Mar 1, 2022
Newly-elected Renton City Councilmember Carmen Rivera shares with Crystal how she prevailed as a progressive in the November 2021 election despite fearmongering and misrepresentation of her campaign. They talk about the evolution of her beliefs and values through her experiences growing up as the daughter of the first Puerto-Rican born Seattle Police Department officer to working with marginalized and underrepresented youth to teaching the next generation as a lecturer in criminology at Seattle University, and how she shared that journey with voters to illustrate that believing in abolition doesn’t necessarily mean being anti-police. The two wrap up with what Councilmember Rivera hopes to prioritize as she starts the next phase of governing and words of advice for those considering their own run for office.
As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at officialhacksandwonks.com.
City of Renton - Councilmember Carmen Rivera: https://rentonwa.gov/city_hall/city_council/carmen_rivera
“Opinion: Racism Runs Rampant in Renton” by Carmen Rivera for South Seattle Emerald: https://southseattleemerald.com/2021/03/16/opinion-racism-runs-rampant-in-renton/
“King County Conservatives Discredit Progressive POC Candidates as ‘Defund’ Extremists” by Nathalie Graham from South Seattle Emerald: https://southseattleemerald.com/2021/10/28/king-county-conservatives-discredit-progressive-poc-candidates-as-defund-extremists/
“Progressives Make Impressive Gains in South King County” by Andrew Engelson from The Stranger: https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2021/11/09/62717950/progressives-make-impressive-gains-in-south-king-county
[00:00:00] Crystal Fincher: Welcome to Hacks & Wonks. I'm Crystal Fincher, and I'm a political consultant and your host. On this show, we talk with policy wonks and political hacks to gather insight into local politics and policy in Washington State through the lens of those doing the work with behind-the-scenes perspectives on what's happening, why it's happening, and what you can do about it. Full transcripts and resources referenced in the show are always available at officialhacksandwonks.com and in our episode notes.
Well today, I am really excited to welcome newly elected - it's a little bit of time now but everybody is excited - newly elected Renton City Councilmember, Carmen Rivera. Hello and welcome to the show.
[00:00:53] Councilmember Carmen Rivera: Hi, it's so nice to be here. Thank you for having me.
[00:00:56] Crystal Fincher: I appreciate it. Well, I'm excited - as we have different conversations just around Seattle, around this region, there's been lots of talk after recent elections, elections even before that - just how are progressives faring? We have so many - in certainly in the Seattle area - races that don't necessarily include Republicans but can include people who do view things quite differently, who may both identify as Democrats or as progressive. And in conversations about the last Seattle elections, I've talked to a number of people who are like, "Wow, it's hard to be progressive and get elected. I don't know if it's even possible. How do you even do that today? Is there a backlash? What do you even accomplish? Everybody's afraid to talk about public safety now." Just all that conversation.
And what was so inspiring to me about your race and some others in the region is that you didn't compromise on who you are, what you believe. You were completely consistent about wanting to move in a different direction, the urgency needed to do it, that reform wasn't going to cut it, that things need to be dramatically and drastically shifted to meet the needs of our community as it exists today. And you connected with your community - people were inspired, and engaged, and moved to action, and voted you into office. I just want to start out and understand what caused you to say, "I should run. I really want to run and I can win."
[00:02:45] Councilmember Carmen Rivera: Oh wow - that is a question. I honestly, in thinking about that question, I never thought I was going to go into politics and I have to kind of give a little background. I was born raised in Renton, Washington and in the 11th legislative district. And my mom was a very active Democrat when I was in middle school and high school. And in turn, I was very active in the 11th LD Democrats. And so I think the Democratic Party values were instilled in me at a young age and I saw the importance and the power of political organization and community organization and how those things can come together and create real change. And I saw a lot of the toxicity and negativity in politics. When my mom ran - she actually ran against Bob Hasegawa for his Representative House seat back in 2003 and she also ran for city council - and I saw her lose every time and it was really difficult. I saw how hard it was on her and how much it weighed on her mentally and emotionally. And I saw the toxicity in politics and I was so turned off from it that I didn't want anything to do with politics.
