Going To the Candidates’ Debate(s)

Nine simultaneous council races this year have turned my Twitter feed, at times, into a nonstop livestream of debates and forums where a parade of candidates workshopped their views on every issue from affordable housing to anti-LGBTQ hate crimes to transportation. From Broadview to Highland Park to Rainier Beach, the candidates, sometimes visibly tired and stumbling through their rehearsed remarks, attempted to define themselves against each other, a process that led to some memorable stumbles and some real line-in-the-sand differentiations on major issues. I went to every debate and forum I could, and livetweeted every one. For the still-undecided, or those who remain curious about what the candidates said when only a few dozen people were watching, here’s my roundup of notable moments from the general-election debates, organized by district and position. This post includes only previously unpublished material; for specific debates I covered on this blog or other coverage of the candidates, scroll through my recent posts or search for the candidates you’re interested in.

Remember, Election Day is November 3—get your ballots in or postmarked by 8pm!

District 1 (West Seattle): Lisa Herbold and Shannon Braddock

Lisa Herbold, on the city’s mandatory paid sick and safe leave law

I  was one of the folks involved in the passage of Seattle’s paid sick and safe leave law in 2011. That gave access to 130,000 workers in the city who had no access to paid leave. Three days out sick is a week’s worth of groceries for an average family.

But our laws are only as good as their enforcement. We need funding for both outreach to workers and education and funding investigators to do investigations. And that means targeting those individuals that are most likely to have frequent violations. Complaints should not be the only way to address labor law enforcement.

Shannon Braddock, on racial profiling by police:

The Community Police Commission is a very important part of oversight. My boyfriend, who I’ve been with for about three years, is African-American and I have been pulled over while I’ve been in a car with him more times than I have in my entire life. So having an awareness about that and being accountable to understanding what that means is really important. I know that I am not in a place to understand what it’s like to be profiled like that, but I am willing to be aware of what it’s like and make myself accountable to what it takes to make sure that we are following through [with efforts to combat racially biased policing].

District 2 (Southeast Seattle): Bruce Harrell and Tammy Morales


Tammy Morales, on police accountability: 

The consent decree that we’re under right now was driven by community activists, civil rights activists, who were concerned about the unconstitutional policing within the city. So that is why we have a consent decree with the DOJ. And I would remind everyone that my opponent was against the intervention before he was for the intervention. It’s really important that this is a community driven process. We have to make sure that [the Community Police Commission] becomes and remains a permanent institution, so that our community has a real say in what factors in to reform.

Second, what I think we can’t do is rely on technology to solve the problem with unconstitutional policing. Body cameras are not the solution. Civil rights organizations across the country have said that surveilling the community is not going to solve the deep structural problem in our police departments. First of all, the cameras aren’t even on the police, they’re on the community. That’s not going to solve the issue. Second, we have video of the police brutality against citizens in this city and nothing is done to them. They’re not investigated, or their cases are settled at taxpayer expense, and those police are still on the force. So if we’re serious about reform, we have to do much more than relying on body cameras, which are expensive and ineffective, and I hope that you will support me in looking for other solutions.

Bruce Harrell, on keeping neighborhoods affordable for residents and small businesses: 

The most affordable housing is the housing people already have. We’re displacing people because they can’t fix their roof, they can’t pay their taxes. So the first thing is, I want to make sure that we preserve as much [housing] as possible. The second thing is, we have to be very aggressive on when we build and what we build around transit-oriented development. We have a lot of low-hanging fruit in terms of areas where we can aggressively build. And the third thing is, we need to get out from under state preemption where we can’t stabilize and look at the rates of rent that we can charge in the city. Our housing is in crisis. Local municipalities should be able to control these policies. We can’t build our way out of the problem.

[With small minority- and immigrant-owned businesses], I would talk to them and, if it was an African-American business,  say, “Are you catering to 8 percent of the population or 100 percent of the population?” And I would actually make our office of economic development assist these businesses with expanding their products and services to make sure they survive.

