ballots

The Issues

Some voters cast their ballot by a particular issue. This page shows candidates' answers to questions that you, our readers, asked us, grouped by topic. See our FAQ for how went about choosing the questions below. 

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Jump to: Housing & Homelessness | Policing & Public Safety | Taxes & Economy | Urban Planning & Transportation

Housing & Homelessness

We spent several weeks collecting questions that you voters wanted candidates to address. We picked the most popular questions and themes on this topic and passed them along to the candidates.

  • How can housing in Seattle be made more affordable for full-time workers paid at or close to minimum wage?
  • What benchmarks, milestones, or other metrics will you use to gauge if your efforts to house people are working? How will you keep residents apprised of your progress, including how money is spent?
  • When it comes to people living on sidewalks, in parks, and other public spaces, where will you direct resources and what will those resources be told to do?
  • How will you scale up non-law enforcement alternatives to mental health and homelessness?

M. Lorena González

Q: How can housing in Seattle be made more affordable for full-time workers paid at or close to minimum wage?

A: Housing is the lasting solution to homelessness. My first priority is to secure funding to rapidly build more housing, with wraparound services for individuals who need that support. As Seattle Mayor, I know we must lead in our region and work closely with local, regional, state and federal partners to develop the housing we need: about 37,000 more affordable homes for families and individuals living on extremely low incomes (according to the latest 2020 McKinsey & Co. report).

I am also committed to creating an inclusive and interconnected city, investing wisely and deeply in the housing and strong public transit we need. We should make sure more homes of all shapes and sizes are available for our neighbors: legalize housing like duplexes, triplexes, and other lower cost homes across Seattle. To build the affordable homes we need, we have to change outdated laws that prevent multi-family housing in 70% of Seattle’s residential areas. As the next Mayor, I will center this vision of a vibrant city as we plan for and put Seattle on a path to being an affordable and sustainable city.

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Q: What benchmarks, milestones, or other metrics will you use to gauge if your efforts to house people are working? How will you keep residents apprised of your progress, including how money is spent?

A: The metrics that matter are how many people we have successfully moved into suitable shelter and how many people we have moved from shelter into permanent housing, providing the services and support they need to restart their lives. We will assess our progress addressing the root causes of homelessness by looking at how affordable our city becomes – whether we lower overall housing costs, how economically diverse neighborhoods become as we invest in them, whether we lower the unemployment rate, and increase the percentage of our population working jobs that pay a living wage.

We will ensure that we are funding programs that effectively transition people to shelter and housing and not waste taxpayer resources on those that don’t. Programs like the Navigation Team, which only had a 6% success rate placing people into shelter, are a waste of taxpayer dollars and should not be funded. My administration will provide leadership, guidance and metrics to the council, whose job it is to fund programs and conduct oversight to effectively allocate dollars to programs that work.

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Q: When it comes to people living on sidewalks, in parks, and other public spaces, where will you direct resources and what will those resources be told to do?

A: Our emergency response must be guided by public health starting on day one. I will work rapidly to increase shelter capacity and assess encampments across all neighborhoods and quickly work with city staff and community service providers to identify people we can immediately help move inside into hotel rooms and other non-congregate settings. Our current system is failing the people experiencing homelessness in Seattle and King County who suffer from serious mental health and substance use issues. I will push for more wraparound services for people with mental health and substance use disorders, skilled 24/7 crisis response teams (like Health One and Triage One), and service-enriched supportive housing for those who need it.

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Teresa Mosqueda

Q: How can housing in Seattle be made more affordable for full-time workers paid at or close to minimum wage?

A: To build a strong, equitable Seattle for workers who contribute to Seattle’s renowned prosperity, I support rent stabilization efforts and have been scaling up additional access to rental assistance and protections in this time of crisis. We also need to create continued extensions of the eviction moratorium until we’re truly out of the Covid-19 crisis and keep all tenants entitled to representation at no cost to them when facing eviction. We have no assurances when the economy is going to stabilize, thus the moratorium needs to stay in effect and continue to support renters to be able to keep their contracts through rental assistance dollars which we’ve given out the door. We need to do more of that so more people can stay stably housed.

Additionally, we have not built the housing that we need in this city; we have not allowed for the housing to be built in our currently single-family, restrictive zoning covenants, so I will work to create more multifamily structures across our city to allow for greater density and affordable housing options. That helps relieve pressure in the market which is causing housing prices to skyrocket. However, the market alone is not going to solve our problem, we absolutely need more housing. The second thing to address the cost of increased market rate of housing is to do the acquisition and development of new housing. We’ve given the Office of Housing a tremendous amount of money to ensure we’re building more affordable housing units, specifically targeting those who earn 0% to 30% of the area median income, including full-time workers paid at or close to minimum wage. That will help create more housing units, both apartment units and multifamily dwelling structures, but also purchasing. If there’s an apartment building or a hotel that’s going up on the market, the city should be first in line to purchase that to create more publicly owned housing and to use underutilized city property, instead of selling it to the highest bidder.

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Kenneth Wilson

Q: When it comes to people living on sidewalks, in parks, and other public spaces, where will you direct resources and what will those resources be told to do?

A:  /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ Seattle anticipates approximately $239 million from the Federal American Rescue Plan. I will direct resources to the county-owned property at Northgate where the new light-rail station has replaced the King County metro station. Here the City can work in cooperation with the King County Housing Authority to create, build, and manage a permanent vertical multi-story/multi-use homeless housing and rehabilitation facility permanently. Homelessness rehabilitation must be goal oriented toward a realistic 18 to 24 month transition housing necessary to heal from the root causes. Here we would build a life-long plan with on-site professional support provided for those with addiction and mental needs as well as job training and career counseling including classroom time through the adjacent North Seattle College now just across the Northgate Pedestrian Bridge. This use of resources gives homeless a real plan, realistic time to transition, pride in themselves, a path forward, and value to the community.

