Marco Featured in the Huffington Post

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Writer and historian Eoin Higgins interviewed Marco recently and wrote about Marco and Olympia For All’s game-changing campaign in Olympia.

Changing the Electoral Culture in Olympia: Marco Rossi and the Ladder of Progress

Rossi’s philosophy about politics is as pragmatic as his ideas are radical. “We should reach for the highest rung in the ladder of progress, but take the next highest one if that’s all we can achieve in the immediate term,” he says. Thus even if Rossi doesn’t win the mayor’s office, he hopes his run will get the second best result: changing the culture of electoral politics in the city he calls home.

 

Check out the article and share it far and wide!

Tenant’s Rights

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Friends,

Roach infestations. Maintenance issues. Absent property owners. A child who develops breathing problems after a tenant who smokes moves in to the unit below the one his family lives in. These are some of the many challenges I’ve heard talking with the residents of Olympia’s apartment complexes. Frustratingly, these are common and widespread concerns.

Tenants often have trouble with property managers and landlords not fulfilling their legal obligations. Beyond this, few know what their rights are. Even fewer are able to make contact with local leaders willing to advocate on their behalf.

According to the Thurston Regional Planning Council, approximately fifty percent of Olympia’s residents are tenants. Unlike homeowners, who often have active neighborhood associations, tenants are often unorganized and underrepresented in local politics. On multiple occasions I have had property managers attempt to kick my volunteers and I out of apartment complexes for campaigning door-to- door. They may be unaware that this is illegal. The law protects the rights of candidates to talk to residents of apartment complexes.

Recently, one of my volunteers contacted the police after an irate property manager refused to allow us to canvass his residents. The officer explained to the manager that it was illegal to prohibit the distribution of literature. With reluctant permission given, we continued. I consider this a small win because we not only defended our freedom of speech, but we also exercised the right of tenants to be politically engaged and informed.

For Olympia’s tenants, easily accessible political candidates is only the beginning. Olympia should follow the example of other municipalities and create a Tenant’s Bill of Rights that clarifies and expands on the legal provisions of renters. For inspiration, let’s look to our neighbors in Tumwater. Unique to this region, Tumwater possesses an Unfair Housing Practices Ordinance. This extends discrimination protections to low-income people who receive Section 8 housing vouchers.

Incorporating similar language into Olympia’s municipal code is critical. It will send the message that this city stands with and values its most vulnerable tenants and is doing all it can to end homelessness.

My campaign has been about ensuring that underrepresented people in Olympia become more visible and have their voices heard. We cannot call our city a democracy if a wide percentage of our residents do not have adequate housing rights. We need to ensure that everyone in Olympia feels dignity within their dwelling and empowerment in their lives. As your mayor, I will fight to make sure that housing rights are protected, strengthened, and advanced.

Together we can build a better Olympia.

Sincerely,

Marco Rossi

Why I’m Running

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Friends,

Once a week I volunteer at a homeless shelter at First Christian Church in Olympia. About a month ago, one of the residents told me that he had started a GoFundMe page in order to buy a wheelchair. One of his doctors informed him that if he did not start using a wheelchair to get around he would eventually lose his right leg. Unfortunately, Washington Apple Health did not consider the chair a medical necessity and therefore was unwilling to cover it. In desperation, and with the help of a staff member, my friend began asking for internet donations, hoping that slow trickles of $10 and $20 increments would somehow raise the needed $8,000 to afford a wheelchair before he lost his leg. 

Fortunately, it did not come to that. He was rescued when he found a local medical bank that had an available wheelchair. I felt a sense of relief that this man was spared the prospect of losing his leg, but the relief was bittersweet. Access to medical care for this man was not a matter of right, but of luck. It is hard enough to expect people to roll the dice when meeting basic needs; it is even harder when it is clear that the house has rigged the dice against them. Indeed, the whole reason my friend was homeless in the first place was that he had lost everything he had during Hurricane Katrina. He had very little family, his wife died a few years before and his son died while fighting in Iraq.

Looking at his life, it is easy to see the numerous levels of government failure. Our country failed this man by sending his son off to fight in an unjust war, it failed this man without providing adequate resources after Hurricane Katrina, and it failed him when it refused to cover his medical necessities. The question is: will Olympia fail him? How many more people are we going to let slip through the cracks before we admit that our house was built on a bad foundation? If the low-barrier shelter in the basement of First Christian Church that he is staying at failed to open, a real threat just a few years ago, how much lower would his odds of accessing vital resources be?

This man’s story is one of the reasons I am running for Mayor of Olympia. It is time we not only filled those cracks, but build a better foundation. I do not want to live in a city knowing that there are people who cannot access basic necessities, who are constantly struggling to find a life of dignity. An Olympia for all means that homeless people are treated with the same consideration and thoughtfulness that any other person in Olympia is; if not more so, because their circumstances require special attention. Please join me in creating a movement in Olympia that will end homelessness and poverty, that will create a more democratic and just city, and that will ensure the security and safety of every human being.

Sincerely,

Marco Rossi