I went right into college, studied criminal justice, and wanted to be a police officer and follow in my father's footsteps - he was a Seattle police officer for 38 years. And it was actually through my career in working at Echo Glen Children's Center in juvenile rehabilitation, and then working for King County at YouthSource - working with marginalized and underrepresented youth - that my shift of thinking happened. And it was actually seeing the racial and ethnic disparities, not only at the state level, but at the county level as well, that really made me look more at a critical criminologist approach to our justice system - or injustice system, I think, better to describe it. And it was through those experiences of working at the state, working for the county, and then entering academia that I studied and learned that what we've been doing historically hasn't been working.
And I learned through teaching, through my students, that if we want to see real systemic change, it's a marriage between organization and politics and policy. And I did not want to be a hypocrite. I wanted to be the change that I wanted to see in the world and I wanted to be the role model that I tried to exemplify for my students. And I felt in 2020 very compelled to educate myself and work in the advocacy around educating people around abolition and defunding and what those things mean because there are not a lot of people with my background - my educational background and my privilege, my educational privilege and my position in criminal justice, in academia - that were properly educating and discussing abolition. I think the only other person that I know of is Nikkita Oliver and their curriculum on abolition that they posted on, I think it was Google Drive in 2020, is what really helped me expand my purview and expand my way of thinking. And really understand that we need to approach things at the root and we need to attack things at the root and go to the core if we're going to really see again that systemic change.
And so when 2021 came around, I was approached about running for Renton City Council. And I had been chewing on it since summer of 2020 actually. And it was some votes and decisions that had been made later in the year around the Red Lion Hotel and things that I've just seen in my entire life. I'm 32, going to be 33 years old, and I was born and raised in Renton. And I had seen things that hadn't shifted from when I was in middle school or high school and that wasn't okay with me, and I just felt called to it, and I felt supported by my community to do it. And I wasn't sure if I was going to win. I just knew that I had to try and I felt confident that I was the best person for the position and that the city council needed someone from my background, my experience and my purview to contribute to the decisions that were being made.
[00:07:05] Crystal Fincher: So how did your campaign unfold? What was that whole time and process like?
[00:07:11] Councilmember Carmen Rivera: Well, I was approached, like I said, in summer of 2020 by some friends who fanned a flame inside of me. And in January-February, I had gotten more involved in what was going on in the community in Renton - in particular, an instance of racism that happened in February of 2021 in downtown Renton. And I wrote an opinion piece called, Racism is Running Rampant in Renton. And I felt it was necessary to share my purview and my perspective, and I think it's important to call out racism and call out also just incidences of racism that are rooted deeply in our culture and our society - because in order to address a problem, solve a problem, you need to address the problem first. You need to call it out. You need to know what the problem is. And so for me, that was really important.
And it was from all of that that people were like, we think that you are somebody that could do really good things on the level of city council. And I actually thought that opinion piece was going to hurt my campaign. I thought that if I were to run, which I launched in April, that article might hurt me more than help me, and I'm still - the jury's out on that. I don't know if that article hurt me or helped me when it came to my campaign. It wasn't a strategy by any means. The two were not really connected - but from my opinion pieces that I've written and the organization that I've done, my campaign got a lot of support from community and I was really shocked and pleasantly surprised by how many people supported me and how many people were excited for my race. And it was a thick race. We had five people running for Renton City Council Position 2, including the incumbent who had been appointed over a year prior. And it was contentious. And yeah - I don't know really where else to go from there.
[00:09:10] Crystal Fincher: It was contentious - certainly following along with it, it was definitely contentious. I think what was exciting for me to watch throughout that process - some of it was infuriating - and that article, as any time people speak out against racism as it's happening, particularly as BIPOC speak out against racism, there is a predictable backlash from people who don't want anything to change, who don't want to talk about it, don't want to draw attention to it. It's working for them, they see no reason - that is always going to happen. And that in and of itself prevents a lot of people from speaking out. And so there's this perception that that is the dominant view, that that is something that you just can't overcome and should be avoided at all costs - just don't create the controversy - it's not worth it, it could hurt your campaign, all of that stuff.
