2015 Candidate Questionnaire for Vandana Slatter
Candidate Name: Vandana Slatter
Position Sought: Bellevue City Council
Campaign Manager: Alex Hendrickson
Consultant: Erin Shultz/Christian Sinderman NWP Consulting
Campaign Email: friendsofVandanaSlatter@gmail.com
Campaign Phone: (425) 345-5778
Campaign Address: 11900 NE 1st St. Suite 300, Bellevue WA 98005
Do you request the endorsement of the Progressive Caucus? YES!
Labor: Do you support raising the minimum wage in your local jurisdiction if state and federal action continues to be stalled? To what level?
Yes. I believe that all workers deserve to live in the community they serve, and should have the dignity of a living wage. Considering the cost of living on the east side, raising the minimum wage alone will likely not be enough. We must also look at increasing affordable housing, transportation options, support services and child-care choices.
Education: What is your opinion of high stakes testing? How would you change the way students and teachers are evaluated?
I believe that high stakes testing is not the solution for our public schools. As the mother of a student who learns differently, I know that not all learners have the same abilities or support networks. Good teachers recognize this and works with it, to find the right teaching method and measure of progress for each student.
Environment: What can be accomplished at the local level to promote development of alternative energy and prevent privatization of natural resources?
While we wait for our state and federal elected officials to act, many cities have already begun to lead the way on many environmental issues. I take inspiration at what other small cities have done around the country, to radically save natural resources and curb greenhouse emissions, for example:
Babylon, NY leveraged its solid waste fund for residential energy efficiency retrofits, by expanding the definition of solid waste to include carbon emissions.
Bellingham, WA launched a successful local business energy efficiency program to help businesses complete improvements from lighting retrofits to solar.
Boulder, CO published a trio of ordinances for building safety and energy efficiency and implemented a multi-jurisdictional Energy Smart program to help builders meet the higher bar set by the ordinances.
Eugene, OR set a goal of housing 90 percent of its residents in compact communities, in which all amenities would be accessible within a 20-minute auto-free trip.
Fort Collins, CO has set out to create the first net-zero district in the country based on a robust partnership of public and private entities, leveraging business community leadership and making the most of a significant federal investment in smart grid technology.
Jackson, WY created a formal governance partnership between the town, the county and the local utility to drive and oversee projects related to energy efficiency and clean energy.
Knoxville, TN has laid critical groundwork for clean energy economic development through a federal grant to build 2 megawatts of solar electricity capacity, an educational program about solar installations for contractors and permitting officials, and investment in 10 electric vehicle charging stations powered by solar energy.
Oberlin, OH set a goal of going beyond carbon neutral by generating 90 percent of its energy from renewable sources and offsetting additional greenhouse gas emissions in the surrounding areas.
Finance/Taxation: What will you do to support public banking at the local level?
I believe that public banking is very important, and I support the creation of a state bank. I am not sure how I can support at the local level, and I look forward to hearing ideas from constituents and the Progressive Caucus. I will use my relationships and lobbying power to encourage our local State representatives and Senators to support public banking.
Health Care/Retirement: Explain your position (for or against) Medicare for All (aka single payer health care) in terms of the effect on local citizens, service providers, and government.
As a pharmacist, I know that the ACA was an important step in increasing access to health care for all, but it was only a first step. I believe that we all need to continue working until we all are able to access healthcare regardless of ability to pay.
Security/Public Safety: How would you act to stop the militarization of local police forces and establish civilian oversight of law enforcement?
It is distressing to see so many cases of police misconduct around the country. It is vital that we have a national discussion, and train our police forces how to appropriately serve their communities. I am proud that Bellevue has long had a citizen committee, with volunteer representatives from different communities who advise the police force. I pledge to always support programs which help our police force to protect and serve all of the citizens, and to be respectful and understanding to communities of color. If citizens cannot trust their police force to protect and serve all members of the community, they do not serve any of us.
General: Do you consider yourself a Democrat? Do you consider yourself a progressive? Why?
I consider myself to be a proud Progressive Democrat. I have a long family history of public service, and after immigrating to the United States from Canada, I became politically active after I had my son, and was able to use the Family Leave Act, to take time to raise him. I have since then, fought for the issues that I care about, including serving Gov. Gregoire on the State Pharmacy board, during the Plan B fight. I have served as a PCO, I have volunteered on countless campaigns. Progressives fight for change, and I am a fighter.
What parts, if any, of the Washington State Democratic Party Platform do you disagree with? Why?
No, I agree with everything in the platform.
If this is not your first election, what other offices have you run for? If it is your first campaign, what other campaigns (candidate or issue) have you participated in? What did you learn from those campaigns?
I ran for Bellevue City Council in 2013 against a long term Republican incumbent. Through an unexpected turn of events, another Democratic woman and I passed into the General Election. I consider that race to be where I learned the skills that have helped me in this campaign. As a first time candidate there were many things that I did not know. This time, I have a strong team, and strong consultants. I am running a strong race, and have learned how to speak from my heart, and the voters are responding to that.
