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Melissa Taylor, Candidate for 46th LD State Representative

Hacks & Wonks

Release Date: 07/05/2022

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More Episodes

On this midweek show, Crystal chats with Melissa Taylor about her campaign for State Representative in the 46th Legislative District - why she decided to run, the importance of stepping up in bleak moments such as now, and her thoughts on addressing issues such as housing affordability and zoning, climate change, public safety, and Washington’s upside-down tax system. The two also converse about Melissa’s extensive experience door-knocking both in her district and across the state, how having conversations with people with different viewpoints helps her develop better policy, the role of fundraising in politics, and what it’s like to run in a race with five community-centered Democratic women.

As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at officialhacksandwonks.com.

Find the host, Crystal, on Twitter at @finchfrii and find Melissa at @MelissaWPTaylor.

 

Resources

Campaign Website - Melissa Taylor: https://www.electmelissataylor.com/

 

Transcript

 

[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 am so happy to have this guest on our show, who is a long-time friend of mine and a current client of mine, actually - the candidate I'm working with - after I keep telling everyone that I'm getting out of working with candidates and politics. Every time I think I get out, you just reel me back in - it is Melissa Taylor. Thank you so much for joining us today.

[00:01:05] Melissa Taylor: Well, thank you, Crystal. And thank you for letting me reel you back in one more time - I mean, we think.

[00:01:12] Crystal Fincher: Well, yes - I've talked about it before on the show - not an easy thing to do, but as we all know, there is some ridiculous stuff going on, some scary and terrifying stuff going on - and political will is lacking with a lot of people, the understanding of the urgency of this situation is lacking. And so when I have the opportunity to work with someone, to observe someone over years actually walk the talk in ways that I rarely see - that's what gets me back in and that's why we're friends. But I guess I will just start off by helping other people get to know you a little bit better and just - what made you wanna run?

[00:02:11] Melissa Taylor: Yeah - you summed it up really well, just there - it's the urgency of this moment. I have been doing this work on the outside for a really long time, and I am done watching as the problems we face get bigger than the solutions that people are bringing to the table. Every day I'm talking to folks at the doors who are struggling to get by in Seattle and it's not okay. They deserve better, we all deserve better - and I am ready to bring my political will, my experience, my relationships, and my commitment to this community to Olympia to fight for the solutions that fully meet the moment that we're in.

[00:02:55] Crystal Fincher: Well, we're in - this moment that we're in - sometimes we record, oftentimes we record, a few weeks, couple few weeks ahead. But as we're talking, we recently got the decision that overturned Roe vs Wade, we got a decision that further just rolled back voting rights and just re-instituted really ridiculous gerrymandering - harmful, blatant gerrymandering. And we're watching our rights fall like dominoes from a Supreme Court that is eager to tear them down and more are coming - we're expecting a decision that kneecaps the EPA and others - and just such frustration that it's hard to see, at the federal level, our leaders not look like they're doing everything in their power to fight this. And understanding that the consequences that these things are going to have are real - and they're really scary for a lot of people - and we know that they're going to result in harm and death. If you're having an ectopic pregnancy, which can't be salvaged, that cannot become a viable pregnancy - the only thing it can do is endanger the life of the mother. And being forced to carry that, being forced to deal with the trauma every day, just not being able to make a decision about our health and our bodies as women, as men get to, right? It's just - it is harmful.

And so, I hear frustration. I feel frustrated that more people aren't doing more. As you see these situations unfold before us and you hear frustration at the doors, what do you tell people when they're just like, look - I am sick of politicians, I am sick of watching people stand by while we're watching all of these things be deconstructed and burned down basically. What do you say?

[00:05:18] Melissa Taylor: Yeah - me too, right? Me too. And - we can't give up hope. The answer can't be that there's nothing to be done. And there have been really bleak moments in history - one of the things that always keeps me going is knowing that the fight for women's rights - the women who started that fight didn't live to see it end, and the women who finished it weren't born when it started. We are standing on the shoulders of so many people who lived through so much more than what we are living through. This is terrible and we shouldn't have to live through it, and also we can persevere, we will get past this - and it requires us all chipping in and doing the piece that we can do. So for me, the piece that I can do right now is I can take all of the knowledge and experience and relationships that I've built, and I can go to Olympia and bring political will to this moment to say - No, absolutely not. At least here in this state, we can draw lines. We can say - No, we will not tolerate this. No, we're not going backwards. And in fact, this is how we're gonna move forwards.