Nikkita Oliver

Q: How can housing in Seattle be made more affordable for full-time workers paid at or close to minimum wage?

A:  /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ Seattle must commit to building, acquiring & supporting the development of workforce housing throughout the entire city. All workers should have the opportunity to live in deeply affordable dignified housing close to work, school, services, & amenities. We can achieve this by: a) Building green, social, workforce housing & leveraging progressive revenue generation to fund it (ie. JumpStart); b) Ending the apartment ban throughout the city (excluding industrial lands); c) Preserving the current supply of affordable units; d) Adjusting restrictions & provide financial & technical supports to strengthen a citywide residential infill strategy; e) Require more affordable housing units & community benefits from private sector developers when granting up-zones or other incentives; and f) Work with community land trusts, cooperatives, & tenants unions to ensure that more communities, especially Black & Native communities, have access to land, housing, & home ownership.

We must lower the cost of housing through increasing the supply & developing, subsidizing & incentivizing affordable developments while also raising the minimum wage. The minimum wage in Seattle is $15-16.69 per an hour depending on tips & benefits, but a “living wage” in Seattle is actually $19.57 for a full-time employed individual with no children. The lack of access to prevailing wage jobs further exacerbates the housing and homelessness crisis & the racial wealth gap. These crises are interconnected and require a diversity of tactics.

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Q: When it comes to people living on sidewalks, in parks, and other public spaces, where will you direct resources and what will those resources be told to do?

A:  /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ We do not have enough housing, non-congregate shelters, bridge and transitional housing for all of our residents who are living outside. Sweeping people with nowhere safer to go is unconscionable and only worsens the public health and safety crisis. Additionally, it makes it near impossible for support workers and peer navigators to find residents once appropriate housing and support options are available.

We need to be creating radical accessibility throughout the city for our unhoused neighbors. Ending sweeps and utilizing those dollars for garbage pick-up, sanitation, mobile hygiene stations (including showers and clothes washing), accessibility of public restrooms and water stations, and mobile clinics and supports that include dental, behavioral and physical health is essential to reduce harm and increase health and safety. As we build permanent and sustainable pathways out of this crisis, we must also leverage harm reduction strategies to immediately improve health and safety outcomes for all of our residents living outside.

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Sara Nelson

Q: What solutions have other cities used that you think would work in Seattle and why? Provide examples from other cities of about our size or larger. How would you get the resources and funding to support these ideas?

A:  /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ Seattle lacks a coherent, effective plan to respond to our homelessness emergency but fortunately, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. San Francisco, San Diego, and Bakersfield have implemented nationally recognized best practices to successfully reduce their numbers of chronically unsheltered people. Their plans include: 1) a by-name list of unsheltered individuals with the specific services they need, 2) employees (not contractors) with lived experience of homelessness who conduct intensive outreach to these individuals, 3) a real-time list of currently available housing options with wrap-around services to offer them, 4) coordination among service providers and city agencies responsible for addressing homelessness, and 5) direct funding of mental health and addiction treatment.

Shockingly, none of this is happening now. Council’s utter failure to make any progress on homelessness, despite the millions of dollars in public resources spent, has undermined public trust in government and worse, has destroyed lives. In January 2022, the KC Regional Homelessness Authority will take leadership of a region-wide homelessness response. I know from conversations with RHA Director Marc Dones and their staff that its implementation plan will include many of these elements and it will be Council’s role to support it.

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Bruce Harrell

Q: What benchmarks, milestones, or other metrics will you use to gauge if your efforts to house people are working? How will you keep residents apprised of your progress, including how money is spent?

A:  Seattle needs an accessible dashboard to demonstrate its metrics of success. Seattleites must trust our plans and our progress. The most important milestone is getting people into housing and off the street. We cannot allow the homelessness crisis to reach this level again.

Some key metrics will be cost per unit of housing, service costs, estimated number of people living on the street and number of encampments, average time spent in shelter or permanent supportive housing, rates of success in staying out of homelessness – by housing type and by provider. We’ll look at this data broadly and granularly on a case-by-case basis.

Through my proposed Race and Data Initiative, we’ll analyze disparities in who is being best served – by race, ethnicity, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other factors. Using that data, we’ll invest in culturally-competent and equitable services that get results. Our data will be public and we will evaluate the impressions of those served, residents, neighborhoods and community members to understand their perception of the City’s effectiveness at addressing the homelessness crisis.

Q:  ​​When it comes to people living on sidewalks, in parks, and other public spaces, where will you direct resources and what will those resources be told to do?

A:  You will see a Harrell administration direct resources with a new level of urgency and engagement toward getting people out of parks and playfields, off streets, and into housing with healthcare access and wraparound services. We will work to build and acquire 1,000 units of shelter and housing in the first six months of my administration, and 2,000 by the end of my first year in office. We will drive needed investments in service providers, counselors, and programs, including culturally-competent care and outreach.

We will spend the resources necessary to give those living unsheltered the support they need. And, as we restore lives, we will also work to restore parks and open spaces. These efforts can – and must – be done in tandem. As neighbors move into housing we will work to swiftly clean up former encampments, so that these areas can be safely used and enjoyed by the public.

Policing & Public Safety

We spent several weeks collecting questions that you voters wanted candidates to address. We picked the most popular questions and themes on this topic and passed them along to the candidates.

