Tacoma has and always will be my home. As a community we have all of the ingredients for greatness. Our residents, our infrastructure, and our resources. We just need to utilize what we have better. The road to destiny is gritty. There will be challenges but by using what we have voting in a transformative leader, we can accomplish our goals of having a Tacoma that everyone is proud to live in.
-Hunter D. Henderson
Let me get down to business - This is not lip service - I have lived next to members of the Puyallup Tribe my whole life. In my daily work life I advocate strongly for tribal voices and work done in good faith. In my time as an AmeriCorps member I helped organize a traditional camas harvest on park property and tried to initiate a harvest of pacific yews for tribal peoples. - I recognize the people and communities that cared for, and lived on, the lands since the beginning of time. I acknowledge their stewardship, their forced removal, and their continued fight to live on their ancestral lands.
"I, Erin Jones, former Tacoma Public Schools teacher and administrator - former candidate for State Superintendent of Schools (2016)- endorse Hunter Henderson, my former student. I was proud to have Hunter as a student. He was always thoughtful and clear in his communications. He was a servant-leader. He has demonstrated a continued commitment to the community of his childhood. He has done the work to develop as a leader and learn about how to effectively serve a community to which he has spent his life."
About Hunter Downe Henderson
Hunter Henderson was born on Hilltop at Tacoma General in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in 1988. And later attended Stanley Elementary for their speech pathology program. After graduating, Hunter attended Hilltop Heritage where he began to play cello and learned to blow glass. Hunter became a Hilltop Artist in Residence Production Team Member. He continued the cello and glassblowing throughout his attendance of Henry Foss High School. In high school Hunter was a leader in the AFJROTC program and after school he participated in DeMolay. Both programs grew Hunter's passion for public service, community organization, and taught him skills like public speaking and time management.
Hunter was able to attend college because he earned the Achiever's Scholarship by the College Success Foundation. Hunter graduated as a non-traditional student from UWT in 2013 majoring in Environmental Studies with a minors in Restoration Ecology and Hispanic Studies.
After graduation he was unable to find work in his field so he went back for a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) with an emphasis in Environmental Policy. After graduation he served Pierce County Parks and Recreation as an AmeriCorps member. During his service term, he helped Tacoma Tree Foundation distribute over 2,000 trees and shrubs to over 30 zip-codes in Pierce, Thurston, and King Counties. He also established a Western bluebird monitoring program in Pierce County Parks.
During Hunter's AmeriCorps service term he accepted a position with The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) as a Transportation Planner and joined the ProTec17 Union. Hunter works assisting with the fish passage program where he currently works doing projects in 7 counties.
While not working Hunter is a board member on 3 non-profit boards: Hilltop Action Coalition, Metro Parks-Nature and Environmental Council, and College Success Foundation Tacoma Alumni Board. Hunter is an officer at his masonic lodge, Fairweather #82.
When not providing organizational support, Hunter enjoys foraging and hiking with his wife and two shepski dogs. He enjoys cooking and creating dishes from the food he forages.
What am I about?
Growing up a biracial kid on Hilltop in the 90s and 2000s was still rough. I recall in elementary school not having a bubble to describe my race, I had to chose one or other. And I recall when that changed. I have been seeing system inequalities my entire life. When I graduated in 2007, less than 50% of the students district wide graduated. When I grew up, The City of Destiny - Tacoma, was a lost cause to many.
Now that has changed. Tacoma Public Schools now graduates 80% of students district wide. That was due to hard work and changes in policies. That is why I got my Masters in Public Administration (MPA) so I can better understand and help write policies of the future.
Destiny is about change and we live in a data driven society. I want to make decisions and policies that follow data to make effective change.
Tacoma can change
Tacoma has all of the right ingredients for greatness:
The west coast's deepest natural port
An infrastructure still not too restricted by short sighted developments
A diverse community with unlimited potential
What we must do in Tacoma is use what we have! I have lived here my whole life and plan to spend the rest of my life here too. I have seen many things change and certainly more to come but here are my target areas:
Updating antiquated Tacoma Municipal Codes (TMC) - Some of these codes were created before I was born and serve a community of the past, and likely one that was not inclusive of poor people and people of color. I want to review policies and create new ones to serve a community of the future.
Creation of jobs for the future - Technology Production, Trades, Healthcare, and a Sustainable Maritime Industry.
Technological chip production - Our world is enhanced and made easier by technology and many could not live without it. Currently 95% of the chips we use in our devices are manufactured outside of the USA. Creating chips produced domestically in the USA will not only provide high quality skilled jobs but also address issues of national security. There is a federal need for this industry and they will pay. Why can't Tacoma be America's domestic source for technology essentials?
