Rotary Speech 2020


My recent speech at the Rotary meeting in Vancouver, I wanted to share with you since so many could not attend.

I grew up in south Chicago, one of 9 children. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Science in Water Resources and Biology. My wife Kathie and I have been married 28 years and have raised our 6 children here in Washington.I spent 12 years protecting the environment with the Department of Fish and Wildlife. I am currently a Peace Officer in Vancouver and have been for about 23 years. My entire career I have been a union member.

I am deeply involved with the Vancouver Community, by honoring our veterans, housing the homeless, protecting families against Domestic Violence, supporting our military, honoring our High School students who have heroically volunteered for service in the Armed Forces and securing jobs and services for those in need.

I ran a non-profit where we developed processes to help women caught up in abusive relationships, developed projects to involve the faith community in helping solve community problems and developing Emergency Triage protocols in case of an emergency.

I worked with the NAACP on the “rights of passage” project which mentored children in high risk groups. They learned about the outdoors, the environment, a career and more. They learned how to become victors, not victims.

I am the right person for a time such as this who can bridge the divide between race and police reform, as well as being qualified to make laws concerning our environment.

Many people are concerned about unarmed black people being shot by cops. Since I have experience policing, let me speak to that for a moment. Statistics show otherwise, it’s a false narrative. In 2019 only 10 people of color were shot by cops, 8 of those incidents involved the perpetrator violently attacking the officer or trying to get control of the officers weapon and after investigation were deemed lawful. Out of 800,000 officers in the US and Millions of engagements, only 2 were found to be crimes and those officers were prosecuted.

During that same time period, twice as many unarmed white people were shot by police. Let me be clear: No police brutality is acceptable. No one hates bad cops more than good cops. Can we do better? Of course we can, in any position there is room for improvement and I support additional training as well as mental health experts working along side police to mitigate non-violent issues.

I will never support the insanity of reducing police budgets because it hurts the poorest and traditionally people of color the most. It’s usually rich, self-important policy-wonks who think that’s a good idea, because they are in their safe nice neighborhoods away from the crime.

Tell a single black mother living near the poverty line that police won’t be around to protect what little she has, or be there to discourage violence in her neighborhood. That’s the reality of this ridiculous fantasy. The only people who want fewer police, are those planning to commit crimes and their ignorant well-off accomplices.

There are a great deal of wonderful things our police do for the community. We have a program called PAL, the Police Activities League where we read to children, and bring our police toys, the bomb truck, swat vehicle and kids get to see our equipment and see what we do. There was a little girl who went to a teacher and said it was the most exciting day of her life!

I know Rotary does great things for the community, so let me share with you some of the things near and dear to my heart, because I think they are the same things we all care about. I have worked a great many years not only mentoring youth, but helping people get off the streets.

Like you, I don’t just sit on a committee doling out dollars or making up policy that I think will “help” those in need. I am on the front lines, doing the dirty work.
I’m fluent in Spanish, so I have been helping new Americans who don’t speak English get the resources they need. Even if it means I take it there myself.

I personally know hundreds of unhoused citizens, helping them find housing and other help depending on their situation. I’m in the trenches with those most in need. And it’s my passion.

So I created the NET program, Neighborhood Excellence Team that brings together stakeholders, job creators, mental health experts, addiction counselors, and health care providers who are there in real time to help the most marginalized in need.

People can get a job interview immediately, or find housing or food. This program costs nothing to the taxpayer because it consists of stakeholders who WANT to help. Every community has great people like this. I’m looking at some of them now.

We can create a scalable model for every county in this state to emulate for little or no money because it involves community leaders who want to help their home become a safer and more livable place for everyone. They are usually already doing the work, or have the funding whether it’s a local church, or non-profit. They just need to get connected.

Now I won’t bore you with transportation issues, or covid shut downs and how it’s destroying our economy. Or about how when I get into office, I’ll commit to reducing the absolute power of the governor, work to reduce the tax burden on small business or fight against a state income tax so many in the majority are excited to push on us.

So I just want to thank you for this opportunity.

I believe Southwest Washington is the greatest place to live, that’s why I moved here over 35 years ago and my wife and I raised our kids here. A healthy economy is the quickest way to lift people out of poverty. We must get our economy moving again, with all the emergency equipment needs easily met at our hospitals, I believe we can safely do that now.

  • With economic uncertainty, more people are finding themselves unhoused. I have a long history of helping many of these people directly, with my NET program. I know their names personally and have found them the resources they need to lift up out of poverty. I’m on the front lines, making a difference.
  • Safety is what encourages businesses to invest in a town and people to move there, growing the tax base and creating a thriving community. I’ve seen this working on the waterfront, many out of state visitors marvel at our clean city. I tell them we do it by showing compassion to those in need, holding them accountable for their actions.
  • I believe people have a right to decide for themselves the right kind of health care, and education is best for them. With remote education, we realize we can reimagine education services and improve on WIFI access for students as well as the Deaf community.

There has never been a black man elected to the State Senate in Washington. I hope to be the first. Not just because I’m black, but as your state senator I will ease the heavy hand of beaurocracy on businesses in the 49th. That’s why I’m running. The true voice of the people of the 49th has not been heard.

We need a solid voice in support of our law enforcement, not the failed Seattle or Portland model of handicapping police and “reimagining” how police respond to criminals and violence.

We need someone who has and is working with the homeless, many forced out of their homes by the increase in cost of housing, due to policies and legislation which increase building costs.

I will work to stop these continuous tax increases cleverly hidden in legislation reportedly to “protect” our environment.

My winning strategy works to draw all Democrats, Independents, and Republicans into a unified force to serve the people of the 49th.

The strategy is people, where we invest in workers and communities.

The planet, where we act as responsible stewards of our resources.

And performance, where we create an atmosphere of economic growth through dynamic innovation.

I am the right person for a time such as this, with racial tension and police uncertainty I am the most qualified to bridge the gap and be making legislation on these issues. I can handle solutions for inequities in our justice system and ensure justice for all.

I am also the most qualified to be making laws concerning our environment as the only candidate with a degree in Water Resources and Biology with a 12 year career in the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

I hope you’ll join me and show the world that in Washington, a kid from Chicago can grow up to be an environmental scientist, peace officer, and State Senator.