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 interrelated issue of affordable housing and homelessness has widespread effects, including impacting workforce stability, public safety, and our school system. Seattle has grown by 22% this decade, most in the nation, and over the last decade 85% of new housing built has been luxury housing. Approving MHA will help; expanding ADU development is a market solution that will help, but additional funding is needed for adequate affordable housing in the long term. Lack of affordable housing is a key driver of homelessness, as noted by the Third Door Coalition.
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 will continue my practice of open, transparent decision making. One example is the process for secure scheduling legislation, where I invited business and labor for joint discussions in my committee in several open public session. This approach, though time-consuming, led to a clear definition of the problem-- large, nationally-based companies that use scheduling software, and led to narrowly-focused legislation that addressed the specific problem in a practical, non-ideological way, with unanimous Council approval in 2016.
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?
A clear success is legislation I sponsored to create new enhanced, quarterly major project updates to provide transparent oversight, work Tim Burgess helped initiate. The next step is to establish accountability, so we don’t repeat the cost overruns on the seawall and combined utility billing. We must make pragmatic decisions about the most effective use of limited resources, which at times will mean saying “no,” such as to the proposed Center City Streetcar, and “yes” to continuing to fund expanded access to 10 minute bus service in Seattle (up citywide from 25% to 71% from 2015 to 2019).
Q4. Please comment on the city’s approach to unsanctioned encampments. Would you change anything about the current policy?
I requested the City Auditor evaluate the Navigation Team’s approach, and have held briefings in my committee about the Auditor’s recommendations. I have, and will continue to, advocate for implementation of the City Auditor’s recommendations, for instance, calling for an emergency management-based response to homelessness. A key focus is to target the newly homeless--because although our outcomes-based performance proves that we are moving more people more quickly out of homelessness, large numbers of new people are falling into homeless & without targeted outreach to get them into shelter. London’s “No Second Night Out” program is an example.
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?
After reviewing the System Failure report, I reached out to the neighborhood business groups that commissioned the report, attended their forum, and co-sponsored a discussion at the Council. I support hiring additional police officers, and voted to increase the SPD budget from $300 million to $400 million, and co-sponsored re-establishing the Community Service Officer program, which will help. We also need to increase prevention, through increasing diversion programs such as LEAD, and Familiar Faces, and Vital, as recommended by the City Auditor in the report I requested.
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?
I have supported limiting tax increases to only the largest businesses. For example, on legislation supported by the Chamber for police officer hiring, I worked with the sponsor, Tim Burgess, to limit increases in the business license fee to only the largest 15% of license holders. Similarly, I limited the Employee Hours Tax to only the largest businesses. I have been in touch with neighborhood business groups, and businesses affected by major transportation projects. I, again with Tim Burgess, sponsored tax fairness legislation for a tax on high incomes that included a future proposed reduction of B&O taxes. I look forward to SBAC recommendations.
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 maintaining our existing supply, by working to address displacement, which disproportionately affects communities of color and lower-income residents. I have sponsored a direct bond sale, supported mandatory housing affordability, and numerous measures in the HALA report, and advocated for greater funding from the state, and new use of the county lodging tax allowed by state law. I support legislation authorizing ADUs. I will be proposing use of new bonding authority granted by the 2019 State Legislature for affordable. It is unacceptable that the planned OH NOFA for 2019 is $50 million when our nonprofits have applied to build $200 million of shovel-ready projects.
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 worked with constituents throughout the neighborhoods of District 1, on affordable housing, zoning, transportation infrastructure from transit planning, to bus service, and pavement condition, to, public safety (including a neighborhood-specific task force and survey) and police coverage, homelessness, parks, education and addressing vacant buildings. No constituent issue is too large or too small. I have vast experience working with city departments to meet the needs of District 1 constituents, whether SPD, SDOT or SDCI.