Uplifting community voices: Vote yes on Initiative Measure 23-02 | Letters

Letter to the editor on Renton’s minimum wage proposal.

As we approach the upcoming February 13 special election, together as members of each of our communities, we have come together to urge residents to vote yes on Initiative Measure 23-02. Residents and voters should know where our Renton community stands on this issue. These are our stories.

Reverend Dr. Linda Smith is a Pastor for the MLK Jr. Memorial Baptist Church in Renton Highlands and with the Renton-King County Alliance for Justice. Here’s what she had to say about Initiative Measure 23-02:

“I strongly urge voters to look into their hearts and recognize that this isn’t about politics, it’s about human lives. Here at our food bank, we serve anywhere between 400-500 people a week, and the numbers keep increasing. Families are now approaching us for rental assistance to help pay the bills, and this has been the trend for the last year. Food, housing and childcare costs have gone up way too high, businesses are raising their prices just to get by, but why can’t wages rise for the same reason?”

“Raising the minimum wage will have a major impact on community safety. Many families have parents working two jobs, kids are left alone at home, which allows them to get into things they wouldn’t regularly get into, impacting safety. Earning a livable wage will impact more than just hunger or having a place to stay, but community safety as well.”

Former Renton City Councilmember Dan Clawson says:

“Having been on Renton City Council for 12 years, I understand the responsibility of the City to serve everybody in the local community. As the City Council has not taken action so all workers in Renton are paid fair wages to help compensate for the loss of their purchasing power to inflation, this initiative from the people of Renton is a must-pass.”

“I was a small businessman for more than three decades, and I learned that when I paid my employees well they were happier and more productive for it, and they gave better customer service. It’s good business, and it contributes to the quality of life in the community. Initiative 23-02 will truly help make Renton a better place to ‘live, work, and play’.”

Gabriel Jones is a Renton resident and member of the City of Renton Equity Commission, which consists of nine members with a primary goal to: develop recommendations enabling community members to achieve equitable outcomes by removing racial, economic and social barriers in city programs, services and policies.

“Equity is vital to making sure EVERYONE in our city can live happy, healthy and safe lives. Not only are bipoc, and lgbt+ residents harshly affected by lower wages, but the working class as a whole is deeply affected by skyrocketing costs that won’t go down unless we make a change.”

Charles Schmidt is a 23-plus year Renton resident, father, small business owner and local community leader in his home neighborhood in Kennydale.

“Over 23 years ago, I left Hawaii due to the high cost of living, and right now I have many colleagues telling me they are planning to move to Eastern Washington if we don’t do something about costs. As a father, I worry that my children won’t be able to afford to live in the community they grew up in. And personally, I am considering selling my equity and moving elsewhere just because of how expensive it is to live here.”

We’re trying to address the issue and speak to the scale of the impacts of Initiative Measure 23-02 for our families and our communities. It’s not about politics, it’s about human lives. Together as community members in our own ways, we strong urge voters to vote yes on Initiative Measure 23-02.

Dr. Linda Smith, MLK Jr. Memorial Baptist Church, Renton-King County Alliance for Justice

Dan Clawson, former Renton City Councilmember

Gabriel Jones, City of Renton Equity Commission

Charles Schmidt, Renton resident, small business owner