  • How will you scale up non-law enforcement alternatives to mental health and homelessness?
  • How will you lead changes in providing public safety to those communities that have historically had poor interactions with police and may also have higher crime rates? How would you increase police accountability?
  • How will you improve emergency service response times without simply enlarging the police department? What alternative solutions to police do you like for preventing or reducing crime?
  • What qualities will you look for in a police chief?

M. Lorena González

Q: How will you scale up non-law enforcement alternatives to mental health and homelessness?

/*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ As a civil rights lawyer for more than a decade, I worked tirelessly to get justice for victims of police violence and racially biased policing across Washington and Seattle. As Mayor, I will work to address our city’s public safety challenges while ensuring that we have true public safety where our Black, brown, and indigenous community members do not have to fear police violence.

Right now we are asking the police to do too many things. Studies show that 50% of police calls do not need armed sworn officers to respond. My administration will scale up the Community Service Officer program to improve response for non-violent crimes, including property crimes. Community service officers can be hired and trained faster than police officers and are less expensive for the city and more responsive to neighborhood safety concerns. We will also increase funding for programs like Health One Mobile units, so that appropriately trained professionals are responding to behavioral health emergencies.

Scaling up these units will allow our police force to shift their focus to more serious violent crime. And I will hold them accountable to do that job effectively and in a manner that respects the civil rights, dignity and liberty of all Seattleites.

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Q: How will you lead changes in providing public safety to those communities that have historically had poor interactions with police and may also have higher crime rates? How would you increase police accountability?

/*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ As a civil rights lawyer for more than a decade, I worked tirelessly to get justice for victims of police violence and racially biased policing across Washington and Seattle. In one of my most high-profile cases, Monetti v. Seattle, I sued the Seattle Police Department on behalf of a young Latino man after a detective threatened to “beat the Mexican piss” out of him, while other officers stood around observing and failing to intervene. My work on this and other civil rights cases is what fuels my vision and commitment to transform Seattle’s approach to public safety and accountability. We need real police accountability that meets this civil rights moment, and we need leaders with a track record to implement it. In 2017, I worked with the community to champion the passage of landmark legislation to expand civilian oversight of the police department, establish the Office of Inspector General for Public Safety, and make the Community Police Commission permanent. As the next Mayor, I will bring together community, council and labor to ensure that the next contract with the police officer’s guild includes critical components of the 2017 Police Accountability Ordinance, which I worked to pass, that have been left on the table by past mayors. There will be zero tolerance for racial bias or excessive use of force.

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Q: How will you improve emergency service response times without simply enlarging the police department? What alternative solutions to police do you like for preventing or reducing crime?

/*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ Armed law enforcement should not be responding to a mental health crisis or a non-violent situation.

This is not only an unnecessary use of resources but too often results in needless death and trauma in our Black, brown, and indigenous communities. My administration will work to shift funds toward programs like the Health One Mobile units, the Crisis Response Team, alternative community safety programs like Community Service Officers, and other public-health models that rapidly address the health and crisis needs of those experiencing homelessness.

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Teresa Mosqueda

Q: How will you scale up non-law enforcement alternatives to mental health and homelessness?

A: We must build more housing and invest in shelter services across our city so people have access to services near where they work, go to school or need care. This means more “Housing First” models that allow individuals to get needed housing immediately, without barriers or demands on the unsheltered individuals. Let’s redirect city funding to provide additional medical providers, case managers, mental health providers, and substance abuse counselors to help individuals get the care they need. We can create “Warm Handoff” hotlines and a 24-hour nurse line for shelters and supportive housing locations to get targeted assistance needed: open beds, housing options, prescription refills, appointments, aftercare, wound care, etc. Through expansion of our Health One mobile health units we can provide low-acuity treatment on demand to the unsheltered in the 5 ladder areas that our fire department serves.
We must also create permanent supportive housing and affordable units so fewer people are being displaced and pushed out of city limits. To create compassionate, health-based solutions I’m working with my colleagues in public health and human services to buy apartments, hotels and other multi-family structures to convert to shelter options like tiny houses and non-congregate shelter services while also scaling up sanitation services.
We can support upscaling non-law enforcement alternatives with revenue from our JumpStart progressive tax- which will dedicate $135 million a year towards permanent and emergency housing solutions- and by adjusting contracts for our human service providers. A pay raise that matches increasing costs of living in Seattle will ensure retention and boost morale for the key service providers. I am asking to come back to council for another four years to continue to advance policy solutions that recognize most folks who are living unsheltered need holistic health care, case management services, and access to stable emergency and permanent housing.

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Q: What qualities will you look for in a police chief?

A:  /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ Following 2020, the role of Police Chief needs to evolve to be more accountable to the public. These past transformative years have shown us that we need a Police Chief devoted to systemic change within our punitive systems. This begins with finding a Police Chief who wants to be a full partner in seeking alternatives and engaging in meaningful dialogue about the changing role of police within our society. Someone who can commit to reinvesting in community and welcome the diminishing role of the carceral system. Lastly, a new Police Chief must be committed to accountability, and end SPD’s continued resistance to additional oversight and limits on excessive force. The role of police should take a backseat to social, health and community services, and a new Police Chief must have an understanding of this.

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Kenneth Wilson

Q: How will you lead changes in providing public safety to those communities that have historically had poor interactions with police and may also have higher crime rates? How would you increase police accountability?

A:  /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ I would restore a positive Council relationship demonstrating support for our police and work to enhance the effectiveness of our police exchanges with communities by providing direction for enforcement of existing laws and clear expectations. I will actively promote positive engagement by teaming officers and communities. I would promote patrols on foot by police staff extensively trained in community policing strategies and de-escalation. This allows both the SPD staff and the communities they serve to interact positively and productively, thereby reducing the number of crisis encounters. I will also work to restore budget and aid in training/support of existing team members to retain staff and create a positive work environment with rotations for staff away from emergencies to prevent burn out. This will allow us to recruit the best officers and police staff available.

