On the Issues
Darya has a record of advocating for those with the least access to a seat at the table. Her belief is that when we support those hardest to reach, we reach everyone; when we lift the entire district, we lift the entire state.
Improving Behavioral Health Outcomes
It's no secret that our behavioral health system is not working, and this has only been amplified by the pandemic. To create meaningful access and treatment options, we need leaders who understand how individuals accessing these resources interact with, and rely on, other public service systems. I have the unique professional and lived experience to work for a system that supports individuals with a variety of behavioral health needs, including culturally--relevant and LGBTQIA+-responsive services, school-based therapy, outpatient services, disability-specific care, and permanent supportive housing with wrap-around supports. I will work for a system that provides care as soon as care is needed, before or during a crisis – not just after things go wrong.
In my day job, I advocate for a behavioral health system with true choice that provides support at the earliest possible point. As your Representative, I’ll bring my experience to elevate the urgency of reforming our behavior health system. Washington State wastes millions of dollars waiting for people to reach a crisis level of care before providing treatment. We can save money and lives by providing low-barrier accessible housing, addressing basic needs, and providing a full spectrum of care for our residents. I will fight for smarter investments in quality behavioral health care across the spectrum.
Increasing Public Safety
Everyone has the right to feel safe in their community. I’ve seen this district change tremendously over the years, and both housed and houseless neighbors feel unsafe; this must change. We need to name the elephant in the room, which is our housing and behavioral health crisis. The reality is that when community members have what they need to not only survive, but to thrive, we all do better, and we all feel safer. Increasing public safety starts with providing care the moment it’s needed, including affordable, accessible low-barrier housing, and relieving the burden on law enforcement.
Law enforcement have been forced to take on the responsibilities of behavioral health professionals and social workers, even though they do not have their level of training. This takes police away from their primary responsibility, responding to crime. We cannot have another preventable tragedy in the 46th like Charleena Lyles’ death. To support law enforcement and increase public safety, we need to invest in diversion, re-evaluate police responsibilities, and ensure communities feel safe calling for help. This includes investing in programs that meet people where they are, in encampments or at first interaction with emergency services, to provide meaningful treatment and long-term housing.
Access to the Democratic Process
Our democratic process is precious and fragile. We must take full advantage of our vote and election system while simultaneously protecting it at all costs. My family instilled in me the importance of using the voice you have to advocate for yourself and your community, and that is exactly what I’ve spent my career doing.
It is imperative that all members of our society participate in the election process so that we have a truly democratic process. Here in the 46th, I’m proud to say that we have the highest voter turnout in the entire state of Washington. That means our constituents have the resources they need to understand their voting rights, the issues and candidates on the ballot, and return their ballot on time to be counted. Not all communities are this fortunate, even within the 46th. Individuals with disabilities, people who speak a language other than English, and low-income individuals have substantially lower voter turnout than average. If elected, I will continue my work to make sure that we have a stronger and more representative democratic process.
Public Transportation and Environmental Justice
Public transportation is an invaluable resource for all our community members, whether you use it to get to Mariners games, access social services, or get to work or school. Mass transit is part of the solution to our climate crisis. We need it because it’s how many get around regularly, but we also need it because our future on this planet depends on us reducing our carbon footprint.
The 46th just realized our work towards a regional light rail network, with the Roosevelt, University District, and Northgate Link Light Rail stations. We are also fortunate to be receiving a fourth station on 130th Street! It’s imperative that with these new stations, we provide ample parking, traffic management, and accessible, frequent, connecting service, so that all our neighborhoods can benefit from our light rail system. We also need to stay vigilant and make sure that rising property values do not displace our neighbors in these typically low-income neighborhoods. Let’s use public infrastructure investments to build wealth for everyone in our community!
Educational Opportunity for All
My introduction to the legislative process was through education advocacy. I’ve spent countless hours talking with families whose children are not receiving the support they need to be successful. Many of these conversations relate to how systemic barriers prevent family members from meaningfully engaging in their students’ learning. Families are students’ biggest advocates, and data shows that family engagement is directly tied to student success. I have fought for students by addressing barriers to family engagement, including language access and meaningful communication. Not all family members communicate through spoken language or speak English; we need to be responsive to this.
Even without having communication challenges, navigating school structures can be confusing. This is especially true for parents of students who are in special education, accessing McKinney-Vento services,, or an English language learner. In order to support students and teachers, we have to meet families where they are at. This is exactly what I’ve fought for as an Organizer and Public Policy Director. I will work to break down barriers and provide direct access for families to support their students.
