Standing Tall

by Heidi Wills

After Seattle voters ousted incumbent city council members Judy Nicastro, Margaret Pageler, and enviro wonk Heidi Wills, I offered all three the opportunity to guest write this city hall column for any one week before their terms expired. Wills accepted the offer. --Josh Feit

Tell people what you're for, not just what you're against. Be part of the solution. Take chances. Stand up for what you feel is important. Vote.

Too few did in the last election, which had one of the lowest turnouts on record. Only 36 percent of Seattle's registered voters went to the polls--a 20 percent decline from 10 years ago. Those who did, primarily seniors, voted out incumbents--including me--in droves.

The results I can accept, but the negative campaigning was too much. David Della won himself a seat on the Seattle City Council by personal attacks. This saddens me about today's political landscape.

For my part, I stand behind my four-year tenure at city hall and campaigning on the issues. Leadership is about standing up for what you believe is right--like environmental responsibility and animal welfare--even if you get ridiculed (progress on social and environmental issues has never come without it). Governing is about accomplishing something, not just playing it safe for your own job preservation.

We especially need local government to reflect our city's progressive values, because the national agenda is altogether scary.

It's cities like Seattle that opposed the USA PATRIOT Act's erosion of our civil rights. I was proud to lead that fight.

And while the Bush administration has its head in the Iraqi sand about global warming, I ensured we abide by Kyoto Treaty. I led our commitment to green cars, green buildings, and wind power.

I was a voice for affordable housing and human services. Twenty-seven million children in our country are growing up under the federal poverty level and over 14 million families have critical housing needs. Local government must provide a safety net.

I stood up for people who rely on our community health clinics. Almost one out of three people were uninsured at some point during 2001-2002. Until there's national health care reform, thousands of people will go without basic health care provided by our local clinics.

I created a small but growing voluntary initiative--the Green Power program--putting solar panels on public schools. If Seattle is willing to show leadership for solar power, no other community has an excuse not to.

We still have a long way to go, though. Seattleites own more cars per capita than any other city (next to Des Moines, Iowa). We need more transportation choices: bicycling facilities, sidewalks, bus service, light rail, and monorail approved by voters repeatedly ready for more mobility.

I challenge you to get involved. Raise your head above the fray. Look beyond yourself and make a difference for others. And as The Stranger says: "Vote, vote, vote!" One by one, we can be the better world we wish for.