A local labor leader and health care advocate is the latest candidate to enter the fray for the open at-large Seattle City Council seat.
In mid-January, Washington State Labor Council political and strategic campaign director Teresa Mosqueda joined ex-Tenants Union Executive Director Jon Grant and NAACP Vice President Sheley Secrest, among others, in the race to replace outgoing Councilmember Tim Burgess.
Mosqueda, a Queen Anne resident, described her current role as encouraging others, especially women, people of color, and workers, to run for elected positions, “so that we have more people who are in office who know what it’s like to be a working family member in this day and age, trying to afford to provide a roof over their head and food for their kids.”
Until recently, she had shied away from the idea of running herself. But the national political climate caused her to rethink that approach.
“In the last few months, leading up to the Trump administration, and especially with the Trump win, I thought, ‘Why have I always said no?’ Because cities like Seattle are going to be the first line of offense and the last line of defense when it comes to protecting our communities,” she said.
However, the University of Washington alumna said her campaign isn’t about individual recognition.
“I’m not interested in getting into this position to roll out a piece of legislation with my name on it,” she said. “I’m interested in getting into this position to have effective policy change made at the city level to protect our community.”
Much of Mosqueda’s experience comes in the health policy field, having chaired the Healthy Washington Coalition — the state’s largest health care advocacy coalition — along with serving two terms on Washington’s Exchange Board, the governing body for the Affordable Care Act.
In her time as legislative director of the Children’s Alliance, Mosqueda advocated for the implementation of the Apple Health for Kids program for low-income children in the state. She also spent time with the state Department of Health promoting walkable neighborhoods and access to healthy foods. Bringing those experiences to the City Council is something she said feels full circle.
“I’ve spent a lot of my career trying to make sure nobody’s left out and nobody’s left behind, and a lot of that work is focused on getting people that plastic, medical insurance card,” she said. “But the reality is communities need so much more in terms of what actually helps them to be healthy, and I think the tipping point was when I look at everything the city does, and I look at it through the health equity lens that I bring to my work. This is where we have a chance to help create healthy individuals, families, and communities.”
Mosqueda also believes her ability to collaborate and work with others, is critical for the role
“I think that my background, both through working with coalitions, and the style and the approach I bring to the work that I have now, I think that I can help be someone who can help bring folks together in really trying times like these,” she said.
Outside of health policy, Mosqueda also worked on drafting Initiative 1433, which expanded paid sick leave in Washington and will raise the minimum wage in phases over the next several years.
But as important as crafting and passing policy is, she said, it’s just as important to follow through on the promises made.
“The legislation or the bill itself is only as good as the paper it’s written on unless it’s fully implemented, and done so in a way with community input, worker input, small business input, to make sure the policies that have passed actually work,” she said.
Mosqueda also noted her status as a renter as another perspective that would set her apart from the rest of the council.
“People need access to options, they need to have choice in terms of the type of housing they’re hoping to live in,” she said. “For me, I love the area that I get to live in because it’s walkable, it’s livable, it’s vibrant. I can walk down the street and go for a run, go to my local coffee shop, and that’s what creates community, and so I’m really interested in trying to help make sure that that experience is realized across the city.”
Mosqueda also rolled out a large number of community endorsements as she ramps up her campaign. She has early support from several members of the state legislature, including 36th District Rep. Noel Frame and House Speaker Frank Chopp, along with Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib, and ex-King County Executive Ron Sims.
Ultimately, Mosqueda said she believes her experience as inclusive, transparent, and collaborative would transfer well to being a successful city councilmember.
“It’s not an easy decision, but I think that it’s one that I am interested in doing because I can bring this health policy lens to it,” she said. “I can bring this commitment to making sure we’re protecting our most vulnerable. I think both the proactive and reflective and protective approach to our communities in Seattle is what we’re going to need.”
To learn more about Mosqueda’s campaign, visit www.teamteresa.org..