The GSBA Blog


  • 2022 Labor Laws and You

    by River Teslar, Business Training Specialist
    | Feb 14, 2022
     
    2022 has arrived and with it comes the annual changes to labor laws and regulations! If you're an employer, there's no time like the present to make sure you're ready to take on whatever challenges 2022 has in store. There are some updates that are relevant to all Washington State businesses, and some that are particular to only those in Seattle proper. 

    Washington State 
    There are changes to some alcohol to-go ordinances. The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) announced liquor licensees will need to apply for new endorsements to continue to-go alcohol sales after January 1. 

    The Legislature passed E2SHB 1480 last session which allows alcohol to-go sales through June 30, 2023! However the additional permanent rules filed by the LCB mean that restaurant licensees for spirits, beer and wine will need to apply for three separate endorsements to continue selling the products allowed for sale. 

    Licensees will need to apply for a Factory Sealed Containers endorsement, Cocktail Kits/Premixed Drinks/Wine To-Go endorsement and a Growlers endorsement. 

    City of Seattle 
    The Seattle Office of Labor Standards announced that the minimum wage for workers in the city of Seattle in 2022 is $17.27/hour, marking a 58-cent increase from the previous year. For small employers with 500 or fewer employees that pay medical benefits or where tips exceed $1.52/hour, the new minimum wage is $15.75/hour. 

    If you’re a delivery lover, you may have noticed this next change already: restaurants in Seattle will no longer be able to provide single-use service ware by default. If you’re a collector of plastic forks, you'll have to start specifically requesting them.  

    2022 also brings with it an updated workplace poster employers are required to display. You can find that here. You can access all available workplace posters here. This poster must be 11x17, displayed in a noticeable area at the workplace, and in English and any other languages your employees speak. If you don’t have access to a printer you can contact me directly via email, I’d be happy to bring one by! 

    What Now? 
    If any of this feels daunting or a tough to parse, GSBA is here to help! We provide complimentary labor law consults and a whole host of other complimentary services for business owners listed here. Feel free to email me at rivert@thegsba.org if you have any questions or schedule an appointment with me

  • 2022 Legislative Update: Nearly Halfway There!

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Feb 14, 2022
     
    Tuesday (tomorrow) is the last day for bills in Olympia to pass out of their chamber of origin (the House or the Senate). After that, they have until March 4 to pass the opposite chamber. Some bills have already passed both chambers and have been signed by the Governor. While GSBA has a number of endorsed bills continuing to wind through the legislative process, there are also a few that are now officially dead.

    What has already been signed?
    Certain high-priority legislation has already been signed into law by Governor Inslee. This includes the delay to the Washington Cares Act and final redistricting maps.

    What is still moving?
    For bills related to the LBGTQ+ community, GSBA continues to support the progress of HB 1956 (exempting sensitive records from public disclosure) and HN 1961 (waiving fees for name changes for low-income Washingtonians).  

    The Equitable Access to Credit Act (HB 1015) passed the House a few weeks ago, and we hope to see it enacted to help provide grants to CDFIs for investing in entrepreneurs from historically underserved communities. Updates to the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (SB 5649) are also on track, clarifying several conditions of the leave allowed.

    Several important bills around public safety and policing are advancing. Notably this includes a ban on high-capacity magazines (SB 5078) passing a Legislative chamber for the first time. HB 1735, which clarifies last year's law on use of force by police, is moving quickly with support from the WA Coalition for Police Accountability, the ACLU, police organizations, and the WA Council for Behavioral Health. Additionally, attempts to ban weapons at municipal meetings (HB 1630), minimizing the use of solitary confinement (HB 1756), and creating new rules around police hiring (HB 5089) are moving forward.

    Other bills that GSBA has endorsed that are making progress include HB 1782 to legalize multiunit homes near major transit stops, SB 5597 to update the WA Voting Rights Act, HB 1659 to create bridge grants for Washington College Grant students, and SB 5553 relating to STEM metrics in early learning.

    What is dead?
    Two of our biggest disappointments this year are the failure of HB 1730 (infertility treatment coverage) and SB 5551 (Medicaid coverage for HIV drugs) to advance out of their respective committees. These were both priorities for many LGBTQ+ organizations and advocates, and we will continue to push for these important changes next year.

    Bills to create independent investigations of police (HB 1507), prohibiting weapons at elections offices (HB 1618), and a ban on assault weapons (SB 5217) are all unfortunately not advancing this year. 

    What's next?
    For all the bills that are still active, your legislators need to hear from you! You can find your three Legislators here and easily contact them to share your opinion.

  • GSBA Scholar Lash O'Cain talks unapologetic realness, self-wisdom, and active allyship

    by GSBA Staff
    | Feb 02, 2022

    In recognition of Black History Month, GSBA is working to amplify Black voices and histories by celebrating the undeniable impact Black LGBTQ+ activists have had on the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement, shed light on the specific intersection of Black and LGBTQ+ identities, and continue the crucial conversation about systemic racial injustice in Washington and around the globe. As a part of this work, several GSBA Scholars who identify as Black and LGBTQ+ have generously shared their stories, thoughts about intersectionality, what Black History means to them, and about what actions make for strong allyship. 

    Lash O'Cain, 3Three-Year GSBA Scholar Lashaunycee O'Cain (she/her) was raised in Seattle, WA and is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Cinema with a focus in Screenwriting at Columbia College Hollywood. Here, she plans to enlighten masses and any listening audience to spiritual wisdom and the importance of individual vision as well as the coming of age process through sexuality, beliefs and morals.

    GSBA: Can share with us some thoughts about intersectionality and what this has looked like for you?

    Lash: I'm in a constant process of learning to intersect every part of my being that I've had to separate in order to be/feel palatable to folks, and in that process I've rediscovered my silliness and how important it is to identify with my child-like qualities. I've always been a very serious young woman and along with that, a guarded one as well. In that reality where I “wasn't Black enough” or to some acquaintances “too Black” and “too masculine” as a woman, I didn't realize that I was labeling myself, and because it was easier to label me before others could, I wasn't sure how to identify outside of the trauma that doing this caused. 

    Now, I feel very comfortable with being anything and everything all at once so that I can appreciate meeting new folks, and be grateful for even having simple conversations. Living in an era where everyone wants to be a part of something and therefore conforms to whatever is trending by the day, it gets hard to remember that genuine relationships [starting with ourselves] are more valuable than strangers who like that you made them laugh on their endless social media scroll. 

    GSBA: In what ways would you like to see people honoring Black lives, histories, and experiences throughout the year, and not just in February?

    Lash: I would love to see others choose to bring awareness to our existence all the time and not only when our existence is being threatened. I’d ask that folks shadow us daily with their academic findings, their allyship, their business opportunities; offer the remembrance of our presence when we're in the room not by asking for our input as folks of colors or as queer folk, but simply as people. 

