King County Council, D9 – Chris Franco

Municipal/Other Questionnaire

Candidate Information

  • Candidate Name: Chris Franco
  • Position Sought: King County Council, D9 (Non-incumbent)
  • Home Legislative District: 11th
  • Democrat: Yes

Campaign Information

Part I – Candidate Background

1. Please briefly describe your qualifications, education, employment, community and civic activity, union affiliation, prior political activity, and other relevant experience.

Education: BA in Political Science, Harvard Business School’s Young American Leaders Program

Union affiliation(s): Former represented by Teamsters 117 (KC employee) and UFCW 21 (Albertson Helper Clerk); also attended the Washington State Labor Council’s “Path to Power Program” an 2018

Employment and civic activity:
Former U.S. Army Infantry Officer (2007 – 2015)
– Platoon Leader
– Executive Officer
– Brigade Planner
– Company Commander (twice)
– U.S. Army Ranger School, Airborne School, and Mountain Warfare School Graduate
– Distinguished Military Graduate
King County employee for 5.5 years (2015 – present)
– King County’s Office of Equity and Social Justice leadership team
– Co-founder/former chair of King County’s Latinx Affinity Group
– Co-founder/policy chair for King County’s Veterans/Military Affinity Group
– Program Manager for King County’s Equity and Social Justice Executive Priority Effort
– Member of King County’s “Anti-racist/Pro-equity Core Team”
– Former member of King County Executive’s COVID-19 Policy Team
– Former Logistics Manager for King County’s COVID-19 Assessment/Recovery Centers
– Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) Seattle Chapter’s Director of Military and Veterans Affairs (2018/2019)
– Truman National Security Project PNW Chapter’s Director of Military and Veterans Affairs (2019 – present)
– Leadership Tomorrow Class of 2018
– National Young Leaders Conference – Representative of WA (2002)
– Global Young Leaders Conference – U.S. Representative (2003)

Political activity:
– Elected PCO for RNT-11-3564 (2018 and 2020)
– 11th LD Male-identifying representative to the KCDCC (2018 – 2019)
– King County Democrats Community Partnership Chair (2018 – 2019)
– King County Democrats 3rd Vice Chair (2019 – present)
– Indivisible WA8 and Renton (2017 – present)
Due to the Hatch Act I was not able to be politically active during my time in service

2. What prompted you to run for this office? What are your campaign’s most important themes, issues, or priorities (three to five)?

What prompted me: Working within the King County government for the last five and a half years has shown me how important it is to have leaders that care about our residents and have the courage to tackle the complex issues, inequities, and injustices that harm and neglect We the People, while diminishing our potential as a county and country. Being able to work on our county’s COVID-19 response efforts has shown me firsthand how quickly our government can act when it wants to, and it has also show me the things that get in the way of progress and genuine service to our community. We have always had the means to address the issues we face but have all too often lacked the commitment, courage, and accountability needed to remedy our systemic issues. This last year has been exceptionally challenging and has laid bare the systemic inequities and injustices in our county/country. If we aren’t going to honestly do something about them right here, and right now, as MLK County, then when the hell are we? What’s it going to take? What conditions must be in place for our government to truly roll up its sleeves and partner with the community we serve to figure this out together? I’m done waiting for change. I’m ready to be the change and fight for a government that is truly, by, of, and for the people.

As the next King County Councilmember of District 9 I am going to prioritize those most impacted by this pandemic and the endemic of racism. I will fight to ensure that:
· We get back to work safely and create jobs with the wages, benefits, and safe working conditions that we need to survive and thrive here in King County
· I will invest in our small business community, our infrastructure, and our environment so that we have a community that is prosperous, connected, and healthy for all of us
· And I will make our government more accessible, transparent, and accountable to our residents so that we get the investments and representation that we deserve

3. What steps are you taking to run a successful campaign?

I have hired an incredible team:
– UL Strategies for consulting
– BlueWave for fundraising
– Left Wing Digital for digital engagement (heavy emphasis due to COVID)

I am leaning into my relationships and work with the King County Government, King County Democrats, Labor, Indivisible, and the Truman National Security Project to build a team of seasoned and dedicated public servants that will provide the resources, volunteers, and support needed to defeat Reagan Dunn and serve our county and community with distinction and dedication.

I’m partnering with the consulting team with the best data analysis, campaign plans, and the recipient of the “Best Municipal Race in the Country” from the American Association of Political Consultants for their work on King County Councilmember Zahilay’s campaign in 2019. We know precisely whose votes we need to defeat Dunn in November, and with your help, we will do so.

Part II – Local Issues

1. Would you support the establishment of a safe injection site in your district?


Yes, if people are going to use, I would rather they do so in a safe environment with critical services and support present.

2. Would you support the administration and police force in your jurisdiction adopting a sanctuary policy, forbidding the sharing of local resources and labor with ICE?