'Cause it's not even enough - it's not like things were awesome before all of this started happening. We needed to be moving forward before. So it's no going backwards, but also - we have so many big issues ahead of us, whether it is housing or climate change. I've been working on tax reform in this state for almost a decade. So many big issues - still have to fix in this state to allow us to move forward - that we have to absolutely draw the line in the sand and say - not only are we not going backwards, but we're gonna paint a vision of what it can look like, and we're gonna show the rest of the country what it can look like when you do things right. When you take care of people, when you invest in people and you invest in communities, you take care of your environment - that everybody gets better together. That is what we can do in our state, and that's why I am so excited to be running.

[00:07:35] Crystal Fincher: Well, I'm also excited for you to be running - that is a good thing. One other question you were talking about there - and just in this moment, but I think a lot of people are feeling - we're seeing a lot of conversations just looking at, Hey, what can we do? And the answer from some people is - All right, well you'd better just vote in November. Go vote. Vote blue. Is voting enough?

[00:08:01] Melissa Taylor: No, it's never been enough. We have to vote - so I was on the board of the League of Women Voters for four years, I believe deeply in voting and empowering every single voter in every way we can to exercise that constitutional duty and right. And, it's not enough - democracy demands more from us all the time and especially right now. And so for me, that journey really looked like advocacy and then supporting people who are running for office - there are a lot of ways to pick up the piece of work that calls to you. But I really would encourage everyone to pick up the piece of work that calls to you. But most importantly, I would strongly encourage the people who hold the most power in our society right now to pick up the piece of work that belongs to them and do the work that needs doing in our country. The Senate, the House, the President have work that they can and should be doing to make people's lives better today.

[00:09:07] Crystal Fincher: And amen to that. And I feel that deeply. So there's a lot of work that needs to be done. For you - obviously I know this, I'm asking for the listeners - what do you wanna do? What can you get done and how are you going to do it?

[00:09:26] Melissa Taylor: I am really excited to work towards housing everyone - making sure that everyone has a place to live and that it is affordable and not crushing people's souls. Because what I am hearing on the doors is that rents that go up $200, $600, double - are crushing people's souls. They're making it so that they are scrambling to pay other bills, scrambling to pay for healthcare, to pay for car repairs that get them to work. We are breaking people and that's not healthy for a society. We are hollowing out our city. I'm hearing from nurses, teachers, firefighters - people I'm pretty sure we want in Seattle - that they can't afford to live here anymore. And that's not okay. And then I also mentioned climate change - there's no way to fix the number of vehicle miles being driven unless we let people live near where they work. And so to me, all these issues are also really tied together. And so my big thing going to Olympia is - we're missing 300,000 units of housing right now. We're projected to need 600,000 over the coming decades. Where is the plan that gets us there? And how quickly can we create the 300,000 we're missing right now? So really rolling up our sleeves, pulling out all the policy tools to keep people in housing if they're in it and to get people into housing if they don't have it. And just get that whole big problem on the table and then start breaking it into pieces and figuring out how we get every single person in Washington State stably housed.

[00:11:05] Crystal Fincher: It's an urgent need - certainly we talk about that a lot on the program. I know you have an event coming up with Representative Jessica Bateman to talk about this soon and others, but what are some of those policy issues on the table? You say house everyone - does that mean some of the stuff that we hear from some of our local politicians - sweeps and maybe shelter, they've been offered services. Is it even possible to solve, is the visible part of homelessness the problem? What is actually the problem, and what are some of the tools that you plan to work on right away to solve them?

[00:11:46] Melissa Taylor: I like to break things into pieces - big problems are easier to solve if you break it into pieces. So one of the pieces is - our lowest income folks are probably never gonna be served by the private market. We are just watching a private market gone wild. And so making sure that we have sufficient housing, that everybody can afford housing at 30% or less of their income - and especially at the lower ends of income, it probably needs to be less than that - and that it is in every neighborhood where we need people working. And so that really means investing. I love the social housing initiative that Seattle hopefully will have on the ballot and we have our Housing Trust Fund. So it means putting more money into that Housing Trust Fund. I'm also really excited by a model I saw in Singapore that could be funded through our bonding capacity, and building mixed income that then pays back the bond. So I think there are a number of various tools we have to make sure that there's housing available for all of our lowest income folks.