    We have separate experiences as individuals and while being Black and queer often has a chain of events we all encounter at one point or another, wisdom comes from anyone. That wisdom often comes from a deeper place and sticks when it's not always applied to the facets of our identity that the world oppresses us for. No Black queer person wants to spend their time explaining to folks that they’re Black and queer, trying to pluck heart strings. We want our presence to be treated just as naturally as any other occurrence rather than as a token for discussion. 

    GSBA: As a Black LGBTQ+ person, what does Pride embody for you? What doesLash O'Cain, 1 this look like in your daily life?

    Lash:
    Lately, Pride has been embodied for me with my showing of skin. I'm not often dressed promiscuously or even just in tighter clothing but I've been releasing my shame by allowing my stretch marks to slip out of my crop top because I'm proud of my weight loss and the way it looks on my skin. I'm learning how not to hate the shades of my skin that darken more than the lighter shades. It's a reality that as long as I've avoided it, this has kept me far away from understanding how I wish to express myself as a Black woman, how sexy I feel, and what pride means to me. 

    If I'm not one with my body, not much else will work for me and that's been learnt by repeated experience. For a long while I was hyper aware of my weight and body shape; being a full-figured Black girl in middle and high school left me in limbo about how I wanted to express myself versus how I thought societal norms wanted to view me. It wasn't until I resolved that no one lives in this body but me that I took responsibility for how I present myself. Whatever way I choose to be must make me happy and proud to be breathing at any given moment.

    GSBA: Representation matters. Who are some of your Black and/or Black LGBTQ+ heroes and why?

    Lash: Each day I feel I'm becoming more familiar with how other folks are accepting that the past can only offer us so much for the way we present ourselves now, and I've had to come to terms with realizing I've been my biggest hero for a while. Whenever I wanted to admit this, I felt arrogant rather than grateful, because I didn't realize there aren't many folks able to help themselves in order to help others. 

    Our world needs to be better filled with folks who are willing to learn to be self-sufficient emotionally and mentally rather than just economically; when becoming more aware of ourselves and our needs and expectations we find it easier to connect outside of ourselves, even if those connections may not come quickly. 

    Through those solid connections we make in spirit, we create an energy around our life forces that free us from this toxic independence that has festered in Black lineages. Independence is necessary, but never required. When we know who we are we know what we need and there's nothing wrong with needing to be alone to realize we don't have to be alone. We must advocate for the generations coming after us by making the most of our current moments. There's all this pressure to be astute and in constant movement, but getting caught up in it leaves little time for us to develop our own mottos on life. 

    That said, I believe in Lena Waithe and Janelle Monae who have taken Hollywood by the ears with their unapologetic expressions of Black queerness and pure talent.


    February is Black History Month, and we encourage all GSBA community members to celebrate Black lives, culture, and history not only this month - but all year long.
     
    Community members can also take action by investing in regional organizations who work to address institutionalized racism, empower Black communities, and ensure that Black histories are never forgotten. Please consider investing and getting involved in regional Black-led organizations like POCAANUrban League of Metropolitan Seattle, Lavender Rights ProjectBlack Lives Matter Seattle - King County, NW African American Museum, NAACP Snohomish County, and NAACP Seattle King County.

    You can also dine and shop intentionally by supporting the Black-owned small businesses in our community. Check out this guide by GSBA member Intentionalist of Black-owned businesses throughout the Puget Sound, including several GSBA members.

    Additionally, you can diversify your intake of news and information by following GSBA member Converge Media, a Black-led news media organization that centers and amplifies stories of Black community in the Pacific Northwest and around the country.

  • WA Cares Payroll Tax Delayed

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Jan 28, 2022
     
    After a speedy passage in the Legislature, Governor Inslee signed House Bills 1732 and 1733 into law, thereby delaying implementation of the WA Cares Fund, also know as the Long Term Care Act. Addressing concerns about this program were some of the most debated in the run-up to the legislative session.

    The two bills do the following:
    • Delay the start date for premium assessments to July 1, 2023
    • Delay the start date for benefits to July 1, 2026
    • Allow people born before Jan. 1, 1968 to receive partial benefits
    • Require refund of premiums collected before July 1, 2023
    • Establish exemptions from premiums for certain veterans, spouses of military service members, non-immigrant temporary workers, and employees who work in Washington but live out-of-state.
    What does this mean for the payroll deductions collected by businesses?
    The primary concern of many businesses was over the collection of a payroll deduction for a program whose viability was being questioned last year and what to do in the event of a delay after the implementation deadline (as has happened).

    The original law, signed in 2019, designated a 0.58% premium on employees' wages (approximately $290 per year for someone earning $50,000), to be collected by their employer through payroll deductions and then remitted to the Employment Security Department. The collection of this premium was set to begin on January 1 of this year. Now with the delay enacted, collection has been paused until July 2023.

    The Employment Security Office has the following recommendations for employers:
    • Stop withholding WA Cares Fund premiums from employee earnings
    • Reimburse employees for WA Cares premiums within 120 days of the date premiums were collected
    • Continue to maintain copies of exemption approval letters for workers who have provided them

    What has not changed?
    Self-employed people, sole proprietors, independent contractors, partners or joint venturers may still elect to participate in the program. Once they elect coverage, they may not withdraw from coverage.

    At this time it does not appear that the window for an exemption by purchasing private long term care insurance was extended. Therefore, if an opt-out was not secured by the original deadline of October 31, 2021, there is no more opportunity to get one unless the legislature takes further action. As a reminder, employers are responsible for keeping track of any employees who were successful in opting-out of the program.

    What's next?

    GSBA will continue to monitor the implementation of the WA Cares Fund and how it impacts our members. The Legislature may address other concerns about funding and implementation in the coming year and a half. You can learn more about WA Cares Fund, program changes, and implementation on their website.


  • What to expect in the 2022 Legislative Session

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Jan 18, 2022

     
    The 2022 Legislative Session is just 60 days, but there is a lot on the schedule. Some of the major topic areas and specific bills that GSBA's Policy Council is monitoring are as follows:

    LGBTQ+ Issues
    GSBA has already endorsed bills that would mandate insurance coverage of infertility treatments, including for LGBTQ+ families (HB 1730), mandating Medicaid coverage for all HIV medications approved by the federal FDA (SB 5551), and protecting sensitive information of incarcerated transgender and gender-diverse people from public disclosure (HB 1956). There is also an effort to give courts the authority to waives fees for name changes (HB 1961). In the budget, there are requests for funding of LGBTQ+ senior housing and a study on the decriminalization of sex work. We are keeping an eye on additional anti-transgender bills, though we do not expect them to proceed very far this year due to the pro-LGBTQ+ majority in current leadership.

    Small Business Issues
    Economic support for struggling small businesses remains at the forefront of our advocacy priorities this year. We are working to ensure that federal assistance dollars are allocated to the communities that need them the most, and that those dollars actually reach their intended targets. Additionally we are monitoring the delay of the Long Term Care Act and its mandatory employer deductions and implementation (HB 1732), and programs to develop broadband networks. 