Nikkita Oliver

Q: How will you scale up non-law enforcement alternatives to mental health and homelessness?

A:  /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ As the new King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) comes online it is essential that we develop a transparent & accountable collaborative relationship to tackle both the upstream and downstream crises of housing affordability & homelessness. Providing adequate behavioral supports is essential not just for our residents living outside, but for all Seattleites. Throughout the pandemic we have seen increased rates of suicide amongst our elders & teens & increased substance use across many communities. The City of Seattle is woefully dependent upon the King County Public Health System for behavioral health services. King County has 2.3 million residents & 770,000+ live within Seattle city limits. The King County system is also dependent upon regressive taxes in order to fund this essential service. The City of Seattle can both meet the behavior health needs of residents & take some weight off of the King County system by leveraging one of the progressive revenue generating options identified by the Progressive Revenue Task Force on Housing & Homelessness to adequately fund & stabilize our own behavioral health system. Additionally, we will work with the KCRHA & other public health agencies to a) develop & implement a city-wide peer navigator program, b) decentralize resources & services throughout the city, c) expand the number & types of crisis responders, & d) streamline discharge plans at hospitals and jails to ensure that our most vulnerable residents receive the services & supports they need when in crisis as well as the long-term care needed for health & stability after the immediate crisis has been addressed.

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Q: How will you improve emergency service response times without simply enlarging the police department? What alternative solutions to police do you like for preventing or reducing crime?

A:  /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ In 2021 the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform — specializing in reducing incarceration and gun violence — released an analysis of three years of 911 dispatch data for the Seattle Police Department. According to the Institute, up to half the calls Seattle police receive can be responded to without an armed, sworn officer. The Institute also found that about 80% of calls are noncriminal responses and in the future it would be appropriate for up to 49% of calls to receive an “alternative, non-sworn response.”

911 Dispatch has been relocated to the Community Safety and Communications Center to be fully civilianized. The majority of 911 calls in Seattle are non-criminal. Growing city-based “alternative” responses will decrease response times and provide additional first responder options that are appropriate for the real time needs of community members when in crisis. Rather than defaulting to armed officers, who are not equipped to respond to most crises, we need the people dispatching to be under a civilian-run agency, as they are now, and to have new options and protocols that do not default to sending armed officers to address crises that other city workers and members of community can and should handle. This will across the board increase response times and ensure that residents receive the best emergency supports possible when in crisis.

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Sara Nelson

Q: How will you lead changes in providing public safety to those communities that have historically had poor interactions with police and may also have higher crime rates? How would you increase police accountability?

A: When I’m talking to people living in neighborhoods with higher crime rates -- mothers who’ve lost children to gun violence, people formerly involved in gangs and/or the criminal justice system, pastors of primarily Black churches, BIPOC small business owners, and many others – I hear the same thing over and over again: they don’t want to defund the police; they want to feel safe in their neighborhoods and they want elected leaders to center the voices and needs of people with direct experience with violent crime in the City’s response to skyrocketing rates of crime and gun violence. I’m taking my lead from them.

My opponent’s plan to abolish the police won’t improve public safety, increase police accountability, or advance equity. My balanced approach to public safety and improving police accountability has earned me the support of leaders like Rev. Harriett Walden, Founder of Mothers for Police Accountability, and Victoria Beach, Chair of the African American Community Advisory Council. It includes: 1) Adequately staffing SPD to ensure a fast, fair, and effective response to 911 calls. 2) Reestablishing the Community Policing Teams which served as a liaison between residents, neighborhood business owners, people experiencing homelessness, and patrol officers. This builds trust between SPD and community through familiarity with neighborhood issues and relationship-building. 3) Improving accountability measures and disciplinary protocols in SPOG’s new contract and tying its renewal with compliance to the terms of the consent decree. 4) Investing in recruiting and retaining officers from Seattle’s majority-BIPOC neighborhoods. 5) Reestablishing the Seattle Police Academy which provided the de-escalation, anti-bias, and protest management training that isn’t taught at the state-run academy. 6) Implementing all the items brought forward by the Community Police Commission in the 2017 Police Accountability Ordinance.

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Nicole S. Thomas-Kennedy

Q:  ​​How will you specifically balance law enforcement and undoing abuse/systemic problems for our minority and/or vulnerable populations?

A: While Black individuals only make up 7 percent of the population, 31 percent of all misdemeanor arrests in Seattle are of Black individuals. The arrest rate is four times more than the share of Seattle’s Black population. While this rate of disproportionality is consistent across many major cities, it is entirely unacceptable. 
I am committed to reducing this racial disproportionality by continuously examining data and using explicit performance metrics that ensure reforms don’t exacerbate racial disproportionality but decrease it. This will require collaboration with communities who have been most impacted by incarceration and the criminal legal system to help identify performance and outcome metrics. Success will be met when we reach a shared definition of safety.

 

Q:  As an advisor to city officials, how would you influence police accountability? What are your priorities when it comes to negotiating with SPOG?

A:  My priority is to help the contract negotiators get much closer to what the 2017 Police Accountability Ordinance originally envisioned.

It is critical to have a City Attorney who is grounded in racial justice and provides the City clear legal guidance to reach this goal throughout the negotiation process. I am the only candidate committed to racial justice and who recognizes the City Attorney as a key partner in strengthening accountability through the SPOG Contract negotiation process.

 

Q:  Many readers expressed worry about property crime going unpunished but just as many want smart tactics used to keep incarcerations and recidivism low. How would you take on that balance?