Then the folks in the middle who are feeling so squeezed right now - we need fundamentally just more housing supply and more affordable housing supply. And that's why I was so excited about Representative Bateman's middle housing bill, because I saw so much opportunity there to unlock the potential of every neighborhood to help us solve these problems. To let homeowners who want to split their house so they can afford to stay in the community where they built their life - let them split their house and create more affordable housing for their neighbors. It just - it makes so much sense to me. I'm obviously disappointed and also perplexed how we don't see the opportunity to house people as one of our number one things we should be doing.

[00:13:43] Crystal Fincher: Lots of people are hoping it's the number one thing that gets done. Lot of people are counting on it being something that gets done. But it's really obvious to you - as we know very well, there are other people in your district, who are elected, who it is not obvious to. So part of that is single-family zoning - should we be upzoning single-family zoned areas?

[00:14:09] Melissa Taylor: Yeah, it really - so much is in how you frame things, but single-family zoning is exclusionary. It says that a homeowner does not have the right to split their house, even if that's the only way they can afford to stay in the community where they built their lives - and that's not okay. So yes, we should end single-family zoning and give people the option to split their housing. The thing is - I go to so many neighborhoods right now throughout this district and there are multi-family units that unless you have a list in front of you, like I do, you wouldn't know that there were 2, 3, 4 units there. And so I hear people tell me - oh, I don't want a big, an ugly condo that's eight stories tall going in next to me. I'm like - I hear that, I don't want one of those either. And that's not the only - there are other ways to solve that problem. And also, I don't want a big McMansion, ugly McMansion, going in next to me. The number of people living in the building doesn't impact whether or not it's ugly.

So let's make sure that we're talking about the right things. And also just having priorities. My parents - and my childhood home is really close to the Roosevelt Light Rail - and so they were actually told that their house might need to be part of a development. And is it sad when I think about my childhood home having to be part of a development? A little bit. Is it exciting when I think about who could be housed, including my parents who probably are gonna need housing that doesn't have stairs - also exciting. And so I think part of it is understanding all of the balances, but also embracing it and understand that there's also opportunity there for us to reimagine what our communities look like and how we're connected to each other.

[00:16:09] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. And you talked about early on in there how so much is connected and how the way we design our communities, the way we move forward in addressing greenhouse gas emissions and climate change are involved in that. What do we need to be doing to be meeting our climate change goals? What are the biggest steps that we need to take?

[00:16:36] Melissa Taylor: I mentioned the light rail stations. We are fortunate here in the 46th to have just gotten three new light rail stations with a fourth coming. One of the things that I think about is transit-oriented development around those light rail stations, because what we're building there - we're going to be living with for the next 50, 75, possibly even a hundred years. And so again, as I go back to what is the plan to make sure that everybody here has housing, part of that has to be that housing is sufficient for the next 50, 75, a hundred years. And I think that right now - if we look at it honestly, it's not. The other thing is I talk to a lot of people who would love to use light rail, and there's not a great way for them to get to light rail. So I'm excited about some of the investments that were made with Move Ahead Washington in terms of more infrastructure of various types that help us get around without cars. And there's just - there's a lot more of that that we have to invest in if we're gonna make it possible for people to move around without cars.

[00:17:40] Crystal Fincher: One thing that makes it harder to invest in people moving around without cars is continuing to invest in not just the maintenance and upkeep of roads and highways, which is necessary - but the expansion of them. Should we be expanding highways?

[00:17:58] Melissa Taylor: We should not be expanding highways. The thing that we've seen - and I'm a big data nerd, which, you know, but your listeners are about to learn -

[00:18:08] Crystal Fincher: This is an understatement.

[00:18:11] Melissa Taylor: -is if you look at the data, we put in highways to try and address traffic problems and highways don't help traffic problems, they actually create traffic problems. We're seeing a movement across the country for people to remove highways. And so for me, I look at it and I say - what are the problems we're trying to solve? We are trying to solve traffic, we're trying to solve moving people, we're trying to solve climate change, and what are the tools we have to get there? And reinvesting money that could have gone to highway expansion into other infrastructure projects that help people move around without increasing traffic and without increasing vehicle emissions - seems like it would be the natural direction we would be going.

[00:19:01] Crystal Fincher: Does it? Unfortunately, not everyone has gotten that memo. So how do we get there? How do we begin to do that? If a transportation package comes in front of you, that has highway expansion in there - are you voting for it?