    Education Issues
    As with the GSBA Scholarship & Education Fund, there is a proposal in the Legislature to create bridge grants for students receiving the Washington College Grant scholarships to help with expenses beyond tuition (HB 1659), as well as efforts to increase outreach around the availability of the Washington College Grant program (HB 1835). There are additional efforts to clarify and strengthen the Fair Start for Kids bill that we endorsed last year, including SB 5553's efforts to strengthen the definition of "quality child care." GSBA is additionally looking into efforts to support apprenticeships and career/college pathways.

    Policing & Safety Issues
    Much of the work accomplished last year was just the starting point. There are a few bills introduced last year which continue to be considered by the Legislature, including independent prosecutions of police criminal conduct (HB 1507) and rules around the hiring and certification of police officers (SB 5089). Additionally, there are important gun control measures such as a ban on high-capacity magazines (SB 5078), prohibiting guns at local government meetings and elections offices (HB 1630 and HB 1618)

    GSBA's Policy Council meets weekly to discuss potential positions on legislation. Other areas that we are investigating include voting rights, housing affordability, and transportation.

    GSBA's 2022 legislative agenda and bill tracker are always available on our Advocacy page. You can learn more about any legislation by searching by bill number here.

    You may be interested in some of the work of our partner organizations:
    - Business for America (voting rights)
    Legal Voice (gender equality and LGBTQ+ rights)
    - Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (racial equity)
    - Ventures (equity in entrepreneurship)
    Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility (gun control)
    Washington LGBTQ Commission (LGBTQ+ issues)
    Washington STEM (equity in education)
     


  • EQUALUX - TASTE of GSBA makes a triumphant return, raising over $610,000 for the GSBA Scholarship Fund

    by Mark Rosén, GSBA Acting President & CEO
    | Nov 22, 2021
    To each and every guest who brought their vaccination cards and diligently masked-up throughout the night and to every donor who tuned-in online from home, thank you, thank you, thank you!
     
    With your help, we raised over $610,000 Saturday night to benefit the GSBA Scholarship Fund!
     
    equalux_03Many coinciding factors made this year's hybrid EQUALUX a celebration unlike any we've had before, with both an in person and a virtual option. The pandemic hasn't made it easy to have a night like Saturday night, surrounded by friends old and new, chosen families, and other loved ones, coming together as one to support the future of LGBTQ+ students. We are so thankful to have such generous, dedicated, and thoughtful community members who, time after time, show up for GSBA Scholars - whether that was in person or virtually.
     
    If you missed the event, there's still time to donate and show your support for our scholars. Click here to invest in our future LGBTQ+ leaders. 

    Royalty led us into the ballroom, as the Imperial Sovereign Court of Seattle proudly paraded to the stage where they were joined by viral sensation, Mila Jam, singing the most apropos version of dance classic “It’s Raining Them,” celebrating the richness of our diverse LGBTQ+ community. The evening was led by our two fabulous emcees Ellen Meny and Gaysha Starr who brought wit, humor, and - most of all - heart.
     
    This year's event took place on an important day for our community: Transgender Day of Remembrance. Gaysha and GSBA Scholar Ro Boyce shared their personal experiences and visions for a better future, including asking the audience to actively stand up for the transgender and gender-diverse community every day. Ro led our Scholars in a remembrance of community members who've been murdered because of their identity. You can learn more about combatting anti-trans violence, the intersections of racism and transphobia, and active allyship here.
     
    Planning a gala during a global pandemic is no small task and that’s what makes theequalux_18 contributions of everyone who helped make this year’s EQUALUX possible so enormous. We could not have had such a successful event without our Title Sponsor Car Pros Kia, and our Scholar Cohort Champion Salesforce, Presenting Sponsor Premera, Student Empowerment Sponsor Symetra, and Event Sponsors Alaska Airlines, Amazon, DML Insurance, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley, The Westin Seattle; and Science & Innovation Virtual Sponsor Fred Hutch.
     
    EQUALUX has become renowned for featuring top-tier LGBTQ+ performing artists, thanks to the creative vision of EQUALUX producers, Jared Michael Brown and Paul Flanagan. We owe a huge thanks to our dedicated EQUALUX Co-Chairs Masoud Torabi and Eve Hwang who brought visionary leadership and passion. Thank you to the wineries of SODO Urbanworks, who provided the world class wines to accompany our dinner: Structure Cellars, Rotie Cellars, Latta Wines, Kerloo Cellars, Sleight of Hand Cellars, Old World Tasting Room, Nine Hats Wines, and Patterson Cellars.
     
    Special thank you to GSBA Programs Manager Carlos Chavez and GSBA Sr. Development Officer Jeff Boyer who worked tirelessly on planning the GSBA Scholarship Fund’s biggest night as a hybrid event, redesigning every element. Our hats are off to the wonderful staff of The Westin Seattle, who walked with us step-by-step through the planning process and made sure that our guests felt safe and welcome throughout the night.
     
    If you missed the event, you can watch an abbreviated version here! (Some performances have not been included).

    Thank you to the Beeks Family Foundation for the creation of a new endowed fund with a $100K gift. The generosity of several donors inspired others to dig deep. Special mention to Jay Petterson and Michael Mattmiller, Carrie Carson, Puget Sound Energy, Kurt Kruckeberg, Roz Edison, Kevin Spratt, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, Carolyn Ockels, Steve King, Roz Edison, and Lori Dugdale, who gave so generously.
     
    The success of the GSBA Scholarship Fund wouldn't be possible without our outstanding Board of Directors, led by Board Chair Jay Petterson, and their contributions to the Annual Leadership Matching Fund. A special thank you goes to Masoud Torabi for his magnificent leadership as Scholarship Fund Chair.
     
    equalux_16We'd also like to thank our Supporting Sponsors Boeing, Google, Liberty Mutual Insurance and Safeco Insurance, Pacific Medical Centers, and Precision Garage Door Service; Voice of Scholarship InterChange Media Arts Productions; our wine district wineries Aluel Cellars, Elsom Cellars, Goose Ridge Estate Winery, and Nota Bene Cellars; and our caterers Taylor Shellfish, Mamnoon, and D Squared. We’d also like to thank our Event Photographers Nate Gowdy and Malcom Smith, Design Partner Enjoli Izidor, Print Sponsor Girlie Press, DJ Seattle Parties, and Floral Sponsor Sal Floral Design.
     
    Most importantly, from the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank you - our guests - for helping make this year's EQUALUX such an outpouring of community love and hope.
     
    If you were not able to join us Saturday night, there's still time to show your support by making a year-end gift to the GSBA Scholarship Fund. If there was ever a time we needed community and support for small businesses and access to education, it is now. If you haven't done so, please renew your GSBA membership for 2022. If you are not yet a member, we invite your to join us in 2022. Together, we all thrive.
     
    For equality,
     
    Mark Rosén (he/him)
    GSBA Acting President & CEO
  • Get to know Kamryn Kurtzner, GSBA's Scholarship & Education Program Manager!

    by GSBA Staff
    | Nov 12, 2021

    IMG_3109After working in higher education for the past five years, Kamryn Kurtzner (she/they) is delighted to join the GSBA team as the Scholarship & Education Fund Program Manager.