District 3 (Central Seattle): Kshama Sawant and Pamela Banks

Pamela Banks, on the Move Seattle levy: 

I do support having the districts get to figure out what is implemented in our district. I think our challenge is that we’re dealing with three transit agencies—Sound Transit, Metro and SDOT. We have two streetcars that don’t connect. People are very, very frustrated. I’ve gone to over 1,000 homes and the number one and two issues are transportation and public safety. I think we really have to take a hard look. We cannot continue having every mode of transportation on every street. It is causing gridlock, it is causing havoc in neighborhoods, and I also think the DOT needs to be out talking to people a little bit more. People are appalled about some of the road diets that are happening in District 3 and District 2. People feel like they weren’t notified and that  it’s being done to us and not for us. And i think that that’s one of the things we’re going to have to take a hard look at with the levy, to make sure that everything is equitably distributed, and if we’re going to pass it, we cannot let this levy be a surplant to existing transportation dollars. That’s what tends to happen. Bridging the Gap did not provide everyone everything that was promised. This is a continuation of that levy. We need to make sure that everything is distributed equitably and that we’re getting everything that we paid for.

Kshama Sawant, on expanding parental leave:

I don’t think it’s enough to just say we’ll use our general fund dollars [to expand paid parental leave at the city from four to 12 weeks], because right now the budget is grossly inadequate to meet the needs of our city, let alone the needs for paid leave of city employees. A tax on millionaires is something we want to seriously work on. I know elected officials will tell you that’s not legal, but look at the legal measures like the employee hours tax that the city has refueled to use. And we need to expand the 12-week program to all workers in the city of Seattle. All workers need 12 weeks of paid parental leave. We need to mandate that with all the big businesses as well.

District 4 (Northeast Seattle): Michael Maddux and Rob Johnson


Michael Maddux, on hate crimes and other challenges facing the LGBTQ community:

We need to make sure we have adequate training, and relevant training, for our officers. This includes all parts of the city. As the only gay candidate, I’ve seen more and more parts of my community being brutalized. We need to make sure we have safe places for everyone across the city of Seattle, and I think part of that is that we need to be more proactive and do a better job of recruiting our officers from within our communities. Right now we have so many officers coming in from other parts of the county, other parts of the tri-county area. Let’s have a police department that looks like us, that represents us, that knows our area, and that cares about our area just as much as we do.

One thing I have focused on throughout my campaign is making sure that we build and staff an LGBTQ-focused community center that has emergency transitional housing on site for homeless LGBTQ youth. I know what that’s like. When I came out of the closet, my mother’s husband was not particularly fond of that fact, and I lived in a shelter. The need is there. We need to make sure that we as a city tell the LGBTQ youth across the city and across our region and across the  whole Northwest that this is where those kids can go, that they do in fact matter, and we’re going to spend the money to ensure they they have the same options at economic development and life that other kids have.

Rob Johnson, on how to keep District 4 affordable:

The most important issue is around funding the public school system. Historically, schools north of the Ship Canal have been able to support a lot of in-school and after-school programs using community-funded, parent-backed fundraising.

The HALA recommendations give us the ability to diversify and bring in more low-income and working families into the North End. One of the most important things we can do is change the way people apply for apartments. Oftentimes, if you want to look at a couple different apartments, you have to apply at several different places and fill out several different forms and pay several different fees. I would like to standardize that form so you only have to fill out form one time.

District 5 (North Seattle): Sandy Brown and Debora Juarez


Debora Juarez, on why she supports the HALA recommendations:

I’m proud of HALA because it was done with a race and social justice and equity lens. When did a person who had to sleep in a doorway become a trespasser? When did a drug policy called zero tolerance became an education policy? When did a person who had to panhandle for food become an aggressive panhandler and a criminal?

