Election 2020: Rep. Davina Duerr, incumbent candidate for State Legislative District 1, Position 1

Rep. Davina Duerr

To help voters learn more about local candidates for Washington State Legislature, MLTnews sent a questionnaire to each candidate for state representative appearing on the Nov. 3 general election ballot. We are posting these are we receive them.

Washington State Rep. Davina Duerr, a Democrat, is running for re-election to the Position 1 seat of the 1st Legislative District. She has lived in the district since 2001 and began her political career as a member of the Bothell City Council, where she served for three years prior to being elected to her current position. In her time as a representative, Duerr has focused on the issues of transportation and climate change.

Duerr’s legislative priorities include protecting the environment and combating climate change, combatting racism and discrimination of any form, solving the affordable housing crisis and expanding mental health system.

Q: Tell voters a little bit about yourself. How long you’ve lived in the district you’re hoping to represent, a general idea of what platforms/issues you’re running on and other general information about yourself to let voters get to know you better.

I have lived in Legislative District 1 since 2001 when I was expecting my first child. Fifteen years ago, I began serving on the Bothell Landmark Board which I did for 10 years and served on the Board of the Northshore Schools Foundation for five years before becoming a Bothell City Councilmember in 2016. There I worked on purchasing Wayne Golf Course for the residents of Bothell, implementing an affordable housing ordinance and lobbying the state to expand express toll lanes from Kirkland through Bothell which would support the coming 405 Bus Rapid Transit line.

In 2019, I was appointed to the state legislature to take Derek Stanford’s seat in the state House of Representatives. My committees include Transportation, Local Government and Consumer Protection and Business. My first session I prime sponsored and passed the C-PACER bill which allows counties to establish a program whereby low cost loans can travel with a commercial building instead of the owner for the purpose of building efficiency, seismic retrofitting or lead pipe replacement projects. Cost is often an impediment to upgrades as most commercial property owners own their building for five years which is a disincentive to make expensive upgrades to building systems. I also worked on a bill which would add climate change as a goal to the Growth Management Act. It passed the House but died in the Senate.

Issues that matter to me most are protecting the environment and working to combat climate change, combatting racism and discrimination of any form, solving the affordable housing crisis, expanding our mental health system and protecting the vulnerable. Of course, in addition to those issues I will be working to help our state successfully get through the pandemic and promote economic recovery from the impacts of the pandemic.

Q: What experience would you bring to the position you’re running for? Are there any issues in particular you are passionate about or plan to prioritize if elected?

My elected experience began in 2016 as a city councilmember in the City of Bothell. I am most passionate about the environment and hope to return to the legislature to introduce legislation to deal with climate change.

Q: The state budget is facing a budget deficit of nearly $9 billion including a $4.5 billion shortfall from the 2019-21 budget and another $4.3 billion shortfall from 2021-23 is anticipated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Legislators have proposed several options like implementing a state income tax, a capital gains tax, new taxes on business or making cuts in the budget. What are your ideas for addressing the budget shortfall?

Neither a capital gains tax nor a state income tax would make up for the shortfall in the budget. I will support a state income tax if it lessens our reliance on property tax and likely support a capital gains tax depending on the details. Neither will likely be in place to make up for the shortfall in the current biennium and perhaps not the next.

Q: If you favor budget cuts, what areas would you prioritize funding for, and areas would you propose cutting?

This is a difficult decision one we must not look lightly into. I will work with my committee chairs, caucus leaders, and budget leaders on both sides of the aisle to ensure we have a well thought out plan and not a rushed plan. I will always prioritize protecting the vulnerable among us first. 

Q: Washington state, specifically Snohomish County, was the first place in the country to have a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis. Some have said the federal government was not prepared for the pandemic, forcing state and local officials to come up with their own plans. Do you have ideas for ensuring the state is prepared to resolve this (and future) pandemic crisis, regardless of federal government action?