    Kamryn was raised in a small town in Northern Michigan and completed her undergraduate degree from Alma College in Music Composition and Creative Writing. As an undergraduate she was heavily involved on campus with Alpha Gamma Delta International Fraternity and served as her chapter’s first openly lesbian president. After graduation, she quickly began her student affairs journey with the University of North Texas as a sorority house director and, at the same time, she founded the first LGBTQIA+ affinity group for sorority members to find support, resources, and to serve as a collective voice for members in regards to policy and programming. This affinity group is now the oldest and largest LGBTQIA+ affinity group for an individual organization with over 500 members and informs policy change for the international organization.

    After Texas, Kamryn moved to California to work alongside the second female Dean of Engineering at Stanford University. While working at Stanford, she continued her involvement with Alpha Gamma Delta International Fraternity and became a founding member of the international Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee for the fraternity. This involvement led her to pursue her Master’s in Education, with a focus in higher education and social justice, from Boston University.

    At the end of 2019, Kamryn moved to Seattle and briefly worked in marketing at the University of Washington before transitioning to her most recent role as an academic advisor for the College of Arts & Sciences. While working for the University of Washington, Kamryn was appointed as the Chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee for Alpha Gamma Delta and co-founded an educational consulting team that focuses on anti-oppression curriculum and implementing strategic disruption for sorority and fraternity organizations.

    Kamryn was introduced to the GSBA through her involvement as a scholarship interview volunteer two years ago and has been smitten with the GSBA Scholarship & Education Fund's mission and vision ever since. She feels that her position as Scholarship & Education Program Manager combines her life’s work as a volunteer, advocate, and activist with her professional work as an educator, advisor, and program manager in a way she didn’t know possible. Throughout her life she’s held the belief that education equals opportunity and Kamryn feels honored to serve the LGBTQIA+ community through this role, understanding that our community has long been underserved in regards to education. She is particularly excited about creating more opportunities for leadership and storytelling skills-building, shaping the scholar alumni network, and increasing non-traditional education/career pathway visibility to the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole.

    Outside of work, Kamryn volunteers as a kitchen lead at Teen Feed, a Seattle-based food service provider for unsheltered youth, and hosts a meal team bi-monthly with her wife. She enjoys writing and is a published poet with work featured in The Lavender Review and Rat’s Ass Review. When not working or volunteering you can find Kamryn at the theatre enjoying a performance or at home trying a new recipe. If you'd like to connect with Kamryn and share ideas to benefit GSBA Scholars, contact her here!


  • Welcome River Teslar, GSBA's new Business Training Specialist!

    by GSBA Staff
    | Nov 04, 2021

    MicrosoftTeams-imageRiver (she/her) is thrilled to join GSBA as a new Business Training Specialist. She has already so enjoyed getting to meet GSBA members and is excited to work with such a variety of businesses! 

    River is a spirited advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, and is looking forward to bringing her warmth and encouraging nature to business education and growth. She believes in giving people the tools they need to thrive, and creating spaces where community can blossom. She grew up in Richland, Texas (a town of just two hundred people!) and went to music school as a vocal major in nearby Corsicana, Texas. During River's college years, she won a singer-songwriter competition, sang in several choirs, and began playing regular local shows with her band. She also became involved in community work, and is proud to have helped organize two successful annual fundraisers for the International Justice Mission to combat human-trafficking.

    Regardless of the field, River has always loved working directly with people – in many customer service roles, four years as a pharmacy technician, and most recently as a catering server for FareStart. She was excited about getting more involved in the background of nonprofit work, and when the pandemic halted catering, River appreciated learning about operations, and was delighted by the community connections she made working in the emergency meals program.

    River moved to Seattle in 2017 to transition, and found an amazing community of friends and chosen family. A consummate food enthusiast, she spends her free time finding new restaurants and cooking with her partner, as well as performing at open mics, hopping between her favorite local haunts, and enjoying walking around the beautiful East Capitol Hill neighborhood. River hopes to become a small business owner herself someday, and host community events and organizing.

    Say hi to River by emailing her here and learn about the many business consulting services GSBA offers here.


  • Redesigning WA's Tax Structure

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Sep 17, 2021
     

    The Washington State Legislature established the bi-partisan Tax Structure Work Group to identify options to make our tax code more equitable, adequate, stable, and transparent. The group is not looking to increase or decrease the total amount of tax money collected by the state, but rather examining the combination of tax types that generate the same amount of money. The group is looking at different types of taxes with the goal of improving Washington State's tax structure, and also does not involve local and federal taxes. After several years of research and outreach, the Work Group has a number of options to share with taxpayers. 

    In 2021, GSBA has held two editions of our Civic Engagement Series with the Tax Structure Work Group, both of which were recorded and can be viewed on-demand. In February, Dean Carlson (WA Dept. of Revenue) and Representative Noel Frame talked about the existing tax structure in Washington and the goal of the Tax Structure Work Group. In September, Work Group staff shared potential scenarios and the survey for small businesses to provide feedback.

    We encourage all our members to examine the potential scenarios and think about what would make the tax system more equitable, adequate, stable, and transparent. All scenarios are intended to be revenue-neutral, meaning they would not increase the total amount of tax collected by the state, but rather re-balance where that money comes from. Some scenarios involve:

    • changing the property tax limit factor
    • decrease property tax and add taxation of personal wealth
    • eliminating the Business & Occupation (B&O) tax and replacing it with some combination of a value-added tax (VAT), a margins tax, and/or an employer compensation tax
    • eliminating the B&O tax and lowering sales and property taxes by adding personal and corporate income taxes, which themselves could be either flat (one rate for everyone) or progressive (higher rates for higher incomes)
    More details on what these tax structures mean can be found in the recording of GSBA's September Civic Engagement series as well as in a series of upcoming regional town halls conducted by the Tax Structure Work Group. This series of virtual events allows any taxpayer - not just accountants or tax experts - to hear from the Work Group, ask questions, and explore the scenarios in an interactive context.

    Once you feel comfortable with the concepts involved, small business owners and entrepreneurs are invited to take a survey sharing their thoughts and ideas for these scenarios. They are looking to understand the views of taxpayers around Washington on how to improve our tax system. You can take the survey at TaxWorkGroup.org/survey.

    GSBA has often heard strong opinions about taxation from our membership - especially the B&O tax on gross receipts. This work offers a chance to reform that system, and we urge everyone to take the time to share their thoughts with the Tax Structure Work Group.


  • GSBA to carry on the legacy of Out In Front

    by Out In Front Board of Directors
    | Sep 17, 2021


    The following statement by the Out In Front Board of Directors was made on Sept. 14, 2021:

    Dear Out In Front Community,

    As we all chart our own paths out of a difficult and painful pandemic, Out in Front is changing the way it supports leadership development in the Pacific Northwest.  As of the end of this June, Out in Front ceased to function as an independent nonprofit. Out in Front is very excited to announce that it will be handing its carefully honed training materials to the GSBA to use in that organization’s work of leadership development.  The GSBA is a long-standing leader in the Puget Sound’s LGBTQ+ community and has encouraged the emergence of new leaders through its scholarship program. 

