Capitol Hill’s new representative in Olympia set to work on housing, school funding, Trump worries

The big tent -- Macri talks with Capitol Hill Community Council's Zachary DeWolf (Image: CHS)

The big tent — Macri talks with Capitol Hill Community Council’s Zachary DeWolf in the early days of her campaign (Image: CHS)

First Nicole Macri won the primary election for the 43rd District House seat.

Then she won the general election over lawyer Dan Shih, taking about 65% of the vote.

Now she’s preparing for her start in a seat in the legislature that she says comes with a lot of responsibility.

“I’m excited and I feel like we ran a great campaign and I had a lot of great engagement with voters in the 43rd District,” Macri told CHS in an interview before the Thanksgiving holiday.

As she prepares for the session beginning on January 9th, 2017, Macri knows there’s a learning curve for newcomers, but she’s excited to work.

Affordable housing and homelessness are two topics Macri hopes to focus on as well as helping the state find compromises to meet the demands of the McCleary decision and working on health care access and civil rights.

One issue related to homelessness that Macri said needs to be addressed this session is the real estate document recording fee that is the primary revenue for homelessness response and set to end in 2019. If it’s not addressed in 2017, funding for 2018 could be disrupted because of how the contract is laid out.

She wants to make sure the recording fee doesn’t sunset and wants to see if revenue can be increased. Another focus for Macri will be creating affordable housing outside of the private market, possibly on state-owned properties.

Housing and homelessness issues are Macri’s area of expertise. She has served as the deputy director of the Downtown Emergency Services Center and president of the Board of Directors of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance. Macri will continue working with DESC in some capacity but plans to take time off during the legislative session.

Macri is an 11-year Capitol Hill resident and was born in New York City. She attended Rutgers University in New Jersey, where she met her partner of 23 years, Deb Cayz. The couple moved to Seattle together in 1999.

With Donald Trump preparing to take over the presidency, Macri said some constituents have contacted her about concerns protecting the rights of immigrants, Muslims, and transgender people. Many have asked about losing health insurance, access to care, and abortion rights.

“We have good protections in Washington state on all of those issues, but there will be opportunities, I think for the state legislature to make sure we protect that,” Macri said.

The 43rd District seat has been a leader on LGBTQ issues both at the state level and nationally. Now Macri said she believes the LGBTQ community will be focusing on transgender rights.

Macri said Brady Walkinshaw, who left the 43rd District seat open when he decided to run for the 7th Congressional District seat, is leaving “big shoes to fill.”

In the short time Walkingshaw was in the legislature, Macri said he set a good example of how to work with both parties.

In the end, education funding will be the top issue facing legislators in Olympia in 2017 as the State Supreme Court is breathing down the neck of legislators to meet the demands of the McCleary decision which found the state was not adequately funding public schools.

“The public school funding is going to be the biggest,” Macri said of the issues ahead for her in Olympia.

Given nearly even party splits in both the House and Senate, working to solve McCleary will likely continue to be a challenge, she said.

Macri feels strongly that to meet the State Supreme Court’s mandate to fully fund public schools, new taxes are necessary. She would like to close some tax exemptions and implement a capital gains tax.

“It is clear that our state budget is both insufficient and the revenue that we do collect, the taxes that we collect are highly regressive,” Macri said.

 

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