[00:19:21] Melissa Taylor: I am not voting for highway expansion. If there are communities that come to us, and they've fully involved the entire community impacted by the highway, and that community comes and says - we have to have additional highway miles, then we need to talk about where we're gonna take highway miles out. But in general, I am very skeptical that we need any new highway miles anywhere in our state.

[00:19:47] Crystal Fincher: So you're running this campaign for State Legislature - this is not a situation where you're a mayor, you're the governor, you're an executive and you can make the decisions - and should be accountable for those decisions you do or don't make locally - we have problems doing that. But in this legislative body, you've gotta get your colleagues to move along with you, you've gotta get a group of people to make this decision. And one of the frustrating things that we're dealing with federally right now is that some of the people who are supposed to be in the group that's in control of the Democrats are not all cooperating together and nothing is happening. In this situation in our legislature, where we do continue to have packages that expand highways, where we do continue to fail to move forward in ways that seem obvious - how do we make that progress when there are people who aren't there yet? How do you move your colleagues? How do we solve that problem?

[00:20:54] Melissa Taylor: Yeah, I think - different for different colleagues. One of the things that I am really excited about, generally speaking, is I will have talked to more everyday people at their doors than many of my colleagues have done in years. And so I am bringing the voices of people who may never have sent a letter to Olympia, who may never have made a phone call. But they care about what's happening in their community. It's just, they're living their lives. And so I get to take all of those voices to Olympia to say - actually, the silent majority is ready for ending single-family zoning, the silent majority wants us to fix climate change, the silent majority is terrified about the future we're leaving for our children. And if you'd like to go knock doors in your district, I would love to come with you - show me that your constituents feel any differently than my constituents. Because I actually don't think that across the entire state - and I've knocked doors across the entire state - I don't think we're as far apart as people wanna think that we are.

[00:21:59] Crystal Fincher: And so - this is so interesting, and this is one of the unique things about knowing you, having insight into your campaign that other people might not - it is one, you are out knocking on doors with voters literally every day for hours, rain or shine. And so you have had thousands and thousands of conversations with people who do not testify or get engaged. Some of 'em don't even vote all the time, right? But they're feeling the impacts of all of these around them. And when you knock on that door and you first start that conversation, it's not like you're welcomed with open arms all the time. You are often greeted with skepticism and - Hey, you're bringing those liberal ideas over here and you're walking past the NRA sign, you're walking past all of that, and they're almost there to challenge you up front. Yet, you're able to stay consistent with your values, you're able to do that and have conversations - I'm thinking of a few conversations that you've had on the doors.

But I guess one of the things that I think is missing sometimes in politics is, and that strengthens you, is that you do talk to so many voters and you do have the chance to have conversations with people who start off disagreeing with you, who start off and who don't always end up completely agreeing with you and saying - ah, you totally have my vote. But who you're able to have conversations with and who you're able to move closer. What is your approach to that - in your conversations with real people and not insider-y insiders? When you walk up to a door and the NRA sticker is there, the door is opened, and it's just - Hey, I'm sick of all this and I'm sick of you. What is your approach and how do you have those conversations in ways that sometimes people don't know how to have, or aren't successful in having?

[00:24:18] Melissa Taylor: A lot of it - this sounds so simple, but a lot of it is listening and asking questions and being curious and be able to stay curious - to say - hey, what brought you to this point? What happened that made you feel this way? And then to help connect them and say - hey, I'm your neighbor over there - I live in this community too, I'm being impacted by some of these same things. It's really terrible to have things stolen, it is really terrible to be afraid to go out. I don't think we should live that way either. And so finding those moments of - getting to somebody to tell you their story and finding the areas of common ground, and then exploring the areas of differences and saying - I came to this conclusion because I went and did research, I've talked to people, and what my research tells me, what the data tells me is that if we do this, this, and this - that's most likely to impact these things that we are both saying that we're concerned about.

