Tyler Crone, Candidate for 36th LD State Representative
Release Date: 06/21/2022
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On this bonus episode, we present our Hacks & Wonks Candidate Forum with Tyler Crone, Nicole Gomez, Jeff Manson, and Julia Reed - all running for State Representative Position 1 in Seattle’s 36th Legislative district, which covers northwestern Seattle, including the neighborhoods of Ballard, Magnolia, and Queen Anne. This was originally live-streamed on Facebook and Twitter on July 13th, 2022. You can view the video and access the full text transcript of this forum on the 2022 Elections page at officialhacksandwonks.com. We hope you enjoy this forum, and please make sure to vote by...info_outline Washington Supreme Court Justice G. Helen Whitener
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On this midweek show, Crystal chats with Tyler Crone about her campaign for State Representative in the 36th Legislative District - why she decided to run, how the last legislative session went and her thoughts on addressing issues such as COVID response and recovery, public safety, drug decriminalization, housing affordability and zoning, homelessness and climate change.
As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at officialhacksandwonks.com.
Campaign Website - Tyler Crone: https://www.electtylercrone.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. Today, I'm very happy to welcome Tyler Crone to the podcast, who is a candidate for the State Representative seat in the 36th legislative district. Thank you for joining us today.
[00:00:48] Tyler Crone: Thank you so much, Crystal, for having me. I'm really delighted to be in conversation with you.
[00:00:53] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. I'm very excited to have this conversation. And starting off, I'm wondering - what made you run?
[00:01:00] Tyler Crone: That is the question - I never expected to run for office, I never expected to be a candidate. And yet having been part of the HIV movement and having been part of the HIV response, partnering with governments and the UN and the WHO to rise to the other health and social justice crisis of our time, I felt we could be doing better on COVID-19. And I was concerned and invested - as a parent, as a public health professional - that we needed a spotlight on COVID-19, that we were not through yet, and that that was something unique and extraordinary I had to offer at this moment - and that made me take a second look when my husband asked me if I was gonna run for the open seat. And the piece that really pushed me over the edge into saying - okay, I'm gonna do this, is that my middle daughter is trans, and the campaigns of hate and criminalization against kids like mine and families like my own across this country made it clear to me that the stakes were really high for states like Washington to lead. And I am proud and excited to be in it. And every day that I'm in it, the stakes become more clear. And I just thank you for the chance to be in conversation, to share a little bit more about what I'm hearing, what I'm learning, and what I'm thinking. Thank you.
[00:02:22] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. And so you talked about your background in global health, referencing the HIV movement. What is it that you feel from your background uniquely helps you be prepared to lead today?
[00:02:40] Tyler Crone: So there are a couple of elements - one, of that pandemic response and recovery piece from HIV - if there's any roadmap for where we are and what happens next, it is HIV and AIDS. The other piece that that experience has provided me has been the opportunity to see what it looks like, and what leadership and durable solutions are when you partner with the most impacted communities. And it is that being on the front lines of the HIV movement, of seeing how activists - those who are living with HIV, impacted communities - came together with decision makers, policymakers, researchers, funders to transform the reality, right? To advance new medications, to take a whole-of-government approach - where we were thinking about the impacts and legacy of HIV on education, on gender equity, the impacts in association and connection to gender-based violence. There are so many ways in which HIV provides us a roadmap to understand how we have to innovate, how we have to reinforce our public health systems, and how we have to take a whole-of-society, whole-of-community approach to partnership so that we are building back with strength, we are reinforcing our public schools, we are reinforcing our public health infrastructure, and we're thinking holistically about what getting back to healthy means.
[00:04:18] Crystal Fincher: There are still a lot of people frustrated at some commonalities with the HIV epidemic, and that right now, it seems like there's a lot of people largely ignoring it, that policy is no longer addressing it, that people have decided to be done and the pandemic is still going on. We just saw headlines today saying that hospitals are saying, "Mask Up," because hospitalizations are increasing, that this is still happening. Should we be doing more right now to be addressing COVID-19, to be protecting people from it. And in the role of a legislator, what would you work to have - what would you work to do to solve this?
