Running and serving as a POC

“What are these balloons for?”

“Oh! This is a Meet the Candidate Event. I am running for office.”

“I only vote locally.”

“Great! This is for a local office, school board.”

“No. I only vote for people from this country.”

This is an actual conversation I had with someone walking by my event at Magnolia Park on Saturday. My children and my mother were with me and heard the whole exchange. 

Earlier this week, King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who is seeking re-election, sent out attack mailers against her opponent Sarah Perry. Her mailer featured — US Vice President Kamala Harris, Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant, and just one of her nine colleagues, Councilmember Girmay Zahilay. What’s the connection? These elected leaders are all POC. This is a deeply racist attack mailer and I am glad that Seattle Times pulled their endorsement in reaction to this and her unwillingness to take responsibility and to apologize immediately. 

Sage Leaders is hosting regular support sessions for POC candidates for School Board, across Washington state, who are reporting racially motivated harassment and intimidation — verbal and physical. 

When meeting with a former elected city leader who is a Black man, I ignorantly asked him for advice on canvassing. He laughed and said, “No, I never knocked on doors. Can you imagine what would happen if an unfamiliar Black man showed up at someone’s door?”

It was important to me to run a campaign focused solely on the strengths that I bring to the table. I believe my professional skills in finance and operations are needed as our district navigates significant financial pressure from the fallout of the pandemic. I believe my lived experiences as an English as Second language student, a special education student, and as a parent of a special education student and navigating this very system for the support she needs, will inform the decisions I am making on behalf of the entire district. I believe my record of community service, including advocacy work I have already done as a volunteer for students and families, provides clues as to how I intend to serve — rooted in community engagement, collaboration, and commitment. 

None of this was apparently relevant to that person in Magnolia Park. Only the color of my skin.

I am not deterred and having gone through this experience, I am committed to supporting future POC candidates. POC candidates and elected leaders simply grapple with a whole different set of challenges. I have deeply benefited from the support of many community leaders and organizations, such as First Mile Circle. For now, it’s onward for me and a promise to carry others along with me. 

Happier Moment at Magnolia Park

 

 

Vivian and her daughter at the park

KCYD Endorsement

I am pleased to announce that the King County Young Democrats have endorsed me! It is an honor to know that the newer generation- some of whom may still be SPS students- trust me with improving Seattle Public Schools. They asked candidates to answer the following prompt in a video:
We at King County Young Democrats believe that young people and their issues have been ignored and pushed aside in politics. What have you done to advance youth issues in King County?

And I sent in this video. As a side note, I’d like to thank the Young Democrats for their request to provide captions or a transcript. As someone who is hard of hearing, I am personally grateful that they made this request of all candidate submissions.

 

Kicking Off the General Election Campaign!

Hi there! I know, it’s been awhile since I posted. After winning my district primary with 60% of the votes, I have been relaxing and reconnecting with my family during the final weeks of summer vacation: enjoying the beautiful outdoors in Washington state, reading great books, and eating a lot of popsicles. 

Now, alongside thousands of families across Seattle, I am sending my kids to their first days of the school year. My 4th and 3rd graders have finished their first week and my kindergartner and preschooler start tomorrow.  So, I’m ready to kick off my campaign for the general election!

What’s different about the primary and general election is that it’s a city-wide election. All voters in Seattle can vote for me. While not a little daunting, because I have had so many meaningful and memorable conversations with voters in District 4, I am excited to engage with voters and take my message across Seattle. 

I believe that my solutions-oriented campaign and what I bring to the table — my lived and learned experiences — resonated with so many voters in District 4 and will also resonate across our city, across to Districts 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7. My growing list of endorsements from both elected officials and community leaders shows that I am what Seattle Public Schools needs right now. I aim to drive greater equity, accountability, and ultimately a healthy and thriving community for all of our students, staff, and families. 

I’ve got 8 weeks until November 2nd. I’ll be posting regularly to my campaign blog and Facebook page — announcing new endorsements and campaign events. And as I meet with voters and community leaders, I will share with you what I have heard and learned from those conversations and how I hope to drive policies that address the real issues impacting our students.

If you are interested in supporting my campaign, donations are always appreciated and can be done quickly and easily via my website www.vivianforseattleschools.com. You can also help spread the word about my campaign, by talking to friends and family, sharing my posts on social media, and ultimately helping me get out the vote! Ballots go out on October 15th and need to be returned by November 2nd. Until then, I look forward to earning your vote!

Vivian's Annual Back to School Family Selfie

Capital Projects

I recently visited West Woodland Elementary to take a picture that I posted to Facebook a couple of days ago. However, due to the nature of Facebook and the length of posts, I couldn’t explain in detail the importance of Capital Projects. I will do so now.

Seattle is a growing city, and just about daily we are welcoming new families with children who will attend Seattle Public Schools. I recently also visited Adams Elementary to film this video, and I saw there that we are already failing to keep up with our growing population. Portables, temporary classrooms placed outside of the main building, are not a long-term solution. They are inferior to normal classrooms in most aspects, often lacking either heating or AC (or both), can be cramped, and allow more opportunity for students to become distracted.

The portables are representative of a larger issue. We are also falling behind in transportation services, many of our schools’ technology labs are growing increasingly outdated, and we need to hire more staff for the increasingly large student body.

I support greater funding to meet our growing needs, including upgrading our school buildings and ensuring that our schools have the infrastructure to support our students. That means up-to-date technology, appropriate staffing levels, and ensuring that every student has a seat in the classroom.

West Woodland Elementary is currently finishing its own Capital Project to add some classrooms, parking, and gym room! This is exactly the kind of project that will allow us to adjust to the growing needs of our students and families.

 

Disabilities: A Personal Story

“We have to harvest and cultivate our own stories not just to feel valid but to feel rejoiced.”

 

July is Disability Pride Month, observed since 1990 when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed on July 26, 1990, barring discrimination against people with disabilities. It is not about awareness, but rather celebration.

 

A public school teacher, Mrs. Leonard, identified my hearing loss. I remember her kneeling down, holding my hand and telling me, “Your hearing loss does not have to stop you from anything.” Over the last 33 years from that moment, I have learned to advocate for the support I need to be the student, employee, community member, and individual I want to be. To be my full self. 

 

My daughter Elise also has a hearing loss disability. When we told her the results of her hearing screening, she cried and asked, “Why does all the bad things have to happen to me?” I knelt down, held her hand, and told her the same message Mrs. Leonard told me. And I told her how my disability is something I am proud of, it has shaped me to be the person that I am.

 

I am running for school board to show Elise that a disability is to be celebrated. I am running for school board to advocate for the support that all of Seattle Public School’s 8000+ special education students need to “cultivate their own stories.”

Illustration by Lisa Quine