    GSBA has supported and partnered with Out in Front in various ways over the past decade. Our decision to offer the Out in Front training program to the GSBA did not come easily or lightly. After extensive reflection among board members, the board concluded that the GSBA is ideally positioned to bring Out in Front’s training mission to the largest and most diverse audiences possible.  We wholeheartedly believe that this transition is the best way to honor the legacy of Out In Front as a pioneering leader in LGBTQ+ professional development in the Pacific Northwest. 

    Mark Rosen, Acting President & CEO of GSBA, shared that “GSBA has been a longtime supporter of the work of Out in Front and applauds its Board on making the difficult decision to sunset the organization. We look forward to working with dedicated OIF leaders to help us shape the expansion of leadership training and cohort building to those in our community who are most marginalized. We believe that doing so will help further our mission of promoting both economic and educational equity.”

    Strong and effective leadership requires resolve and optimism in the face of challenge. This decision has come after almost two years of careful deliberation.  Out In Front has always sought to keep its curriculum updated and relevant to current issues.  As we wrapped up our 2019 cohort it was becoming clear that to fully address diversity, equity and inclusion in the curriculum, the organizers and the presenters would require a significant re-thinking of the program. At the same time, we were confronting issues of sustainability and volunteer commitment that are common to volunteer-run nonprofits, while simultaneously facing a changed landscape of leadership development opportunities for LGBTQ+ adults in the Puget Sound.  It became increasingly clear that the best chance for keeping Out in Front’s training materials alive and relevant would come from reaching beyond our nonprofit to an organization that had a solid foundation of resources for sustaining and expanding leadership development in our community. The GSBA is an ideal recipient of our program materials. A few members of the Out in Front leadership will engage with the GSBA to ensure a smooth transition of knowledge and experience, and we look forward to seeing an expansion of leadership development opportunities for the Puget Sound LGBTQ+ community.  

    The vibrant heart of Out In Front is – and will continue to be – its community of alumni, volunteers and donors.  The connections built during the 12 years of OIF programs and the ways our alumni have taken next steps of leadership in their own communities is inspirational.   As we transition away from an independent Out In Front program we hope that you will continue to support LGBTQIA+ Leadership Development as we embrace and benefit from the larger network of GSBA supporters and scholarship fund alumni.  Thank you for being part of the Out In Front community and we hope to see you at a future GSBA event!  

    Sincerely,

    The Board of Directors of Out In Front


  • Seattle mayoral candidates tour businesses with Capitol Hill Business Alliance

    by GSBA Staff
    | Sep 07, 2021

    As the voice of the neighborhood’s business community, the Capitol Hill Business Alliance (CHBA) was pleased to have the opportunity to connect neighborhood business owners with both of Seattle’s candidates for mayor, Bruce Harrell and Lorena Gonzalez.  

    thumbnail_Tracy Taylor, Peter Aaron, Bruce Harrell (1)On Tuesday, August 17, CHBA Program Manager Ahi Martin-McSweeney met Bruce Harrell at Elliott Bay Book Company on 10th Avenue where Bruce spoke with Owner Peter Aaron and General Manager Tracy Taylor. From there, Bruce and Ahi set out to meet Wildrose’s Shelley Brothers and Martha Manning, swung by Tracy Taylor’s newly-established Big Little News on E Pike Street and 11th Ave, and Owner of Perfect Copy & Print Amanda Powter on 12th Avenue.  

    Each business came prepared with a variety of questions for Bruce and issues they wanted to elevate including small business funding; the future of street cafes; the ongoing labor shortage; challenges of retaining employees with competitive wages; desire for stronger social programs; and equity in access to local, state, and federal dollars. 

    Next, CHBA met with Lorena Gonzalez on Friday, September. 3. This tour began atIMG_2319 Flight Wine + Chocolate on 13th Avenue where Lorena and Ahi spoke with David Wildman and Kevin Morton before walking over to Amanda Powter at Perfect Copy & Print, and concluding at Elliott Bay Book Company where Lorena spoke with Tracy Taylor. Lorena and these business owners also covered a wide gamut of topics, including addressing the homelessness crisis, racial justice, financial recovery from the pandemic, street use, retaining employees, and funding for small businesses.  

    CHBA is thankful to both candidates and their teams for taking the time to meet with CHBA members and hear their concerns as we move closer to November’s election. We would also like to extend our gratitude to each business owner who partook in these tours and made their voices heard on these important issues. Please let us know if you would be interested in hosting a candidate or councilmember at your business for a future event. 

    As a nonpartisan organization, GSBA does not endorse candidates.

  • GSBA visits MoPop's "Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement"

    by Cade Schmidt (he/him), Marketing & Digital Communications Manager
    | Sep 03, 2021

    rise up_1As soon as visitors to the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop) reach the top of the second floor stairs, they're faced with large, blocky letters in bright orange proclaiming “Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement.” On loan from Washington D.C.’s Newseum, this exhibit uses artifacts, texts, and multimedia to tell the story of America’s LGBTQ+ Civil Rights Movement. As visitors make their way through the exhibit, one thing becomes inextricably clear: the very nature of this exhibit, the platforming of LGBTQ+ histories at a venue like MoPop, is a milestone in itself.

    The exhibit opened during Pride Weekend on June 26 and takes guests through a chronological breakdown of important eras, political battles, and pop culture touchstones before highlighting local organizations and leaders in the Pacific Northwest’s LGBTQ+ community.

    From the Mattachine Society, to the dawn of LGBTQ+ press and the critical role GayIMG_5588 and Lesbian newspapers played in our community, Rise Up explores the many ways LGBTQ+ people found each other and built community in the first half of the 20th century. From here, the exhibit demonstrates how out of community grew activism, and how Lesbians, QTBIPOC communities, transgender, and gender-diverse people wrestled with prejudice and worked to carve our their own intentional spaces - including the founding of S.T.A.R. by Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Johnson’s involvement with the Stonewall Uprising is featured prominently, though Rise Up is clear that details about who threw the first brick on June 28, 1969 remain contested. Old newspaper clippings covering the Stonewall Uprising are included in this display, as well as little-known histories of LGBTQ+ activism before 1969.

    With different segments of the exhibits, visitors can take quizzes and share their opinions on interactive screens. One quiz asks visitors their opinion on the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case while another asks people to guess what year Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage.

    rise up_7Once guests take-in artifacts from the lavender scare, Anita Bryant’s “Save the Children” campaign, the 1979 March on Washington, the AIDS epidemic and ACT UP movement, the US Supreme Court’s 2015 decision on marriage equality, North Carolina’s 2016 anti-trans bathroom bill, and more, Rise Up pivots from history to contemporary activism and representation in pop culture - along with a display explaining the LGBTQ+ acronym, reclamation of the word “queer,” and other common terms. Here, local leaders like Aleksa Manila and D. Dynasty (drag persona of GSBA Board Member Dominique Stephens) are featured, having loaned costumes to MoPop. 

