The editorial endorsing Brady Walkinshaw accuses Pramila Jayapal of exaggerating her role in negotiating Seattle’s $15 minimum wage [“Walkinshaw would be a better representative,” Opinion, Oct. 27].
I was a leader of the Fifteen for Seattle Coalition and the co-chair of the Income Inequality Advisory Commission (IIAC) in 2014, and I remember it differently. Jayapal was part of a very small group of advisers who met with the Ed Murray mayoral campaign beginning in August 2013 to put together an economic-issues agenda, including a commitment to phasing in a $15 minimum wage, months before Murray was elected and before the IIAC was even established. It’s true that she missed a couple of IIAC meetings, but only because she was simultaneously co-chairing the search committee for a new Seattle police chief.
As founder and longtime leader of the immigrant rights group OneAmerica, Jayapal was an active part of supporting workers and advocating for an increased minimum wage. Later, she was an active member of both Fifteen for Seattle and the IIAC. For the latter, she took subcommittee assignments, participated in deliberations, gave up numerous weekends and evenings to participate in coalition meetings, and played a crucial role in outreach to immigrant communities and small businesses.
Additionally, The Times’ endorsement editorial chose to highlight a ranking system for legislative effectiveness that has faulty methodology (for example, rewarding legislators for sponsoring uncontroversial legislation and privileging committee chairs and ranking members who routinely sponsor “executive request legislation” necessary for the continued functioning of state agencies).
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But more important to me is how we measure effectiveness. When I think about this moment in our history, as we look at the gridlock in Washington, D.C., I know I want a movement-builder in Congress, not a typical politician. What a politician measures his or her success by is whether he or she wins an election or gets favorable press coverage. What an organizer measures his or her success by is whether ordinary people can organize enough unity and enough strength to accomplish extraordinary things.
That’s at the heart of why I support Pramila Jayapal for Congress. I want an organizer like Jayapal who understands that when we organize together, we can accomplish extraordinary things.
David Rolf, Seattle, president of SEIU Local 775