[00:05:02] Tyler Crone: So I've been thinking a lot about this this morning. Like you, Crystal, I am concerned that the United States of America is the outlier of wealthy nations in the amount of deaths and cases of COVID-19. I remember, over two years ago, when two mentors that I've worked with - Debbie Birx and Tony Fauci - estimated that the worst-case scenario is that we would have 200,000 people lost to COVID. The worst case scenario. And we have now reached a point in time where we have lost over a million people to COVID. Research coming out of the University of California San Francisco is suggesting that those whose jobs were deemed essential, who could not stay at home - died at twice the rate as their peers. We have not even begun to dress or prepare for what's happening in our long-term care facilities and our nursing homes. As we rev up, modelers are suggesting that we will see another surge with cold and flu season this winter, and that is deeply concerning to me. So what are we gonna do? And what could we do better? And what does this moment of opportunity present us? One, it is about reinforcing our public health infrastructure and leadership so that we have coherent messaging. It is about keeping and ensuring that we are surveilling what happens, we're tracking. Right now, we've closed down a lot of our mass testing sites. It's easier to access an at-home test, which is fantastic, a rapid at-home test, but when we test at home, that data doesn't go anywhere. So we don't know what we don't know. And I think that we need to be investing in and looking at those systems of surveillance as one strategy that's proactive. We need to do a very basic learning from what we did well, where we fell short, and how we get ready for what comes next.
There are some simple strategies that this moment provides a really unique opportunity for, that would have a much greater impact around air quality. If we were investing in improving indoor air quality, we could be impacting cold and flu season, we could be helping those who have allergies, we could be taking toxins out of the air, as well as mitigating COVID-19. And the thing that's great about improving indoor air quality is that it doesn't require individual masking, it doesn't require each of us to take responsibility for our own health. It provides us a context of health and protection. So that indoor air quality piece is something that I would really be paying attention to, and that there was investment made available from the federal government for. Another piece that I would really pay attention to and a conversation we've not yet started is Long COVID, and how are we recovering from that and what is gonna be the impact of that on our healthcare system and on our communities? The estimates now, even if they're very small of one third to one fifth of the people who have had COVID will have long-term health impacts from that, that's a big problem. And we're not yet getting there of what we're going to do about.
And I think that the last piece that I want to underscore here is that there are some really common-sense ways that we can be depoliticizing public health, that we can be ensuring we're up-to-date on access and availability and using the treatments that are available and the preventative tools such as vaccines and boosters, and that we should not be afraid to bring back layered mitigation measures, if and as necessary, to keep our economy open and to ensure our kids don't have any more disruption of school closures. So for example, I still wear my mask when I go grocery shopping, and my kids still wear their masks at school. And we are able to go about, still go out to dinner, still meet up with people, still be part of community. And I just hope that that conversation around COVID-19 is one in the public sphere, because the impacts of who gets disproportionately burdened are those who don't have insurance, are those who are working on the frontlines, are those who are vulnerable with cancer or who are elderly - let alone even talking about how overstretched our healthcare system is already, and how overstretched our nurses are and we're facing a major nursing shortage.
[00:09:58] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, we are facing major shortages, so certainly addressing healthcare infrastructure needs, staffing needs are very important. Now we recently came out of a legislative session that - there were some great things that happened in that session. There were also some things that disappointed some folks. What was your evaluation of this past session?
[00:10:21] Tyler Crone: I am so proud, as a Washingtonian and as a parent and as someone committed to public health, to see Washington State's leadership on gun safety. Gun violence is a public health emergency - just as we were talking about COVID-19 as a public health emergency, I think that gun safety is top of mind for families and for everyone in our state, as we look at the headlines and as we come through to the end of an intense school year. So I am pleased to see Washington State lead. I would like to see even more leadership and I will be excited to be a partner in that when I am elected and/or as a community advocate and a parent on the outside. I was really excited to see the investment and attention around mental health and school nurses. I know when I'm talking to teachers and principals, that it has been extraordinarily difficult for them to be frontline responders in school settings, it has been extraordinarily difficult for them to navigate the pandemic without school counselors. And now all of that isolation has exacerbated a crisis that we already knew existed - the mental health crisis facing our young people, our kids - and that is top of mind for parents. So that's a piece of the work that happened this past session that I'm excited to see and carry forward into the next.
