King County Executive

Joe Nguyen

Question

Black wealth remains near zero due to centuries of systemic anti-Black racism and is on a trajectory to only worsen. In Seattle, white wealth is nearly 20x more than Black wealth. What specific actions will you take to close the Black-white wealth gap?

  1. How much of the Black-white wealth gap will you close while in office? 

  2. Who are you working with in the Black community to close it? 

  3. How will you support investing federal funding directly and specifically into the Black community in the next two years?

Answer

King County is notoriously regarded as the economic driver of the State; the epicenter of industry and the gateway to the world. However, in the land of plenty, too many struggle to make ends meet. That’s a direct result of policy choices made at all levels of government, but the County can make a significant impact on reducing the Black-White wealth gap by prioritizing investments in communities who have been left out of decades of public spending instead of reinforcing those inequities. We spend more than 70% of the County’s general fund on a legal system that criminalizes poverty instead of funding the programs that lift people out of it. That can, and must, change. In my time in Olympia, I’ve consistently amplified the voices of community advocates making the case for those kinds of investments, and as a result of their advocacy our state’s budget reflects the truth that we cannot cut our way out of this economic crisis. We allocated millions in relief funding for TANF, rental relief to prevent evictions, and began reversing the regressive tax code that overburdens so many struggling families.

By contrast, King County got millions in rental relief funding directly allocated from the federal government. Under the incumbent’s leadership, the County was so far behind getting relief to the renters on the verge of eviction that as of June 16th, Crosscut reported that it had failed to disburse a single dollar of the aid package Congress approved in December 2020. That’s simply unacceptable. As I have throughout my time in the Senate, I would work with trusted community organizations like KCEN and my constituents to ensure that continued economic recovery investments are invested equitably in programs that meet the needs of the Black community. I will also work to provide alternative pathways to homeownership and housing stability for families in communities of color who have been excluded from traditional means to build intergenerational wealth for decades, particularly for communities in unincorporated King County like the one where I was raised.

Finally, we need to put a hard stop on regressive taxation. King County is in the unique position of only having regressive revenue as a tool of raising revenue. We have known this for decades now, and the effort to get this changed has been limited at best. I’ve seen from the legislature the lack of urgency to get this changed and how the Executive’s office that should be leading the charge to get this changed, has left its efforts to lobbyists and insiders. What we need is a full-on public affairs effort to ensure people understand how this impacts communities of need, and how without change the problem will only worsen for our communities that are already left behind. That’s what I’ll do in partnership with the community advocates who have been pushing for progress on this issue, and who deserve to have their voices amplified instead of being forced to fight just to be heard.

Next Candidate

Chris Franco

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