Lets talk about pay equity!
  • Courtesy of Morgan Beach
  • Morgan Beach, the newest city council candidate in Seattle's 3rd District, wants to talk about pay equity.

City council member Kshama Sawant has drawn another challenger in the 3rd District, which covers Capitol Hill and the Central District. Her name: Morgan Beach.

The 28-year-old women's rights advocate says she'll be pushing for issues like gender pay equity and science, technology, engineering, and math opportunities for young girls.

“This is not about grandstanding, this is about governing," she said in an announcement of her candidacy today. "I am not running to make speeches. I’m running to get the five votes necessary to change city policy regarding gender pay inequities, full funding of maternity and parental leave, small business assistance, and housing discrimination (especially against families)."

Beach rents an apartment in Portage Bay and is a legislative advocate with Planned Parenthood. She's also a member of the city's Women's Commission, which makes recommendations to the city council on "issues facing women in Seattle." She currently works with corporate partnerships at the Red Cross and has previously held spots at United Way and Human Rights Watch, according to her commission bio.

In a phone call this morning, Beach tells me she recognizes the challenge of taking on "one of the biggest names in local politics," but says voters will see a "clear difference" between her and Sawant.

"I really don't think we're being the most effective we can be with the current city council, including Council Member Sawant," she says. "[Sawant] really wants a socialist revolution and I really want gender equity and a livable city... You have to work collaboratively and be a pragmatist."

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Beach says "people use [gender equity] as a talking point a lot," but the council should step up and match that talk with full funding for maternal and paternal leave for all city employees and then work with private employers to get them to do the same voluntarily (the city is limited in its ability to force them to).

Between Beach, Planned Parenthood organizer Halei Watkins in the 5th, and current council member Jean Godden, will gender pay equity become a big issue in this election? Let's hope so.

"I focus on gender equity," Beach says, "but it's proof positive that over time, if you raise women up to the equal level of men, communities grow better... We have to look at everything that way."