Nikkita Oliver officially launched her mayoral campaign Sunday with a call for social justice in Seattle.
A prominent activist, attorney and spoken-word artist, 31-year-old Oliver is one of mayor Ed Murray's most high-profile challengers. At her launch party Sunday, she promised a grassroots campaign and is backed by The Peoples Party of Seattle—a new Seattle-centric independent group that focuses on community grassroots activism and refuses corporate donations.
“Running for mayor is one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. It is not a choice I make lightly,” Oliver said. “I ask you to hold me accountable. I ask you to challenge me when I'm not transparent and if you have to, publicly call me out because that is the right thing to do.”
Oliver's presence in the Black Lives Matter and No New Youth Jail movements has made her one of the incumbent's most high-profile challengers. City council member Kshama Sawant spoke in support of Oliver at her launch party, which hit the building's capacity at 700 attendees.
But she still faces an uphill battle financially against Murray, the city's first openly gay mayor who was elected in an upset in 2013 against incumbent Mike McGinn. Oliver has so far raised nearly $16,000 since she announced her candidacy in early March, according to the Peoples Party. Murray has raised $306,000, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission.
Oliver is expected to attract the most liberal voters of Seattle, and her launch party looked more like an artist's collective than a start to a campaign—a direct reflection of her image as a creative teacher and 2015 SPS Grand Slam spoken-word champion. Live cultural displays, dance routines from local youth, and acoustic guitar performances preluded Oliver’s speech.
Oliver said she believes “injustice anywhere is still injustice everywhere" and largely focused on the racial and economic injustices surrounding Seattle.
She made the following points in her opening speech:
-She criticized Murray’s state of emergency regarding homelessness and said there have been no improvements. She calls for more housing, access to 24-hour shelters, and more permanent housing options that provide aid to assist people long term.
-Seattle should be harder on developers and demand they invest back into the city with rent control and affordable housing. “As much as we are for density, we must also be anti-displacement.”
-Public transportation must keep up with continuous development, and it must remain affordable because Seattle residents depend on it.
-Mayoral control has no place in school districts, but city government needs to ensure that school districts have the tools to succeed.
-Seattle needs an expanded community-based policing commission.
-Seattle should be in pursuit of no youth detention. She's been a leader in the fight against King County's new youth jail and a new police station in the North Precinct. She said Seattle needs to deal with “a broken system, not broken children.”