Mark Solomon

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?

Our response to homelessness is important. What we’re doing isn’t working to serve our unsheltered neighbors, nor is it serving the neighborhoods impacted by homelessness. My response would be to allocate more funding to diversion programs to keep people from becoming homeless in the first place, increase and enhance shelter capacity, and provide for more resources to place people in permanent supportive housing.  This includes funding for comprehensive case management services such as drug and alcohol treatment, mental health counselling, education and employment counseling.

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?

Communities around Seattle, especially in District 2, feel that their voices are not being heard by the Council. People have expressed that their concerns and input are not being taken into account.  As a council member I will seek input, listen, and be attentive to those who take the time to come and speak to us. I will work in collaboration with community organizations, residents and my council colleagues to enact legislation to address my constituents’ concerns and move forward on the issues they raise.

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?

City Council is not on the right track in terms of its relationship with constituents.  The council needs to be willing to consider constituents concerns and priorities and respond with legislative action. My approach is one of pragmatism vs. ideology, of listening, working in collaboration, and focusing on expediency rather than letting initiatives languish in committee. We need to be better partners with our residents, businesses and our council colleagues in order to move our city forward.

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

Often, when an encampment is cleared, some of those who want to accept services or shelter won’t because there's not enough shelter capacity, or because the shelter doesn’t meet that individual’s or family’s need. This is an ineffective game of whack-a-mole. We should ensure that we have the shelter capacity and the case management capacity to effectively serve our unsheltered neighbors.  To allow our unsheltered neighbors to stay in these encampments where there are health, sanitation and safety hazards would be 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 be serious about holding violent criminal offenders accountable for their actions.  For those non-violent, low-level offenders, there is the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program.  I would increase funding to hire more case managers so the increasing demand and case load could be better managed.  LEAD is not a “get-out-of-jail-free” card, nor are the results are immediate or guaranteed, but it’s a better approach than cycling people in and out of jail and the courts. This program has been shown to reduce recidivism, yet it is only one approach, not the complete solution.

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 Councilmember I will work with the Seattle Office of Economic Development to create a District 2 business retention and expansion program, work with our business associations to facilitate connections, create a comprehensive plan to facilitate growth for District 2 businesses, and introduce legislation to designate a portion of the Equitable Development Fund specifically for small commercial space development. I will introduce a pilot program in District 2 to provide property owners of commercial space with a tax credit to lower the rent on businesses in their spaces.    

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 the Mandatory Housing Affordability Plan, the Multifamily Tax Exemption, and easing restrictions on Accessory Dwelling Units to address housing costs.  I also support increasing assistance through the City’s Office of Housing and community-based efforts such as the Othello Square Co-operative housing model through organizations such as HomeSight. We need to build more housing for people at every income level.  Further, I support the tax reduction/exemption and tax deferral programs offered by King County to keep our seniors and disabled neighbors in place.

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’ve been a Crime Prevention Coordinator with Seattle Police Department for 29 years, addressing public safety and quality of life concerns for the communities of District 2.  As a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, I know how to manage people, projects and logistics within a multi-billion-dollar organization.  I know how the City works and where it’s fallen short responding to the concerns of District 2. I know this District, its issues, challenges and opportunities.  I have the experience and established relationships to act to achieve tangible results for the community.