Zak Idan is rooted in city | Letter to the editor

The first time I met Zak Idan, candidate for Tukwila City Council Position No. 5, was in the midst of a frenzy of planning for what would later be dubbed “The World’s Largest Potluck.” We were trying to figure out how best to spread the word about the potluck to communities not represented during the planning stages and to ensure that all communities felt embraced by the event. More than many of us, he understood the importance of representation at community events. He sat listening with a calm, patient smile, casually mentioning a few other community representatives and organizations that we could reach out to for collaboration. “This guy is rooted,” I thought – grounded in Tukwila and in the various communities who call it home.

My roots in Tukwila are new. Seven years ago, I moved to Seattle from Michigan and started volunteering with the International Rescue Committee. Every Tuesday and Thursday. I rode my bicycle from Wedgwood to Tukwila to teach English and employment skills to refugees at The Church by the Side of the Road. I fell in love with the city – and one of its local residents – and moved here a year later. By then, I was organizing labor with the UFCW and was starting up an internship with a Community Development Corporation in the International District. Seeing a need for better housing protection, food access and living wage jobs, I decided to pursue a spot on Tukwila’s Planning Commission and immerse myself in local politics. Eventually, my path crossed with Zak’s. And then it kept happening.

Zak sat next to me at a table in the Foster High School cafeteria as we spoke with local business leaders and entrepreneurs about partnering to start food trucks in Tukwila. He spoke with me about ballot initiatives while learning about the complexities of the affordable housing crisis and how to protect our residents from rising rents and stagnating incomes; and now that I’m a clinical supervisor with Downtown Emergency Service Center, he reached out to me to learn about homelessness and mental health services, public safety concerns and encampments.

He was sitting in the back of the room during the first installment of Confluence Tukwila, where residents came together to share their stories of arrival in Tukwila.

Zak Idan is rooted. He has strong ties to this city, but more than that, he’s grounded in himself. What I’ve seen of his character embodies the ethics of what I love in this city: compassion, honesty, heart, resiliency. I don’t know if Zak and I will align on every issue, but given our common trajectories, I know that we align enough. What’s most important to me is that he is resolute in his commitment to our residents – all of them. As someone who works with the most vulnerable populations, I know the importance of being with the people I serve and help them find and use their innate power. Zak seeks everyone’s voice, and he works to make sure that they know how to make that voice shine. That’s why he has my vote for City Council Position No. 5, and why he should have your vote, too.

– Cassandra Hunter


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