But what we also saw was you were telling the truth and people heard it and understood it and are like, finally, there is someone who isn't afraid to look at the sky and call it blue. To just talk about what is happening. And that building trust - that hey, if Carmen is willing to speak out on these issues, even though conventional wisdom, whatever that is, is that this is risky and should be avoided, we can trust her to speak out about the things that matter when she's in a greater position of power. We can trust her to really understand where we're coming from and speak for us, to us, that we are included in your vision for governing. And that energizing people who may not have been energized by politics before, and who may have been disillusioned, or just haven't seen anyone who they feel really gets them and is speaking to their needs. And it's not like it was just a small coalition, or just BIPOC, or just young people. It was so many people in the community because - when elements of the community are being marginalized and harmed, we all feel the effects. It's just whether or not we're acknowledging them. And so many people saw it.
As things are going along and they're contentious in your campaign and you continue just to speak the truth as you see it - an educated truth - it's not like you just woke up one morning and decided to talk. You have lived here, lived abroad, highly educated, as you say, deeply steeped in academia, have both professional and lived experience. You're coming from a place that is very informed with a lot of data behind you to back you up. But that didn't mean that you didn't even face opposition from other members on the council - where it wasn't just a conversation - and a lot of the typical ways that a campaign unfolds between the candidates. But some institutional actors were not that happy with what you were talking about because you weren't sugar coating what you felt was needed to keep everyone in the community safe. How did you approach navigating through that? And what did that feel like as you were going through it?
[00:12:34] Councilmember Carmen Rivera: It was a learning experience. I'm an imperfect person and I have been described in many ways - inaccurately - I've been described as a bull in a china shop, feisty, spicy. Very passionate I think is probably a more accurate way that people like to describe me. Again, all of these adjectives have something in common when you're describing a Latina or a biracial woman of color. And I do have white presenting privilege because I only see the sun for six months in Washington, which happens - I lose my melanin. And so it's interesting because I kind of feel like I was raised in two worlds, and that I think helped in how I navigated a lot of this.
And I was told, "Don't talk about white supremacy. Don't talk about racism. Do not talk about abolition and do not talk about defunding." I was told straight up not to talk about those things and to avoid them. Those things came up because of the tactics that were used by conservatives this last election cycle. We saw those tactics used against Nikkita Oliver. We saw those tactics used against Nicole Thomas-Kennedy. Two, I think, highly qualified people who I was disappointed in their particular races when we're talking about those Seattle races. They really got a lot of grief for their educational backgrounds and their perspectives. And I was, I think, compared to them a lot. And I took that as a compliment because Nikkita Oliver teaches at SU Law and is an incredibly intelligent human being. Same - Nicole Thomas-Kennedy, an incredibly intelligent human being. And I think there was a lot of fearmongering and polarization that was used against them in their campaigns.
The same was used for me and I think that was because - when people don't know something, they don't understand something, they're scared of it. And I am a very, very strong cup of coffee. I like my coffee black and I think that's also how I come off to the rest of society - is I'm just very direct and I'm very blunt. And like I said, you have to be able to address the problem and know what the problem is in order to solve it. And when we look at who is in control in politics and I'm talking about - I teach social control and deviance, I teach critical criminology, I teach juvenile justice. And when you look at the people who are in power in politics, the majority of people who are elected officials are white men. The majority of prosecutors in this country are white men. The majority of educators and the educational academia lens, especially in higher ed, is that of white men. And if we look at our media, our media and media that we consume, is I think owned by less than a dozen major conglomerate of media companies - also majority owned by white men.
When you look at the data of who is running our society, it is a white supremacist society. And that doesn't mean that people are walking around in KKK hoodies and robes and this stereotypical idea of what white supremacy is. White supremacy is pervasive and deeply rooted in our society and that's what I like to try to teach and educate around. And that's what I tried to stick with in terms of just talking to people. I knocked on - ooh, I want to say over 6,000 doors and I just spoke to people like I would speak to my students, from an academic background but also someone who saw the academics in real life when I worked at the state, when I worked at the county, when I worked with my students. I saw the disparities. I've seen it. And like you said, I'm highly educated and so I think I just tried to meld those two together. Because also education is, and higher ed in particular, is another system that is rooted in white supremacy and I've also had to unlearn some of my privileges and things rooted, I think in elitism, that is also very pervasive in academia.
