Our diversity is a strength: leaders win endorsements for Best Starts for Kids from Labor, Federal Way School Board
A few years ago, a delegation of Sound Alliance leaders met with Senator Steve Litzow (R-Mercer Island) at Top Pot Donuts. When the leaders introduced the Alliance as a “broad based organization made up of 30 diverse faith, labor, education, and community organizations working together for the Common Good” Senator Litzow made a puzzled look, put down his donut, and asked a question: Faith? AND Labor? What do you have in common?
In our Leadership Institute, we teach that gathering a diverse mix is one of our strategies to build power for the Common Good. We recently had another example of this principle in real life.
Sound Alliance leaders have won two endorsements supporting the Alliance’s campaign to get the Best Starts for Kids levy passed in November - one delivered by a church lay-leader in South King County and one from a labor leader in Seattle.
Sound Alliance board president Jonathan Knapp successfully presented a resolution to the King County Labor Council on June 17 calling on the King County Council to put forward a Best Starts for Kids initiative proposal that labor can support.
Mr. Knapp talked about why unions are getting behind Best Starts for Kids: “Many working families face the hardships that Best Starts for Kids aims to address – perhaps having a family member struggling with mental illness, chronic disease, homelessness, or incarceration. As part of their jobs in schools, hospitals, public agencies, etc., union workers do what they can to help these families. And unions themselves fight for good benefits such as healthcare and family leave to support families facing these difficult situations. The research shows that the public interventions that Best Starts for Kids supports would go far to avoid some of these tragedies in the first place, and reduce the human cost and the financial burden that we all bear together in King County.”
The core team at Saltwater Unitarian Universalist Church in Des Moines persuaded the Federal Way School Board to pass a similar resolution.
The team at Saltwater was looking for leverage points to increase visibility about Best Starts for Kids for voters and King County Councilmembers.
One core team member, Bob Dickinson, had a relationship with Federal Way School Board President Geoffery McAnalloy. Based on his understanding of what was important to Board President McAnalloy based on his own family’s experience, Bob asked him to consider passing a resolution supporting Best Starts for Kids, sending along relevant information. He received a reply back inviting him to the next School Board Meeting and that they would add it to their agenda.
At their June 23 meeting, the school board indeed passed the resolution 3 - 1, and indicated they would pass the positive vote results along to Federal Way’s King County Councilmember, Peter von Reichbauer.
Mr. Dickinson had this to say about the win for the Saltwater core team, “I’d like to think we got the ball rolling earlier than it would have. I am excited about Best Starts for Kids because it addresses in a preventative way all of the issues that surfaced in our listening sessions like mental health, homelessness, and funding essential services.”