[00:11:53] Crystal Fincher: In that session, there were some rollbacks of some of the highly touted steps taken to increase accountability and transparency and public safety when it comes to law enforcement. Do you agree with the action that was taken this past session?
[00:12:15] Tyler Crone: I'm deeply troubled by it. I have been in conversation with the elected officials in my district to better understand how public safety is upheld. I believe that we should all feel - we all deserve to feel safe and we all deserve to be safe. And I feel like I am ill-equipped to understand the nuances of why those decisions were taken. Because as an outside individual, it seems deeply troubling to roll back efforts to address police accountability, to address use of force. And what I see from families who have been impacted by police violence is that they don't see those actions addressing the kind of transparency and safety that they look for. So, I have been told by elected representatives in my district that those were important steps to ensure that local communities could make decisions that would make sense for them, that they were important steps to ensure that someone would come when you call 911. I feel ill-equipped to answer because I am - I want everybody to be safe, I want someone to call when I need help. And I know that communities who are Black and Brown are over-policed. I know that my transgender daughter feels afraid when she sees police, and I think that there has got to be a way that we can advance and uphold public safety, which is top of mind for my district, with accountability and with the deep structural systemic reforms that are needed.
[00:14:09] Crystal Fincher: So would you have voted against rolling back those reforms?
[00:14:14] Tyler Crone: I'm pretty sure I would have - yeah. I don't - I, again, I wasn't in it, I am not fully informed, but I would, I'm pretty sure I would've voted against rolling back those reforms. Yeah.
[00:14:32] Crystal Fincher: We're also sitting here near another anniversary of the War on Drugs, which is largely - has been proven not to be effective. We have spent so much money and have invested so much in that approach, and have not received a return on it. Should possessing drugs be a crime, and should we be treating drug possession and use as a public health problem or a criminal problem?
[00:15:06] Tyler Crone: So I wanna agree with you that the War on Drugs has been a failure. It has had incredible harmful impacts. I have worked - in my public health work in HIV sphere - utilizing a harm reduction framework and approach, and looking at issues from a human rights vantage point. I also am a parent and I see that my teen and her peers are inundated with substances that I am concerned about, that they are accessing things that - yeah, I'm alarmed by the substance use amongst my teens' peers. So how do we hold all of this all together? I am keen to learn more about the work that the ACLU - and the initiative and the coalition that they are leading. I have begun preliminary conversations with my friend, Michele Storms, to understand what this initiative is. My husband's organization, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, I understand, is also part of the coalition to advance this work. And I'm eager to understand more - how we are not incentivizing substance use, we're not advancing the addiction crisis we face, but that we are addressing this as a human rights and public health concern, rather than an issue of criminalization - because criminalization lands us not with safe, healthy communities.
[00:16:48] Crystal Fincher: So, is it fair to say that you are not in favor of criminalization and are exploring other avenues for intervention, or do you think that criminal intervention should be on the table?
[00:17:07] Tyler Crone: I think it has to be a nuanced discussion, right? I think my first focus is on using a public health and human rights framework and using a harm reduction approach. I guess I would like to better understand - and this is where I'm on my learning journey as a person running for office - of what are we specifically talking about when we're criminalizing possession? 'Cause I do - it is not helping the person who is using substances and maybe struggling with addiction to criminalize them. It is an extremely costly approach that does not bring us back together and make us healthy and whole, and so I am very keen to learn more and understand those nuances because I - yes I don't think criminalization is an approach that works.
[00:18:02] Crystal Fincher: Makes sense. Another thing that's top of mind for a lot of people is housing affordability and addressing people who are living out on the streets and getting them into housing. In specifically, in your role as a state legislator, what would you do to help both housing affordability and to get people off of the street?
[00:18:30] Tyler Crone: This is a great question and I thank you for asking it. I was able to be in a conversation yesterday where I was learning more about the middle housing movement as a way to grow density, to strengthen livable, walkable, connected communities that have treelined streets and the amenities that we all love, and as a way to increase the housing stock across price points. So there are a number of different elements here to pull apart. And let me try to start, and maybe you can ask me some follow up questions if I go off-the-rails one way or the other. I believe housing is a human right. We currently do not have enough places for all of our unsheltered neighbors. We do not have enough staff to get people who are on the street into the places that we do have, and we don't fix a problem by moving people from place to place. We need to get people into housing. People need a roof over their head and a door so that they can sleep well at night, and so that they can get back on their feet.
