Olympia City Council Position 5

INCUMBENT LISA PARSHLEY VS. CHALLENGER TALAUNA REED

Position 5

WATCH: League of Women Voters candidate forum.

Lisa Parshley

Lisa Parshley

Raised: $39,307

Spent: $28,864

Campaign information: WebsiteFacebook

Full list of contributions and expenditures.

In your last conversation with a homeless person, what did you talk about? What did you learn? How will that influence your actions on issues that come before the City Council?

We discussed the care of his cat who had been hit by a car. He has been living in his car and couch surfing at his brother’s house when possible. His cat was severely injured and required a hind limb amputation and he had no money to care for his kitty. This is not the first time I have worked to provide care for houseless community members pets. These pets provide very important companionship and at times protection against human predators. Often when unsheltered people with pets have a little money, they will spend it on pet food and pet medications or care before they care for themselves.

What did I learn and what have I been taught by all these pet families? Lessons learned include: that we are all the same whether we have a roof over our head or not, and that pets can be equalizing, allowing us to interact without judgement and with a shared love (animals). I have also learned that a person who is unsheltered will sometimes provide better care of their pets than housed people in part because of the value of pets to those who are unhoused. Value judgments about those who are unhoused are often unfair and could prevent some of our One Community Plan Actions (homelessness plan) from being successful.  Last lesson learned, is that anyone of us could be houseless and that most of those without shelter are just trying to survive.

How would these lessons affect and have affected my actions on council is simple: we need to approach the homelessness crisis with the simple idea that those without shelter are people; often suffering from poverty, sometimes hurting, sometimes suffering from substance abuse or behavioral health issues, but they are people. 

 
Part of the discussion regarding unhoused people during this election season has been that they should be held accountable. If you believe that is the case, who should unhoused people be accountable to, and what should they be accountable for?

Being held accountable is a vague and uncertain idea. I would ask those suggesting this idea: to whom and for what should they be held accountable? People are unhoused in large part (according to our unscientific Point In Time counts) due to economics or poverty, and the longer they are unhoused the more potential for mental health issues and possible addiction when they self-medicate for traumas experienced on the street or in camps. How can we hold people accountable for being in poverty or having a disease (mental health or addictions)?

Obviously, the goal of our work with unhoused communities should be to help them address these health issues, get living wages, and support them during recovery. It should be our goal to help people get back on their feet with jobs/skills training, and permanently housed (with wrap around services as needed).
 
Have you ever lost your housing or been in danger of losing your housing? If so, what did you do? What advice do you have for people facing this situation?

Yes, I have faced that situation while in college. I was working four jobs to pay rent, food, tuition, books, and pay bills. There was one winter where for three months I had to choose between food and rent. If I had not worked in two different restaurants that provided a meal each shift, I would not have eaten during this time. I learned to pay bills at different times of the month to ensure they got paid each month.

My advice is don’t give up, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
 
In your last conversation with an Olympia Police Department officer, what did you talk about? What did you learn? How will that influence your actions on issues that come before the City Council?

I had a conversation with a walking patrol officer, discussing the reimagine public safety process and what they felt could be improved within the department. They recognized that changes were needed and were coming. They just wanted to be part of the process; to be part of the change. To hear that from a younger officer gave me hope that change is possible.

We have work to do to reduce the disparities in our justice system, to reduce inherent racism within our systems in general. For me, it is encouraging that our police and justice department for the most part has embraced the idea of reimagination of public safety. It will be far easier to enact change, change that our public process is undertaking, if we are working with willing partners within Olympia’s justice system from the police to our municipal court.
 
What three qualities and three skills should the city make priorities when choosing a new police chief? Why are these priorities? Do you favor delaying the search until the city completes its Reimagining Public Safety effort?

  1. a recognition that our system of justice is flawed and needs serious work
  2. a willingness to work with our community to reimagine public safety, and most importantly, to follow their lead
  3. a recognition that we need a public safety department that includes police, courts, public defender’s office, fire department, crisis response unit, homelessness response, clean team, ambassadors, and familiar faces. This last piece will be crucial if we are going to align and make our public safety budget transparent to the public and as this will make the head of public safety someone other than the police chief.

They say that you should “hire for culture and train for skills” and I believe that’s our awesome opportunity we have right now. We should, and I have and will continue to advocate for a process where we hire a new police chief as part of an open and inclusive process that involves the community, and then that person we hire engages in the Reimagining Public Safety effort, the final phases of which should provide the new chief with the direction they need to implement the change we need.

