Three candidates are running in three city races under the platform Olympia For All, with the slogan “We don’t win what we don’t fight for.”
Win or lose, the three progressive candidates — Marco Rossi, Raymond Guerra and Rafael Ruiz — hope to shape the election season conversation around four issues: a $15 minimum wage, urban planning, police accountability and public involvement.
All three candidates are political newcomers. Rossi is running against Olympia City Councilmember Cheryl Selby and frequent candidate Prophet Atlantis for the mayoral seat. Guerra is running for the open council position 2 against former Olympia Planning Commissioner Judy Bardin and current planning commissioner Jessica Bateman. Ruiz will challenge incumbent Nathaniel Jones for council position 3.
Former Downtown Ambassadors director Rob Richards is managing the three campaigns and has launched a website at olympiaforall.org. The slogan was adopted from a speech by United States Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and resonated with the group’s goal of public empowerment, he said.
“Fighting doesn’t always mean going to council and yelling at them and protesting them,” Richards said. “If you don’t get involved, if you don’t get active, you’re not going to get the things you want in your community.”
Rossi, 33, is a medical assistant at Planned Parenthood, and holds a master’s degree in political science. Rossi (no relation to the former gubernatorial candidate) also has written a short book titled “A Politics for the 99 Percent.”
Shortly after filing to run for office last month, Rossi said the campaign is not about the candidates, but about “the people who have been neglected and have their main concerns ignored for too long.”
The first stop for the mayoral race is the Aug. 4 primary election, with the top two vote-getters advancing to the Nov. 3 general election.
“I feel pretty confident I can make it past the primary,” Rossi said.
Guerra, 38, said he entered the race for the open council seat to push for a $15 minimum wage in Olympia. The homeowner and employee at the Fish Tale Brew Pub said the campaign was born out of concerns for the city’s direction as well as a lack of younger candidates.
“We’re taking this seriously and trying to revive a progressive movement,” Guerra said after filing for the election.
Ruiz, 32, was drawn into the race because of a passion for issues related to poverty, homelessness, tenants’ rights and income inequality. The Olympia Food Co-op employee has said he wants to see more direct democracy and public participation, especially from the working class.
“From my perspective, I don’t see many working-class candidates,” Ruiz said after filing.
Last Wednesday, the three Olympia For All candidates participated in a public forum sponsored by the Northwest Olympia and Southwest Olympia neighborhood associations. Each candidate reiterated their support for a higher minimum wage as a way to reduce poverty; more police accountability through body and dashboard cameras, cultural competency training, and the establishment of a citizen justice review board; and urban density issues such as walkable streets, adequate social services and public safety.
The candidates will host a campaign kickoff and celebration that runs 7 p.m. to midnight June 29 at Obsidian, 414 Fourth Ave. E. None of the three Olympia For All candidates had reported any money raised or spent for their campaigns as of Friday, according to the Public Disclosure Commission website.