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?
When I'm knocking on doors, over 65% of voters tell me their top issue is the homelessness crisis. I think Mayor Durkan's coordination with King County and expanded Navigation team is an improvement. Seattle’s homeless population deserves every opportunity to access services and secure housing, but our current approach is not sustainable and is unsafe both for the people who are unhoused and for the larger community. The first thing we need to do is create one city department to manage our response to the crisis in a coordinated way. Then we need to look at how we can reorganize the budget to ensure our resources are being put to the best use to reduce the number of people without shelter. We need to make sure we are properly budgeting to increase expanded shelter options and temporary and transitional housing with wrap-around services. Once we can ensure that all those who want services can get services, we need to re-establish our expectations for clean and safe public spaces.
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?
Current city council is seen as unresponsive to the needs of regular Seattleites. Seattle voters want elected leaders who will listen and get results. I think the first step is to be available to your district constituents and let them know you prioritize their needs over ideological agendas. Discussions and committee meetings need to be transparent and available to the public. The actuality or appearance of back room deals needs to stop. And Seattle voters need to see the elected officials prioritizing what voters are asking for and taking action to address the big issues in our city: homelessness, affordability, transportation, climate change, and education.
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, I don't think they're on the right track and that is why so many people are running this year. For years, Seattle politics has largely been a 'race to the left', and even though many Seattleites share liberal values, city council has become so committed to progressive ideology, that they are no longer effective in adequately responding to the issues facing our city. For example, I don’t see City Council taking enough action to reduce homelessness and prioritize getting people into supportive housing. We aren’t seeing enough action to implement the city’s Climate Action Plan. Voters share with me that they’ve lost trust in City Council to spend resources wisely and address Seattle’s needs. I also believe that businesses are not the enemy and proposing taxes without input from the business community and bringing them in to be a part of the solution is short-sighted and unsuccessful, as we saw with the head tax. I think Seattle is ready for more collaborative, responsive, and solutions-focused leaders on City Council.
Q4. Please comment on the city’s approach to unsanctioned encampments. Would you change anything about the current policy?
As I said in the first question, Seattle's homeless population deserves the opportunity to access supportive housing. For that reason, we need to audit the spending on homelessness to ensure we’re creating the temporary and transitional housing we know needs to be increased to support the current number of unhoused individuals. At the same time, unauthorized encampments are not a safe nor sustainable solution for those living there or for the larger community. I do support an increased focus on removing unsafe encampments but think there should be more than 30 minutes notice. We need to change our mindset about the homelessness crisis and accept it is a complicated problem that will require a nuanced response. Once we accept that we need to work pragmatically over time to improve it, that there’s more we can do with current resources, and start collaborating regionally, we will be able to start moving forward to increase exits out of homelessness, not just move encampments around the city.
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?
My constituents in District 4 are concerned about the increase in property crime and the reduced cleanliness and safety of parks and other public spaces. They want an action-oriented solution to the Homelessness crisis that prioritizes getting people into supportive housing and then they want City leadership to re-establish our expectations for clean and safe public spaces. Our police need to be enabled to enforce property crimes, nuisance crimes, and drug-related crimes and our City and County prosecutors need to follow up with prosecutions, especially for repeat offenders. In order to adequately respond to the needs of a growing city, we need to hire more police officers and fire fighters so we have adequate first responders that reflect the current population of our city. We also need a cultural shift in our city where police feel empowered to do their jobs and prosecutors support arrests of repeat offenders with prosecutions. I think we can also increase participation in LEAD and Mental Health court to make sure those who have comorbid issues are getting the services and treatment they need.
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?
As a member of the business community in Seattle, I would be proud to bring a pragmatic approach to problem solving to City Council. The first step is having elected leaders who are open to the needs of business and treat them as a valuable part of our growing economy. As an Executive for a local, small business, I know firsthand how it is becoming increasingly difficult for small businesses to thrive in Seattle. Between the high cost of rent, the struggle to pay employees a living wage, and employee turnover, businesses are being stretched thin. We need a City Council that is interested in hearing from and supporting the business community, not alienating them with policies and taxes that aren’t supported by the majority of Seattle. As a business-friendly voice on City Council, I would work to limit new regulations and taxes that hurt small businesses and be a voice advocating for the importance of economic development and job growth for the city as a whole.
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?
Affordability is a big concern for our city and it impacts workforce availability. Employees are having to commute longer distances to get to work or juggle multiple jobs just to survive in our city. Density is an issue where we need to be thoughtful and look to bring the city and neighborhoods together to create balanced solutions. I would like to see more efforts at increasing density in single-family zones without increasing height limits by relaxing rules for ADUs and basement apartments. This would add density in our single-family zones without fundamentally changing the neighborhood. Seattle is known for having missing middle housing that would be a great option for moderate income employees. We need to thoughtfully increase density, in a graduated manner, with highest density near transit and job hubs, in order to house the number of people who live in our city. MHA will also enable our city to build needed government-subsidized housing for low-income workers. We are a growing city and we need to approach affordability both from a thoughtful housing density and a public resources perspective, to make it easier for middle-income employees to live and thrive in the city of 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 am running for Seattle City Council because I believe in the future of Seattle. Over the last several years, I’ve watched City Council lose its way and become disconnected from the needs of everyday Seattleites. We need a strong voice at City Hall working towards practical solutions to the big problems our city faces and someone who has the ability and political will to stand up to the ideological agendas that don’t represent the needs of Seattle. I’ve been very involved as an advocate for educational equity, Autism awareness, and small business rights for years and want to use my strong voice, strategic perspective, and business acumen to improve our city. I bring a diverse background in education, advocacy, and business leadership to this campaign. As the only candidate with both a deep, personal understanding of social justice and advocacy combined with the working experience as a business leader to know how to get things done, I am uniquely qualified to bring a balanced, action-oriented approach to City Hall.