Similarly, when teachers have what they need to succeed, everyone wins. Our teachers have been put through the ringer these last two years having to learn how to provide seamless instruction throughout a pandemic. They are underpaid, overworked, and lack the resources to do their jobs effectively. I understand that supporting students must include supporting teachers, which is why I will work for increased pay and support for teachers to feel valued and succeed in their workplace.
Supporting students means providing individualized support and equity in education. When we don’t recognize the whole student and see them as the unique individuals that they are we can cause serious damage. In this day and age, our schools are still practicing the harmful use of restraint and isolation right here in the 46th. In 2020 an investigation revealed that a Black student with disabilities at View Ridge Elementary, my alma matter, was restrained in an outdoor space called “the cage”. By segregating students of color and students receiving special education services, we put them on the fast track to the school to prison pipeline. If elected I will work to eliminate the use of isolation.
In the 46th, we are lucky to be in the backyard of two exemplary post-secondary education opportunities with the University of Washington to the south and North Seattle College in the west. We have two opportunities close to home to engage our youth in college rather than prison and we need to do more to connect these institutions with our schools. If elected I will work to provide pipelines to higher education and dismantle the pipeline to prison.
Constituents of the 46th district have told me that they do not feel safe in our community. This is a heartbreaking reality. Living in Lake City, gun violence and crime is a frequent reality for my neighborhood, but it doesn’t have to be. Addressing gun violence starts with early intervention and taking care of our youth. We need to invest in Community Violence Intervention programs, especially in the north end of our district, in neighborhoods like Lake City and the Aurora Avenue corridor. But this isn’t enough. We also need to prevent guns from getting into the hands of young people. We need to pass a strong, comprehensive ban on assault rifles at the state level.
Legislation was recently introduced to start the process of banning assault rifles, but it created several loopholes. We need strong leadership at the state level that will not only stop weapons of war from getting on to the street but also ways for constituents to dispose safely of these weapons through gun buy-backs. Additionally, some jurisdictions (including Seattle) are ready to go further than our state legislature is, and they should have the tools to do so. I’m a strong supporter of eliminating pre-emption so that cities and counties can pass stronger gun laws in their jurisdictions.
Lastly, we must consider all forms of gun violence, including violence from professionals who wield guns as a part of their career. The conversation about gun responsibility must include a discussion of police accountability. We need laws that make it clear when and how much force is appropriate, as well as laws that enforce a fair and unbiased trial for true accountability and justice.
There is no way around it: we need to flip our tax code. Washington has the most regressive tax code in the country, and it results in a system that doesn’t address needs. Everyday people pay the consequences. By not fully funding our social services system and investing in prevention and diversion programs, we not only harm our communities, but we pay double the price in the long run. I strongly support developing progressive revenue streams, including wealth taxes.
We are still fighting to make up for the cuts of our last recession, to programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Aged Blind and Disabled (ABD) program. Not only do these programs need to be restored to their pre-recession levels, but they need to be increased to reflect the current cost of living. We also need to rethink how these programs are structured; social service programs need to incentivize independence, rather than hinder those who access services.
We also need to look out for the small local businesses and business owners who are generating revenue for the tax system we currently have. I’ve heard reportedly from business owners that the best way Olympia can help is by addressing public safety and creating safe neighborhoods. This means we need to address our core issues of the behavioral health crisis, homelessness, and the criminal legal system.
Living in Lake City, I never expected to see $2 million dollar houses in my neighborhood, but they have arrived. Neighborhoods that used to be affordable are no longer affordable for longtime residents. Like many of my neighbors, I worry about displacement from the neighborhood I love. The cost of housing has skyrocketed, and we need help fast. That requires creative solutions that will allow marginalized communities to own their homes, seniors to stay in the homes they’ve built throughout their lifetime, and get those without homes into long-term homes.
We need to increase housing stock, and quickly; however, we also must keep in mind the most vulnerable in our housing policies. I strongly support the Missing Middle Housing Bill HB 1782, which would increase density around mass transit and increase mobility for the communities who need it most. When we create services to reach those who are struggling the most, our systems and services become more accessible for everyone. It is impossible to address substance use or mental health while you are struggling to find shelter and address your basic needs. If we want to address our behavioral health crisis, we have to house our neighbors. Housing is essential to a healthy life.