A:  It is truly awful to experience property crime--whether it's misdemeanor theft which can still leave someone without a bike that may be their only means of transportation, or a broken window on a business. I am committed to making individuals whole again after they experience such crime which is why I support a restitution fund for exactly this sort of harm. Under our current system, individuals must fight for restitution through a costly court-based restitution hearing and they often go for years without being compensated. Most never receive the restitution they are owed. The Victims Restitution fund will streamline the process; those who have been harmed can submit a claim and the City will pay their claim. This will be funded from cost-savings realized from stopping the court-based restitution hearings.

Based on the evidence and data available, it doesn’t look like punitive interventions such as jail are actually effective at stopping misdemeanor property crime. I want to expand interventions we know work better, such as the pre-filing diversion collaboration with Choose 180, and other interventions tailored to the individual and targets the root causes of unwanted behaviors.

 

Q:  How will you show Seattleites that your initiatives are working to improve the city? How will you make yourself and your sizeable office transparent and accountable to the public?

A:  I am committed to data-driven solutions which requires collecting, reviewing, and sharing data with the public. This will be a shift from how the current City Attorney’s Office operates, but I believe will be worth the investment to ensure we are moving in the right direction and that the public can track and measure our performance. I envision working collaboratively with community members to identify the right performance metrics that will measure the things that matter.

Ann Davison

Q:  /*-->*/ /*-->*/ ​​How will you specifically balance law enforcement and undoing abuse/systemic problems for our minority and/or vulnerable populations? 

A:  /*-->*/ /*-->*/ We can have both safety in our communities and reform in police and prosecution. We need to do a lot of complicated work to rebuild trust with our communities. I am endorsed by community leaders of reform and by 30 retired judges because they know I can navigate this difficult process.We need better policing in the form of relational policing, not fewer of them. When we talk of true accountability, it is fostered when there is a relational aspect to the work. The same principle applies to the relationship between the city attorney and police. With better functioning relationships, better opportunities for accountability and intervention to prevent police misaction can occur. We also can’t overlook the harms that crime inflicts on vulnerable populations. If the protection of our laws does not intervene on behalf of all of our people, we leave those typically already left out now left out from our public safety system protecting them.

/*-->*/ /*-->*/ Q: As an advisor to city officials, how would you influence police accountability? What are your priorities when it comes to negotiating with SPOG?

A:  /*-->*/ /*-->*/ It starts with ride-alongs. It is necessary to understand someone’s work and what is asked of them in regards to their job duties to instill accountability at a personal level to really get change. As we demand
better policing, the first step must be from a place of understanding. This fosters true accountability and societal healing upon which we can build relational policing for our communities.

When we negotiate our contract with the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild, the consent decree would be the starting place to which any bargaining begins. The court ordered reforms in the consent decree
designed to increase police accountability and reduce police misconduct. We get there when accountability is held for all of us so that community trust can be created.

Q:  /*-->*/ /*-->*/ Many readers expressed worry about property crime going unpunished but just as many want smart tactics used to keep incarcerations and recidivism low. How would you take on that balance?

A:  /*-->*/ /*-->*/ Public safety relies on a complex network of interactions to which the Law Department is a crucial piece. We absolutely need to intervene as early as possible. There are many segments of society designed to do this outside of the law department, such as schools and community centers/organizations.

The Law Department’s role in public safety is to provide the societal limits that our democracy has created in the form of laws. It isn’t the place for the City Attorney to be the sole source of fixing all of our societal problems. It must be the place for redirection when societal interventions didn’t occur or failed.

When incarceration does occur, appropriate support during that time is required, and importantly at its conclusion, with a successful reentry plan. There is a lot we know about how to improve the process to reduce recidivism, but much of it remains to be implemented.

Q:  /*-->*/ /*-->*/ How will you show Seattleites that your initiatives are working to improve the city? How will you make yourself and your sizeable office transparent and accountable to the public?

A:  /*-->*/ /*-->*/ I believe that communication and willingness to be held accountable are the keys to transparency. Throughout my campaign I have been in
communication with community leaders, many of whom have endorsed my campaign. I will continue these conversations and believe that it is important to not only inform communities about the office, but also to hear first hand how they are affected.

Communication is just the start. I plan to implement a comprehensive dashboard that anyone can use to track how prosecutions are handled, who they affect, and how taxpayer dollars are spent. This sort of transparency will let community leaders, news organizations, and all of our neighbors know what we are doing well and what we need to improve on so they can hold us accountable.

Bruce Harrell

Q: How will you improve emergency service response times without simply enlarging the police department? What alternative solutions to police do you like for preventing or reducing crime?

A:  Far too often, neighbors tell me they’re unsure in the event of a public safety emergency not only when police will respond – but if they will respond at all. This is completely unacceptable – every person in every community has the absolute right to feel safe. My steadfast commitment is to restoring public safety, ensuring maximum seven-minute response times, and building community trust with law enforcement.

Alternative responses to situations like mental health crises and non-violent disputes can address issues without escalation, while police focus on calls they’re best equipped to address. The results of the city’s Health One unit are encouraging, and demonstrate how a multidisciplinary team with specialized skills and focuses can better approach certain kinds of emergencies or crises. In the long run, this will require a significant analysis of all police and emergency responses, review of whether police were needed or effective, and then the thoughtful development of a model and system for well-calibrated and well-deployed emergency response teams.

All that said, further defunding and department attrition is not a solution. We must also restore staffing to national best practices, invest in stronger de-escalation and intervention programs, root out bias with internal culture change, and build a more responsive, representative police force.