And I pretty often can get people nodding their head. For instance, domestic violence. One of the things I talk about is when do we want somebody with a badge and a gun? It's when it's going to make the situation better. With domestic violence, it doesn't make the situation better. And if we want to end violence, if we wanna end especially domestic violence, we really need to be studying the models of what interrupts that cycle of violence, what actually empowers the people in that family to heal their family, to heal the issues - to figure out how to move forward either as a family or separately, right? Not every family's going to stay together, although for most kids it's better if the family can solve those issues and stay together. But it's one of those things where we really need to be thinking about what actually works, what will actually solve the problems that are facing us. And if we look at that data, and I talk to people about the solutions about where they've worked - go back to the homelessness. Occasionally people will talk about whether or not Housing First works. And I love bringing out this new example we have from Houston, right? Where we've got 25,000 people who are housed. If Houston, Texas can house 25,000 people successfully using Housing First, I feel like Seattle should be trying this.

[00:26:53] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and obviously - anyone slightly familiar with this program and knows that I absolutely believe we should be trying this - we should be trying a lot of different approaches, a lot of things that we're doing are not working. And you were just talking about interrupting cycles of violence - when do we want someone with a badge? Public safety is a huge concern for a variety of reasons - and different reasons for different people - but this public conversation we're having - hey, do you back the blue or do you want to defund? Do you want this, do you want that? And when you look at polling - when you look at stuff there - there is no one saying what we're doing right now is working. And really it's about - there's a lot of fear, there's a lot of being scared - but it's a tough conversation to have because it gets - we've got the police guild saying their stuff, you've got other people saying theirs. So you've got the news covering, some of the TV evening news covering things very sensationally.

And so as we do have crime increasing, as we do have scary things happening on the street and in our schools, and gun violence escalating - and this past weekend in Tacoma, the amount of shootings is - this is alarming. There is justification for being scared. So with that fear out there and hearing just these scary, wild things with people being victimized and hurt - what do we do? How do we address this? People are scared - and should we be doubling down on the kinds of things that we're doing, or what do you talk to people about? What do you tell them when they're like - dude, I'm scared. I don't want my kid walking around alone outside. I just saw something really weird happen at the store. People are different these days out there. What do you say?

[00:29:07] Melissa Taylor: My heart is breaking with each one of these stories. One of the doors I knocked yesterday, actually, talked about a shooting that happened a block away. And that is terrifying. And then we have these shootings across the country, we have these shootings in our neighborhoods - not to mention break-ins - it is so unsettling and so disturbing to feel like you can't be safe in your home, you can't be safe on streets, on the way to work. And I actually - I haven't talked about this much, starting to talk about it a bit more - I actually am the victim of a violent crime. I was stabbed during a mugging and it is horrible, it's not just that it hurts - it's that it impacts you for years. So there's medical issues, there's financial issues, there's mental health issues - and what I want more than anything else is for that never to happen to me or to anybody else again. And the thing that I think we are missing so often in our discussions about public safety is this concept of prevention, right? So often we're talking about what happens after a person gets stabbed, instead of talking about how do we keep people from being stabbed in the first place. And what I want is for nobody being victimized by a violent crime, or even property crime. I don't want people wondering whether or not they're going to be able to get to work in the morning because they lost their catalytic converter. That is terrible.

And the thing again - data nerd - so I've spent a lot of time looking at the data of what really makes a community safe, about what really will stop crimes from happening, what will interrupt the cycle of violence. And we're not doing those things. We might do them in fits and starts, but we aren't fully funding the things that would prevent crimes. We know that we need more mental health treatment, we know we need more behavioral health treatment, we know that we have too much poverty in our state. And addressing those things is actually what most people in Seattle will tell you are the things they want their taxpayer dollars to go to because they know, like survivors of violent crime know, that those are the things that are going to create real long-term sustainable safety for all of us. And so for me - one, I wanna widen the lens of what does it take to make us safe. And then two, make sure that we are funding the things that work, the things that are deeply proven - to make sure that what happened to me doesn't happen to other people.

[00:32:07] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, we've had conversations about this, about a number of things - and it is a perspective that's not being talked about. Safety is so much more than policing. And we see examples of that in so many ways and so many places. We understand, we make projections for prisons based on how people are doing early in life in elementary school and making projections on that. We know the kinds of things that put someone on a path to thriving, or to falling through the cracks. And we know when we make investments that it's helpful - we know early childhood education, we know addressing poverty - we know those things, and they're happening elsewhere. We see this happening elsewhere. And for some reason, I feel like maybe people just don't believe it's possible to get a better result. But my goodness, when you see it working elsewhere and the only difference is just policy, it does make you wanna just fight for it here. So as we move forward and we're looking at more public safety solutions, we're looking at different ones, obviously a lot of people are always talking about - okay, well, where's the money coming from to invest in these things, where do we get the revenue to address some of these very systemic problems? We do address inequality and poverty and meeting people's basic needs - where do we get this?

