On the Tacoma City Council Ryan led the effort to establish the City’s first-ever Affordable Housing Trust Fund and the development of a comprehensive Affordable Housing Action Strategy. Everyone has the right to live in a safe, clean and affordable home. More than 40% of people in Pierce County pay more than 30% of their monthly income on housing – that’s too much. Ryan supports additional tenant protections to keep people in their homes, appropriate incentives and mandates to build more housing and to keep it affordable, especially for those most in need. Our seniors cannot get priced out of the homes they have lived in for years simply for not affording the property taxes. Ryan will work for solutions to ensure we all have an affordable and quality place to live.
Homelessness is a crisis in our region and many regions across the country. Data tells us the top five reasons individuals find themselves homeless in our community are (in order) 1. Lack of available affordable housing, 2. Lack of adequate income to pay for housing, 3. Tenant eviction, 4. Alcohol or drug abuse or mental health disorder and 5. Fleeing domestic violence. We need policy and investment solutions that focus on each of these causes of homelessness. Ryan supports a Housing First Policy to stabilize individuals and families, intensive casework services to support individuals to resolve barriers to success and policies that keep people from becoming homeless in the first place.
More Fair Tax System
Low income people, seniors and people on fixed incomes should not get priced out of their homes because they can no longer keep up with sky-rocketing property taxes. We need a more fair and equitable tax system that is progressive and does not have lower and moderate-income people pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes compared to higher income individuals. Ryan will fight for more progressive tax policies at the state and local level that keep property taxes lower and more manageable for people on fixed incomes, so they don’t have to move or sell their home because of rising property taxes.
Environment & Climate
For two decades, Ryan has worked to protect and improve our environment. At the Pierce Conservation District, he has focused on conservation initiatives that protects our working farms and forests, recovers our salmon, improves our parks and much more. Ryan co-chaired the City of Tacoma’s Green Ribbon Task Force on Climate Change and led the effort to ban new fossil fuel facilities in the City of Tacoma and to declare the climate crisis an emergency. Ryan will continue his longstanding efforts to recover the health of Puget Sound, protect our working farms and forests from urban sprawl, complete our trails connecting all of our communities, improve our parks and recreation facilities and fight the climate crisis with the urgency it demands.
Ryan supports enacting the .1% behavioral health tax that will generate $14 M annually to serve people suffering from substance abuse and chemical dependencies, access to affordable mental health care for those suffering from anxiety, depression and people in mental health crisis, homelessness and more. The County must be a major partner in funding and delivering more high quality, affordable mental healthcare services county-wide.
Our neighborhoods need better infrastructure – better streets, sidewalks, streetlights, calmer streets and parks. Ryan led the Tacoma Streets Initiative in 2015 that invests $13 M of new funds every year into streets, sidewalks and bridges. Ryan will continue to focus on core issues that make our lives better and neighborhoods safer.
Transportation & Transit
Getting around Puget Sound is getting more difficult. We may not remember those days from before the pandemic, but once we recover, we will be back to the clogged arterials, highways and freeways, wasting hours of our day getting around. Ryan led the Tacoma Streets Initiative and championed expanded bus service hours and frequency of service. Ryan will continue to fight for investments in light rail, bus, neighborhood streets and making our highways and bridges safer. Getting our goods to market, people to work, school and where they need to go is not just a quality of life issue, it’s key to our economic competitiveness.
Jobs & Our Economy
The COVID-19 pandemic has struck our economy hard. Ryan will focus on helping our small businesses to keep the doors open and people employed. Ryan will also invest in affordable, quality childcare so that parents can get back to work. The pandemic has also caused more remote work, use of technology and automation. Ryan will invest in people’s skills so they can compete in this changing economy. We will protect good, family wage jobs and ensure people who work hard and play by the rules can earn a decent wage, with benefits and be able to retire with dignity.
Criminal Justice Reform
76% of the County’s budget is spent on criminal justice – sheriffs, the jail, courts, etc. This leaves very little left over for other pressing needs such as affordable housing, homelessness, human services, parks and more. Ryan supports reforming how we do criminal justice. We need to keep violent offenders behind bars and work to reform those individuals. We need to strategically bring down our property crime rate. The county jail is not the right place for people with mental illness and non-violent offenses. Ryan will invest in community, mental health and veterans courts so that people are held accountable while also getting the resources and support they need to not re-offend and an opportunity to lead a better life for themselves.
Racism & Black Lives Matter
Ryan knows Black Lives Matter. African Americans are disproportionately dying under police custody, profiled while driving or walking around, prosecuted, and incarcerated. Institutional racism is real and is imbedded in every part of our society – getting a job and being promoted, going to school, being watched while shopping, wealth building, trying to rent a place and more. Ryan wants to create an Office of Equity & Human Rights at Pierce County for every major policy and public investment to be analyzed with an equity lens and ensure policies, programs and services are delivered more equitably.
Transparency & Government Accountability
Ryan supports moving County legislative business to a more accessible time and place for citizens. For most business to happen in the middle of the workday is exclusionary and does not promote public participation or accountability. More oversight is needed to ensure contracting for public services is done solely with the public’s interest in mind. Ryan will remain very accessible and present in our community, attending community events and making his personal phone and email available to anyone.
For more information on any of these issues or another area you are interested in, contact Ryan at Ryan@RyanMello.com or 253-861-8356.