Dan Strauss

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?

Over and over at the doors, people are concerned about homelessness. Homelessness is highly visible and deeply rooted in Seattle, and we need to do more to address it. Some of our solutions are working - 5,000 people exited homelessness last year - but more than that fell into homelessness. It is clear we need to do more, faster. I will prioritize getting people experiencing homelessness off the streets and into four walls with a door that locks, with access to the care and services that they need, and moving them to permanent supportive housing as soon as we can build it.

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?

Not all Councilmembers have successfully made the transition to a district-based system. One of the foundations of my campaign is to correct this - I was the first candidate to commit to opening a district office, and I will hold district office hours and prioritize constituent services so that members of my community don’t have to come downtown to meet their representative. I want to be in my community, and to hear from the people I represent.     I am a work horse, not a show horse. I will work to focus on the core functions of governing and ensuring our government works for the people of our city. This means focusing on my committee work, constituent services, and working with departments to ensure program implementation is meeting community needs, staying on schedule, and on budget.   

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?

Council has taken some very positive steps in recent years - the MHA legislation will create more affordable homes and allow for increased density near transit networks. The Families, Education, Pre-School and Promise Levy is another positive step and included seed funding for  the NOVA health care center (which I worked on), providing access to healthcare for LGBTQ youth in their school.     But Council also hasn’t moved fast enough on some of the most critical issues facing the city. We need to treat the homelessness crisis like the emergency that it is, and prioritize bringing people experiencing homelessness off the streets and into four walls with a door that locks, connected to the services they need. We need to be able to bring everyone who wants to come inside the opportunity to do so. This means we need more enhanced shelter beds while permanent supportive housing is being built, as well, we need to partner with King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties to address this issue together so that the regional burden is not placed on Seattle’s back alone.   

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

I do not support homelessness sweeps; however, we need to address public health issues and degradation of our environmental resources. We do not have enough enhanced shelter beds, or other emergency housing options that have four walls and a door that locks, which leads us to taking away their possessions and moving them around the corner into someone else’s front yard. The tax dollars spent on sweeps should be spent creating enhanced shelters, so we can bring homeless people inside. We cannot adequately triage our crisis without providing everyone who wants to come inside the option to have a safe, warm, dry place to be a couple, have their pet, keep their belongings in one place, and lock their door. If we want our homelessness interventions to stick, people need to be able to keep a routine, attend scheduled appointments, and keep their ID. Living in public space and/or being swept undermines the effectiveness of our interventions.     Permanent supportive housing is the most effective long term solution to homelessness. We need to reevaluate our spending if our policies are not focused on either saving lives which are in imminent danger (as with our emergency shelters) or moving people into four walls with a door that locks connected to the services services they need.

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?

The Seattle Police Department should integrate these findings into the resources and programs available to them. For frequent committers of low level crime, the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program is an excellent tool for helping these offenders break the cycle of criminal behavior. LEAD only came to the north precinct last fall, and we need to expand its resources and staffing. The LEAD program has been proven effective and I would like to increase the investment in it as a solution. For the people for whom diversion does not work, we need to more closely track their interactions with police and the judicial system so that the courts know who this person is, rather than just a list of their criminal history.   

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?

Small businesses are one of the cornerstones of what makes our city a great place to live, and the people who work in those businesses need to be able to live here as well. I will support the creation of more lower and middle income housing in Seattle. Creating more housing that is affordable to everyone and that is close to small business districts will enhance the vibrancy of our small business community.    The Director of Economic Development Bobby Lee and I worked together years ago in Oregon. He has creative and effective programming in mind that has already been proven in Portland to support small businesses. I will support this work and his efforts because I know what makes our city interesting is our culture, and that stems from our small businesses.     For District 6, I would like to see the creation of a brewery district, have a festival street on Ballard Avenue, and I will work with Fremont and Green Lake neighborhoods to identify designations that will help make their business districts destinations.   

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?

I support construction of duplexes, triplexes and quadplexes in single family zoning. Duplexes are a good way to preserve a neighborhood feel while increasing the number of homes. I was at a door the other day chatting with a homeowner in a single family zoned area and we noticed that the structure right next door - which did not look at all out of place -  was an apartment building built for the 1962 World’s Fair. Construction of that apartment is not possible under current zoning laws, and I would work to change that because it doesn’t change the height of buildings or the fundamental character of the neighborhood.   The challenge here is to ensure that people do not need to rely on their cars, rather than just being told not to rely on their cars. Increasing transit reliability and efficiency is critical to making density work.    Within the city, we need to incentivize developers building income-restricted housing, and ensure the Multi-Family Tax Exemption is renewed and possibly expanded. When buildings are constructed to have 30% area median income units all the way to market rate units, projects are able to pencil out and everyone is able to live close to their jobs and third places; keeping the community vibrant.     Additionally, to adequately address the regional housing crisis, we need to set up a regional governance system incorporating King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties to address the regional housing shortage.   

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 have nearly a decade of legislative experience across four different legislative bodies, including nearly 3 years in Olympia as a legislative aide and the past 1.5 years as Senior Policy Advisor to Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. I have the skills and relationships to hit the ground running and be effective from Day 1.     I also have deep connections to the community - I was born and raised in Ballard, have lived in Fremont and the Green Lake neighborhoods, volunteer in the district, and still have many lifelong friends who live here. I have served on the Ballard District Council, in the 36th District Democrats, on the Ballard Elks Lodge board, and on the Ballard Elks Paddling Club Board. I know both the legislative processes and the communities who I seek to represent.     I am a renter and my parents are homeowners in the district, and I understand the housing pressures facing residents young and older. I know where we have come from and where we need to go, and I will use that knowledge to guide Seattle’s growth and build a sustainable, equitable, and affordable city that works for everyone, whether they’ve been here one year or forty.