[00:33:52] Melissa Taylor: Yeah, we fix our tax system. When we started out, I've mentioned that I've spent the better part of a decade working to fix our tax system. We have one of the most upside-down tax systems in the entire country. And what that means is that the folks at the very top of the income scale are paying a tiny percentage of their income relative to the folks at the very bottom. So it's almost 20% that folks in our lowest income brackets are paying in state and local taxes. And that creates a real burden. I was talking earlier about how rent hikes make it hard to afford healthcare and bills and transportation. State and local taxes make it hard to afford those things too. And so when I think about it, I'm excited about the capital gains tax and really hopeful that it is sustained. I am excited about the wealth tax that Representative Noel Frame brought forward. I am excited also about the reforms to the inheritance tax.

And then the other thing that I am really excited about is accountability for tax exemptions. So looking at the tax exemptions that we've carved out of our tax base over the decades and saying - are they still serving us? Are we still getting what we originally intended? What were we intending? Are we getting it? And is it worth the trade-off for not funding housing, not funding education, not funding climate resilience. We are spending money on tax exemptions and we deserve to know what we're getting for it. We have more tax exemptions than any state other than New York, which has a far larger economy. We give away more in revenue through tax exemptions than we bring in. So really looking at those and creating accountability around them to say - is that where our money should best go?

[00:35:46] Crystal Fincher: We absolutely need to do better and to fix our tax system - it does unlock so much more that we have. There's inequality all over the place. And this is probably a weird thing to talk about and we have not talked about this conversation - I would have it, but it is real - we try to talk about real things on this show. Especially just as a consultant and having to confront it - I don't know if you know what I'm about to bring up. But so we're in this situation. Obviously I am a political consultant - this is how I make my living. But man, politics should be more accessible to a lot more people. Running for office should be more accessible to a lot more people. You shouldn't have to be independently wealthy - and you are not independently wealthy - but a lot of people are. Or it's just really tough and you have to have flexibility and grace from your job to be able to do that, you have to have adequate childcare, you have to have all of that - it's really tough.

And it's also really tough to have to raise a lot of money, or to have that demand on you. And so this is a really interesting situation and usually I try to avoid working in Seattle - as we talked about earlier on, I try to avoid candidate campaigns on the candidate side a lot - but this race that you're in in the 46th, there are actually some cool people in this race. Sometimes you have a number of cool people in the race - there are a number of cool people in this race. There are also a number of great fundraisers in this race. You are a great fundraiser and you're actually leading the pack fundraising, you're actually leading the state fundraising - which is really cool. And also I know how hard you work for that and how much time you put into it, 'cause you are not accepting PAC donations or anything like that. So these are people and your average gift is not that big. And so it's taken a lot. There are others in this race who are fundraising juggernauts and also raising a lot, but this is also a City of Seattle Democrat versus Democrat race. And there are other races across the state that are Democrat versus Republican, there are conversations about - hey, we may, it's not a given that these seats are gonna win. There are a number of battleground districts that could be tossups and that we don't know how they're gonna wind up - that are also hurting for money over there. And so how do you think about that process - that you're in a situation where you're trying to run this race and to win this race and to do what it takes. But also you want good government, you want good democracy, you want things to be accessible to a lot of people. How do you reconcile that?

[00:39:11] Melissa Taylor: Yeah, I think there's really two pieces to that. One is what should we do about money and politics? And two is what should we do about the kind of money that's in this race, and what does that mean for me as a candidate and how do I think about where my responsibility is in that? On the side of money and politics, I love how much Democracy Vouchers have opened up the possibilities for candidates from various backgrounds in Seattle. And so I would love to see, and I get people asking me at the doors - Hey, can I give you Democracy Vouchers? I was like I wish you could, because then instead of spending hours every day on the phone calling donors and asking them for money, I could be out knocking more doors every day, knowing that Democracy Vouchers might come with those conversations as well. So I think that's something that we can and should continue to work on in our state - to make this system and these roles more accessible to more people. I also think we need to look at making the State Legislature full-time because it is not reasonable or practical for many people to take two or three months off of a year to be a state legislator - most jobs don't support that.

