Snohomish County legislators talk race, policy in Seattle

Rep. April Berg and Sen. John Lovick chatted about Tyre Nichols and education at an event kicking off Black History Month.

April Berg

SEATTLE — As the mother of a Black son, the police killing of yet another Black man has been on state Rep. April Berg’s mind relentlessly.

“I cried,” Berg said of Tyre Nichols. “And I took a minute. And then I realized, I’m policymaker. And we have work to do.”

Nichols, 29, succumbed to his injuries three days after being beaten by Memphis police officers who pulled him over for a traffic stop Jan. 7. Vice President Kamala Harris and civil rights activist Al Sharpton spoke at Nichols’ funeral Wednesday after a string of national protests.

Berg and state Sen. John Lovick discussed the killing, education and political differences Wednesday in Seattle at a “Civic Cocktail” event. Berg and Lovick represent the 44th Legislative District, encompassing Mill Creek, Snohomish and Maltby. Along with Brandy Donaghy, the three legislators comprise the only all-Black delegation in Washington since the 1970s.

Alicia Crank, executive director of Seattle CityClub, moderated their discussion at The Collective, a social club in Seattle’s South Lake Union. The conversation kicked off Black History Month.

Berg touched on proposed House Bill 1513 called “Traffic Safety for All” that would aim to improve traffic safety by focusing enforcement resources on high-risk behavior. According to the bill, data shows that “high discretion” traffic violations, including those unrelated to road safety, fall “disproportionately on Black, brown, and Indigenous road users, as well as low-income road users.”

The bill would aim to reduce biased traffic stops.

Lovick recounted growing up in Louisiana as a young Black man, with the fear that his grandmother endured every time he left the house. He spoke of the fear he now has for his children and grandchildren.

“What a burden we carry,” Lovick said. “If you looked at the crowd tonight, people were there from all races, all sexes, all orientations, and that is what this is about. … Start celebrating each other.”

Another proposed bill, House Bill 1025, would allow victims of police misconduct to sue for damages in civil court and move to end qualified immunity for police officers.

Berg, of Mill Creek, won her second term in office last November, defeating Republican challenger Ryne Rohla. Lovick, also of Mill Creek, won his second term after getting appointed to the Senate seat in fall 2021. He beat Republican challenger Jeb Brewer.

Asked to name an issue where the two Democrats differ, Lovick, the former Snohomish County sheriff, said he is a “big fan” of school resource officers and the partnerships they offer.

John Lovick

Speaking on other current events involving questions of race, Berg, “a recovering school board director,” said she was “disappointed” to see the news that The College Board had altered its Advanced Placement African American studies program to remove Black writers associated with Critical Race Theory and queer studies, among other changes.

“I truly believe that (the Florida governor’s push to change the AP program was) about us not being seen as fully human and valuable and historical,” Berg said.

She advised people to explore the breadth of educational opportunities in each community and to not rely exclusively on one option, like AP.

“Know what your districts offer. Know what the community organizations in your areas offer,” Berg said. “Don’t rely on a system that was not made for us completely.”

Berg also briefly talked about Washington’s “upside down” tax policy, saying “poverty is a policy choice” that Washington continues to make. In past Herald interviews, Berg has said the state relies too heavily on sales tax.

Crank currently writes a column for the Daily Herald. On Jan. 28, she wrote that her current role at the Seattle CityClub is “a culmination of my life’s journey to this point.”

“As some areas of society becomes more polarized, and people want and deserve to be heard, civility in sharing views has been on a steady decline,” Crank wrote. “It’s challenging to maintain civility amid disrespectful exchanges, but I find it a noble cause to keep pursuing.”

Kayla J. Dunn: 425-339-3449;; Twitter: @KaylaJ_Dunn.

Talk to us

More in Local News

News logo for use with stories about Mill Creek in Snohomish County, WA.
Mill Creek house fire leaves 1 dead

The fire was contained to a garage in the 15300 block of 25th Drive SE. A person was found dead inside.

Firefighters respond to a house fire Wednesday morning in the 3400 block of Broadway. (Everett Fire Department)
3 hospitalized in critical condition after Everett house fire

Firefighters rescued two people, one of whom uses a wheelchair, from the burning home in the 3400 block of Broadway.

The Walmart Store on 11400 Highway 99 on March 21, 2023 in in Everett, Washington. The retail giant will close the store on April 21, 2023. (Janice Podsada / The Herald)
Walmart announces Everett store on Highway 99 will close on April 21

The Arkansas-based retail giant said the 20-year-old Walmart location was “underperforming financially.”

Michael Tolley (Northshore School District)
Michael Tolley named new Northshore School District leader

Tolley, interim superintendent since last summer, is expected to inherit the position permanently in July.

Logo for news use, for stories regarding Washington state government — Olympia, the Legislature and state agencies. No caption necessary. 20220331
New forecast show state revenues won’t be quite as robust as expected

Democratic budget writers say they will be cautious but able to fund their priorities. Senate put out a capital budget Monday.

Everett Memorial Stadium and Funko Field on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Drive to build new AquaSox ballpark gets $7.4M boost from state

The proposed Senate capital budget contains critical seed money for the city-led project likely to get matched by the House.

Granite Falls
Two suspects charged in motorhome shooting near Granite Falls

Bail was set at $2 million for each of the suspects, Dillon Thomas, 28 and David Koeppen, 37.

Hikers make their way along the Heybrook Ridge Trail on Friday, March 18, 2023, in Index, Washington. (Kayla Dunn / The Herald).
‘It took my breath away’: Lace up your hiking boots because spring is here

Heybrook Ridge Trail packs stunning views and a moss-covered forest in a 3.3 mile round-trip package.

Angelica Montanari and daughter Makena, 1, outside of the Community Health Center of Snohomish County Everett-Central Clinic on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Providers at Community Health Center of Snohomish County vote to form a union

Providers expressed hope for improving patient care and making their voices heard with management.

Most Read