Jon Lisbin

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 paramount issue is homelessness. 24/7 enhanced shelters, the LEAD program, and Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) work. PSH is the
gold standard, but at over $300,000 per unit, it is costly. Seattle must increase supportive services to move people into stable housing. We cannot sweep them around and incarcerate individuals (often with substance use disorder and mental health issues) at a great societal cost. The City and County also must coordinate their response more effectively.   

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?

My perspective and personal experience is that the Council has been conducting business with the public in a very top-down approach.
As a member, I would like to take a bottom-up approach, where citizens, neighborhood groups, small businesses, and those less fortunate have a more active input in the policies I propose and the decisions I make. As in business, I feel that if citizens feel like they are part of the decision-making process, it is much more likely that policies will be successful.

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 believe the city has been following ideology without pragmatism in its approach to governance and it has been an unmitigated failure. It is time to change the Council and put in leaders who have proven their effectiveness at problem-solving and collaboration. As someone who built a successful business from scratch and built a coalition of 29 community groups to appeal MHA’s flawed upzones, I believe I am the candidate that will make the most positive impact on Seattle governance.

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

The encampments are the most visible issue affecting homeless and housed residents in D6 and Seattle generally. However, homelessness is a national crisis; there are no simple answers. At a minimum, the City should provide legal areas for homeless individuals to camp and park their cars. In these centralized locations, we should set up services to help people transition to more permanent housing. Otherwise, we are sweeping people from one spot to another, which is ineffective and inhumane.

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 must handle substance use disorder and mental health issues at the root, instead of penalizing behavioral health needs with detention. A criminal record impedes finding a job and housing, which fuels the cycle of poverty and criminality. We should scale effective programs, like LEAD, to reduce recidivism, increase on-demand and medically-assisted treatment both in and out of jail, and provide stable housing with wrap-around services. As a Councilmember, I will do what works, not take shortcuts.

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 small business owner, I will represent small business interests. We lose neighborhood businesses because of crime, shoplifting, out-of-control rent prices, and misguided policy. One example was MHA’s upzoning of “The Ave.” This illustrates that the Council’s priorities lack consideration for small businesses. Mixed neighborhood commercial zones also require storefronts. However, the spaces are too large for small businesses. We need to create spaces for all sizes of businesses to prosper.

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 would support utilizing a portion of the Real Estate Excise Tax, retaining a portion of sales tax collected, and re-enacting Seattle’s Growth-Related Housing Fund. These revenue streams can be leveraged by bonding capacity. I would also support one-for-one replacement of low-income housing in high displacement neighborhoods when naturally occurring low-income housing is demolished. We need policies like these in place as we grow so we can respond to the economic cycles of the city.

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.

built a small business into one of Washington’s fastest-growing private companies. I earned an MBA and an Executive Masters in Public Administration at the UW Evans School. As President of Seattle Fair Growth, we built a coalition of 29 community groups to appeal the MHA Upzones. I am not just a dreamer but a doer; I want to bring my skills to City Hall to help untangle Seattle’s many interrelated challenges. I believe I am exactly the pragmatic leader your organization is seeking to support.