Part of addressing our crisis of unsheltered neighbors is also about incorporating and addressing the health, mental health, and addiction needs those communities might have - the behavioral health crisis they face. So that is a key priority of mine as a person who comes at this from a public health perspective. This loops back to not only do we need more housing for people at all price points, and particularly a place for everybody who is on the street to go to call home - we need to be making Seattle more livable, more accessible for everyone. And I think that we can do that with a lot of smarts, and a lot of planning, and more conversation. Because when I listen to my neighbors and I listen to the voters in this district, there is a shared understanding that families and people are getting priced out, that our housing stock shortage is a real problem for our businesses, that families want to live here and benefit from the ability to walk their kid to school, to have playgrounds, to walk their dogs, whatever it is. That seniors want to be able to retire and size down in the neighborhoods that they love, but they can't get out of their big homes 'cause they can't find someplace else to go. So there's a lot of need and a lot of consensus.
The elements that I hear and that aligns with what I'm seeing that's been introduced before in the legislature - and what I was getting a more nuanced understanding around yesterday in the session I was part of, with an architect from Berkeley - is that this idea of smart density, of building up arterials, which is already underway is a shared value and source of consensus. The other idea that we need to be building on and building with is building up, in a thoughtful way, our secondary arterials. For example, in the neighborhood I live in - Queen Anne - Third Avenue West has bus connection all the way through it. We could be smartly changing the - building those areas up where we have bus connections, where we could be creating more housing across the price points that make our neighborhoods more inclusive - that enables us to have more great small businesses, more live and work options. And we can be doing so with planning and - yeah, I think that the missing middle piece is a really smart approach.
I have heard a few concerns raised around some of the ways in which your land would be, the value of your house would be assessed of your property - based on its fullest potential use - that may make it hard for people who have larger lots to continue to stay in their lots. So we have to look at that and figure it out. But I see that middle housing piece as a thing that we can do with intention and with planning that creates vibrant, walkable, connected communities, where like I do - you walk to your grocery store, you walk your kid to school, you can walk to your providers, you can go pick up your dog food, you can drop your cat at the vet. And if we do that, we can start to tackle the housing crisis we face across the board, where we just don't have enough housing stock for everyone. I also think that as a state legislator, we have to be looking at this outside of Seattle too, right? We have to be taking a kind of regional approach to housing.
[00:23:41] Crystal Fincher: So would you have voted for the missing middle bill that was not successful this past session?
[00:23:48] Tyler Crone: So this is a piece that - I would like to understand why it failed, I would like to understand why the Seattle City Council has not worked to change zoning in some areas already. I think that the piece that before I'd say - yeah, hooray, I'll go for that - that I'd want to double check and dig in around more is this assessed value of my, of people's property and what that impact would be for our seniors being able to stay in their homes and what it would - for example, I finally, after renting for 15 years, my landlord died in a pandemic and I was finally able to secure my home that I had rented, which is a little fixer upper, off-market. Otherwise I would not have been able - my husband and I have had social justice careers - we would not be able to live in the part of Queen Anne that we do. But we have a nice lot, we have a nice front yard and a nice backyard, and it would be great to be able to put more units on it, but that takes resources, and complex regulation - navigating complex regulations that we can't, we're not in the position to do right now. But I would wanna know what the impact would be on our taxes, on our property taxes. Because I wouldn't wanna drive unintended consequences that would upend the fabric of our strong neighborhoods.