Q: What qualities will you look for in a police chief?

A: I’ve been involved in the hiring of the last two chiefs, and, as mayor, will bring unmatched experience to the search process. We need a chief who reflects our values and shares our commitment to culture change and reform. Someone who will embrace our efforts to recruit a representative police force and realize true community policing. A leader who will do the hard work, every day, creating an SPD where we celebrate good outcomes and thoroughly and vocally reject bias and brutality.

We will run a fully comprehensive search and an open and transparent process, looking both within the department and nationwide to identify the next chief. The community must be involved to ensure we hire the right person, and I will make sure members of the community, and the Community Police Commission, have an involved role in the search process.

Taxes & The Economy

We spent several weeks collecting questions that you voters wanted candidates to address. We picked the most popular questions and themes on this topic and passed them along to the candidates.

  • How will you raise local tax revenue to support the city’s needs? What are the needs that require the most investment?
  • How would you work with the City Council to help taxpayers see and understand how tax dollars are being spent?
  • How do you think we can tax in a way that doesn’t contribute to a regressive tax structure? Also, how can we keep elders and other vulnerable people in their neighborhoods and homes with so much of the city’s budget depending on property taxes?
  • What do you mean when you say a business or landlord is "small"? What's the cutoff or is a cutoff even possible? What will you do to help smaller contributors to the city's economy and job market?

M. Lorena González

Q: How will you raise local tax revenue to support the city’s needs? What are the needs that require the most investment?

/*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ A: Big corporations and the very wealthy must finally pay their fair share. During the COVID-19 pandemic, average Seattle residents struggled to help their children learn, pay rent and mortgages, and stay safe, while Amazon’s profits soared 220%.

The largest corporations and wealthiest individuals can afford to invest in a better future for the city they call home — they must, or many more Seattleites will lose their homes.

I will be a Mayor who is willing to stand up to the wealthy and big corporations — I have the track record to prove it. I will work with community leaders and the Council to start rebalancing the tax code so regular Seattleites don’t foot the bills alone anymore. We can and will strengthen Seattle so we can all be at home here.

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Q: How do you think we can tax in a way that doesn’t contribute to a regressive tax structure? Also, how can we keep elders and other vulnerable people in their neighborhoods and homes with so much of the city’s budget depending on property taxes?

A:  /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ I believe that the very wealthy and large corporations should pay their fair share of taxes and that is where I will focus. I do not believe that we should be placing additional burdens on homeowners, especially seniors trying to stay in their homes.

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Q: How would you propose increases for multi-family housing in Seattle? Would you require parking for new larger multi-family housing? How do you plan to support public transit as the city continues to grow?

A:  /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ I am committed to creating an inclusive and interconnected city, investing wisely and deeply in the housing and strong public transit we need. We should make sure more homes of all shapes and sizes are available for our neighbors: legalize housing like duplexes, triplexes, and other lower cost homes across Seattle. To build the affordable homes we need, we have to change outdated laws that prevent multi-family housing in 70% of Seattle’s residential areas. As the next Mayor, I will center this vision of a vibrant city as we plan for and put Seattle on a path to being an affordable and sustainable city.

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Teresa Mosqueda

/*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ Q: How do you think we can tax in a way that doesn’t contribute to a regressive tax structure? Also, how can we keep elders and other vulnerable people in their neighborhoods and homes with so much of the city’s budget depending on property taxes?

A: Big businesses must pay their fair share in our efforts to address income inequality, racial wealth gaps, house our unsheltered neighbors, and invest in Green New Deal priorities. This is why I submitted the JumpStart Progressive Revenue Tax that was upheld by the court! We passed the largest progressive tax in Seattle’s history and now it is the law of the land. By upholding, strengthening and protecting the local progressive payroll tax, JumpStart, this progressive revenue has the power to equalize our city. We have a sustainable funding source that is applied to only the largest companies and largest salaries to pay their fair share in providing prosperity to the City as a whole. This means $135 million per year for affordable housing, homeownership and efforts to address displacement, and $100 million more for Green New Deal Investments, Equitable Development Initiative and economic resilience for small businesses. I will continue to work at both the local and state level to provide support for coalitions fighting in the legislature to address our backward tax code. Creating a coordinated effort to tax the highest earners and largest businesses at the local and state level will be a priority of mine.

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Kenneth Wilson

Q: How would you work with the Mayor's office to help taxpayers see and understand how tax dollars are being spent?

A:  /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ Seattle has more than $6-billion budget for extensive public services and an incredible infrastructure of historic bridges and roads, three hydro-electric dams, its own power grid, providing electrical, sewer, storm-water facilities, and delivery of fresh clean water from the mountains. Our City needs to create a better demonstration of how our budget, for services and infrastructure, results in benefits provided. These actions of identified needs, allocating budget, with implementation, and tracking/audit verification need to be presented so the taxpayers of Seattle can easily understand the function and value provided in order to give voice to their representatives. In distilling the annual report into one understandable by the average citizen, I would work with the Mayor’s office to document the departmental areas of targets met, areas of weakness needing improvement, and help identify needs not adequately met by existing City services for consideration and new resource allocation. In this process of simplifying the reporting for the average tax payer we are providing accountability of tax dollar benefit.

Nikkita Oliver

Q: How will you raise local tax revenue to support the city’s needs? What are the needs that require the most investment?

A:  /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ While fiscal responsibility is key to accountable taxation, we cannot continue to establish our City budget upon the backs of those who are suffering the most. Our current tax system is inequitable and perpetuates economic inequities and widens the racial wealth gap. Our reliance upon regressive taxes is worsening the crises we seek to end. Our municipal revenue crisis has hit everyone hard, but as with most faults in our economic and political systems, it has hit low-income communities and people of color the hardest. The City of Seattle is struggling to maintain enough revenue to provide crucial services to residents and the collateral damage of this revenue crisis is stark.

