Action assembly rallies support for Best Starts for Kids
Health Equity Circle - Health Equity Circle member, Ariell Desure, speaks of her mother's childhood experience at the Seattle Best Starts for Kids Assembly. (Photo Credit: Zezhou Jing)
Nearly 100 people gathered at the University Unitarian Church on Saturday night to show support for Best Starts for Kids, a new levy that will be on the November ballot.
Best Starts for Kids would increase public health funding to provide kids and parents with the necessary resources for a successful start in life.
“We have the responsibility to care for all of our children as one community,” said Ariell DeSure, medical student and community outreach coordinator for Health Equity Circle.
The levy is all about prevention. It’s based on research that proves early investment in kids’ development lowers their risk of things like chronic illness, mental illness, domestic violence, incarceration, and homelessness.
“I think sometimes people have a short outcome approach, but public health has long-term effects and requires investing early,” DeSure said.
The six-year property-tax levy would cost homeowners 14 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. It would raise about $65 million in the first year and $392.3 million in total. To the average King County homeowner, this would amount to about $56 a year.
Sound Alliance, an organization that unites various civic institutions in the Puget Sound area, hosted the assembly.
“I think it’s critical that we stabilize public health funding, because some women don’t have access to prenatal care, and that has long-term implications for families and children,” said Lorelei Walker, lead organizer at Health Equity Circle.
In addition to supporting parents, family, and caregivers, the levy would fund high-quality child care, provide screenings for children to prevent developmental problems, help young adults transition into adulthood, create a fund for youth and families to prevent homelessness, and attempt to stop the school-to-prison pipeline.
“We also recognize that some communities experience these pressures much more acutely and more broadly than others, and this is often because of historical and ongoing injustice based on race, immigration status, socioeconomics class, and gender,” said Dave Mentz, co-chair of the assembly. “Best Starts for Kids will help re-road some of those disparities.”
Members of Sound Alliance, students, teachers, nurses, individual community members, and City Council candidates made up the audience Saturday night.
Some shared experiences that led them to support Best Starts for Kids.
“As a classroom teacher, I see children every day who would benefit from the Best Starts for Kids levy,” said Theresa Turner, a Kent School District teacher. “The children in King County deserve better.”
Sound Alliance members called four Seattle City Council candidates to the stage to ask for their support if elected, as they hope to work closely with the council on this issue.
Rob Johnson, Michael Maddux, Sandy Brown, and Pamela Banks all showed support and agreed to meet with Sound Alliance within 60 days of candidacy. The assembly ended with a call to action. Everyone in the audience was prompted to fill out a card ensuring their positive vote for the levy.
“People need tough love, but just like [they need] unconditional support at some times in their life,” said Joseph Friedman, Health Equity Circle member and Master of Public Health student. “Family is a great place to get it, but if they don’t have family the community should provide it, and I think Best Starts for Kids works toward that.”