I grew up in a transgenerational community. I think affordable housing means keeping the  character of our neighborhoods and keeping us in our homes and also keeping our kids near us and our parents with us. We’ve got to keep Seattle affordable, and one of the ways that we do that is being really clear about the 65 recommendations that are in the mayor’s HALA report, which I support. We have to have density in particular areas, while recognizing that not everyone can ride a bike to work.


Sandy Brown, on his concerns about Move Seattle: 

I’m going to vote for Move Seattle because I’m from Seattle and I always vote for whatever levy is on the ballot. But I grieved about it. I looked to see what’s going to be done in District 5. Nothing’s going to be done on Aurora in Move Seattle. Nothing’s going to be done on Lake City Way. It’s great to see that it specifies 101 blocks of pedestrian infrastructure in Broadview, that’s good,  but we’ve got huge needs in North Seattle. Why doesn’t the D [bus] line go all way up Greenwood?  I regret that there are pieces that, to me,  don’t work particularly well for North Seattle. Move Seattle only specified 150 blocks of new sidewalks, out of the 12,000 blocks without sidewalks in Seattle. That seems like not even a down payment on the investment that we need. …

We should have included in Move Seattle sidewalks for all arterials in North Seattle. We have waited many, many years in North Seattle, since annexation, for the city to provide this infrastructure.

District 6 (Northwest Seattle): Mike O’Brien and Catherine Weatbrook

IMG_0765Mike O’Brien, on inequality and the need to house the homeless:

Racism plays a significant role in everything that’s happening in the city. Frankly , I don’t think I fully appreciated how big a role racism plays in our city when I first ran for office. You name the system and embedded in that system is racism. My district is the least racially diverse in the city. …

We live in a process-driven city. It’s not, “Should homeless people live in my community or not?” Homeless people are in our community; they are our community. We have obligation to them. It’s embarrassing that in one of the richest cities in this country and one of the richest countries on this planet, we have to have so many human service providers to meet the basic needs of our people.

When was it decided that a police officer doing outreach on the street should make close to $100,000 but a social workers meeting  with people on the street makes $30,000 or $40,000, and it turns out that the professions that we pay less happen to be the professions that are dominated by women?IMG_1495

Catherine Weatbrook, on why she opposes the Move Seattle levy:

My opponent says it’s great, it’s innovative, it’s wonderful. I actually see it as a complete, abject failure. The reason we have so much of a [transportation] backlog is that we have not forced the developers to pay linkage fees to help maintain our roads. Yeah, there’s great projects in there, but I have a lot of trouble getting behind this without making sure that developers are also paying those impact fees.

District 7 (Downtown, Queen Anne, Magnolia): Sally Bagshaw and Deborah Zech-Artis

Debora Zech-Artis, on the need for more dog parks in District 7:

Down on 3rd and Bell, there used to be big drug park. They brought the dogs in and the drug people went away. We have more dogs than children in this city and we need to have open space for them.

Sally Bagshaw, on Black Lives Matter:

I just read an article by a New York Times writer [expressing] huge concern that we have Black Lives Matter and [saying that], yes, we need to work with the police, but over the past 12 years, 90,000 African-American men went nationwide were killed by African-American men. That is a problem and a disconnect where we have to recognize that we need to work with our police department to make sure that our police have reduced that racial animosity that we know has been felt all across the nation, and we have to recognize at the same time, bringing people into the conversation, that our racial issues start with education. The work that we’ve done with universal pre-K getting our kids ready for school; making sure that parents have good jobs so they can support their families–all of those are things that we want, and people in the city of Seattle need to bring the group back together and talk about how do we make that happen.