And so just coming from all of that and learning how I've navigated myself as someone who's worked in social services, and worked with marginalized populations, and worked with youth - and I've learned a lot from them and have also - I put my foot in my mouth. I've made mistakes. 10 years ago I was telling juveniles, "Just pull yourself up with your bootstraps." That's not what we tell juveniles. That's not what you should be telling juveniles. And I learned that through working with juveniles and working with these kids that are incredibly resilient, intelligent, and are amazing members of our community. And because of our injustice system, they have been written off and they have been labeled and they have been othered. And that I think is the fault of a capitalistic society that we live in, that is rooted again in white supremacy. And that's something again, we just need to address if we're going to be able to root out and create a more equitable society for especially our biracial and our Black and Brown Indigenous youth.
[00:17:48] Crystal Fincher: One of the things I think is a pervasive conversation in political circles is - yeah, we know white supremacy is a problem. We're dealing with and impacted by it every day. We can catalog on a daily basis how it's a problem for us, people we know, number of things like that. And we can talk about it to each other a lot of times. But people struggle when it comes to talking about someone - to your point, who may not have been exposed to different data points, different points of view, may not have been educated, may just have heard what the conventional wisdom is and - hey, there's a problem with crime, and cops prevent crime and solve crime, and we're safer when there are more of them on the streets. And if we just obey the law and are good people, then everything will be fine. And wow, I hope that works for someone out there. It doesn't work for a lot of people.
As you're encountering people in the community who you've had to talk through this, who you've had to connect with your message and who came to you skeptical, questioning, doubting, this seemed like you were just some extremist Antifa - throw all of those Fox News buzzwords at you. How did you engage with the community? Because you can't be elected without doing that. How did you have conversations with people who were like, "I don't know about this," - where did you start and how did that go?
[00:19:33] Councilmember Carmen Rivera: Ooh, that's a great question, Crystal. I will say honestly and I'll say it to you right now - I don't agree with our two party system. I think our two party system is flawed and problematic, and I think we are more fractured as a nation than we've ever had. I'm 32 going on 33, and I lived through Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump and now Biden. And I feel like we are more split as a country than we ever have been. And we're even seeing those cracks and those fractures within our own party. The Republicans seeing it I think on a smaller level - the conservatives on a smaller level - but the Democrats, we're fractured as a party because politics and I think democracy and the Republican conservatives progressives, it's a spectrum. It's not either or, it is a spectrum.
And that's how I would start a conversation - is saying, "I view it more as a spectrum." And just because I have certain ideas and upbringings - my parents, they fall on the more conservative end. My father was a Seattle police officer for 38 years. He - what's the word I'm looking for - he perpetuated a policing institution, again rooted in white supremacy, even though he was a man of color. And he engaged, I think, in some problematic policies around the War on Drugs and around crimes against society. And I struggle with the fact that we live in a society that has to be so polarized, and is so split, and everything has to be either-or and not yes-and. And so I think the hardest for me, and what was easy also, was when I got labeled anti-police - I'm not anti-police - that was just an honest thing.
And that's a struggle because people believe that if you are an abolitionist or believe in abolition or teach abolition, you also need to adopt the idea of ACAB and being anti-police. I understand the ACAB perspective and I understand those perspectives - I don't agree with them and I don't adopt them. It's a struggle for me, honestly, and I do struggle with cognitive dissonance as well, and I was very honest about that, in being raised with police privilege - being raised around police officers and being very comfortable with them and also understanding that there are friends and people in my life as I grew older, who they did not see police as equated to safety or security. They were seen as dangerous and they were fearful of them, and those were valid feelings. And I had to learn that those are valid feelings and I had to unlearn a lot of things as well. And I shared that journey when I was talking to voters. And the biggest feedback I got was - you need to spend less time talking to voters. Only five minutes, only five minutes. Couldn't do it. I love talking to voters, I love sharing my experience, love sharing my perspective - the fact that I do see both sides because I was raised in a very pro-police family. And I was raised in Seattle Police Guild picnics around other police officers and around SPOG. I - very familiar with that culture.