Turning our upside-down tax system right side up has to be a priority. Our own Seattle Progressive Revenue Taskforce has identified options that we can pursue now. These options can assist us in responding to the housing affordability and homelessness crisis, building an affordable and well-connected transit system, municipal broadband, and a much need city-wide behavioral health system. In addition to the options featured in the Taskforce report, we must also consider a city-level capital gains tax, an income tax (assuming we can make it progressive and not effectively tax low-income households), a wealth tax, developer impact fees, and increasing the JumpStart tax.

Progressive revenue generation is more than good economic policy. It is also good public health and public safety policy.

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Sara Nelson

Q: How will you raise local tax revenue to support the city’s needs? What are the needs that require the most investment?

A:  /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ Before we talk about new revenue, let’s talk about results. Public trust in City Council is at an all-time low in large part because it hasn’t demonstrated any ability to spend existing resources responsibly. Spending on homelessness has doubled in the past three years and the problem’s only gotten worse. Council has no plan for revitalizing downtown or supporting neighborhood business districts. Local government’s main job is to deliver basic city services and Council’s been inadequately funding them for years. Seattle Fire Department staffing has remained static for 10 years, despite Seattle’s population growth, a huge increase in calls involving encampments, and the unanticipated burden of running our COVID testing and vaccination sites. Our parks are full of trash, our community centers in disrepair and our roads and bridges are failing.

I campaigned for the state-wide income tax and I’ve supported the renewal Seattle’s housing, education, transit, library, and parks levies so I support progressive taxes. That said, I’m increasingly concerned about the impact of rising property taxes on our low-income and fixed-income residents. I’m also concerned about how a new business tax will impact our already struggling small businesses. Council just passed the Jump Start payroll tax which is anticipated to bring in $200 million per year. Seattle has received over $300 million in federal ARPA funds and will get a big chuck of federal infrastructure dollars once that bill passes. I’ll want to see how those dollars are spent first and an actual plan for how any additional revenue will be spent before considering a new tax. That’s how accountable government works and that’s what voters want to see from their leaders.

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Bruce Harrell

Q: How would you work with the City Council to help taxpayers see and understand how tax dollars are being spent?

A:  Seattle is divided into seven council districts, but we have yet to change our core neighborhood investment strategy. I will explore appropriating real resources – $10 million dollars would make an impact – in each of the seven districts to provide Council members with the opportunity to work directly with their communities to invest in specific localized priorities: small business recovery; homelessness solutions; parks and open space; cleanliness; pedestrian and public safety strategies; or cultural facility preservation.

With funds earmarked specifically for council districts, we will set the expectation that council members work side-by-side with their communities to determine how that money is spent, addressing unique local needs. For many Seattleites today, the budgeting process is removed and unapproachable.

My plan would highlight these district-specific dollars to the public, so that we foster collaboration and improve community outreach. Neighbors will be encouraged to provide suggestions about the best use of these funds – from community programs to park enhancements to cultural space preservation and small business recovery – there is a city full of possibilities.

This plan also ensures council members better inform the mayor and council on their district priorities and allows them to leverage these investments with other city general sub-funds, state or federal funds, or private funding.

Urban Planning & Transportation

We spent several weeks collecting questions that you voters wanted candidates to address. We picked the most popular questions and themes on this topic and passed them along to the candidates.

  • How would you propose increases for multi-family housing in Seattle? Would you require parking for new larger multi-family housing? How do you plan to support public transit as the city continues to grow?
  • Should there be a push to permanently close off certain streets to vehicular traffic?
  • How much density is enough? How can transit (including buses), cars, and bikes share the roads equitably and keep pedestrians safe as well?
  • Discuss your plans for better bridge and road maintenance. Also: How do you include parks in your plans for urban development?

Teresa Mosqueda

/*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ Q: How would you propose increases for multi-family housing in Seattle? Would you require parking for new larger multi-family housing? How do you plan to support public transit as the city continues to grow?

A: We must scale up our housing options concurrently with transit. The future is rooted in inclusive, dense, and sustainable housing with access to transit. I will continue to work on legislation to repeal the apartment ban in order to increase multi-family housing in Seattle and use the momentum in our “Single Family Zones” name change-- now neighborhood residential zones-- into more inclusive housing policy updates for the upcoming comprehensive plan discussions coming up in 2023 and 2024. Building dense, multi-unit, multi family housing across ¾ of our formerly named Single Family Zones is a good balance to start with as we work towards true equitable development and density. I am proud that JumpStart secured $135 million per year for affordable housing, shelters, homeownership opportunities and more to address the housing and homelessness declared states of emergency by building more housing, preventing displacement, improving access to services, and protecting public land for public good.

I will continue to work to ensure every worker can afford to live in the city they work in and travel safely to their job, local park, or favorite small business. Supporting transit in our region by prioritizing the projects that were approved in the existing Move Seattle Levy so we can successfully finish and advocate for another even more robust levy next time will divorce Seattleites from their reliance on cars. Less reliance on cars and lowered car production can and will change the way Seattle travels, lives, and breathes.

It is a climate and equity imperative to expand transit accessibility for our working families and in proximity to high opportunity access areas near dense multi-family housing units in the city. Sharing our commutes will build community through proximity and interaction. When we care for our shared means of transportation and demand safer, greener modes of traveling and living, we all benefit from a cleaner environment and tighter community!

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Kenneth Wilson

Q: Discuss your plans for better bridge and road maintenance. Also: How do you include parks in your plans for urban development?

