On Tuesday, April 22, 2020, Kent Mayor Dana Ralph – along with the Mayors of Covington, Renton, Enumclaw, Tukwila, Burien, Pacific, SeaTac and Black Diamond – sent a letter to Governor Jay Inslee, asking him to re-open residential and commercial construction and stimulate our local economy.

They join the business and labor community in recognizing that “this can be done safely with rigorous safety standards and inspections.”

This move would also allow thousands of people to go back to work, relieve some pressure on the unemployment insurance system, create jobs for supply chain companies and put housing online faster at a time when officials don’t want folks to experience homelessness or housing insecurity.

“In a time where the federal government has bailed out airlines, cruise lines have requested support, large business, some small business, states, counties and large cities – they’ve left cities our size on our own,” Ralph said in a statement. “It means there’s no magic money coming to cover the millions of dollars of revenue lost – we must phase in our local economy to generate revenue our residents will lose programs and critical services they rely on.”

Here’s the full text of the letter:

Honorable Governor Jay Inslee
Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002

Re: Restarting Construction Projects

Dear Governor Inslee,

As individual local Mayors, we find ourselves in challenging and uncharted times as we battle COVID-19. There simply was no play book for this type of disaster and like you we are doing the best we can with limited resources and tools to fight this type of global pandemic. We appreciate many of the actions you have taken to protect our residents and businesses during this unprecedented time. We applaud your determination to make Washington a leader in the nation on this front. But we write you today to ask you to safely reopen the construction industry.

Health and safety for workers is our shared top priority, without any exception. We fully support the plan that both the labor and business communities have developed requiring documentation is posted at each jobsite and fully complied with, including inspection of jobsites to ensure compliance. We believe firmly that we need to limit risk to workers and ensure strict compliance for health and safety protocols. Re-opening construction, even in phases, will ensure residential and commercial structures that were already underway can be completed. It will relieve some of the pressure put on our unemployment system, create jobs, stimulate the supply chain economy and ensure more Washingtonians don’t end up without a roof over their heads in the middle of this crisis.

The Federal government has bailed out specific industries, reimbursed states for expenses and even provided relief for cities over 500,000 in population. To date, the rest of us are on our own to fund critical services which means our local economy is vital if we are going to continue to function as local government. Re-opening construction, while it won’t save our entire economy, it will provide some relief to local government.

We ask that you please consider this request, along with the calls from the labor and business community, county executives, mayors and elected officials across the state to re-open our construction industry.

Very Respectfully Yours,

Dana Ralph, Mayor of Kent; Jeff Wagner, Mayor of Covington; Armondo Pavone, Mayor of Renton; Jan Molinaro, Mayor of Enumclaw; Allan Ekberg, Mayor of Tukwila; Jimmy Matta, Mayor of Burien; Leanne Guier, Mayor of Pacific; Erin Sitterly, Mayor of SeaTac; Carol Benson, Mayor of Black Diamond