[00:25:12] Crystal Fincher: Well, I guess one of the questions there - there are two things that were consistently brought up in opposition to that. On one hand, I think you probably heard a lot of reasons in the session that you were just in, about middle housing - how it is a necessary component of ensuring places stay affordable, preventing them from being more expensive, that supply needs to keep up with demand - when it doesn't do that, prices increase. And an area of tension is - well, should single-family, current single-family areas, be zoned more inclusively? Should we be looking at upzoning single-family areas? A lot of the people who live in those - well, I should not characterize that as a lot, 'cause polling actually tells an interesting story. There are some vocal people - a significant percentage, a significant number, even if the percentage is smaller - of people who are saying - no, I don't want to absorb any density, I don't want any change to my neighborhood, I don't want duplexes and triplexes coming in that fundamentally alters my neighborhood, and I don't like it. On the other side, we have a growing homelessness crisis that is being contributed to by people not being able to afford to stay in their housing, people feeling insecure in the housing that they are currently in. And if we want to keep our neighborhoods livable, there is going to have to be livable and affordable. There's going to have to be action taken soon. And if we're - we can talk about rent control, we can talk about a lot of other things - but one component that seems to be universally acknowledged is that we need to have housing to accommodate the people who are moving into these communities. So I guess starting from that point, would you - do you think we should be more inclusively zoning areas that to date have been, that are single-family areas?
[00:27:26] Tyler Crone: So I live in a single-family neighborhood and I see that there are very smart ways that we could be doing more inclusive zoning - that doesn't need - I don't think these have to be necessarily opposed strategies. And this is - what it was so interesting about being part of this session yesterday - learning from other cities across the country, where they have done graduated zoning to create more inclusive zoning, to enable more density, but to do it in a smart way so that we keep - I think people are getting these ideas that more density necessarily means these gigantic buildings or really ripping apart their neighborhoods. What I saw yesterday were models from other cities across the country, where on arterials and secondary arterials that are connected to transportation, we could be inclusively zoning, to be creating more housing options that fit within the character of the neighborhood, but that enable us to have our grandma live next door, or have our teacher be able to live not a 45-minute commute from their public, from the school where they teach, that would enable the young couple to move in or a single professional, or would also - I was talking to a neighbor who is an architect, who lives in a single-family home in Queen Anne, and was saying - I really love the example of Europe, where they have built up that kind of density that doesn't disrupt a neighborhood, but where you can downsize into a smaller flat, and I could still be walkable in my community.
So I do think we need to be looking at and changing some of our zoning, at the very minimum. That the housing piece is one that runs through so many issues that are top of mind right now. Climate, right? If we keep making it such that everybody has to have longer and longer commutes or that we're sprawling, we're not taking the climate action we need. We need smart density as a key component of our climate strategy. It is a piece of, as you were saying, addressing the crisis we have where we are not serving those who are on the street, who don't have a place to call home. And it is not enabling if we don't have housing stock for anyone - we're not able to get ahead of or address the homelessness crisis we face. And we've been saying we've been in crisis now for a very long time, nearly a decade. And we need to take that action.
The piece that I wanna also bring in here, and this is where I'm interested to dig in with more community councils and be in conversations with neighbors, because I think that there are fears for what will happen that don't have to happen. We could be having these community conversations around what communities want, what they don't want, what the buildings could look like, how we could fit this in that would strengthen the fabric of our neighborhoods, not tear it apart. And one of the things I'm mindful of - I grew up in a city, Charleston, in South Carolina, where we had a lot of fear of change. And so what we ended up creating was a city that had such expensive housing that nobody could - no families could live there anymore, no older people could live there anymore. And we ended up with a city of beautiful homes that people came - wealthy people had as second homes to come visit - but we didn't have those thriving, healthy, safe, vibrant neighborhoods. And I think all of us in Seattle, pretty much, probably love our neighborhood. We love our corner coffee shop, we love getting to know who lives next door - and I am convinced that there has to be a way with conversation, planning, thought, care, and community engagement to get this done. I do have to flag up one of the pieces that came up in this discussion yesterday and that I'm seeing all around me in my neighborhood - is when a small house is bought, it's knocked down and there is a gigantic mansion put up, or really, really expensive town homes. And that's not solving our housing issues and that is not creating more attainable housing.
