districts, but if that money is not specified to that department and really restricted to say - family engagement - then the district can use it any way it likes. So the language in the bill has to be very clear and legislators who are representing their communities have to really fight for that language versus families like me - in Seattle Public Schools, we were fighting for family engagement dollars, but the district had put it into other places where there was a priority and a need, but there was a miscommunication, clearly, or implementation issue because we're saying, You have this money you can invest here - where they're like, Well, actually it wasn't restricted - we were able to do what we wanted to do with it.

[00:21:29] Crystal Fincher: That makes a lot of sense. And you also bring up a good point about the district and public schools, which certainly have their own issues, but the State - the Legislature - plays a big role in how education is ultimately delivered because they're funding it. And even though there are some issues with how that funding is allocated, part of the problem is that there is too little funding - and so choices are being forced in some situations that shouldn't be choices at all. And usually it's the kids with the least, the kids in areas where they don't have parents with a lot of generational wealth and excess income that are donating to their kids' schools, and education can look a lot different in different areas of the district and even things like turnover of teachers and administrators is unequal in different parts of the district. And especially in the 37th, those schools are paying for it. In your capacity as a legislator, if you're elected, what can you do to increase funding for schools? And where is that in terms of a priority for you?

[00:22:43] Emijah Smith: Oh, it's a top priority. It's a top priority. It's top three, top four priority. Education has always been a huge issue - because when I was that teenager in school watching my community, the devastation from that failed War on Drugs - when I committed myself to advocacy, I committed myself to making sure that people had an opportunity in education because I believe that education is an opportunity to change your circumstances. But I also understood that education - the system that I saw - can also track you into the prison pipeline. So I did everything that I could to educate myself about the education system - so as an undergrad, as well as getting my master's in Public Administration. I studied Seattle Public Schools - how money funnels down, what those disparities look like for the new teachers versus senior teachers, what the budget looks like, how budgets are created. And really engaged myself in Seattle Public Schools, to be honest, as a parent, because it became really apparent once I had my own children what it looks like to navigate that and what money followed your child. If your child is special education, then there's certain dollars that come from the federal government that's supposed to provide you more resources, but actually it goes into a fuller budget of a school's budget, as well as a district's budget.

So when I think about those things, I think about central offices that tend to carry a larger portion of the budget. How can we try to balance that out? How do we support our teachers to make sure that they're properly trained and well-equipped and want to be in "Title I" schools, which tend to be in the 37th, because those are schools that tend to have higher free reduced lunch. With the population changing, less schools are Title I, but nevertheless you still see this pattern of teachers coming in and leaving and then going back maybe to a North Seattle school, a school that seems to have less diversity, maybe learning styles, what have you. And that's an issue - and to me, I look back at the systems - that is a design system, and we have to work to see how we can make things more equitable. And the PTA right now are looking at how they can share funds, right? My PTA Mercer - I'm the president of the Mercer PTSA - and we're sitting there, we're talking about what schools - do we want to apply to join with these schools to put on certain events and then they split the money. So that those schools who have less revenue with regard to PTSA can have more of an opportunity to support the families that are there.

So I first wanted to say that - from a parent perspective, I've been advocating on the special education taskforce at Seattle Public Schools, which helped bring the recommendations forward - what they're negotiating with the SEA in Seattle Public Schools. I've been on the OSPI, which is a state-level education department around bringing in ethnic studies for our students. I'm a strong proponent with regard to apprenticeship opportunities for those families who may not want to jump right into college, can't afford college but want to invest in having livable wage employment for their student. Education is a serious issue. In every way that I can be involved, I am. I also was a catalyst for the current strategic plan at Seattle Public Schools to really look at equity, ensuring that our students furthest from opportunity are being supported. Also with the McCleary Act - to make sure we're fully funding our education - we have a long ways to go and particularly the gap is with special education students and services. So I'm a strong proponent there. I think if we can properly fund our schools, we won't have the same disproportionality that's going on with retaining teachers and retaining good administrators and staff and making sure our children are doing well.