An individual you know comes to you asking for advice on whether to be vaccinated against COVID-19. What do you tell this person?

Get the vaccine. The pandemic has become a pandemic of unvaccinated people. Vaccines are how we are going get out of the current surge of cases and prevent further variants from showing up.
 
In your last conversation with an Olympia small businessperson, what did you talk about? What did you learn? How will that influence your actions on issues that come before the City Council?

I spoke with a downtown small business owner, a service industry business, it was about how stressed the business was due to the pandemic on top of the protests downtown and homelessness crisis. Like most small business owners, he has a great deal of compassion for those without shelter yet is struggling to keep customers due to the perception of downtown being unsafe and “rampant houseless people roaming the street.”

My conversation with this small business owner was similar to most of my conversations with other small business owners in Olympia. We need to support small businesses for so many reasons including that they employ over 65% of the workers in our city and region. Our actions addressing the crises we are currently facing including racial justice and diversity/equity, homelessness, housing, COVID pandemic response, and climate change must have a lens of how these actions will impact to small businesses. We should improve opportunities for new small businesses, starting with women and minority owned businesses, and the opening of a municipal childcare facility for our local workers who are parents. We also must continue to work to improve the perception of downtown by continuing our regional work with homelessness and housing. 

Talauna Reed

Talauna Reed

Raised: $25,479

Spent: $20,739

Full list of contributions and expenditures.

Campaign information: WebsiteFacebook

Full list of contributions and expenditures.

In your last conversation with a homeless person, what did you talk about? What did you learn? How will that influence your actions on issues that come before the City Council?

As someone who works and talks with unhoused people multiple times per day I really appreciate this question. While I was speaking to a client, who is sheltered in one of the Interfaith Shelters, in reference to a vehicle that was broken down but obviously occupied by someone, my client made the comment, “This is out of control.” I feel like this is honestly how most of our community is feeling about this crisis because it often seems so big and insurmountable.  But as we talked, we were able to slowly begin to climb this mountain together. One idea that this individual shared is for the city to utilize buildings that already exist, which is something that I have also presented while on the campaign trail really early on. We then talked about the lack of affordable housing and brainstormed solutions to getting folks off of the streets and out of the encampments. 

The City of Olympia’s One Community Plan was a good plan when it was created, however it is very outdated. Since it was developed, our population of unhoused people has increased dramatically. The plan includes guesses to the number of unhoused people, it does not capture enough data regarding what we are truly up against and even now long into the pandemic, it should reflect information about people we are currently trying to help. The plan must be updated and part of funds being used for the “scattered site” project should be used to capture relevant data. I know that some members of the current City Council, including my opponent,  are acknowledging this while they are trying to get votes, but voters have to realize that in the 3- 4 years this crisis has been growing, they have not taken the appropriate measures, and it has spiraled out of control on their watch.

 My actions will be very deliberate and once on the council I will make sure that our houseless community is invited to be partners in our decision making process.  I feel that this is a huge missing piece of the puzzle and that we will not effectively create change if the folks most impacted by homelessness are not a part of the solutions.

 Part of the discussion regarding unhoused people during this election season has been that they should be held accountable. If you believe that is the case, who should unhoused people be accountable to, and what should they be accountable for?

Let’s be clear, the homeless crisis is a crisis of policy and failed systems, not of individuals.  While individuals do make personal choices that can be harmful to themselves, the final responsibility rests on the shoulders of the community and how it decides to respond to all forms of human suffering. Until we elect leaders who have a clear understanding of the individual needs and barriers that contribute to homelessness, collect the relevant data needed for effective planning, and ensure that adequate services are being offered and equitably provided to unhoused folks, residents will continue to feel unsafe and dissatisfied. I believe that policy makers, those who manage how our public resources are being distributed, and our service providers should be accountable to the community. There have been several acts of violence in the encampments, countless overdoses and multiple deaths in encampments close to downtown in high traffic areas. Unless the city comes up with a plan to address this, we can expect things to continue to get worse. Part of Reimagining Public Safety should include how to deal with this in a humane and equitable way. 

Have you ever lost your housing or been in danger of losing your housing? If so, what did you do? What advice do you have for people facing this situation?

