Ari Hoffman

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?

I ask every voter that I encounter this question and almost every single one tells me that we need to solve our homelessness crisis. We need to continue focusing on a housing-first approach, getting people off the streets, and when necessary into treatment. Providing basic services like public places for people to do laundry, shower, and other necessary services without any requirement is a good way to help people feel like accepted members of society again, and, there is evidence that providing hygiene services increase participation in treatment programs and healthcare appointments.

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?

The current Council is the opposite of what a good government should be. The Council seems to not understand the purpose of public comment periods, they have a habit of placing controversial program sites in neighborhoods without letting the citizens know beforehand, and they don’t bring all stakeholders to the table before making major decisions that affect billions of dollars’ worth of our economy. I would always have a long public comment period, I would ensure that citizens know before any program site is placed in their area, and I would always bring everyone involved in a decision to the table. I will also open a district office so my constituents don’t need to travel to City Hall to have their voices heard.

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?

No. You would be hard-pressed to find an issue where the average Seattle resident is pleased with the current council’s progress. The current City Council seems to exist in an echo chamber and doesn’t appear to have time to listen to any of the residents or businesses of Seattle. I would immediately take steps to end the adversarial position the Council has taken with all that may disagree with them. Everyone in our city needs to know that they have value and that their concerns are being listened to and taken seriously. I have surrounded myself with a broad spectrum of political minds because I want to understand the issues from all perspectives. This is the approach I will bring to City Hall.

Q4. Please comment on the city’s approach to unsanctioned encampments.  Would you change anything about the current policy?

People need more than just space to pitch a tent or to park a car, without access to even the most basic hygiene services. The city’s hand’s off approach is NOT compassionate. We need to provide those suffering with actual services and get them sheltered now. I refuse to accept that we cannot do a better job to help our unsheltered population. I also refuse to label every parent that is concerned about garbage, drugs, and human waste in their children’s neighborhoods and parks as heartless just because they expect the city to do something about this problem. I know we can clean up our streets by investing in dignity and opportunity.

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?

Our Police Officers need to trust that the City will have their backs when they arrest people for crimes. We can’t continue this cycle of “catch and release”. The public loses faith in government when we can’t keep them and their property safe. Criminals who are repeat offenders need to remain in jail. There is nothing wrong with enforcing our laws in a just and humane fashion. They are laws, not choices.

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?

One of the things I hear most from small business owners is that they feel totally ignored by the City Council. My door will always be open to them. Small businesses need to be prioritized for City contracts, as well. We can do more to ease the burden of regulation through simple streamlining that doesn’t interfere with public or worker safety. The government can work smarter and more efficiently. One idea I really like is providing incentives for local employee hiring that will reduce their overall tax burden.

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?

Some of the ideas I would like to examine to address the cost of housing in our city are: Work with developers to further incentivize the inclusion of mixed-income units in development so that we can get affordable units now as opposed to just collecting in-lieu fees. Explore the potential to use the city’s borrowing capacity to borrow against future in-lieu fees and impact fees to construct city-owned units now that can be sold for a profit to the city later. Offer incentives to open the many luxury apartments that sit empty to lower-income renters or implement penalties for letting units sit empty to keep rates high. Act now to further ease regulatory restrictions on accessory dwelling units (mother-in-law apartments) if the unit will be offered at rates deemed affordable for a full-time minimum wage worker. Continue to find re-zoning opportunities to increase the supply of housing in Seattle. Examine potential cost savings for developers such as waiving parking requirements or utility connect fees to encourage the development of affordable housing. Explore ways for the city to back lower interest rate loans on affordable housing development.

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.

I own two small businesses. I’ve built two schools and a youth center. I’ve worked with the Jewish community for 16 years. I can bring people from diverse backgrounds to the table and get to work because I’ve done it before. I will always be available to those who want to talk to me, especially those who disagree because I want them to know I still represent them, and they are being heard.