[00:32:07] Crystal Fincher: Well, and it seems like part of that is - there aren't options to build anything in some areas but single-family homes - and true, that is not solving that. And so if more density was an option, that seems like it would be something there. And that at the end of the day, I mean that middle housing bill was stakeholdered, worked on and developed in consultation with developers, business leaders, community members, people from A to Z - unusually so - just to make sure that all of those viewpoints were heard and accepted. But at the end of the day, as with some issues, not everybody is going to agree. And yes, there are impacts that different groups feel - some positive, some negative. And so at the end of the day, you're left with some groups saying - this is key to us being able to remain in our neighborhoods, to age in place, to afford to live near where we work. We have other groups saying I'm afraid of what this may do to my property value, I'm afraid of the type of people who may be moving in the neighborhood, I'm afraid of what this could do in terms of taxation.
And you are then in the position to weigh the pros and cons and to decide what brings a bigger benefit to the community. And so in that, I guess looking at the people who are centered in the conversation, or the ultimate or most pressing problem that you're looking to solve, is it appears that what's held this up is that people, usually on the more privileged end of the spectrum, do have concerns. Now, are those concerns wholly unfounded? No. And are those impacts made up? No. In some cases - in other cases - they have been, but there are different impacts. But I guess if the choice is between - hey, let's enable the possibility and have local governments do what they do and make sure that development happens in a way they feel is appropriate for their own city - and allow that possibility rather than not enable more development. How do you process that?
[00:34:43] Tyler Crone: I think that there are examples from other cities and examples from inside Seattle that we could be drawing from to make a very compelling case to be growing our density, doing it with smart planning, holding - I love the trees in my neighborhood - holding the green and the gray infrastructure together. And enabling a lot more people to call my beloved neighborhood home. And I actually think, and call me an optimist, but when I start to dig into these details and I triangulate that with the conversations I'm having with real estate agents, with people who have lived here forever, with young people, all sorts of folks - I think we all really love the same things, we recognize the need, and there could be - there's some interesting examples. For example, in Magnolia, there's going to be a grocery - the Albertsons is going to be torn down - it's an older grocery store across from the community center and the pool. And the neighbors of that site worked together with developers - they're going to create a really innovative green building, which is going to be on the cutting edge of good environmental practice, it is going to have units across all the price points, it is going to vastly expand who can live in Magnolia and who can walk to the coffee shops and who can walk to their groceries and whatever, walk to school. And the community's really excited about it. So I think that if we were to do this, I'm still hopeful that with planning and community engagement and thought and care, we can get this done. I think that there has been anxiety perhaps, without necessarily understanding on all sides of what connected, livable, vibrant, more dense communities could look like. And I'm excited to be part of those conversations and figure out - do the hard work of making it work.
[00:37:04] Crystal Fincher: Got it. That makes sense. And I guess you brought up a little bit before, but oftentimes we're in similar situations when we talk about addressing our climate crisis - both in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping to mitigate climate change, and in reducing the amount of pollutants that are in our communities. And in this state, as with a lot of other places, transportation is responsible for the majority of our emissions. And so when we talk about transportation packages, investments in more transit - and there was record investment in transit and mobility, which was great - something that was not so great is that there was also an increase in highway expansion, which a lot of people find challenges with and obviously creates more emissions and pollution. And so starting off, would you support further transportation packages that did include highway expansion?
[00:38:13] Tyler Crone: So, what I am trying to do my research around is to understand what is the alternative to highway expansion. I'm terrified of driving in the Bay Area, I drove my kid from - who graduated Ballard High School - to UCLA, and it was terrifying with all those lanes. And then I do not like driving in LA - again, it gives me heart palpitations - so many lanes and it's like a game of Frogger. So I don't love the idea of expanding our highway lanes. I also love road trips. My family and I - we love going to national parks, we love going to small town America - we love a road trip and I know that there are parts of Washington State that are just terrible in terms of traffic. So I wanna better understand what are the alternatives that we are propping up to get people from place to place and to get goods from place to place that can take the pressure off our highways so that we don't expand them. I love the idea of high-speed rail - I'm not sure where that is today and that's something again - digging into. I love the train, but right now we can't take the train to Vancouver, correct? Isn't that rail line off? But anyway, that's another topic. I do not love the idea of paving over more, but I also see the traffic - yeah -
[00:39:48] Crystal Fincher: Well, and giving that expanding highways doesn't actually improve traffic, it makes it worse. And there's been that misconception out there for a long time and planners, and especially recently, there've been a ton of articles and talks and discussions about that. And that, unfortunately adding lanes does not help traffic. But getting cars off of the road does help traffic. So with that, do you think that highway expansion is the right intervention for traffic? And I guess if it's not for traffic, is there a reason that you would have to vote for further highway expansion?
