Ann Davison Sattler
Q1. What are you hearing from voters as the most important issue facing Seattle? In your view of that issue, what is working and what would you do differently?
Homelessness and the dire state of people living on the streets. I am sad to say that there is not anything that is working in regards to this problem because despite having a city and county declared state of emergency on homelessness for the last 4 years, our spending has increased, the number of people on the streets has increased and the number of deaths on the streets has increased. I would forego the approaches that have shown they are unsuccessful and instead would respond proportionately to the declaration. I would have FEMA-style shelter at designated locations for needs assessment to distinguish who has an affordability issue and can self-care and who has other needs such as mental health care and/or addiction treatment. I have a published plan, including costs, for one location but have at least two others I will be publishing.
Q2. Please provide your perspective on how the current city council conducts its business with the public. How would you conduct yourself as a council member?
Predominantly, but most specifically in District 5, the current city council conducts its business with the public atrociously. I decided to run for this office because of policy issues but as things proceeded I have become appalled at the level of unresponsiveness towards constituents. I have met countless D5 residents and business owners who have attempted to contact their current council member only to be met with silence. I am a resident included in that group. Moreover, I have come to learn directly from a neighboring municipality's mayor that he has tried for three years to talk with the current D5 council member regarding the 145th street station, only to be evaded. We districted to have a representative more in reach and that is not happening in District 5. Furthermore, the tone and tenor of the public communication with residents is very concerning. To me, a person in a position of power should be humble and magnanimous. As a council member, I would first and foremost treat others as I would want to be treated-- whether they are colleagues, residents, regional leaders, business owners. I want an elected leader who is personable and professional and for me that would mean making time to listen to people and connect individually with them. A leader who does that can build cohesion among people and that moves all of us towards productivity, working together, and problem-solving.
Q3. In your view is the current City Council mostly on the right track in addressing Seattle’s problems.? If yes, what do you like about the current Council’s approach? If no, what would you do differently?
I think the current city council is very imbalanced in how it views issues, problems and solutions. Take, for example, the head tax debacle. It was approved unanimously despite business owners and residents being exceedingly vocal against it. The current city council's ideological agenda appears to have more pull than the voice of those who are here. Time after time we see unanimous votes by the current city council which shows there is not a lot of diversity of ideas and thus an imbalance. I would vote according to how I thought most of my district would want me to vote on an issue and what I thought was right, not following other council members. For example with the head tax, I would have voted "no" to make a stand for business owners and residents even though it was clear it would pass anyway.
Q4. Please comment on the city’s approach to unsanctioned encampments. Would you change anything about the current policy?
The city's current approach to unsanctioned encampments is unconscionable. It is categorically inhumane. It is damaging environmental assets that the city has invested in just 4 years ago to restore (11M along Thornton Creek Watershed, for one example.). I would use my approach listed above and have a proportional emergency response to our declared state of emergency in 2015 and have FEMA-style shelter locations for needs assessment and organized first responders. By providing emergency shelter we can then enforce our no public camping law and make the public green spaces clean (once, instead of being redundant as we are now) and open for everyone. This would not only help those suffering on the streets but provide the necessary information we need to better tailor our response.
Q5. A recent study found a that a group of offenders with dozens of arrests, who regularly cycle through the courts and back onto the streets account for a significant amount of the property and violent crime in downtown and the neighborhood business districts. How should city government respond to these findings?
By using my emergency FEMA-style response, we would have a lowering of property crime and random assaults because at the needs assessment locations we can get people connected to the help they need. This will allow us to clean up the areas around businesses and neighborhoods, and increase the safety of all. Also, although prosecution is under the city attorney's purview, it is necessary for the city council to be investigating and talking publicly about why this is occurring so residents and business owners feel heard and understood. As things are now, residents and business owners feel their current city council does not hear them because there is little acknowledgment of this problem and even less talk of making sure things improve. This should be highlighted and discussed publicly until there is a policy change in regards to prosecution. The city should also be directing funding towards effective addiction treatment and mental health assistance.
Q6. Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities with small businesses as the backbone of our local economy. However, as the city grows the cost of doing business has also increased. As a council member what is something you would do to help businesses survive and prosper in Seattle?
First I would not vote for a head tax. I would focus on incentivizing job creation and local hiring. Building out more apprenticeships in private business would be a focus of mine to build public/private partnerships that benefit many. Helping those exiting training and school to have more experience to offer employers and hire our local workers will help businesses be more invested here. I also would put efforts into streamlining many of the regulations and tracking of various tax rates that are required for businesses to operate in our city.
Q7. As the city has grown so has the cost of housing making Seattle unaffordable for many people in the workforce. What strategies do you support to increase the supply of affordable housing in Seattle?
For affordability, upzoning within a half a mile of transit hubs, including a variety of room types is a good start. With public-private partnerships we could build units such as single-room occupancy rentals with shared common rooms and kitchens--with designated floors for senior citizens to build social cohesion and community through the type of housing for a population known to be prone to social isolation and loneliness. Other floors with single room rentals and common shared space could have single moms with one child, for example, and they rent two of the four rooms with another mother and child, building in community and building social ties by the type of layout the housing provides. This also would lower the cost of the housing for those in these units. One example is to target the closed Sam’s Clubs locations as possible properties to purchase to have one or more FEMA locations and/or build dormitory style housing of three floors on one location while the other provided the FEMA shelter. Also, there are some larger residential lots in D5 that would be ideal for ADUs. I would want to streamline the timing for permits for such units but would want to maintain owner occupancy requirements. I also would look at 99 for higher buildings, such as discussed above for the former Sam’s club land. I would also lessen restrictions for short term rentals by tenants to sublet. For example, if a landlord had 200 rented units in a building, the tenant could pay an annual fee and get high renter’s insurance and be allowed to sublet their unit when they are not there (could have a max duration per stay.). The tenant would owe 10% of the received funds from the sublet to the landlord. This would allow tenants to stay in higher rent units by creatively subletting and supplementing their ability to pay the rent. This loosening of restrictions to sublet to Airbnb guests, and other platforms, could allow tenants to be able to afford to stay where they are living and supplement the vacation and business visitors’ needs coming to Seattle.
Q8. Being on the City Council is a challenging job. Please describe your specific experience or skills that qualifies you to serve as the representative of your district.
Having lived here for 23 years and first coming to work for the Seattle SuperSonics team, I have been able to watch our city change from before and after it's largest growth time period. I have been a tenant, landlord and homeowner here; an employee and a small business owner here. I'm now a lawyer, arbitrator and teacher. I am trained in alternative dispute resolution, which often comes in useful when needing to create solutions among stakeholders. I worked as a caseworker for a U.S. Representative and understand the importance of following through with constituent concerns. Besides these experience, I am by far the most passionate candidate wanting change for our city. Review the photos on my campaign Facebook page, Neighbors for Ann, that I take with voters at their doors after talking with them for just a few minutes. Rebuilding trust in our local government has never been more critical for Seattle. Voters in District 5 are greatly dissatisfied and I came from that movement. Voters want someone who listens to them and shows them respect. I also have actual plans for my approach to our declared state of emergency, including costs. I bring people together and motivate them by evidence of my campaign gaining over 130 volunteers in just a few months' time. I connect with voters and provide solutions and action even as a candidate and will do more of the same as a council member.