After the difficulties obtaining personal protective equipment (PPE) and other necessary supplies it seems that as a state we should have our own stockpile of supplies from ventilators to PPE to ensure that our healthcare providers and other essential workers have the tools and resources they need to do their jobs. Our healthcare providers have a well-developed system regarding sharing essential resources and we should encourage that mutual support model beyond healthcare providers.

Q: Our nation is currently in the middle of a polarizing conversation about racism, particularly with regards to over-policing in communities of color. There have been calls for police reform, including but not limited to defunding the police and reallocating funds to other services that would replace a police response with social services. What are your opinions on this issue and what plans do you have to work on improving relations between police and communities of color?

Defunding is a terrible word to describe what essentially means shifting some funding to address mental health/social service type issues that police currently are often called to deal with but are not trained on. The police chief in Bothell has offered that too many of their calls are for mental health issues that the police are not trained to handle. Shifting funds to address mental health will free up our police to deal with crime and could even save money as mental health professionals do not require the same pay and or equipment and training costs. 

Community policing whereby police get to know their community by engaging in it and having a presence other than during crises would go a long way toward building mutual trust. When the community and police have a relationship built over time and develop trust, they can draw on that strength during emergencies.

Q: Additionally, if you do support defunding the police, how would you go about doing that? If not, what other plans do you have for police reform to ensure people and communities of color are treated equally?

Same as above.

Q: Homelessness is considered one of the biggest issues in Washington state. What solutions do you have for resolving homelessness in your district as well as the root problems that often cause homelessness, like mental health, substance abuse and a lack of affordable housing?

I believe in the concept of housing first. Who among us can be successful, can work ourselves out of a crisis whether it be rooted in mental health, substance abuse or some other challenge without a place to lay our head at night? We need more alternatives to send people who need help to recover from whatever ails them to get them the support they need to pull themselves up and become self-reliant. We need more resources to go toward affordable housing through funding but also zoning for more housing in places accessible to transit.

Q: Many are concerned about rising housing costs in the region. With Sound Transit’s light rail coming to South Snohomish County in 2024, the area is anticipating population increases. What plans/ideas do you have to ensure there is enough affordable housing in your district for future residents while making sure those who already live here do not get priced out?

We need to allow for more types of housing in more places particularly areas with access to frequent reliable transit. Zoning is largely a city and county responsibility but the state can help provide funds and tax credits for affordable housing and require minimum densities or reduce parking minimums around transit routes. In my experience as a city councilmember, I have supported that same approach of up zoning around coming transit routes and encouraging housing development particularly affordable housing developments. I bring those experiences to the legislature along with the perspective of city and county leaders and an understanding of some of the challenges they face.

Q: Climate change is considered a priority issue for many. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we have 12 years to make drastic cuts in global warming emissions to avoid worsened climate conditions and extreme weather patterns. Will climate action be a priority once you take office and if so, what plans do you have to address it?

Climate action will be a priority. I am currently working on a bill that includes climate change in the list of 14 goals and elements of the Growth Management Act. This would require planning for and goals toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle miles traveled as well as hazard planning for climate exacerbated issues such as wildfires, flooding, drought, and sea level rise.

Q: If elected, how would you work to support LGBTQIA+ voters?

My office is always open, and we must work to ensure that LGBTQIA+ concerns are heard and these members of society feel safe. We need to work to ensure access to healthcare, educate our youth to prevent bullying and prevent discrimination in the workplace.

Q: The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted education locally and nationwide. Many school districts were not prepared for the impacts of the pandemic and there is uncertainty about

how districts can continue to educate students. How would you work to support education through the current pandemic?

We need to find a way to make sure every student has reliable access to the internet so they can easily attend classes and do the homework. It is a question of equity and right now many students do not have access and are falling behind. The other emerging issue is the need for childcare. Parents are juggling jobs and children and distance learning. We need to get non-profit agencies and community organizations to work with schools to provide a system of childcare to help struggling parents.

For more information about Rep. Davina Duerr, visit her website.

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