Absolutely, we as MLK county should be a sanctuary for immigrants and refugees seeking a better life for themselves and their families. Our country and county is made stronger by our diversity and our willingness to build a community where we can all contribute to our collective welfare, safety, and prosperity without fear of harm. The true mark of a just society is how it serves and centers our shared humanity.

3. Do you support raising revenue at the city level to expand transit service?


Yes, and this would require genuine partnerships with our cities to ensure that we are planning for transit services that will serve our entire county/community and truly invest where the needs are greatest. When we make investments in transit services we must prioritize the transition to green fleets and infrastructure to ensure we are reducing carbon emissions and are establishing the infrastructure needed for the 21st century.

4. Should transportation policy discourage the use of private automobiles and encourage the use of public-transit?


Absolutely, we must transition to more accessible, affordable, and green public-transportation to help reduce greenhouse emissions, traffic, and wear on our infrastructure.

5. Do you support building a municipally owned and operated broadband system in your city or jurisdiction?


Absolutely, broadband should be a public utility/service. This pandemic has shown how important it is to have access to reliable broadband services to work, stay connected, and have access to vital services. As we look to the future our reliance on broadband access will only increase and we must ensure that those most in need of broadband aren’t left behind and denied the same access and opportunities that the rest of our residents have.

6. Do you support requiring police officers in your jurisdiction to wear body cameras?


Yes, this assists with accountability and provides critical evidence for situations when residents and/or officers are harmed.

7. Do you support repealing Tim Eyman’s I-747, which artificially limits property tax increases to 1% per year, regardless of population growth, inflation, and need?


For the love of God, yes please. I-747 is an extremely harmful initiative that has only contributed to Washington State having the most regressive tax code in the nation. It has severely limited government’s ability to equitably set property taxes to provide critical social services throughout the state.

8. Should government assist individuals, and families who are without sufficient food, shelter, or basic necessities through no fault of their own?


Yes, we have the means to assist our residents that are most in need of help, especially those in dire situations at no fault of their own. We all thrive as a community when our residents have their basic needs met. When people don’t have their basic needs met they are far more likely to result to desperate measure to provide for themselves and their families. The preventative (and moral) investments we make in each other are far cheaper (and humane) than allowing our community members to needlessly suffer. When we are all able to fulfill our full potential we will truly live in a just and prosperous society.

9. Should the wages paid to workers in Washington State be raised incrementally towards the goal of living wages?


Absolutely! Wealth inequality in our country and county has only grown over the last handful of decades. This is in large part due to the stagnation of wages despite the growing cost of living. Our workforce has never been more productive, yet our workers have not seen the wage growth and benefits needed to care for themselves and their families. Our society and system will fail if we do not rapidly address wealth inequality and ensure that are workers are given the prevailing wages, benefits, and safe working conditions they deserve.

10. Will you seek opportunities to mitigate the human activities that are contributing to disastrous climate change?


Absolutely. The climate crisis is the single greatest existential threat to humanity. We are literally in the midst of the 6th mass extinction event (Holocene) in earth’s history and it has been brought about by humans. We are responsible for this and must aggressively and collectively address this immediate threat to our collective survival and not push this burden onto future generations. The earth will endure but we don’t act quickly, humanity might not.

Part III – Free Response

1. Why are you requesting Democratic endorsement? What aspects of the Democratic platform most resonate with you?

I am requesting the endorsement of my fellow Democrats so that we can use our collective resources and power to remove a problematic 16-year incumbent Republican from office and get a Councilmember that will actually partner with and serve our community. Having the endorsement of the 31st LD Dems would be a tremendous honor and would grant our campaign Vote Builder access and allow us to team up with the members of the 31st LD Dems to run a successful campaign and ensure that Dunn is done this year.

The elements of the Democratic platform that resonate most with me are our commitments to addressing racial, economic, and environment injustice. Many of the issues we face as a society are tied to these issues and only the Democratic Party is willing to address them head on. I am committed to addressing these issues as many other issues are directly tied to them (healthcare, housing, taxes, jobs with living wages/benefits, infrastructure, immigration, education, public safety, national security, etc.).

2. What important local issues have you worked on (or taken an interest in) that you feel aren’t getting enough attention from elected leaders and the media?

Economic injustice; we have the most regressive tax system in the entire country and we have done very little to address or remedy that. Countless residents in our community are struggling to make ends meet despite living in one of the wealthiest metropolitan areas in the world and little has been done to address the root causes of the growing inequities. We have an opportunity here and now to honestly address this issue and do so in partnership with the very community enduring these economic injustices. We will need to partner with our labor unions and legislators at all levels of government to truly remedy this systemic issue and revive the American Dream for everyone.

The threat of white nationalists/supremacists to public safety and our national security is not getting nearly enough attention. The single greatest threat to our security comes from within and from those that view many of our community members as less-than human. Abraham Lincoln is still correct in saying, “If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher.” White supremacists have shown that they are willing to literally attempt a coup to overturn the will of the American people and forego our democracy and democratic processes all together. This is quite literally the single greatest threat to our country and the very Constitution I swore a sacred oath to support and defend. We have to get serious about addressing this issue or this cancer will metastasize and threaten to kill our Democracy as we know it. This is something I’m addressing as a member of the Truman National Security Project and will be addressing as a combat veteran on the King County Council.

