On October 9, I had the opportunity to interview Pedro Olguin one of the city council members in Burien at Highline High School. Pedro’s full time job is a organizer with Teamsters 117. He helps workers with their jobs, helps form labor unions or helps people join a labor union to get them better conditions at their job. Pedro came to Washington from California when he was 15 during the summer to do a presentation and promised himself that he would come back to Washington and did.
When Pedro was considering a run for city council iit was around the time when President Trump got elected. That is when Pedro decided that there was a problem and believed that there is more impact with government at the local level so that is when he, Councilwoman Marx, and Mayor Matta decided to run for Burien city council. Pedro was part of the community organizing to make Burien into a sanctuary city to counter the work that Trump was planning to do in deporting undocumented people.
Raymond: Do you think that half the city budget should go to policing and jailing?
Pedro: I think that there is a need to provide public safety and services where people get incarcerated that's why we put money into policing and jailing. It’s always a question of fairness on how much should city budgets allocate towards policing and what’s the return on that investment. I myself think that we are not spending enough on tracking at risk youth, we’re not doing enough to combat homelessness. Let’s be real the number of crimes we’re seeing is not the same as when it was in the 80s and mid 90s, it’s just not. The media played it up and yes there are deaths and that is very unfortunate, and we need to ensure that when people commit crimes that they are held accountable for those crimes. The question is what can we do to address the root cause of some of the dysfunctionality there is, such as the rising cost of housing, job availability; those are all things that reduce the access to conditions that perpetuate involvement in gangs. So it's not just about busting people it's also about what are some of the other factors that are there.
Raymond: What is your position on high density in Burien?
Pedro: So every city has zones, high density, low density and single families. When Burien became a city, there is a question of realigning that zone, as Mary’s place is moving into Shorewood. What the developer wants to develop concerns the residents and it's a legitimate concern. I am not against high density housing, it’s the quality of the housing. If we are going to build all these structures like the Maverick near the city where the rent starts at $2000 that’s something that is out of range for our community. We need to build affordable and accessible housing, and that is what’s really a problem.
Raymond: Why didn’t you go to the fox cove meeting?
Pedro: I was not invited, I did not know that there was a meeting.