A big issue that comes up on the state level, like you said, is the general fund. If you take money here, where you're going to get it from? 'Cause it might come away from our mental health services, it may come away from our health services, it may be something you want to look at for food - and hungry kids can't learn. If kids aren't getting the services, they can't learn. So we as leaders in the state capital - and I say we, because families are leaders and our voice is strong and because of our voice, we have made some meaningful changes. I particularly think about the pre-K and getting working more access to childcare - that has come from really fierce families that say, We need this, we have a ways to go, but we're making progress. Community has to continue to keep advocating for the needs and say, Don't take away our healthcare, don't take away our nurses in school, don't take away our counselors. COVID has allowed this to be a much bigger issue across racial backgrounds, I would say. Before someone might think of it, Oh, it's just more marginalized communities. No, it's all of us, it's all the families. And I love that my leadership and my advocacy has such a strong background of diverse bodies - from, I would say, from white families to Asian American families, Black families, you name it. What I love about my leadership though, is I'm going to make sure we're going to bring forward that Black and Indigenous nuance that oftentimes is ignored and neglected. But from immigrant, refugee, English language learners - I'm an advocate for all of us, not just for my job, but for all of our children, because it's our children who are our future now. 'Cause me - that high schooler whose passion and commitment has me here today. So there's a lot more stories, there's a lot more I can say - it is a complex issue, but at the end of the day, we must fund and invest strongly in our public education to ensure that our children have an opportunity and have a chance to thrive.

[00:28:47] Crystal Fincher: I'm also looking at - we have the conversation about climate change. It really is a conversation about equity injustice, because no matter what element we're talking about, it is BIPOC communities, low-income communities, those who are most marginalized, who are experiencing most of the impacts right now and will continue to be without intervention. And this is - we're seeing this happen right now - it's not something to come. These are consequences that are happening right now, whether it's exposure to extreme heat or cold, whether it's exposure to pollution and particulates that contribute to asthma and heart disease and lung disease. We have life expectancies that are years shorter in some areas of the city - some of those in the 37th Legislative District - than there are in other areas of the city. So reducing pollution, greenhouse gas emissions are critical to everyone, but in particular BIPOC communities being able to thrive and live a healthy and productive life. How do you plan to address greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, and pollution?

[00:30:05] Emijah Smith: Definitely a supporter and value climate change and environmental justice. I truly understand that it's really steeped and centered around - it's a racial justice issue. It's been an issue and we've had guidance - I feel like, from forever - from our Indigenous brothers and sisters and community members around this issue telling us and warning us about the importance of what's going to happen in our lives if we do not take care of the land. So I just want to first give honor and recognition there. I, myself, and my children - I was diagnosed with asthma at the age of two months. I live - what I designate as South Seattle - if you're not, if you haven't been here a long time, it's really - it's not quite Rainier Beach, it's a little bit past Franklin High School. Just really aware of the air quality here. The soil quality is poor. Today the smoke is ridiculous - I just think something's burning wherever we are. I'm needing to have to stay inside and keep the door closed, and still the air quality is an issue. I'm a neighbor and a community member that's fighting to keep our trees - Beacon Hill - the more that we build, because density, keeping housing and keeping people in place is important. But if it's at a cost of tearing down the trees which are helping a habitat, which is helping clean our air - that's an issue. Senator Saldaña, who's a sole endorser for me, is leading on the HEAL Act. I would support that. There's legislators out there doing that, there's organizations - I've been endorsed by SAGE Leaders also, I take leadership from Got Green, South Seattle Climate Advocates - they have a network - really listening to those who've been really leading this charge.

But I will say that I'm not one to get in the way. I do see that a lot of things that are coming up oftentimes are saying, Fine, fine, fine the big companies that are causing a lot of the pollution and the problems. But we have to be thoughtful about some of the other ways because the more that they make the money and pay the fine and keep doing the thing, it doesn't stop the harm that's being caused. Most of the issues are complex because we talk about 'em as issues and oftentimes we don't talk about 'em as a racial justice issue. We don't talk about it from a place of normalized anti-Blackness or the steeped racism of how this country was even started. We don't talk about that sometimes, we kind of leave it to the side - so we have to be willing to talk about the issue, be willing to fund the issue, be willing to bring in more green jobs because we're doing a lot of repair. So we need to do the repair of these issues, but at the same time, we need to be creating policies and implementation in a way that is equitable, that is going to change the dynamic that's happening in this country.

