Now that the primary-election field of 47 has been narrowed to a comparatively manageable 18, I’m sitting down with all the council candidates to talk about what they’ve learned so far, their campaign plans going forward, and their views on the issues that will shape the election, including density, “neighborhood character,” crime, parking, police accountability, and diversity. I’ll be rolling out all 17 of my interviews (Kshama Sawant was the only candidate who declined to sit down with me) over the next few weeks.
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Today’s interview: District 4 (Northeast Seattle) candidate Michael Maddux. I sat down with Maddux at the Inn Keeper in Belltown.
The C Is for Crank [ECB]: You and your opponent [Transportation Choices Coalition director Rob Johnson] have made a point of talking all the time about how well you get along, how much you like each other, and how you wish you were running in different races. Now that it’s just the two of you, you’re going to have to do something to distinguish yourself and make up the points he has on you. [Johnson finished with 32.84 percent to Maddux’s 24.64 percent.] What are you going to do to distinguish yourself? Or more to the point, when is this race going to turn ugly?
Michael Maddux [MM]: I don’t believe in going ugly. It’s not necessary in this race. I have no plan to talk about Rob, because that’s his job. I think voters are smart enough to get the distinctions between the candidates. I don’t really see the need to go negative. Jean [Godden] and Tony [Provine] ran negative campaigns. We were positive and we got through.
We will draw out our distinctions. There are significant distinctions on police reform and tax reform. I’ve worked at places where I’ve had to deal with clients getting arrested and supposedly resisting arrest, I’ve worked with homelessness and with housing low-income individuals. Rob knows a lot about transportaiotn.
I’m definitely the underdog. I don’t have a bunch of big corporate money backing my campaign, or a bunch of anti-worker organizations backing my campaign. [Johnson has received support from the Chamber, the Rental Housing Association, and the Washington Restaurant Association.] If [the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy, the Chamber PAC] and the Rental Housing Association and the Associated General Contractors end up giving him money, it’s for a reason. I think they feel like ‘d be a little bit more antagonistic against them for a council member.
With the AGC, early on, I said that for city contracts, there should be minimum apprenticeship requirements, including benefits, and more funding for apprenticeship opportunities. Their response was 10 to 15 minutes of telling me how wrong I was because it’s going to cost so much money, and I said we should be paying for that in the city.
ECB: You signed on to an alternative proposed by Position 8 candidate Jon Grant that would ditch the Grand Bargain by mandating a linkage fee on residential development, move toward rent control, and impose new anti-displacement provisions that aren’t in the proposed plan. How would you distinguish your views on density from your opponent’s?
MM: Something we see more and more among urbanists is social justice urbanism, as opposed to free market urbanism. Social justice urbanism basically means that you want more housing and all of that other stuff, but you also want things like linkage fees. Social justice urbanists say you need to look at other things to make sure that low-income people don’t get priced out of the city. With free market urbanism, it’s, “Lift the height restrictions and let the market take care of itself.”
Clearly, we need more housing. But most of the [HALA] recommendations are further down the road. Ten years from now, once those units start filling up, they will start to lower rents. The question is, what do we do in those ten years?[Grant’s plan represents] a bold move toward more housing. It would spur some housing for the most low-income individuals. If we have additional height, which we should, we need to make sure people have a place to live at the same time. I look at inclusionary zoning and one-for-one replacement as part of the same thing. When we’re doing a significant zoning change like at Yesler Terrace, it’s important we’re making sure those units that are torn down are replaced. I don’t know what the right number is. That’s where groups like the Housing Resource Group and others come in. I envision it as based on the particular people currently living in there. I don’t want to see a single person priced out of a neighborhood now for improvements that will come in 10 years.
There has to be a nexus. With a linkage fee, the nexus is displacement. If you tear down a four-story building with affordable housing units, we’re proposing that either you pay a fee or you build [affordable housing] onsite. I would want to see it phased out as mandatory inclusionary zoning is phased in. I think you can do a linkage fee with a sunset date, then you renew it or don’t depending on whether mandatory inclusionary zoning is providing enough affordable housing.
ECB: But Grant’s plan doesn’t propose a sunset date, it proposes a permanent linkage fee on all new residential development in the city. Developers who were involved in negotiating HALA have made it clear that they will sue if the council puts that linkage fee back on the table. Are you prepared to defend a policy that will lead to a lawsuit and potentially blow up the HALA deal?
MM: If it’s a permanent linkage fee, I can see why [developers] would [sue]. If not, I would hope that as the select committee on housing continues its work, they could find some common ground. If there was a way to revisit that part, the council should be willing to take a look at it.
ECB: Your opponent is obviously an expert on transportation. As more of a generalist, do you have any particular transportation concerns in your district?
MM: There are concerns about light rail coming through Wallingford. I think [the Sound Transit 3 proposal] should have included Ballard to the U District. I came out early for the Ballard Spur. My understanding is that the travel time between Ballard and downtown is only a minute or two longer if you go from Ballard to the U District to downtown, and you avoid Interbay, which is probably a good idea. If we lose fishing jobs in Interbay, they’ll be gone forever. Expedia [which is locating a new corporate campus in Interbay] further raises my concern about residential encorachment on industrial lands. We do need to be flexible, but if the only way to build more housing in Seattle is to encroach on industrial lands, then I believe we should protect industrial lands and bring them into the 21st century. We need more manufacturing jobs for the 21st century. We’re right next to a seaport. Let’s turn Terminal 5 into a 21st century terminal.
ECB: One thing Jean Godden did make an issue of during an otherwise issue-lite campaign was pay equity between men and women at the city and in Seattle as a whole. You have said you’re passionate about this issue. What do you plan to do to close the pay gap?
MM: I’m hopeful that Council Member Godden, before she leaves, is going to push on more proposals like what’s been done in Boston, where businesses can opt into disclosing what they pay across all types of employees. It would be less secret and eventually more information could lead to mandatory reporting, so you can see what salaries are paid to men and women doing the same work.
Where does the pay gap come from? In the city of Seattle, it’s a lack of women in certain categories [specifically, fire, technology, police, and City Light-ECB]. What are we doing to change that to get more women in those positions, while ensuring that they have opportunities to be hired in other areas? My daughter’s dream job would be a game developer or an architect—something that involves drawing. What are we doing to support that dream? What are we doing to supplement the work kids do at school through the Families and Education Levy? The argument we hear is, “We want [women] but they don’t show up.” So what are we doing? We should be saying, “Guess what, 14-year-old girls, you can be whatever the fuck you want to be.” And it needs to change from being solely about how to get kids to go to college to getting kids into opportunities, whatever their abilities.