Have you ever been a precinct committee officer or held other Democratic organization offices? Yes, I have served as a PCO in my Legislative District. I completed a Masters of Public Administration degree in the Daniel J Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington in 2006 and completed my MPA internship in the Washington office of Senator Maria Cantwell. I have served on the Board of Trustees at the Children’s Institute for Learning Differences, a Mercer Island non-profit organization serving children with special needs. After my MPA, I became a Foundation Board Member for NARAL Pro-Choice Washington and was later appointed by Governor Gregoire to a 4 year term on the Washington State Board of Pharmacy (2007-11). In 2009, I traveled with the Center for Women and Democracy (CWD) to Morocco in a delegation led by State Senate Leader Lisa Brown. In May of 2015 I again joined the CWD’s delegation, this time traveling to Iceland.
Since my run for Bellevue City Council in 2013, I have continued service on the Foundation Board of Trustees at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue. In 2014, I joined approximately 30 neighborhood leaders and completed the first ever City of Bellevue Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training course and worked with a classmate to inform our Sheffield Greens neighborhood about disaster preparedness in Bellevue. I worked with neighborhood leaders to raise funds to renew and rededicate an aging WWI Memorial in Bellevue Downtown Park. I now serve as a member of YMCA AK Guy Award Committee that honors community leaders who have made great contributions. I recently joined the Advisory Boards of two small non-profits, Global Social Business Partners (GSBP) and Farmer Frog. These organizations build community and work together by incubating social entrepreneurship and partnering with cities, individuals or other non-profits to meet the needs of underserved members of our communities. As an example, in partnership with City of Bellevue, GBSP and Farmer Frog have established a Lakehills Greenbelt urban farm plot which had a recent groundbreaking event on April 25th with Mayor Claudia Balducci as keynote speaker. I am also involved in other individual projects that support better on-line tools for learning in education, and economic development that involves social responsibility.
What single issue is the most important motivator for your run for office? What proposals do you have for dealing with it?
People, neighborhoods and innovation are the heart of Bellevue. As a member of city council, I will work hard to be part of a collaborative, inclusive and diverse council that directs our growth wisely. We must step confidently into the future by fostering: innovative new industries, thoughtful planning that preserves unique neighborhoods, multi-modal transportation options, and a world-class educational system for every child. People are the heart of Bellevue- seniors, families, working people and our children. It is vital that all of our residents are able to thrive here. I support a vision of a community which cares for everyone’s basic needs. I am committed to making sure that our city remains comfortable for our seniors. I will use my voice, and facilitate partnerships which provide health care options and support effective programs for our vulnerable residents. That means affordable housing for people at all economic levels. It also means that development and growth come with a transparent and solid plan to allow traffic to flow. We must reduce congestion and improve transportation choices, so everyone can get to work, play and home in a safe and timely manner. This includes access to multi-modal options including light rail, rapid bus service, bicycle and pedestrian friendly streets, and electric vehicle charging stations to add to our driving options.
Are there also important secondary issues? Describe your approach to implementing solutions?
Neighborhood is the heart of Bellevue – Our neighborhoods are safe, green and offer great schools. We are living in a city poised for growth, with the number of households and jobs expected to grow significantly in the next twenty years. We must make sure that we are maintaining the qualities that make this such a great place to live and raise a family. I am committed to supporting our schools; ensuring they continue to be the best anywhere, and our students have access to higher education, internships and job opportunities which will allow them to stay in our community.
Maintaining the unique character of our neighborhoods, our beautiful parks and green spaces, and the delicate environment of our Puget Sound region are top priorities of mine. I will work in collaboration with the neighborhoods of Bellevue, to ensure that they have a voice on the council, and are active participants while we make decisions which will affect the future of our city for 50 years and beyond. Innovation is the heart of Bellevue – Our city is an exciting regional hub for the technology industry, this attracts highly skilled people and a diversity of ideas. It is important we have a strong foundation for innovative enterprise, this includes regional collaboration, education and incubation of ideas. As one of the main business sectors represented in Bellevue, Council should be able to represent the innovation economy because economic development brings revenue and great jobs which protect the heart of Bellevue. With 25 years’ experience in the business of healthcare and biotechnology R&D, I speak the language of high tech business and innovation. I will work to bring stakeholders into the process early, to collaborate with regional partners and our local neighborhoods, to bring fresh ideas, experiences and complete transparency to the work of the Bellevue City Council.
If you are running in a heavily Republican area, do you have a reasonable chance at winning? If not, how do you plan to use your candidacy to build ongoing connections among local people who share progressive values?
Bellevue is socially progressive and fiscally conservative, Bellevue is also a city which is now 42% ethnic, but the current council does not reflect that. There are also not currently any council members with a background in R&D, innovation and technology. We need to bring new voices, and fresh ideas to the council. We need to bring all the communities we serve into the conversation, and I will work to bridge that gap and bring everyone’s voice to the council.