[00:40:33] Tyler Crone: So I will say upfront that the ins and outs of the intricacies of this is something that I need to learn more about and be in more conversations, so I can be an informed legislator in this area. My instinct on what I have read to date and being a person who loves transit and loves being in cities, where you can get from place to place without ever getting in a car, a person who loves to walk everywhere and would prefer not to drive. I would love us to be looking at what are those ways we're getting people from place to place that don't require a car, what are the ways that we're getting goods from place to place that don't require our highways. And I remember when I first moved out here nearly 20 years ago, and that every car just had one person in it was shocking. Right? When you come from the East Coast where there is - you can take buses and you can take trains and everything is so connected. And I didn't really learn how to drive until I was almost 30. I think that there are a lot of models to look to where we could be better connected.
I also, though - I wanna put in there one point that my kiddo, who takes the bus everywhere - it takes her an hour and a half to visit friends in another part of the city. We don't - our buses, our transit system - I think maybe for folks who don't, who haven't traveled as much in other cities or perhaps as much on the East Coast or in Europe, where you get on your trolley or your tram or your subway and you're getting places and you're going great big distances - I don't think, I don't know if folks necessarily understand that we don't yet have a transit system that is as efficient and as connected as it could be. I also am hearing from older folks - and this goes to a question that you've posed a bit before and a concern that is top of mind - that neighbors are feeling unsafe riding the bus. So that kind of public safety lens of what are we doing to care for people in crisis, care for people who need a place to call home, care for people who need services that we're failing to provide them - that is part of this as well. That's a kind of way off trajectory, but if we're getting more, if we want more people to be taking transit, it needs to be efficient. It needs to be connected and people need to be safe, to feel safe - I should say - riding it.
[00:43:15] Crystal Fincher: Yeah. Do you - are you a bus rider? Do you take the bus to, as part of your commutes and travels?
[00:43:22] Tyler Crone: I do a little bit. I do a little bit. I have not - I find it sometimes difficult, if I'm trying to get kids or groceries or dogs or what have you, to use public transit in this city as I would wish. I loved - I lived in New York City on the Upper West Side, in the 1990s, and I loved it. And I loved the subway - I would love for Seattle to be - it to be easier to get around our city, because I would love to use transit more regularly when I'm trying to get to - oftentimes, I'm trying to get to doctor's appointments that would just have an hour and a half bus commute to get to. So I end up driving the 20 minutes instead.
[00:44:09] Crystal Fincher: That makes sense. And I think -
[00:44:12] Tyler Crone: I prefer to take transit. I don't like parking, either - I hate to park.
[00:44:14] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, especially with that experience, does that color how you would invest or what you would prioritize given - you're in that situation, I've certainly experienced that situation - I think a lot of people think I would use the bus, I would like to use the bus, driving isn't exactly fun, it's a necessity, and parking can be downright miserable. If you could get from Point A to B without driving, that would be great - but that's directly related to the investments that we're making in transit, the money that's available out of the transportation budget - highway dollars competing with transit dollars. So I guess that kind of begins -
[00:44:59] Tyler Crone: Oh yeah - I see your point.
[00:45:01] Crystal Fincher: Does that translate into how we need to be looking at funding transit, what we need to be prioritizing, and providing an infrastructure that does make transit an appealing choice for people, an appealing way to get people out of their cars and address the transportation crisis, a way that doesn't force the expense of car ownership, and gas that's sky high right now, on people, and actually have an infrastructure that makes that a doable decision and an attractive decision rather than one that feels burdensome.