Systemic racism; I am a member of King County’s Office of Equity and Social Justice’s leadership team. This work has been and will remain a passion of mine. Though this has received attention from the media, the roots causes and impacts of systemic racism have not been fully addresses or acknowledged. Racism is the true endemic that has killed, and will continue to kill, more Americans than any pandemic, war, or terrorist attacks every have. We as MLK County must truly lead in efforts to dismantle systemic racism here at home and provide others the inspiration and blue print on how to effectively do that as a community.

3. Please list up to three specific, concrete actions you would support to ease the homelessness crisis.

1. Fund programs to build affordable housing units for those experiencing homelessness. Those without shelter will always be forced to prioritize their safety and basic needs over employment or anything else. A housing first approach is the surest way of easing and eliminating the homelessness crisis.
2. Partner with the King County Housing Authority, my colleagues on the King County Council, and our cities to reduce exclusionary zoning practices. We are a rapidly growing region and must plan/zone for multi-family homes, apartments, and Section 8 housing that will allow our residents to stay sheltered and afford to live, work, and play in this community we call home.
3. Provide health and behavioral health services to our residents, especially those most in need. These services are both preventative and restorative. We must prioritize the collective health of our residents and in doing so will ensure the collective health of our community. We have the means to reallocate resources within King County’s budget to ensure that we are providing our residents the services they need, especially during/after this global pandemic.

4. What are the barriers to economic prosperity faced by residents in your jurisdiction, and how do you plan to address them?

1. Stagnant wages, a lack of benefits, and the gig economy. We need unionized jobs that will provide our residents the prevailing wages, benefits, and safe working conditions needed to survive and thrive here in King County. We have the opportunity to make massive and needed investments in our infrastructure to create these jobs which will aid the entire region. We should be investing in apprenticeships that provide our residents opportunities to learn new skills/trades, advance their education, and enter a career instead of a job. The 9th needs these investments, as does the rest of our county.

2. A fundamental lack of healthcare and healthcare being tied to employment. Many of our residents are out of work and thus without healthcare in the middle of global pandemic. Our healthcare is the most expensive on the planet and prevents our families from overcoming poverty and acquiring wealth, particularly when they are uninsured. We must work with our state legislators to ensure that we all have access to quality/affordable healthcare that will allow us to stay healthy and not face financial ruin for seeing the doctor.

3. A lack of access to reliable transportation, broadband, and housing. The 9th needs greater investments in transportation infrastructure and broadband access so that our residents can more easily access job opportunities and critical services needed to climb out of this economic crisis and ultimately thrive. Critical to achieving prosperity is having (and ideally owning) a home. Home ownership is the single greatest driver of wealth acquisition and without affordable housing, our residents are far more unlikely to acquire wealth and prosperity. We need to implement at least the three measures above to assist in making affordable housing more prevalent and accessible.

5. What are the transportation/transit challenges which face this jurisdiction and how would you address them? What role does rail play in your proposed solutions?

The most significant transportation/transit issues in my jurisdiction are centered around a fundamental lack of investment in our district. The district has massive portions of rural unincorporated King County and cities further away from major infrastructure so our residents have longer commutes and less access to our region’s resources. King County has an opportunity to make greater investments in districts like the 9th to ensure that our residents also get to benefit from the infrastructure we help pay for and utilize. Rail does not play as vital a role in D9, however there are major railways that must be maintained to assist with our region’s trade and industries.

6. What are your jurisdiction’s environmental issues, which ones are urgent and what will you do to address them?

One of the most pressing issues in D9 is the proposed Asphalt Plant along with Cedar River. If this plant is constructed it will threaten the already endangered salmon population in the Cedar River in addition to the neighboring residential areas, schools, residents, and wildlife. This issue is of great concern to the residents of unincorporated King County that had no say in this proposal and may have to live with the impacts of it due to their lack of local government representation. The 9th is also home to much of the remaining wilderness in King County and as this region expands the 9th will be critical to our region’s watersheds and air quality (forest fires).

7. Does your district have a taxing authority or propose levies and what changes, if any, would you seek?

King County does indeed have the authority to propose levies and adjust property taxes and sales taxes. I would like to move away from sales taxes as they have a disproportionate impact our historically underserved and less affluent communities that are already enduring economic hardship. I would like to explore ways for King County to limit/reduce property taxes for those living on fixed incomes and increase property taxes for properties with significant values. This would help pay for more affordable housing units, reduce gentrification, and allow greater economic opportunity for our residents at large. Some adjustments to taxes would require the assistance/partnership of our state legislators.

By typing my name below, I declare under penalty of perjury the foregoing is true and correct.

Printed Name: Chris Franco

Date: 03/21/2021

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