CPA asked candidates to answer questions that our members had on how they were planning to address some of the most pressing issues in our communities. Below are Shenika Carter’s answers.
- Hate crimes against members of the AAPI community are on the rise, in large part to misinformation and rhetoric related to COVID-19. This mirrors a broader increase in hate crimes against marginalized communities as a whole. As a member of the city council, what steps will you take to address and curb these trends?
When elected as Council Member At-Large in Commerce City, the first step I would take towards combating AAPI hate would be to immediately reach out to AAPI leaders and residents in our community on collaborative efforts to raise awareness and visibility and immediately work towards solution based policies on those concerns. Everyone should feel safe, seen and heard in our community and we must be unafraid to take bold stands against racism. Our AAPI neighbors are hurting and we’ve even seen their businesses fail as a direct result of misinformation about the Covid-19 Virus all while experiencing mass violence all over the Nation. Hate has no home in our Community City.
- How would you hold corporate polluters accountable for violating community health and safety regulations? Who are the main polluters in your area?
Commerce City is home to Suncor Oil & Gas refinery. Environmental Justice must be at the center of every single action because it affects every single community and must never exclude those most affected and marginalized. Suncor was directly responsible for a number of air-pollution violations over the last few years. These pollutants directly impact neighboring communities that are lowered income and predominantly consist of our Brown Sisters and Brothers. Even with SB21-1189 in Commerce City which is only a start that addresses our basic human right to clean air, we can absolutely do more and demand more as this bill doesn’t require air regulators to put emission caps in air pollution permits. We have to move toward life-long sustainable solutions that go beyond the band-aids in this fight for environmental justice.
2. What do you believe a just transition to renewable energy should look like in your city? And, what steps would you take to ensure that workers and communities of color are prioritized and centered in a transition to a green economy?
Commerce City can lead by example and absolutely move our city towards renewable energy drastically reducing our Carbon Footprint just by immediately working towards a path to either purchase and/or generate electricity from renewable sources. This would be the start to a Green Economy by creating economic development for those closest to the pain and communities of color who continuously suffer poor air quality as a direct result of pollutants but now have access to those manufacturing, installation, and many more greenhouse jobs. This opens up several opportunities for folks right here in our city.
3. Do you believe that there should be a reduction in the amount and type of chemicals that corporate polluters are putting in our air and water? If elected What actions will you take to set better health and safety standards in your city?
Absolutely, and it’s why I support emission caps in air pollution permits.
- What do you believe the minimum wage should be and why? If elected to the City Council would you support an ordinance that increases the City’s minimum wage without leaving out tipped workers?
Quality of life and improvements to basic standards of living would mean an absolute support of a Minimum wage of at least $15/hour with the expectation of a path to $17 per hour by 2025. Imagine Commerce City a place where families could easily afford their monthly expenses such as rent, car payments, and other household expenses. No family should work full-time and not be able to meet the basic necessities to survive. This minimum wage ordinance would make sure tipped workers are included as well.
2. Would you support shifting city-wide tax breaks toward locally owned businesses rather than larger corporations? What approach would you take to city-wide economic development incentives?
Year after year we hear reports that the biggest corporations of our country pay $0 in taxes while working families continue to suffer. Small businesses are the backbone to our community and must be protected as well. My vision for Commerce City is keeping commerce in Commerce City. I envision a mobile application that would allow small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs to create profiles that inform our community of the different types of services and products they provide right here locally. Oftentimes, our neighbors have talents and skills and run in-home businesses that we are completely unaware of. Economic Development incentives would increase sustainability of our small business community with tax credits for new business creation with a path for existing small businesses to remain with pathways to expansion through these incentives by hiring local residents.
3. Do you support efforts to increase the Child Care Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credits that support many families in your city? Do you believe that all families that pay taxes should have access to these tax credits, regardless of immigration status, without exceptions?
Yes, as I said earlier the biggest corporations in our country paid $0 in taxes. Tax incentives and refundable credits have sustained working class families since inception. A country that claims to welcome immigrant families should also be willing to include immigrant families who pay taxes in these credits as well. Child care is extremely expensive. As a mother of 4 children in our home, when we first moved here I couldn’t believe the cost. I went from paying $200 a week for 2 children for excellent childcare to $600 a week and it put such a financial strain on our family that we barely covered our monthly food expense and definitely there were times we went without. These credits are essential for our families who pay taxes and should be inclusive regardless of status.
4. What are your thoughts on TABOR? If elected, how would you?
It must go. We have school districts and communities suffering with increased property taxes and lack of access to resources. We have to advocate for the reinvestment in our education, public roads and lands. Tabor is hindering progression throughout our state and more directly to our community.
- Most immigrants facing deportation are unable to access legal representation. Will you support the creation of a Legal Defense Fund that uses private and city dollars to support those who can’t afford an attorney for their deportation cases?
I will always advocate for Due Process and access to adequate legal representation as a basic human right regardless of immigration status. Winning a deportation case with an Attorney is almost impossible, so what are we even doing this for if we aren’t giving immigrants and their families what we guarantee in our own constitution
2. As an organization, we believe that our community should be able to fight their deportation cases at home with their families and in community rather than behind bars/in cages. Do you agree with us on this? Why? Will you work to hold for-profit detention facilities accountable for the wellbeing of the people in their care?
This is why we need legislators who are unafraid to govern from a place of basic human decency. Fighting a deportation case doesn’t mean the offense is a violent crime. Families are separated daily from offenses and face detainment by ICE. We should absolutely end for-profit detention centers and allow people to fight these cases at home where they can not only prepare but spend time with loved ones in the event their case isn’t successful.
3. Will you work with us to end private prisons, and put a stop to the funding of facilities like the Aurora GEO Immigration Detention Facility?
Yes, I will continue to advocate for immigrant families and end for-profit prisons including detention facilities. I know first hand that these systems destroy not build communities. My life was personally affected by the continuous incarceration of relatives in my own family of non-violent crimes as well as crimes they didn’t commit but serve lifetime sentences for.
4. Will you support or champion an ordinance to stop the coordination between the city (staff, police, resources) with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in order to ensure everyone in the city regardless of status is safe?
Yes, we must advocate for a safe place to live and true pathways to citizenship as the founders of this country deemed necessary for themselves.
- What is your strategy to win?
To connect to my community in a way that listens to them and brings their concerns with me daily. My ideal Council-member is like a good neighbor. The person who sees the problem and immediately provides a solution upon presentation with a few options.
2. Why did you decide to run for office and what will your top 3 priorities be if elected to council?
Environmental Justice, Education Justice and allocation of resources in our communities that are necessary for us to thrive.
3. Will you commit to meeting with our sister organization, Colorado People’s Alliance (COPA) quarterly to discuss policy and strategies on our issues of racial, climate, economic and immigrant justice?
4. What steps will you take to actively involve the community in governing?
Listening tours throughout each and every Ward as well as continued monthly and/or quarterly town halls.
5. Why are you seeking CPA’s endorsement?
I seek endorsement because our paths cross continuously fighting for Racial Justice and Equity throughout this city as well as Colorado. We need folks who are unafraid to call out systemic oppression and I know with the support of this organization I would be able to advocate for those most impacted while knowing I’m not alone in this fight.
CPA pidió a los candidatos que respondieran las preguntas que nuestros miembros tenían sobre cómo planeaban abordar algunos de los problemas más urgentes en nuestras comunidades. A continuación se encuentran las respuestas de Shenika Carter.