Then on the other side, looking at this particular race and how much money has been raised in it, part of the reason that I've been able to raise the money I have is because I've been raising money for other candidates and other causes for years. So you and I know from our work together on Persist PAC, I raised hundreds of thousands of dollars that went towards other candidates in some of those swing districts - some of whom won and some of who didn't. So for me, I think about one, what have I done historically that helps balance what I'm doing right now. And I also think about what is my opportunity to do that in the future. I do think that Seattle Democrats have an obligation to our political system to help raise money and fund races in places that are not as resource rich. And some Seattle Democrats do that, and some don't. So being committed to being that person going forward, so having paid off some of that debt - you look backwards and then looking forward to paying it forward - is part of how I think about what that looks like to do the right thing. So similarly to having raised money across the state, I've knocked doors across the state. I have knocked doors in very, very red areas and talked to people across the entire political spectrum, because I think that is so important to making our democracy work. And it's important to me to understand the perspectives of everybody, so that - I think we make better policy that way.

[00:42:11] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, we do. And one of the things I appreciate about you and that I - we've talked about on the show, I talk about it with other candidates is, I think we just had a conversation about it really with Mike McGinn - understanding how to listen, almost how to pressure test your policy but know where you stand, know where your principles are. And starting from a place where - you naturally start there - hey, you have had your windows broken, that really sucks. As have I - neither of us want that to happen. We know that's not acceptable, we know it needs to stop. And then going into - okay, so breaking it down. It's not that one person just doesn't care that windows get broken or anything. Most people are on the same page that that's an undesirable thing. Then wild stuff and rhetoric happens and people don't talk to each other and people end up with wild ideas about stuff but having those conversations is helpful and it helps build a trust with a candidate - a voter, knowing that you heard them, knowing that you're carrying their story is a really helpful and powerful thing. And the amount of people who I've run into - for you and for other candidates - you know what, okay, so I don't agree with her on every single issue, but she listened and she did her homework. And so at least I know that it's not someone going buck wild and who's not tethered to reality. I can at least see that there's a process there, and there's a thoughtfulness, and there's a caring, and there is a weighing of cost and benefit - and almost everything comes with some kind of cost - and who is better to bear that and we stand firm on that decision.

I think that's really helpful and I think that's really instructive, and I hope other candidates just across the state - I know a number of them do take advantage of the opportunity to talk to voters, to talk to people at their doors, to talk to people who don't vote and to understand why they aren't voting - and the answer almost never is because they're lazy and they just don't care. And just to understand how people are actually living 'cause a lot of us just - I know a lot of people who are very online, I'm certainly a very online person - talk to a lot of people online, but then it's just like okay, so do you know your neighbor? Have you talked to your neighbor, have you talked to a person down the street and those connections, those real-life connections? And talking to people who may be coming from a different place than you are does not have to change where you are, but it can inform what path you need to take to achieve what you're set on achieving.

So I guess through this experience and this is your first time running, this is an open seat, there are other candidates in here - so this is something interesting, actually - we haven't talked much about this either. Man, you're in a race with four other people. I know you told me the other day you had a good conversation, good time with another candidate in this race. How do you view this thing? 'Cause sometimes one of the reasons I dislike, generally, working in some of these Seattle races is that - yes, it's an open seat, all these Dems are running - if you're involved in politics, you're going to know several of them, you're going to have people on different teams. And sometimes it gets really contentious and sometimes people who agree on a ton of things - and we're not disagreeing about who shouldn't enjoy full rights or people's humanity and stuff, but different ways to get to the same place, right? And you have these opponents in the race, but they're also people. And then you're in some places and you're talking policy and you're listening to each other. And then sometimes you're like - oh, that actually sounds really good. What is that experience like and yeah, what is that like?

[00:47:17] Melissa Taylor: I have to tell you - as I thought about running for office, I never anticipated being in a race with five Democratic women who have been working in their community for years. I feel really fortunate to live in a district that has great candidates and great options for voters. When we talk about why people vote or don't vote, not having great choices can impact that. And so, I've spent so many years recruiting and training women to run for office that I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that my success has - not necessarily exactly in this race - but I've ended up in a place with five women running, which I really think is good for democracy. And these are my potential constituents or my potential future State Rep, right? So I also - this is a long game for me. I've been doing this for many years, regardless of the outcome. I'm going to be doing this for many years and relationships matter, how you treat people matters. And so for me, I am always interested in learning. I learn sometimes from people who may be trying to teach me something, and sometimes from people who are just trying to get their way. But I got some advice coming into this that somebody who ran previously ended up being really good friends with other people running, and I can imagine that. I am excited to get to know the other folks running, probably not 'til after we're done running, but appreciated - I got a ride home from an interview from one of the other candidates and I think that's the kind of race I want to run, that's the kind of political system I want to build. So we've been talking about how people get really sick of politics. I think more people want to see politics where one candidate gives another one a ride home because it's the nice thing to do.