And as someone who also grew out of it and did not follow my father's career - I fell more into social services and doing direct service with again, youth who were incarcerated, who were marginalized, who fell through the cracks, who were survivors of the school to prison pipeline and victims of the school to prison pipeline. I saw a different side of our injustice system and I took all of the privilege and things I learned from my police family background to understand why people who I think have that bias are so resistant to the Defund and abolition movement. And I used the fact that three years ago I was a stark reformist - I was very much on the reform spectrum. And academically I've done a 180 because of everything I've seen and witnessed and learned in the last two years. And I think we are ever evolving creatures - that I am evolving to learn that we need to adopt ideas rooted in abolition in order to really create systemic change and root out institutional bias. And that is just a pragmatic approach that I have. And some people see it as radical - and I tell those people, "Well, if radical is reaching at the root and ripping it out from the root, and that's what we need to do in order to see any real change - and change that's going to happen in my lifetime."
And when I say that - I'm a realist. I am inspired constantly by my students. My students, they want to learn more about abolition. They want to learn about critical race theory and critical criminology. They are hungry for it and they are the ones who inspire me and make me believe that we are going to see real systemic change and rooting out institutional bias in their lifetime and hopefully in my lifetime because I have the honor of teaching them. And I think they are the ones who are going to go into these professional fields and really be the ones who carry the torch.
[00:24:56] Crystal Fincher: Yeah. I am with you that the younger generation is so inspiring. I feel corny when I say it but like Whitney said it, "I believe the children are our future." They are doing things that are so impressive and they are unwilling to accept the excuses that too many of us - in my generation, older generations - have accepted that have allowed things to reach this point and have gotten to a breaking point in so many things.
I appreciate your openness and honesty just about - hey, you've been on a path and been on a journey. Which I also think we need to embrace and talk about and understand is real. Not everybody starts from a place of being ultimately educated and even if we have lived experience and a ton of education in one area, it doesn't mean that that applies to everything else. We're evolving and learning and growing. I certainly identify with your conversation about - no, I also am not an ACAB person. I can certainly see - and maybe it's just because some places that I've been, people that I've known - the options for getting out of a path that has no future in so many areas in our country are - those paths are rigged. And it's not a coincidence that that has people wind up in the military, wind up in the Border Patrol, wind up in police departments. And while there are certainly people who are looking to exercise dominance as they walk in, I don't think every single officer walks in saying, "I'm going to cause a problem." - that there's so much propaganda about policing being noble and you do really help people, that if you aren't in a place where that is actively challenged, you walk in thinking that's what it is. And the institution is extremely flawed and you have to question the function of the institution if its outcome has so consistently contradicted that for a significant segment of society and even within our community.
I appreciate the ability to have that conversation. And I appreciate that you talk about knocking on 6,000 doors and having real conversations with real people. I don't know if people who are listening have ever doorbelled and door knocked - you should - you should actually volunteer on a campaign that you believe in and see what it's like to have conversations with regular people at their regular places and to talk about the types of things that are weighing on their minds. It gets you out of this insidery conversation - everybody's interested - as people who are in advocacy or activism or policy, sometimes those are real echo chambers. And regular people may have the same root concerns and just may not have the time, inclination, ability, financial security to be able to engage on these issues to the level of someone else, or have just never encountered anything to trigger a questioning of what's going on. Those conversations are so important. So you have a lot of those, you go through the campaign, it was rough, it was contentious. You wind up getting through the general and then you wind up ultimately pulling ahead in - as votes are tallied - and winning. And so what did that feel like? Just that moment, what did that feel like?
[00:28:58] Councilmember Carmen Rivera: I'm going to get emotional. Oh wow. Oh my gosh. Oh, Crystal, Crystal. I will say the campaign was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life and everything I went through - to finally be able to win, it was a win for the community. It was so much bigger than me. I'm emotional because it wasn't about me at all. It was about the community. It was about Black and Brown bodies in Renton, and the LGBTQ community, and marginalized voices that were underrepresented in a city that raised me.