    The feature “Icons of Seattle” spotlights several regional LGBTQ+ leaders includingrise up_6 GSBA Members David Neth, Dr. Bish Paul, Adra Boo, Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm, Marsha Botzer, and other leaders such as Speaker Laurie Jinkins, Cal Anderson, and Justice G. Helen Whitener are also included. A few feet away, MoPop highlights regional organizations and businesses continuing to work on behalf of LGBTQ+ civil rights, including GenPride, Babeland, Entre Hermanos, Gay City, Seattle Pride, UTOPIA WA, Three Dollar Bill Cinema, Seattle Men's & Women’s Chorus, Bailey Boushay House, Lifelong, Gender Justice League, and more. 

    Rise Up honors the legacy of LGBTQ+ activism and gives a soap box to these histories often overlooked. But most of all, the exhibit not only educates potential allies, but fulfills the important need of reminding us how far we’ve come and to not take for granted the freedoms we have today - even while critical battles continue to be fought.

    Rise Up closes on Sunday, Sept. 12. GSBA also visited MoPop as a part of our Travel OUT series in June, interviewing and touring the museum with Sr. Communications Manager Michael Cole-Schwartz. Other exhibitions currently on display at MoPop include Heroes & Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume, Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction, Indie Game Revolution, and more.

     
  • Love is family at ORM Fertility

    by Courtesy ORM Fertility
    | Aug 02, 2021

    At ORM Fertility, we believe that Love is Family and everyone deserves to realize their dream of parenthood. We pride ourselves on being a truly welcoming clinic and helping all families grow. According to a family building survey conducted by Family Equality (2019), 48 percent of LGBTQ+ millenials are actively planning to grow their families to 55 percent of non-LGBTQ+ milennials -- a gap that has significantly narrowed.

    thumbnail_Dads & DaughterORM Fertility has been passionately growing families for more than 30 years and we’re proud to be a leading clinic for LGBTQ+ parents from around the world. We are committed to serving the LBGTQ+ community with sensitivity, compassion, and advocating for inclusivity, not only in our practice but in our extended medical community as well. Our team strives to provide respectful and personalized care to every patient who walks through our doors. 

    As fertility advances and the options for family building expand, so does our understanding of identities as humans. Our team of knowledgeable reproductive physicians, clinical leaders, and expert staff knows that every path to parenthood is unique, and our personalized approach to care is specially tailored to you.

    As part of our commitment to honoring our patients’ unique journey, we strive to create a safe environment where members of the LGBTQ+ can access the professional medical care they deserve. To further our commitment to our LGBTQ+ patients, we partnered with Family Equality, a national nonprofit leading advocacy for LGBTQ+ families, to earn our Open Door Training Designation as an organization.

    “The entire experience was so positive, comfortable and welcoming. I just can’t imagine not having our daughter, we are just so fortunate and grateful to ORM. We felt a lot of trust and loved every bit of the experience.” - ORM Fertility Family, Reciprocal IVF

    Your Unique Journeythumbnail_iStock-892516256 (1)
    There are many options to growing your family and the journey through fertility treatment is unique for everyone. From donor egg and surrogacy to donor sperm and in vitro fertilization (IVF), it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Our experienced team, along with our expert surrogacy and donation agency partners, have years of experience working with thousands of growing families every year. ORM Fertility also has a large, innovative, in-house genetics team and a robust in-house egg donor program. Having these services coordinated and working together at one clinic can make things easier and help streamline the family building process. With our partners, navigating the legal aspects of care are made possible and seamless. Simply put, it’s complicated and we’re here to help every step of the way.

    We are proud to be a leading fertility clinic in third party reproduction (TPR), having completed more than 10% of all TPR cycles in the US in 2019. Third party reproduction is a term that describes the group of amazing individuals like egg donors, sperm donors and surrogates who make growing a family possible for so many. 

    thumbnail_iStock-1175554132Nestled in the Heart of the Rainbow Family Explosion
    Located in both Seattle, WA and Portland, OR, not only is ORM Fertility committed to inclusivity but so are the communities we reside in. The gorgeous Pacific Northwest continues to provide a clean, welcoming, and fertile place for growing LGBTQ+ families. With supportive legal surrogacy laws to a progressive and open-minded medical environment, it’s no surprise that Washington and Oregon are some of the tops states in the US for LGBTQ+ families. There is more access and support than ever and we’re passionate about helping continue to cultivate an equitable environment for all who wish to start or grow their family.

    As Washington and Oregon are rated among some of the top states in the US for LGBTQ+ families, there is more access than ever to resources you need to grow your family. With new access to compensated surrogacy and important legal protections for LGBTQ+ parents, the Pacific Northwest is one of the best places for growing LBGTQ+ families.

    Let’s Grow Your Family, Together 
    There’s a lot to consider as you begin planning your unique path to parenthood and we06192016_ORM-Pride_MJS_076 are honored to be a trusted resource for the LGBTQ+ community. In an effort to provide education about fertility care options, ORM Fertility hosts free webinars led by our physicians and agency partners to walk you through your treatment options. You can also connect with one of our physicians by scheduling a consultation today.

    Learn more and register for our upcoming FREE LGBTQ+ Family Building Webinars:
      ●  Donor Egg & Surrogacy
      ●  Egg Seeking Sperm

    You can also visit us at loveisfamily.com, which is our dedicated online resource for LGBTQ+ family building.

    There are many options to growing your family and the journey through fertility treatment

  • Incubator: Summer 2021 Cohort

    by Levi Coffin, Business Training Specialist & Grant Manager
    | Jul 21, 2021
     

    Tiffany Kelly-Gray (she, her) has a background in finance and the vacation rental business. She currently owns and operates a vacation rental in the CD that I primarily operate on Airbnb.  She manage the listing, cleanings, remodels as needed and design. Is the current board chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Bertschi School,  actively engaging in strategic planning in order to move DEI initiatives forward. Tiffany also a Bachelors of Art from Seattle University in Digital Culture and Technology.

    Her business will be a group of vacation rentals in a rural location in western Washington, within 3 hrs drive from Seattle. The property should be no less than 5 acres. The property will allow farming, gardening, and the growth of small orchards.  The vacation properties would allow access to visitors for classes geared toward farming, seed to table, gardening as well as biodiversity. This is often referred to as agrotourism, this business would focus on teaching children about growing their own food, understanding their environment, and caring for small farm animals.  She is particularly interested in hosting Black farming classes and camps.


