Jason Williams

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?

What neighbors most desire is a different way of doing business. They characterize the city’s current legislative approach as one that prioritizes symbols over solutions; dismisses input from the constituents they’re meant to serve; vilifies the business sector or otherwise pits sectors against each other; and, lacks transparency and accountability.    We need to restore trust in local government because municipal government is the doorstep to democracy. I will conduct my work with integrity and transparency, enlist input from leaders in all sectors of society, and lead with solutions that move our city forward.

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?

I agree with my neighbor’s assessment (above); the current city council does not conduct its business in a productive, transparent, or accountable way. At Microsoft, I am held accountable every day for delivering results. If I fail to deliver results in my job, I may not be fired right away but I would not expect a bonus. That is exactly what the city is asking of the public -- more money for solutions that do not work. I will work every day to live up to my promise as a good steward of the public’s trust and taxpayer dollars. What’s more, I will approach my work with humility, soliciting input from all sectors, because we are stronger when we solicit the best ideas and work together to solve society’s greatest challenges.

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 do not think the current city council is on the right track in addressing Seattle’s problems. They underfund core services in public safety, transportation, and more; they have achieved few results on the challenges of the day -- including homelessness and affordability -- in spite of greater spending; and they lack foresight in planning for a more resilient and equitable economy. Upon taking office, I will focus on making the core healthy and whole; making strategic long-term bets on early-childhood education and workforce development; and introduce social impact bonds or other financing models to shift risk away from taxpayers.

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

We need to have a plan in place if we are going to sweep, otherwise we spend money on a non-solution. I will convene leaders from all sectors - business, government, and nonprofit - to create such plan. I do have concerns about tents on right-of-ways (e.g., sidewalks) as we need people of all abilities to get around safely. I also have concerns about encampments in public parks and open spaces. That’s why we need to better serve the homeless by providing more options for stable, secure housing -- housing that reflects their human dignity. What’s more, we need to shift focus to diversion and other homelessness prevention interventions so people do not end up on the streets in the first place.

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 city charter makes it clear that the city exists to protect and enhance the health, safety, environment, and general welfare of the people. The recent System Failure report suggests that we are failing in this regard. Prolific offenders of violent crimes, in particular, have a deleterious effect on public health and safety in our city. We are also clearly not setting them up for success by having them regularly cycle through the criminal justice system. I admit that I am not an expert on this topic. I welcome ideas to address very valid concerns about health, safety, and crime.

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 Yale MBA and private sector employee, with experience in businesses both small and large, I care strongly about creating the conditions to help Seattle’s economy thrive. I have direct experience in regional economic development and in catalyzing entrepreneurship. Upon taking office, I will reduce startup costs and related bureaucracy; increase support and funding to small businesses, especially those founded by underrepresented groups; reduce the volume of regulatory changes, generally, and otherwise ensure that small businesses have a voice in shaping policy and implementation plans. What’s more, I will encourage tech transfer between local research institutions and businesses, and work with schools, employers, and workforce systems to create next-gen apprenticeships.

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?

We should consider adding more housing, generally, and make a greater percentage of new housing income restricted. I also think that we can incentivize development of more single-room occupancy (SRO) buildings, with the goal of creating units at the $800-950/mo range. This will help low-wage workers, while also freeing up affordable housing for families.    While housing is important, it’s worth noting that affordability is a function of income and costs. We should strengthen middle-income jobs and find ways to decrease other costs that make the difference between making rent or not: utilities, transit, childcare, and more.    We all benefit when our city has diversity in class and backgrounds. I want my daughter to grow up in a neighborhood where she can know people like my parents - a teacher and a butcher - as well as immigrants and people of all backgrounds. We need to make affordability a priority.

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.

This job will require a leader of competence and character. My great grandmother Dewey McQueen, an angel in my life, would always say, “if you’re going to do something, do it well.” From school through career, I commit to excellence in everything I do and work actively to bring others along. I have worked in all sectors of society -- government, business, and nonprofit -- and have functional expertise in strategy, innovation, and impact measurement. I spend time to define the real problem(s); solicit ideas from a wide variety of sources; create hypotheses to test emerging ideas; and synthesize findings into a shared vision that others can rally behind. I am honored to receive endorsements from such varied leaders as Dennis Madsen, former CEO or REI and Forterra board member; Lem Howell, Civil Rights Attorney; Marlena Sessions, former CEO of the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County; and several others.