Trades - Everyone knows there is a deficit of skilled labor in the USA. In very short time we will have no carpenters, electricians, contractors, and plumbers to build our communities of the future. I want to invest in programs and infrastructure to support people wanting to enter these fields. I want to attract companies to Tacoma that will be known far and wide. Why can't Tacoma be the source of the finest people again?
Healthcare - With an ever aging population, we have to have the people skilled enough to provide care for our loved ones. Aside from an aging population, there is a mental health crisis. We need skilled care providers and facilities to care for these people. Everyone is someone's child and everyone deserves care and to heal. Once health is taken care of people can function better. Tacoma has already heavily invested in health care for our city and the state legislature has recently decided to invest more too. We need to invest in this sector and continue to provide care for our people who need us in their most vulnerable moments.
Sustainable Maritime - The Salish Sea is one of the most productive bodies of saltwater in the world. Known for the abundance of life and beauty. The Port of Tacoma is one of the best ports on the west coast! We always have and always will be a port town. But why not make the waters around it better? I want to create a Regenerative Ocean Farming business for Tacoma. This industry fits the sustainability triangle by creating economic wealth (jobs, sellable products), environmental (cleans the water, gets rid of CO2), and social benefit (provides sustainable food). This is a cannot lose industry and natural industry for our area. More information can be found at greenwave.org - check it out (watch the video) and be amazed! We need this for Tacoma! But we cannot do it until our Shoreline Master Program is revised.
Affordable Housing - People are moving to Washington y'all and we do not have enough homes for them, let alone our existing residents! I want to focus on building affordable homes and transitional homes for people in the process of becoming stable. And there are still many discriminatory practices that exist like redlining. Currently tenants have no rights and protections and there are people that take advantage of that - I want to change that. Everyone deserves a Home in Tacoma.
Environmental Justice - Let us look at the facts - Tacoma was one of the first superfund sites in the USA. The Asarco smelter plant put out so much pollution our waters were barren and children were getting sick from playing on grass grown on contaminated soil. We had to replace all of that and seek help to recover from all of the damage done by industry. Is this the destiny we want for our citizens? To be victims of contamination and decreased life just to not even earn livable wages? This is not the Tacoma I want, that is not our destiny. These issues play out in other ways, especially where poor and BIPOC people live. There is a lack of tree canopy in Tacoma. There are numerous benefits to trees that can be learned from the Tacoma Tree Foundation. But in a nutshell - they create habitat, cool down the ground, store water, and create air, and can even help cool your house and save you money! Native grasses and flowers have similar benefits. If you are not familiar with the benefits check out ptlawnseed.com. I encourage you to get rid of your lawn today for a better Tacoma tomorrow. Once again, all just data collected from reasonable science.
Roads - Few things are more notorious in Tacoma than our aroma and potholes. I cannot fix the aroma, but I can do something about potholes and making travel better. Potholes form because of stresses and failures of the asphalt because our roads are beat! I want to keep people in Tacoma moving by fixing potholes and installing roundabouts. Yes, roundabouts. As part of Mission Zero (we want 0 deaths on the road), roundabouts are a great tool and will save our city money and time stuck at the lights! More information about roundabouts can be found by searching for Carmel Indiana Roundabouts - check it out and be surprised how cool they are! Once again, I am about data driven decisions and the data speaks positively about roundabouts.
If you have read this far, I entered into this race because I want to see more sustainable changes in Tacoma. I want to see the voices of people not ignored, I want to include and raise the voices in Tacoma - not steamroll over their wants and vision. As a public servant, our will and pleasure is to serve the public! To help enact the vision that our community sees! Not ignore residents.
I want questionable projects that will impact the health of our residents to be fully evaluated. Projects such as the Bridge Industrial Project and two other logistical projects that went up. One displacing a community - the warehouse on 84th where the old swap-market was that remained empty for years; And the other one costing our residents homes - the former News Tribune Head Quarters. What do we get? Low end-jobs, pollution, and damaged roads. Trucking and shipping companies are not fiscally responsible for the impact and damage they have on roads. When a road is heavily used by trucks and potholes happen - the burden is on us the taxpayers to fix it. If your car gets damaged by a pothole and you file a claim with the city- the city pays your claim- your tax dollars went to pay part of that claim. Attracting these kinds of industries is short sighted and harmful to our communities in many ways.
I want high paying and skilled jobs for our community - not to be forever cemented as a blue collar town with a funny smell.
I want clean air and water for our people. Check out the Washington Environmental Health Disparities Map - Let us change that together. Our people deserve healthy long lives - not low wages and working till death.
I do not like the way things are currently run and I know I can do a better job. All of my life I have worked hard to serve Tacoma, my home. Vote for me and allow me to help create a Tacoma of future. A Tacoma that will provide a high quality of life to everything (like the ecosystem) and everyone.