Position 8 (Citywide): Jon Grant and Tim Burgess

Jon Grant, on his plan for affordable housing (and why he was the lone “no” vote against the HALA recommendations):

I’ve been on front lines of trying to make Seattle affordable, and we absolutely can ask for more. I was on the mayor’s HALA committee and I was the one person who said we can do more. We call it the Grand Compromise–there were 50 percent of the people on that committee who were representing developers. If that was a grand compromise with the developers, I would like to see a grand compromise with the community. And I think we can do more affordable housing to stop economic displacement. It is outrageous that your rent can be doubled in a single year, and anyone who tells you otherwise is taking money from downtown developers, and that is folly. I have taken a pledge not to take any money from downtown developers so that you know I stand with you.

Tim Burgess, on why he is backing the “Grand Compromise”:

What the mayor has recommended to the city council is going to fundamentally change how city deals with affordable housing. I think it’s remarkable that we had 28 individuals–well, 27, actually–on the mayor’s advisory committee that represented neighborhoods, labor unions, social justice advocacy groups, affordable housing providers, businesses, developers, and landlords. They all  came together and for first time in the city’s history have said, “Let’s make sure that every multifamily building constructed in Seattle is also providing affordable housing, and that every commercial building is contributing its fair share to building affordable housing.”

And both of them, on youth violence prevention:

Position 9 (Citywide): Bill Bradburd and Lorena Gonzalez

Lorena Gonzalez, on HALA and housing policies that have been stacked against low-income people and minorities:

This city council, like any other entity, is a power structure institutionally, historically, and intentionally designed to exclude people like me. I think it’s really important for to us to recognize that these are power structures that make really big decisions that impact your youth, women, people of color, every single day. We have created a system in our city where we push people into certain neighborhoods where they don’t have access to the services they need to be successful. It does not get past me that opportunity is the key to success in our city.

A pro-density candidate can seize on of all of the economic growth we’re experiencing as a city and not be scared of it. We do have to manage it. There’s no question that there is a segment of our population that is being displaced, predominately low-income folks and communities of color and other underrepresented communities s from fixed income people down the line. The HALA recommendations gave us some really solid tools to be able to move the needle so we can have a place for both market-rate housing and for folks who don’t have the capacity to afford market-rate housing.

Bill Bradburd, on the same plan: 

It’s a huge mistake. The Grand Bargain is more of a grand blackmail in order to keep developers from suing the city for putting in more stringent requirements. …

Amazon workers are displacing our people. They’re taking over our land and taking over our city. We need to put far more energy into taking care of our own first. We choose to upzone our neighborhoods and the stuff that goes in is high-priced housing which the people who live here cannot afford. These are the people that want to see gentrification in our city, because they are the people that build the high-end housing that hour communities are being displaced for. The market will not build affordable housing. The city has to be far more actively engaged in subsidizing the production of affordable housing.

3 thoughts on “Going To the Candidates’ Debate(s)”

  1. I just love this typical Bruce Harrell Pinocchio moment: “…we have to be very aggressive on when we build and what we build around transit-oriented development,” he said regarding the need for more affordable housing along transit corridors.

    Apparently at no point in time did Bruce Harrell do or say anything about the Seattle Housing Authority’s sleazy plan to sell 3.2 acres of raw land that it owns near the Othello light rail station to fraudster developer Lobsang Dargey so that Dargey could build 500 market rate apartments on it. Dargey’s proposed project, “Potala Place Othello,” would not have contained a single unit of low or moderate income housing, making this gigantic number of apartments unaffordable for most of the people who live in D2.


    Fortunately, the land sale agreement between SHA and Dargey cratered when the SEC filed fraud charges against Dargey in late August. Last month Dargey’s assets seized by a federal court. The question is, will SHA go back to the drawing board and try to find another developer who will build a a sinmilar project containing 100% expensive market rate apartments? Will Bruce Harrell ever actually walk his affordable housing talk?


  2. “Amazon workers are displacing our people. They’re taking over our land and taking over our city. We need to put far more energy into taking care of our own first.”

    I love how a dude who moved into a neighborhood from the Bay Area after working in technology is complaining about other tech dudes taking over land and city. I’m also surprised he didn’t say “taking our women!” too.

Comments are closed.