And I cry because I'm just so grateful to the voters. When you win by 620 votes, when you win by four points, I'm grateful to the voters for seeing me and not feeding into the fearmongering and the othering and the labeling because I spoke with voters who agreed with me a lot and also disagreed with me. And they were receptive, because more often than not - and it was because we know in odd year elections, older voters tend to come out more. And I'm so grateful to the older voters who were like, it's time to pass the torch onto the younger generation. It's time that we give up power and we stop doing what we've been doing historically and we hand over the reins to people who have more energy, who have a fresh perspective. And that they believed in my message and they, again, they didn't fall victim to the fearmongering and the mislabeling, because as much as I was labeled as a radical progressive, there are progressives out there who will also still see me and say, "Well, she's not as progressive as some people." I am not as progressive, I believe, as Nikkita Oliver and that's okay. Again, it's a spectrum.
And to conservatives, I was incredibly progressive and it was a moment for the community. And it was the fact that we won over fearmongering, we won over radicalized conservatism. And it was just, it was a community win. And because again, it wasn't for me. It was so much bigger than me - because after I got through the primary and the five-man race turned into a two-man race, me and my opponent. And me and my opponent were polar opposites. It was actually very reflective, I feel like, of the Seattle Attorney race actually, because in that same race, we saw the incumbent also not make it through the primary, and it was actually two very opposite candidates that made it through into the general - same thing happened in my race.
And so winning also meant winning over that radicalized old school mentality of white supremacy, of misogyny, of radicalized racially rooted views of how we view minorities - and who are actually not minorities, we are now a global majority, but people of color and queer people and people who are different and gender nonconforming and trans people. My opponent had used some really awful verbiage in the past historically and it was about not letting that win, not letting that mentality and that way of thinking and that radicalization win. And I get emotional because it was for community and we won.
[00:32:50] Crystal Fincher: And you won. And so, it's such an incredible thing because campaigns are hard. You are putting yourself out there for inspection, for criticism, for commentary, and people will overlook your humanity and say all sorts of things and do all sorts of things. But it also is a beginning. Now the work of governing begins and now it's time to deliver on the promises that you made when you were running, to enact the agenda and start to work on your priorities. What are you working on? What are you prioritizing? And how's it going?
[00:33:31] Councilmember Carmen Rivera: Well, I am learning a lot. I learned, near the end of my campaign - I did not enter my campaign knowing that because the position was filled by an appointee, I would take over the minute that the results were certified. When I started my campaign, I actually thought I was going to take office in January 1st - so you believe you're going to have some time when the election ends in early November, before you start on January 1st. That was not the situation for me. I started on November 30th, so I had no breathing room. And so it's kind of been like drinking from a fire hose is how people describe it - that's very accurate. I'm learning. I'm appreciative of my fellow councilmembers that are - I don't want to go so far as to say mentoring or taking me under their wing, that inquires some sort of hierarchy or condescension. There's none of that in our relationship.
I'm grateful to my fellow councilmembers - Ryan McIrvin, Kim-Khánh Văn, and Ed Prince - who have included me in conversation and met with me and are just open to giving me the feedback that I want. I love feedback and I love constructive criticism and I know I'm imperfect. And so I'm grateful to learn from them. I'm grateful to even - I've been able to meet with Mayor Pavone and Ruth Pérez and be able to bury the hatchet and be able to hopefully work together and effectively together for the betterment of Renton. Because I don't just represent myself, I represent the people who elected me and not even the people who elected me - everybody in the city of Renton. We as the city council, we are the people who represent the community and the city to the city. And we're a very mayor-heavy city.
And so for me right now, it's learning and holding true to the values of bringing public service and social services and the priority of human services to the city of Renton. And so I am trying to do that with challenging, respectfully, some ways that we are allocating funds. We had a very good conversation on Monday, on Renton City Council, regarding our ARPA funds. And even though we did not come to an agreement - I did not agree with how the financial committee report that was passed - and that is democracy. And that is okay. That was a voted majority on how those funds were going to be allocated. And I am happy that we are able to allocate money for body cams and finally get body cams implemented for Renton police department and in the city of Renton because that is long overdue.
And as we are approaching the end of the year, we're on a biannual budget year. The city of Renton has a very, very large budget and so - that happening this year - I'm going to make sure that we prioritize community services, human services and the new equity, housing and human services division. There was a new department that was formed in the last year. And I think it's equity, housing and human services, and making sure that that department is not just a throwaway department for equity, housing and human services but is a highly utilized department that is properly funded and informed and supported to be effective. I am a big believer that our government should help support our most marginalized and help combat the effects of the capitalist society that we have created.
