Don Harper

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?

The homeless issue is what I find is on people's mind. I will make housing coupled with mental health, drug addiction, and recovery therapy a priority in the City funding. Up tell now we have not made it a budget priority by cutting back on other items. Performance audits of all departments, the Mayor's office, and City Council will likely provide additional funds within the budget to build permanent supportive housing.

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?

Since Mayor Murray's election the connection with the neighborhoods has been severed and this has been supported by the Council. The Dept of Neighborhoods needs to be redirected back to working with the neighborhoods and its citizens to create meaningful pathways of discussion with the City. DON needs to stop being used as a PR front for the Mayor and City Council. As a council member I will have an open door policy coupled with visits to the community councils in my district and beyond.

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 it is not. The only thing the Council has done right was to stop the employee tax. The reason the Council is failing in their duties is they only can hear people or advocacy groups that they agree with. As a leader, once you quit listening to other points of view or ideas you are no longer providing a service to your community or city. You have turned your ideas into a religion and no longer question the faith of your ideas. I will open up the process to the neighborhoods and communities to discuss how best to implement MHA and the ADU/DADU new zoning. I will consider all the transportation needs of our city and work with all constituents to break out of our current transportation plan of only working with advocacy groups that produce a silo affect rather then a more broad range of transportation realities.

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

The very new current policy of removing encampments from sidewalks and the removal of the wrecked mobile homes is a good start. We must make it a priority to build more permanent supportive housing. Stop wasting our money on sanctioned campsites and begin implementing the Barbara Poppe report The Path Forward.

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?

We need to hire more police and prosecuting attorneys to handle the additional arrests. We need to hold the offenders in jail and then move them into Mandatory locked door permanent supportive housing. The goal is after enough rehabilitation they are moved into open door permanent supportive housing.

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?

The City first needs to recognize that without employers there are no jobs for employees. As a city we need to be careful about raising the cost of doing business in the city. The current council does not seem to understand there are many small businesses in Seattle that must compete with competitors just across the city line. One thing I would like to do is make it easier for small business to work out of their homes. I was a successful small business owner in Seattle by starting and running an electrical contracting firm for over 28 years. We need to bring back parking so customers can reach our businesses.

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?

MHA & the ADU/DADU zoning rules have some good things in them. What is wrong is it is a one size fits all zoning. Affordable housing should not be a fee that you pay but be included in the new housing to increase diversity in our community. The lie that is constantly told is no one owns a vehicle anymore. That has been proven wrong over and over. Parking must be mandatory and included in the new zoning rules. There is some less vehicle ownership but not to the exclusion of allowing no parking. We need to go back to our communities and neighborhoods and implement real feed back into the rules of the zoning. To be realistic about  our increases in density we need to talk about the cost of upgrading our infrastructure and the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to buy, build, and maintain more parks and schools. Not everyone may be able to live in Seattle. It is time to consider housing hubs and our transit hubs outside 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.

I have been on the Queen Anne Community Council for over 20 years and have served as the Chair of the QACC Parks Committee. I have helped raised over $2M for parks improvements and over $1M for pedestrian safety projects. I spent 7 years on two Park Levy Citizen Oversight committees, the 2000 Pro Parks & 2008 Parks & Green Spaces, working for parks all over the entire city. For 10 years I have been on the Neighborhood Advisory Committee that meets once a month with the Port of Seattle, Magnolia Community Council, and the Queen Anne Community Council where Terminal 91 is the focus along with concern over the freight corridor from Ballard through downtown to the south freight terminals. I started and ran a successful  electrical contracting firm with 7 employees that worked throughout the entire state. I have volunteered thousands of hours to my community and the entire city working on a myriad of issues while running my business full time and raising a family. I have a varied life experience that has provided me the opportunity to work with people of all different ethnicity, sexual preference, gender, and political beliefs. While I have strong ideas, working with other people to come up with solutions is what works best. I will bring the neighborhoods and the larger community back into the discussion.