    Nick Albritton (he, him or they, them) brings authenticity, an open heart, and strategic leadership to his work with individuals and organizations. His professional background has traversed the non-profit sector ranging from Outdoor Education, Career Services for youth experiencing homelessness, and leadership roles within Washington States community college network. He is an engaging collaborator who has helped organizations prioritize their goals, restructure their programming, and innovate new solutions to chronic issues. Nick has a MS in Management and Leadership and is passionate about transformational, strengths-based leadership and effective change management. He is the owner of Rust and Revelry, an apparel company that designs inspiring and affirmational clothing for trans, non-binary, and queer folks. As a queer, transgender person – he knows how necessary and powerful it is to see yourself represented and celebrated in the world. He was recently published in The Born This Way Foundations collaborative book with Lady Gaga ‘Channel Kindness’. He has also facilitated Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Inclusivity Trainings, and served on the Board of Directors for Seattle Pride. In his personal time, Nick is an avid outdoorsperson who enjoys storytelling and poetry.

    Heron Consulting works with small businesses who are focused on social impact initiatives, creativity, education, art, leadership, community building, and way-making for a more inclusive, heart-centered world. Heron Consulting helps small businesses who need to: outline and finalize complex projects, create structure for/restructure processes, refine their programming, automate services or communications, and innovate new solutions. As a consultant, Nick takes the time to listen and understand the unique ecosystem of factors influencing your business. Through a collaborative process, he works closely with you to find solutions that are durable and bring value to your work in the world.


    Lesster Eduardo Munguia Nieto
    (he, him) is a photographer based in Seattle, Washington who specializes in photographing Interiors. He grew up in a small town in Honduras: one of those strange towns in the middle of the mountains, not unlike Macondo of One Hundred Years of Solitude. His interest in photography began with helping his mother shoot weddings at 9 years old. After studying Biology at UNAH, he moved to Seattle, Washington, to work in environmental restora8on with Earthcorps and later served as a program manager for Entre Hermanos, a Latino LGBTQ+ nonprofit. Throughout these different roles, he continued developing his craft of photography.

    Fishmoon Productions was born in January 2021 as a result of Lesster's passion for photography. This business offers production of Interior & Exterior Photography & Videography for Real Estate Agencies & Architecture firms; as well as production of commercial photography and videography for companies and nonprofit organizations.


  • Incubator: Spring 2021 Cohort

    by Levi Coffin, Business Training Specialist & Grant Manager
    | Jul 21, 2021
     

    Tara Morgan (they, she)  brings to barbering a lifelong passion for people and the revelations that can happen in our honest interactions. Tara spent 25 years in the field of fundraising and non-profits, including founding Seize The Oar Foundation (est 2013). Tara loves collaboration and small business and currently runs Vashon Flyer apparel and gifts, in addition to co-founding Steady State Media Network in 2020.

    C'Mon Barber, coming May 2021 will be a full-service barber, providing affordable haircuts, trims, shaves all in a gender-affirming space for all ages. Mobile and in-salon, zero waste and always classy.


    Ryan Riley
    (she, her) has 10 years commercial roofing experience. Started on the roof pushing a broom, moved up into project estimation, sales and management. Eventually became the general manager of a $1.5MM commercial roofing company. Began gender transition in Feb 2020 and registered the first trans owned roofing company in WA state in March 2020.

    NW Roofing Services is a high quality, value driven roofing company with equality-based ethics. Starting out with residential roof inspections, cleaning, maintenance and small repairs, moving into residential new and re-roofing projects and eventually entering and focusing on the commercial roofing sector.


    Lauren Moore (she, they) is a queer neurodivergent artist hellbent on restorative justice in Seattle. Social isolation in the chronic and mentally ill community is rampant so she created a floral pranking business that delivers flowers and custom audio tracks to folx in Seattle. In non-COVID times She curates quieter accessible events for deeper conversations to emerge. Her practice is inter-generational, intersectional, and raises reparations for Real Rent Duwamish. One of nine siblings from South Carolina, she understands that poverty excludes people from healthy pain management and often leads to a cycle of addiction. Lauren’s art harnesses color therapy, flowers and binaural audio to comfort survivors, include fellow mentally and chronically ill folx, and celebrate friendship. Her ASMR activations create safe spaces to deeply notice the body’s edges. As a survivor 3 years sober, Lauren believes art can heal our most traumatic experiences. Her relentless strength and solidarity come from deep listening, which is her favorite art.

    OK Bloomer is a flower pranking service that brightens the steps of Seattlites while celebrating friendship and intergenerational healing. Pranks are often kept anonymous and aim to surprise and delight seniors and folx experiencing chronic and mental illness, though all are welcome. Curated audio tracks and care packages are available additions to the floral surprise.


  • Understanding Your 2021 Primary Election Ballot

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Jul 20, 2021
     
    Ballots are due in the 2021 primary election on August 3, and there is a lot to consider! Cities and counties across Washington are holding local elections and as usual voters are also being asked to weigh in on ballot measures. GSBA is active on issue politics and often takes positions on ballot measures, however we do not endorse candidates.

    King County Proposition 1
    GSBA has endorsed the Best Starts for Kids levy renewal and encourages everyone to vote YES on King County Proposition 1.

    Seattle Mayoral Candidate Interviews
    With a large field of candidates running for Mayor in Seattle this year, the GSBA Policy Council decided to do pre-primary video interviews with candidates. With questions submitted by members and the Policy Council, the candidates were able to speak to some of the most pressing issues for GSBA members in Seattle. Policy Council members Denise Diskin and Eve Hwang, along with GSBA's Matt Landers, conducted these interviews during the second week of July. Each video is around 15-20 minutes long.

    GSBA Members Running for Office
    Every year we feature statements from GSBA members running for office. While we do not endorse candidates (and we have had instances of multiple members running for the same office), we welcome the opportunity for these individuals to share their platform with fellow GSBA members. For 2021, member candidates who have submitted statements include:

  • Member-Candidate Profile: Lance Randall

    by Lance Randall
    | Jul 19, 2021
     
    As a membership organization, we invite all our members running for elected office each year to submit a statement to their fellow members. GSBA is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse candidates, and this statement should not be construed as an endorsement by GSBA, its Board, or its staff.

    Lance Randall, running for Seattle Mayor

    Seattle is known for its beauty, diversity and innovation around the world, which is why I chose to make the “Emerald City” my home. I believe that by working together we can create a more fair and sustainable future, but we have some challenges we must overcome first.

    Our economy needs to recover from the effects of Covid-19, we need to address homelessness in a compassionate but firm way, we must ensure everyone is protected through comprehensive public safety and we must maintain and improve our transportation infrastructure.

    We can overcome our challenges with a leader that has a vision, a plan to solve problems, can build working coalitions and produce results. I am ready to be that leader.

    For 30 years I have worked as a political scientist, economic development practitioner and entrepreneur. I have held leadership positions with a U.S. Congressman, a State Senator, Mayors, businesses, non-profit organizations, public-private partnerships, and educational institutions. My background and experience make me uniquely qualified and prepared to be Seattle’s Mayor at this exact moment in our city’s history.

    As the country and world come out of the pandemic, we will search for a city modeling effectiveness, sustainability, equity, and accountability to its citizens. Seattle can be that model city. I want to leverage Seattle’s creativity and ingenuity to model a city where everyone can live freely, create, and prosper.