[00:45:41] Tyler Crone: Absolutely. I absolutely would love better transit. I would love to be able to get around our city without ever having to park or get into my car. Also, speaking of our cars - our cars are like 17 years old and they're both about to die and this is not a time - when you have college tuition, running for office, and a used car is impossible to find and purchase, that you have to replace either of them. So I'm all - I love being able to get from place to place. It solves a lot of the challenges we face, and I think that I do think we need to keep a Yes, and... approach because people are gonna need their - until we're there, people are gonna need their cars to get around occasionally. But I do think we could do a much better job - and that's something that would work for families, it would work for - I keep meeting a lot of seniors who would love to never, they don't feel safe driving, they don't ever wanna be in a car driving, but they don't, they can't get all the places they need or they don't feel comfortable on the bus at this time. So I think part of how we also get - when you go to other cities and everybody takes the, like in New York, everybody takes the subway. The mayor takes the subway, the person who is selling things at a small bodega takes the subway, your kid, your 12 year old kid who's commuting to school takes the subway. Everybody takes the subway and it's a great unifier. It's a great way of having a very dense city function. And it's a - yeah, it's a smart choice. So I, yeah - I love, I would love to be more connected across the City.
[00:47:26] Crystal Fincher: I guess as our time is coming to a close today, and as you're speaking to people who are trying to make up their minds about who they want to vote for in this 36th district race, for this open seat with no incumbent and a number of people running for this seat, what would you say about you and what differentiates you from your opponents? And how, what a voter would see that is different, what result would happen that is different that they would be able to see and feel in their lives with you elected as opposed to your opponents?
[00:48:05] Tyler Crone: Absolutely. Thank you, Crystal, for this time to be in conversation and for this thoughtful question. There are a few different ways I would look at this question and answer it - of one that my style of leadership is from leading from behind, of creating space for others, and of centering those who are most impacted. I, the piece I have learned from my work in HIV and sexual reproductive health and rights is that when you ask those who are most impacted first, what their solutions, what their priorities are, what they want - when you listen and learn and ask questions first, you get to a much better result at the end. You get to a durable, structural solution. You come up with something that's transformative. And so I think that there is one piece of this that is about my leadership style, which is again from behind, of partnering, of building diverse, inclusive coalitions, of being - a colleague of mine called it a transparent collaborator - and being a convener of someone who brings - I'm not gonna have the answers for everything. And I shouldn't, that's not my job. My job is to bring people together, to bring, to build a big table, to bring diverse expertise around that table, to ensure that those who are most impacted or who have been most harmed or who have been most marginalized, whatever the issue is, are there hand-in-hand working toward the solution.
I think that the other piece that I would really say differentiates me, or that I'm maybe I'll just say - instead of differentiating me, I'll just say that I'm super proud of. I'm super proud of having been on the frontlines of addressing some of the biggest and most complex challenges of our time. And I think that that experience from HIV where we had to build a new roadmap, we had to move the pharmaceutical industry to develop the drugs, we had to save lives, and we did - is something I'm super proud of and it's that sense of possibility, and I don't - no matter how big the challenge is, no matter how complex it is, I'm excited to dig in.
And I think that the other piece that I would say is that human rights are my heart. And I see myself as a person who lives my values. And so particularly in this moment where we see the rollback of Roe v Wade, and we are gonna need more than ever to be thinking about reproductive choice and agency. When we see these campaigns of criminalization of kids like my own and those impacts on broad, more broadly on LGBTQI youth, my husband is an immigrant. These are the, some of the big fights of our day, where we need Washington State to continue to lead and be a shining beacon. And so that piece of what I've learned from the frontlines of rising to complex challenges, that piece of living my values and rising as a human rights advocate, and that piece of being a mom of three kids and having gotten the great joy and privilege of raising those kids across the neighborhoods of this district - are what set me apart. And I'm excited to partner with the constituents of the 36th to bring positive structural change and for a very, very bright future. And I thank you for this chance to be in dialogue, and I'm eager to continue the dialogue I am having with everyone who calls the 36th home.
[00:51:58] Crystal Fincher: I thank you all for listening to Hacks & Wonks on KVRU 105.7 FM. The producer of Hacks & Wonks is Lisl Stadler with assistance from Shannon Cheng. You can find me on Twitter @finchfrii, spelled F-I-N-C-H-F-R-I-I. Now you can follow 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 to your podcast feed. If you like us, leave a review wherever you listen to Hacks & Wonks. 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 - we'll talk to you next time.