As a single mother, I have lost my housing because I was struggling financially and could not catch up. Each time I faced housing insecurity in Thurston County I reached out to community service agencies and was not very successful in getting the support I needed financially or otherwise. In each situation I was employed, not on public assistance, but definitely LOW-INCOME. I applied for housing through the Thurston County Housing Authority (TCHA) more than once and never received a housing voucher. I had to work hard to save enough money and advocate for myself and my children to move into new places even with a past eviction. I had to remove barriers to secure housing like leaving my abusive husband. I had to find a better paying job. I successfully completed substance abuse treatment and was able to advocate for myself and my children. I would advise a person in a situation like this to keep reaching out for help even if you first get turned away and to never stop advocating for yourself and your specific needs. I would also assure them that when I am elected, I will fight to make sure that they don’t have to experience the same roadblocks and dead ends that I encountered trying to navigate these very complicated and often inadequate systems.

 In your last conversation with an Olympia Police Department officer, what did you talk about? What did you learn? How will that influence your actions on issues that come before the City Council?

About two weeks ago an abusive person showed up to my residence and made numerous threats of violence and was acting belligerently. This person was disturbing all of my neighbors and verbally attacking them. I asked OPD officers to ask this person, who was still making threats and being aggressive when they arrived, to leave my property. Their response was simply that the space right outside my front door was not my property and that if I wanted to stop her from disturbing me or my neighbors I had to get a restraining order. This response did nothing to mitigate the fear and harm of the current situation and left me feeling unsupported and afraid. I am not telling this story to condemn any specific officers but to share my experience because it is similar to how many feel when they find themselves in need of help, and calling the police feels like the only option. I am using my example to show how there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in the way we train police and the way we decide which safety professionals should be responding to which emergencies. It reaffirmed my dedication to the task of pushing for unbiased policing and real justice reform.

What three qualities and three skills should the city make priorities when choosing a new police chief? Why are these priorities? Do you favor delaying the search until the city completes its Reimagining Public Safety effort?

I would want this individual to have a proven track record of overseeing a diverse police department. They must have shown that they support police accountability through actions such as not tolerating unwarranted violence against citizens by any police officers. I think it is important to see their history of excessive use of force and biased policing along with the numbers of occurrences that came from the police officers that they were responsible for. We have to do our best to protect all members of the community. 

But to be honest, who is in charge is less important to me than the question of how we make our OPD more accountable to the community.  We must create a citizen’s oversight board and shift the oversight of the department from the City Manager to the City Council. The chief of police should not be at the top of the ladder, instead the chief should be answering directly to the people of this city.  

So in conclusion, I strongly favor delaying the search. I believe that you have to build the boat before you pick the captain. I would want to wait until after the City Council puts forth their vision of a restructured Department of Safety that would include a fully funded, independent and completely operational crisis response team and strong systems of citizen oversight before deciding who we want to steer the ship.  

An individual you know comes to you asking for advice on whether to be vaccinated against COVID-19. What do you tell this person?

I would listen to their concerns and would share my personal story and experience. I have lost two immediate family members due to COVID-19 and they were not vaccinated. Having experienced first hand the harm and heartache that COVID-19 caused, I would without hesitation recommend people to get vaccinated. While I know that this issue has become politicized to the detriment of public safety, I believe that connecting with people on a personal level and sharing my family’s struggles will be my best chance at helping others make safe decisions. 

In your last conversation with an Olympia small business person, what did you talk about? What did you learn? How will that influence your actions on issues that come before the City Council?

Recently I was talking to an African American community member, a former business owner, that lost their business because they were unable to recover from the impact of COVID-19. We talked about their concern with the lack of access to resources to help with recovery from COVID-19 and their loss of revenue. Issues that come to the City Council regarding efforts to expand our small business community should and will be a priority when I am elected. I have spoken with several business owners of color and they all share the same concerns regarding not feeling supported or that they have had a hard time getting back on their feet. The issues and lack of equity and access to services experienced by BIPOC business owners intersects with affordable housing and homelessness and requires just as serious of a response from our City Council.

While on council I will act with intention and urgency. Olympia residents, I am listening and will work for you!

SHARE
By Mindy Chambers

One Comment

  • Rocky Solmon -

    I can’t believe Talauna made it seem like she cares so much about Olympia. I worked with Talauna and she is a vindictive human being who harassed me numerous times and continued to spread rumours about me around the work place and even tried to get me fired from my job multiple time’s. This woman is not who she portrayed herself to be in this questionnaire.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Posts