    I have pulled together a platform explaining my plan to address topics including dignity for the homelessness, economic rebound, revitalizing our music scene, rebuilding our infrastructure, public safety, and climate. This platform invests in our people, our culture, and our future. I trust that after you read it you support my campaign and elect me to be the change Seattle needs, “A Transformational Leader for a Transforming City.”

    Regards,
    Lance

    www.lancerandall2021.com


  • Member-Candidate Profile: Sara Nelson

    by Sara Nelson
    | Jul 19, 2021
     
    As a membership organization, we invite all our members running for elected office each year to submit a statement to their fellow members. GSBA is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse candidates, and this statement should not be construed as an endorsement by GSBA, its Board, or its staff.

    Sara Nelson, running for Seattle City Council, Position 9

    I’ll cut to the chase: if you think things are going well in Seattle, I’m probably not the candidate for you. I’m Sara Nelson and I’m a progressive small business owner and I’m running because I believe Seattle has lost its way. As the only candidate in this race with experience in both the public and private sectors, I’ll bring the pragmatic and experienced leadership needed right now to meet our city’s challenges as we emerge from this pandemic. 

    I served for ten years as a Legislative Advisor for Councilmember Richard Conlin and I learned that good policy is made by paying attention to detail and reaching out as well as meaningfully incorporating input from the widest possible range of stakeholders. That’s especially true for small business owners and workers who can’t easily attend public hearings.

    I’m a GSBA member and co-owner of Fremont Brewing, a sponsor of GSBA’s Scholarship Fund. We were hit hard but we managed to retain all our employees and increased their wages to make up for lost tips. But I know many of you weren’t as fortunate.

    That’s why forging an equitable, long-term recovery is my top priority. We all know that small businesses are job creators and innovators and we make up the fabric of our communities. Hundreds of small businesses have closed and many more are on life support but City Council isn’t acting with enough urgency to help. It’s time for the missing voice of small business to City Council.

    Public safety is key to our recovery because rising crime (theft, property damage) poses significant cost burdens for small businesses and we’ve all read stories about businesses leaving town because employees don’t feel safe. Defunding the police by an arbitrary percentage won’t reduce crime nor end systemic racism in policing. We need to reform the police in a manner that keeps communities safe and holds officers accountable for all forms of misconduct -- and fund accordingly.

    My second priority is getting back to the main job of local government: adequately funding and delivering basic city services. Failing bridges, trash-filled parks, and limited library hours are the result of Council diverting General Fund dollars to ad-hoc initiatives.

    What will I do about homelessness? I’ll call for implementing a model works in other cities, based on individualized case management and a real-time, centralized database that service providers and City agencies access to ensure continuity-of-care and help individuals obtain the housing and services that meet their immediate needs.

    Voters have a clear choice this election and the stakes are high. They can vote for the same old ideological rhetoric and failed policies that have gotten us into the state we’re in now, or they can elect a candidate with pragmatic policy solutions to make Seattle a safe and livable city -- for everyone.

    I’m endorsed by the Seattle Times, Seattle Fire Fighters, Ironworkers, Plumbers and Pipefitters, and a broad range of community leaders. Learn more about my campaign for City Council Position 9 at: SaraForCityCouncil.com.


  • Member-Candidate Profile: Krystal Marx

    by Krystal Marx
    | Jul 19, 2021
     
    As a membership organization, we invite all our members running for elected office each year to submit a statement to their fellow members. GSBA is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse candidates, and this statement should not be construed as an endorsement by GSBA, its Board, or its staff.

    Krystal Marx, running for Burien City Council, Position 7

    While running for office is, in itself, a monumental task, doing so as a bisexual woman has been a lesson in authenticity and opportunity. LGBTQIA+ elected officials have a unique set of responsibilities on our shoulders. We are the path-makers, the way-lighters and the example-setters for the next generation of LGBTQIA+ leaders, which means we have to not only run based on the issues of the office we seek, but with the knowledge that we are leading the way for a new generation. When I am re-elected to the Burien City Council, I am excited to work on building up LGBTQIA+ youth in the Highline School District by working working the Highline School Board, local youth organizations, and City Staff. It is not enough that we run and win, as queer people, but that we make sure the next generation can as well. 

    Krystal Marx, Candidate for Burien City Council (Position 7)

    www.krystal4burien.com

  • Member-Candidate Profile: Dow Constantine

    by Dow Constantine
    | Jul 19, 2021
     
    As a membership organization, we invite all our members running for elected office each year to submit a statement to their fellow members. GSBA is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse candidates, and this statement should not be construed as an endorsement by GSBA, its Board, or its staff.

    Dow Constantine, running for King County Executive

    When COVID-19 arrived here – the first place in the country – I took swift, decisive action. We led with science and reason, saving thousands of lives. The New York Times reported that had America followed our lead, “the nation could have avoided more than 300,000 coronavirus deaths.”

    Now, as we emerge from the pandemic, I’m bringing that same clarity and resolve to the toughest challenges – homelessness, racial bias, public safety, climate action, and uniting our region for an economic recovery where everyone can thrive.

    In the pandemic’s wake is a new opportunity to rethink our economy, invest in our communities, and spur the kind of growth that empowers us all. I’m leading a bold economic recovery plan – investing millions into new jobs, community and small business support, and urgent action to deliver on this promise of a better future and a full, equitable recovery.

    Critical to this effort is supporting those who have long been left out. I was honored to receive GSBA’s Voice for Economic Justice award in 2016. I will tell you that my commitment to economic fairness, equity, and opportunity for all remains steadfast, and has been integral to the design and implementation of our recovery efforts.

    I recently announced and issued a Pro-Equity Contracting Executive Order with the distinct purpose of supporting minority- and women-owned businesses in King County. We are working to break down long standing barriers that have historically prevented and excluded underrepresented business owners from building and expanding their businesses.

    Beyond these efforts, we are taking bold, urgent action on the crisis of homelessness. Under my leadership, we are moving thousands of chronically homeless people off the streets this year, into housing with the services to restore lives. And, through Best Starts for Kids, we’ve kept 10,000 children and families safely housed. I led the process to create the much needed Regional Homelessness Authority, and through our collaborative approach, we are seeing the regional buy-in needed to ensure progress.

    Above all else, we must continue striving to create welcoming communities for every neighbor, especially our LGBTQ+ community. My record on this is clear: I organized to pass Referendum 74 for marriage equality; worked with legislative leaders to enshrine state protections for the LGBTQ community; achieved global milestones in the fight against HIV/AIDS; and made King County the largest county in the nation to track the number of contracts awarded to LGBTQ entrepreneurs, designating LGBTQ-owned small businesses as minority-owned businesses, and created an LGBTQ category in our small business directory.

    Across my tenure as Executive, GSBA and King County have been strong partners, working together to deliver on our shared values. As I seek re-election, it is with a commitment to continuing those efforts. The time is now to build a more inclusive, welcoming and prosperous economy, community, and future for us all – let’s get to work.

    You can learn more about my campaign or get involved at DowConstantine.com. Thank you for your support.