And I want to bring my experience in human social services to the forefront, and when we are allocating funds for our budget and making sure that we are getting the most bang for our buck, like I said on the campaign trail, and being really critical of how we are going to spend our funding, especially this year when we're allocating that budget. Those are my big priorities and I am one of seven. It's going to be me partnering and working with my other councilmembers to educate them and bring them along my journey with me, and help them hopefully see things from my perspective and my purview, and respectfully disrupting the status quo to really bring Renton ahead of the curve.
[00:37:38] Crystal Fincher: Well, I appreciate having this conversation with you. I appreciate the way that you have engaged with everyone in the community throughout your campaign and continuing as you govern. It is so important to be able to have conversations, if you're running for office, with everyone and to meet people where they're at and understand that - I have a vision that I would love to help you see - and to do that work of helping them to see it, and to connect it to the values that they hold and the values that people like to feel in their community, and coming with concrete solutions. And you weren't just talking about some pie in the sky ideas, you were talking about policy that had application that has had demonstrated results elsewhere, as things that have been tried weren't working, and your ability to walk people through that was something that I certainly appreciated.
As we are closing our time here today, we're in mid-February as we're talking right now. A lot of people are considering whether or not they should run this year for the legislature, or for their county council, or - other counties are having county council elections, not King County. But that maybe they should take that step. And certainly people who are like, well, I see myself as an activist. I see myself - I don't necessarily see me in all of these halls of power. Do I actually belong? Is it worth it? Is it worth even expending that much energy? What would you say to people who are in that position? What advice would you give them as they consider whether or not they should take a step towards public service?
[00:39:36] Councilmember Carmen Rivera: I would have them ask themselves what they want to change. What do you want to change? And at what level? What do you want to see changed in your community and at what level? And that should give you your answer. What is your passion? Is it equity? Is it healthcare? Is it housing? Is it human services? Is it police accountability? At what level can you see that change really being made realistically? At the municipal level? At the legislative level? At the county level? At the public hospital commission level? There are so many different levels of government that you can create real change. Don't limit yourself and, respectfully, have the confidence of a mediocre cis heterosexual white man and go forth. And the worst thing's going to happen is you're going to fail and you're going to learn so much in that process, because in order to really succeed, you need to fail at least a 100 times.
And it is incredible that I was able to win my race and I hope that people can look at my race and my campaign and my experience last year, and my experience and my journey today, and see themselves a little bit and see that they can do it too. Because we did it in Renton. We did something that was almost impossible in Renton and it happened. And so I hope that it gives hope, I hope that you go forth and just do it with every ounce and fiber of your being. Don't leave anything at the finish line - like I want you crawling on your hands and knees crossing that finish line at the end, and just know that's what it's going to take. It's going to take support from your family, from your friends, and a really good consultant. That's another thing - make sure you get a good consultant.
[00:41:22] Crystal Fincher: Yeah. You know I'm amen-ing that. Absolutely. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today. You're welcome back anytime - as you're working on different things and you want to talk about it, feel free - but just appreciate you and hope you all have a wonderful day.
[00:41:40] Councilmember Carmen Rivera: Oh my gosh. Thank you for having me. And I would love to come back and have any kind of conversation. This has been great and I truly appreciate it. Thank you so much.
[00:41:49] Crystal Fincher: I thank you all for listening to Hacks & Wonks on KVRU 105.7 FM. The producer of Hacks & Wonks is Lisl Stadler with assistance from Shannon Cheng. You can find me on Twitter @finchfrii, spelled F-I-N-C-H-F-R-I-I. Now you can follow Hacks & Wonks on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcast - just type "Hacks & Wonks" into the search bar. Be sure to subscribe to get our Friday almost-live shows and our midweek show delivered to your podcast feed. If you like us, leave a review wherever you listen to Hacks & Wonks. You can also get a full transcript of this episode and links to the resources referenced in the show at officialhacksandwonks.com and in the episode notes.
Thanks for tuning in. We'll talk to you next time.