[00:49:18] Crystal Fincher: And I think sometimes people might be surprised - I think that happens more than people think sometimes. Certainly as we talk about, especially, most of our conversations are on these nationally defined two sides to an issue, very black and white binary conversations, that it's just - well, your opponent did this or that and we can't agree and I automatically need to dislike you because you're on a different team. And I think it's 'cause I'm - I was about to say, I think it's 'cause I'm old, I am old, I've been doing this for a while, have been around for a while - but one of the first races I managed had a group of candidates that actually got along. And I think it was instructive that we can talk about policy, we can have some differences, we can do this - but we're trying, we're moving in the right direction, and that doesn't automatically make us into - caveat this - this is not a situation where we're talking about someone's humanity or rights that they get to have. We're gonna have a problem in that situation, but - Hey, I'm concerned about gentrification, I'm concerned about what I'm seeing in my community - I'm seeing that we can talk about that. We can talk about that, we want to get to a place where housing is more affordable, we want to get to a place where more people are able to stay in their neighborhoods and have their kids live near them and do that. And I think it happens more often than people think - I hope it does. I think those relationships are healthy and that those are allies and people who are doing their homework, who can be part of building the future we want to have. And I guess we've been talking for a while - we should probably wrap this up a little bit and we've got stuff to meet about later - different stuff. But as we're here and you think about building the future. What does that look like for you? What does that mean to you?

[00:51:55] Melissa Taylor: Yeah, when I think about building the future, I first and foremost think about my kiddo, which I think is a pretty typical reaction from parents. And I look at my kid and all the hopes and dreams that I have, as well as all of the hopes and dreams that she has. And. How do we make those come true? And how do we make those available to every kid - starting with the kids who are struggling the most. And so for me, that vision is that we eliminate poverty, we house everyone, we make sure that when people get hurt they get the help they need to get better. So they don't hurt other people because we know that those cycles - that's where they start. And they frequently start in early childhood. And we make sure that we really are investing in people and a fair and equitable society, which means that we just don't leave people behind. We make sure that everybody gets a fair chance to build a future where they can thrive. And I don't think it's that hard. I think we can look around the country and around the world for places that have done better jobs at solving these problems. It's not like the solutions aren't out there. It's that we need to go put the data together, put the policy together, build the coalition behind it, and pass it.

[00:53:20] Crystal Fincher: And you don't know Melissa, maybe, like I do, but if there's one thing Melissa's gonna do, it's build a coalition and then get after it. You are one of the - someone mentioned the other day, you didn't volunteer someone, you voluntold someone - that was the most appropriate Melissa-ism - like to man, you're such an effective team builder, recruiter - you understand coalitions and just focusing people toward a goal. You roped me into a PCO recruitment project among other things. And here I am working on this campaign. You're very talented at this. But I appreciate that you really care about this. And that you really work for this and you have worked for this. And just for people to have the opportunity that they all deserve and not one that's based on their zip code, or not one that's based on their ethnicity or immigration status or whatever, that there's no reason - it doesn't hurt us for other people to have opportunity. And -

[00:54:34] Melissa Taylor: I would say, in fact, it helps us, right? It helps us.

[00:54:37] Crystal Fincher: It does.

[00:54:39] Melissa Taylor: It is good business. It is good society to have people thriving.

[00:54:44] Crystal Fincher: I'm there. We could, we have talked for a long time, we could talk for a long time, we will be talking for a long time in the future, but as for this podcast episode, I think we'll call it here. I appreciate the time that you've taken to help people get to know you better. If people wanna learn more about your campaign, where can they go?

[00:55:06] Melissa Taylor: Electmelissataylor.com

[00:55:08] Crystal Fincher: That works - and they can see you out on the doors every day in the 46th legislative district. Thank you so much for being you, for being willing to step up and run, and we will talk to you all next time.

[00:55:23] Melissa Taylor: Thanks, Crystal.

[00:55:24] 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.