So for me, this stuff is strongly intersected, but yeah, I'm not one that's going to be in the way. I'm here to support the crew for the cruise ships, the airplanes - there's a lot of issues that have been targeted in the 37th, and why? Because it's been historically a traditional place where people have been pushed to go there because they - we've been othered. 'Cause before it was Black folks, there was Jewish folks here. But people who were being pushed here were othered. And othered meant you had less value, so then you can come here too. Oh, you're an immigrant, you're a refugee - we're going to push you over here into these housing projects. Instead of looking at - this is a great place to be. I love the diversity, the power, the vibrancy of it all, but it comes with a lot of detriment that we have to constantly keep fighting. And for some reason they want to just keep neglecting and ignoring what the community is calling for. And really, we're calling for health. We're calling for - we want our communities healthy, we want our families healthy, we want to be safe.

So I'm just sharing with you my values around it. I'm sharing with you that there's work. I'm in the community petitioning with my neighbors now to sign something to say, Let's not - if you're going to build this 5-story, market rate building over here in our community, why would you do it in the 37th anyways? Doesn't seem equitable. But if you're going to do it, don't cut down our trees. If you're going to do it, let's make sure we're implementing something here to make sure our streets are safe. Engage with us, understand that we're powerful, understand that we are deserving - and we don't have to beg you to be deserving, but we need to - but the way this is set up, you make us force and demand for you to pay attention. So I'm locking arms with Puget Sound Sage, I'm locking arms with the other environmental justice organizations that also center racial justice in these issues, and utilizing the power of my vote and the leadership representing the 37th District to move us forward.

[00:34:52] Crystal Fincher: Now as we wrap up today, there are a lot of people who are struggling to make a decision in this race, who are looking at you and your opponent and saying, Okay, what are the differences? Why should I make the choice for one over the other? What is your message to those voters as they're trying to decide who they should vote for in who's going to represent them in the 37th?

[00:35:21] Emijah Smith: I would say to the voters that there is a clear distinction. There's a distinction of a people's campaign versus a status quo campaign. I've been engaged, vetted, incredible in the 37th. I've been here my whole life and I'm currently demonstrating the work that it takes to do legislative advocacy - not only do I lock arms and go to Olympia with families and community members, I also provide the training to help families and community members understand the process there - how a bill becomes a law, how do you effectively talk with your legislators? Like I'm arming, we're gearing each other up. I'm also a parent and a grandparent who's lived the lives of our community, who understands sacrifices that are being made to make sure our community's thriving. To me, that's what's really clear - I'm here at a campaign to really transform status quo. The 37th, across all the backgrounds - our community has said we don't want status quo. So I'm here to represent not status quo. My campaign is based on people-powered policy. It's to have a bridge to make sure that those who feel voiceless have a voice, for those who want true representation of our lived experience understand that that is myself. So I can provide you with the education, the demonstrated experience - but I also have the relationship that's important across our bases.

So that's what I would share. I would also want to share with y'all that I have sole endorsements from current 37th leaders - our Senator Rebecca Saldaña, King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay, our City Councilmember Tammy Morales. Kim-Khánh Van, who's a Renton City Councilmember, 'cause the 37th does have a sliver of Renton. I have sole endorsements - One America Votes, the Washington State Labor Council, Pro-Choice Washington. These are coming because of the work that has been demonstrated by me, because of the consistency, because of the commitment around us as community. And you can check out my website at ElectEmijah.com to see more of the leaders and endorsers that I have. I do want to also add the Honorable Larry Gossett - he's a sole endorser. And I have others - Dr. Ben Danielson. There are others, but I just wanted to share that people are putting their name behind me because they see the work that's done and they understand that status quo has to change in order for us to really advance to a place where we're really tapping in and seeing the humanity for each other and really caring about each other and caring about our community. It'll be an honor to have your vote - thank you.

[00:38:17] Crystal Fincher: Thank you - we will include the link to your website for people who want to learn more information in the episode notes. And thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today.

[00:38:28] Emijah Smith: Thank you - it was an honor, again, for the invitation. Thank you and have a wonderful day.

[00:38:32] 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.