an introduction to

PATRICK O'ROURKE

IMG_3719_1I’ve been a utility worker for 35 years, and a proud union lineman for the past 22, and I’d like to ask for your vote in the August 2nd, 2016, Washington Democratic primary.

When I started working as an apprentice, I expected that within a few years I’d be putting solar panels up on homes in my neighborhood. I thought I’d see modern windmills dotting our hilltops and mountain sides, generating clean energy. I assumed that my kids would have it better than I did.

We’re just not there. Not yet. Frankly, I don’t think that any state or country has everything figured out perfectly. But I know that we can build a future that we all can believe in here in Washington. Many hands make light work, as the old saying goes. If we all pitch in, we can make our State a 21st century American success story, and a model for the rest of the nation.

Our 100 percent people-powered grassroots campaign is made up of of people like you, your relatives, and your neighbors — not by elite insiders with money in the game. My inner circle is made up of union workers, recent graduates from top universities, dynamic young entrepreneurs, long-term civil rights activists, grassroots organizers, and people who are just getting back into politics after years of feeling disenfranchised by the status quo. We are united by a common goal: to work hard at the work that needs doing for the people of Washington.

That’s why I’m asking for your support, for your ideas, and for your vote in the August 2nd Democratic Primary.

Criminal Justice Reform

I do not believe that our current criminal justice system is working. Despite declining crime levels, we live in an era of unchecked police power and ubiquitous surveillance. In an understandable yet misplaced zeal for justice, we have created a state of affairs where the root causes of crime go unaddressed, while thousands of Washingtonians serve disproportionate sentences for minor crimes, trapping them in a life of hardship and recidivism. We have to do a lot better. I do not support privatized prisons. I don’t think that having armed police officers posted in schools is the best idea. I also think that we need to do right by people who have been inside the criminal justice system for non-violent marijuana offenses. Two years ago, the city of Spokane took an important step forward when their city council passed a bill allowing people to apply to have their misdemeanor marijuana convictions from municipal courts vacated. This needs to happen throughout the state. We must also hold police officers accountable for their actions, and work to end racial discrimination in law enforcement. For this reason I believe that every police officer in the state should wear a body camera.

Protecting Our Natural Resources

We need to protect our natural resources. Clean water, clean air, and healthy soils are some of this state’s most valuable resources. Washington’s natural beauty is world-famous, and must be preserved for future generations. As an avid beekeeper, I’ve seen firsthand how commercial chemicals can negatively impact human life, and wildlife. I oppose the unregulated use of neurotoxic pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. I strongly oppose hydraulic fracking. I am against letting oil and gas companies use our land for export and processing terminals. I support an immediate ban on all hydrocarbon rail transport throughout the state. With regard to the nuclear waste facility in Hanford, I am appalled at the federal government’s failure to clean up after itself. As Governor, I would immediately close the facility and allocate funding for a proper cleanup and mitigation. Fixing Hanford is a priority — the continuing consequences of inaction are impacting the lives and health of Washingtonians and Oregonians, and threatens the Columbia River itself. I especially look forward to collaborating with tribal nations, and tapping into the deep well of knowledge that exists in these communities, for ideas on how to deal with the problems of a changing climate.

Energy

We need to go green — all the way green. Mitigating the negative effects of climate change is the urgent task of our time. While Washington is ahead of most states in terms of renewable energy thanks to our mountains and rivers, we deserve a modern, fully-sustainable energy grid. Completing the transition away from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy sources is essential for the long-term health and safety of the state. Therefore, I support a managed transition to 100 percent renewable energy in Washington State that includes next-generation photovoltaic technology, wind turbines, distributed energy storage, and tidal and geothermal energy capture — where appropriate. I do not support the continued use of coal, natural gas, or other hydrocarbon fuel, and I am strongly opposed to poisoning our land through hydraulic fracking. Transitioning to a clean, green economy will bring quality jobs to the state, spur scientific advancement at our universities, boost our economy in the short-run, and create systemic cost savings in the mid- to long-run. Sustainable power isn’t just important for our future climate, the positive externalities of switching to renewables will be apparent immediately — starting with no more spills, no more oil trains, and no more coal dust in our atmosphere.

Banking

We deserve a publicly run, not-for-profit state bank. Large financial institutions like Bank of America and Chase shouldn’t be making money off of Washington state business. North Dakota is currently only state in the union with a state bank, and I don’t see any compelling reason why Washington shouldn’t be the second. I’d like to see old services like free checking, interest-bearing savings accounts, and community investment bonds return alongside state-of-the-art electronic banking that expands access to essential financial services. This will have the additional benefit of putting predatory payday lenders out of business, and providing financial services to all Washingtonians. As Governor, I will work with lawmakers and local organizations to make this a priority.

Housing

Housing is a human right. I believe we have a moral obligation to ensure that each and every Washington resident is housed. As Governor, I will develop innovative ways to solve homelessness and ensure that every Washingtonian has a safe dwelling to call home. Investing in state-of-the-art public housing stock, situated within walking distance of our growing transit network is a smart move that we should be making. I also think it is worth exploring alternative models for land ownership, such as community land trusts. Vermont and New Hampshire have been thought-leaders in this area for decades, and we can learn from their example. Community land trusts drastically reduce the costs associated with taking out a mortgage. While the land belongs to the local community, the home itself belongs to the homeowner, who becomes a trustee of the land. Most economists seem to agree that, at least on paper, the housing market has recovered to pre-2008 levels. Let’s use this opportunity to start thinking smarter about how we go about living, make sure that everyone has a place to call home, and avoid the mistakes that led to the financial crisis.

Healthcare

We deserve a not-for-profit, single-payer health care system. Our health problems shouldn’t make someone else richer. We can create a single-payer system which will help all Washingtonians live happier, healthier, longer lives. Over time, the cost-savings associated with a healthier population and a simplified bureaucracy will mean we will pay less for medical care. Things like eye exams, comprehensive mental health care, and quality dental care aren’t covered under our current semi-privatized state Medicare plan, Apple Health. This has got to change. Access to quality healthcare is a human right, regardless of gender, age, race, religion, or income. Washington State needs to do a better job taking care of our people. I will make upgrading our medical infrastructure a top priority.

Education

We need to invest in our people — our kids deserve universal access to quality public education from pre-school to university. Investing in a robust, quality educational system is essential for long-term growth, and is a moral obligation we all share. A child’s zip code shouldn’t matter when it comes to educational success, and no one should have to go into debt in order to get an education. The way I see it, we should be investing in our people — our human capital — to help kids and young adults build the world of tomorrow instead of trapping them in the world of yesterday. As Governor, not only will I direct lawmakers and policy experts to draft concrete proposals about how to make our public universities truly open to the public, I recognize that making college accessible is only part of the challenge that our state is facing. We must fully fund our public primary and secondary schools. This should be a no-brainer. I’d like to investigate how exactly Colorado has been able to use tax revenues from marijuana sales to fund upgrades to their public schools.