by msjones msjones

On January 11th at noon, a number of tech and innovation workers from across the community gathered in an Amazon conference room – both to engage with each other, and to hear some of their State Representatives talk about Democratic Caucus priorities for the upcoming legislative session. The session was purposefully modest – no fancy presentations, giant banners, or tv cameras. The Lunch & Learn was simply that: have some food and engage in a dialogue.

Representatives Lauren Davis (District 32), Nicole Macri (District 43), and Noel Frame (District 36) were on hand in part to talk with their constituents. But underneath that was, we think, a real desire to hear from Seattle’s sometimes “elusive” innovation economy worker. Our ilk has grown rapidly over the past decade and while policymakers and elected officials know we are here, they don’t always know how to find venues where they can offer thoughts and receive important input. CEO Nicholas Merriam and Amazon executive Eileen Sullivan led the conversation which included a broad range of topics, providing these Democratic Representatives an opportunity to highlight their priorities, especially the “must address” issues for the upcoming session. As they spoke a few themes emerged:

  1. Mental health and addiction have a domino effect across the community. They noted these issues exacerbated already challenging problems and must be stemmed using more aggressive services as well as more funding to support these services.
  2. Updating laws to reflect current technology. While the companies across Seattle and the state may be at the cutting edge, the state government is not. Specifically, Rep. Frame noted that many of the current laws have not kept pace and there is a real need to connect the ubiquity of today’s devices, services and uses with how law enforcement and others intersect with the private, public and personal arenas.
  3. Affordability was an overarching theme specific to lower- and moderate-income residents. It included affordable housing, childcare, healthcare, and student debt. Rep. Macri noted they specifically plan to push on housing policy throughout the session.

Following their moderated conversation, audience members asked a few questions. They only had time to discuss two of them: 1) What can we do to promote a more progressive tax structure? and 2) Public safety and security in areas like Ballard feels in decline. What can we do about it?

Attendees were encouraged to reach out to their own representatives if they supported a more progressive tax system while Ballard public safety was more of a Seattle City Council question – yet they also gave both personal and policy guidance to the questioner.

Following the event, many participants had a chance to ask one-on-one questions with the Representatives. Participants left knowing more, at a deeper level about what some of their elected officials are going to prioritize and how they could support those issues if they wanted too. This is what is all about.

Our next member exclusive Lunch & Learn will be at Vulcan on February 1st where we will talk to experts about educational funding including McCleary and the upcoming Seattle School Levies.

Member exclusive events, like these, are just one benefit of becoming a member. To learn more about how your company can join, visit our membership page.