A:  /*-->*/ /*-->*/ Our bridges, roads, and infrastructure are critical for Seattle and the regional economy. The City’s delayed action on the West Seattle Bridge incurred added cost and is continuing to damage West Seattle residents. Decisions for infrastructure solutions must realize that enormous amounts of sustainability are created in maintaining and rehabilitating existing facilities because of carbon footprint costs already paid (new steel, concrete, rebar, and other building materials are major users of our energy and resources). My plan is to act now to improve current valuable infrastructure with major upgrades and rehabilitation focused on solutions with permanent value. We can no longer take for granted the great infrastructure provided by past generations. Our City’s planning is also missing important technical information and is improved by including a Council member experienced in infrastructure and with technical knowledge to guide future decisions. Finally, the development and maintenance of our infrastructure (such as Light Rail) requires enormous amounts of temporary right-of-way that should be used after completion to create urban trails and parks.

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Nikkita Oliver

Q: How much density is enough? How can transit (including buses), cars, and bikes share the roads equitably and keep pedestrians safe as well?

A:  /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ We will have enough density when it is equitably shared throughout the City, we have stopped urban sprawl which is one of the greatest threats to our tree canopy, and we have enough housing to end the housing crisis and meet our growth management plan. We need to be building our public transportation system in lock step with our density and development. Having a well-connected, affordable, rapid transit system that is accessible to all who need to use it will significantly decrease the number of vehicles on the road. We must be committed to fully funding and implementing our pedestrian and bike master plans and finally delivering on the promises made when voters authorized the Move Seattle Levy in 2015 and all of this to ensure we achieve the goal of Vision Zero. The climate catastrophe is not a possibility, it is a very present threat. Ensuring that more residents have access to services and amenities close to home and safer pathways for multimodal transportation options that get us out of single occupancy vehicles is a moral imperative for achieving our climate goals.

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Sara Nelson

Q: Discuss your plans for better bridge and road maintenance. Also: How do you include parks in your plans for urban development?

A:  /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/ Again, it’s about accountability. Council needs to prioritize the maintenance and repair of our existing infrastructure and we’ve got a huge maintenance backlog and four bridges badly in need of repair (the Fremont, University, Ballard and Spokane St. bridges). And then there’s the Magnolia Bridge which was damaged in the Nisqually earthquake and the closed West Seattle bridge to repair. The latter must be fast-tracked! I joined building and construction trades unions in support of Council’s decision to bond against the proceeds from the Vehicle License Fee to pay for bridge maintenance because that revenue can be matched with state and federal dollars to accelerate much-needed repairs.

Seattle is home to gorgeous parks and open spaces which are critical to protecting our city’s climate and livability. Parks are our commons and we need to do a much better job of maintaining and improving them as our city grows. This is set forth in Washington’s Growth management Act stipulates that as cities grow, open space must be expanded to ensure concurrency between increased density and livability. Additionally, in 1997, Council adopted citizen Initiative 42, requiring the preservation of Seattle park and open space land. If by necessity that land must by converted for another use, the city must replace it with a parcel(s) of “equivalent or better size, value, location and usefulness in the vicinity, serving the same community and the same park purposes.” My point is that our parks and open spaces are protected by statute and are an essential Charter service. I’m committed to ensuring our parks and open spaces are safe, clean and accessible for all.

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Bruce Harrell

Q: How would you propose increases for multi-family housing in Seattle? Would you require parking for new larger multi-family housing? How do you plan to support public transit as the city continues to grow?

A:  /*-->*/ Early in my City Council tenure, I recognized the importance of increasing our housing supply, voting in support of efforts to expand backyard cottages and upzoning areas around transit near Downtown, Roosevelt, West Seattle, and more. I made it easier to build ADUs, a commonsense housing solution, and I helped pass and continuously update the MHA program to significantly expand density and affordable housing across the city. We know the solution to the affordable housing crisis is more housing, and I want to make sure we develop that housing in an intersectional, equitable, and thoughtful manner.

I am committed to increasing density and building out affordable housing, especially in delivering development in areas that have already been upzoned. Every neighborhood will have to embrace additional housing if we are going to meet our goals and ensure everyone has an affordable place to call home, especially as our city and region grow over the next several decades.

Everyone should have access to a robust transit system, to parks and open spaces, and to needed amenities and services like childcare, healthy food, and more. That also means we need to rethink parking requirements for new developments, especially as we focus growth along transit lines. Reducing reliance on parking and cars brings down development costs and helps us meet our greenhouse gas emission goals.

I will work with the council to convene a community and stakeholder-led process to guide us forward, similar to the Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee. Rather than enter the process with a predetermined outcome, we can define a thoughtful plan for the future of zoning in our city, informed by experts, understood and molded by community, and implementable with both bold and practical solutions.

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Who is involved in this round of election reporting at Crosscut?

News and politics editor Donna Gordon Blankinship and reporters David Kroman and Melissa Santos.

The questions we asked candidates came from you, the voters. 

When we debuted Crosscut’s Seattle and King County Voter Guide ahead of the August primary, we wanted local voters at the heart of it. That’s why we asked you for your questions about housing and homelessness, policing, public safety, taxes and urban planning, which we sent directly to the candidates who are seeking your vote.

After Seattle and King County voters narrowed the choices, Crosscut’s audience engagement team collected a second round of reader questions for candidates running for Seattle mayor, city council and city attorney. More than 200 people sent in their suggestions and we picked the most popular questions and themes and passed them along to the candidates. Their answers are featured in the issues section of this voter guide.

While we can’t tell you who to vote for, we want to get you the information you need to decide which candidate best aligns with your values.