The C Is for Crank General Election Endorsements

Mayor: Cary Moon

The 2017 election season began in earnest when former mayor Ed Murray, once considered a shoo-in for reelection, was felled by charges of sexual assault. Twenty-one people put their names in the running, and things have only gotten more interesting since then. For the first time in Seattle’s history, women came in first, second, third, and fourth, and you had to go all the way down to sixth place to find a white guy (former mayor Mike McGinn, for the record, at 6.5 percent). That’s amazing, but of course, it shouldn’t be—the fact that Seattle hasn’t elected a female mayor in nearly a century (and has never elected a woman to a full four-year term) is a sign of how far this “progressive” city has to go.

Perhaps predictably, there have been complaints from certain quarters that neither of the two women who made it onto the general election ballot—Cary Moon and Jenny Durkan—has the requisite “experience” or “gravitas” to be mayor. While it’s true that neither Moon nor Durkan has experience directly relevant to the job of mayor—neither has ever served in elective office, nor run an organization with thousands of employees—I think concerns about “experience” are overblown. Durkan has experience managing a US Attorney’s office with dozens of staffers and a complex portfolio, and is familiar with the way the city works from her time working on the historic consent decree between the US Department of Justice and the city; Moon has a long record as a civic activist working on land use and transportation issues in Seattle, most notably on the waterfront, where she fought against the downtown tunnel (and, for the record, was right). Either candidate will face a learning curve; both bring skills and knowledge that will serve them well as mayor of Seattle.

I’m endorsing Moon because her vision of Seattle is the Seattle I want to see—a Seattle where people of modest means can afford to live in city limits, where all parts of the city are accessible to all people via high-quality, high-frequency transit, and where solutions to homelessness don’t begin and end with market-based vouchers and punitive encampment sweeps. Homelessness is a go-home, bottom-line issue for the future of Seattle; the next mayor can choose to pursue half-measure solutions that only help a few people on the margins while pushing the rest from place to place while dozens more join their ranks every day; or she can go big, tackling Seattle’s homelessness problem like the crisis that it is.

Moon is best known for her work to stop the construction of the downtown waterfront tunnel, which she argued would do little to improve traffic flow through downtown while decimating the waterfront with a massive highway-like “boulevard” that cuts off the waterfront from the rest of downtown as surely as the elevated viaduct does today. Moon was right about that (and about the inevitability of cost overruns) and her vision for a car-lite waterfront remains the single most forward-thinking proposal for the future of downtown in the last 20 years. Although her idea for the waterfront was ahead of its time, the vision Moon showed back in 2004 demonstrates her capacity to think about the city at a 20,000-foot level, and—importantly—to prioritize people over automobiles. Her opponent has expressed general support for transit, sidewalks, and electric cars, but Moon’s record demonstrates a real commitment to, and understanding of, the fact that thriving 21st century cities cannot put cars—any kind of cars—first.

As the city grows at an astounding pace, we don’t have time for leaders who cater to narrow constituencies (like the aging minority of Seattle residents who own single-family homes) or spend their days rushing from crisis to crisis (sweeping homeless people from place to place to placate housed residents who would prefer that humanitarian crises happen somewhere else). When asked whether she would revisit the portions of the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda that preserve 1950s-style single-family zoning indefinitely, Durkan has been noncommittal, suggesting that HALA is the best we’re going to get; Moon has said she supports reopening single-family areas to row houses, townhomes, duplexes, and stacked flats, which is the bold plan that Murray abandoned as soon as he came under pressure. Both candidates are clearly committed to increasing density to accommodate population growth, but Moon will make pro-housing policies a priority.

More than any other issue, Seattle’s response to the homelessness crisis (and the separate but related addiction epidemic) will determine what kind of city we will be in the coming decades. Under Murray (and on the basis of two reports by out-of-town consultants), the city has pushed homelessness policy in the direction of “market-based,” “results-oriented” solutions that look good on paper but won’t pencil out in an expensive city where homelessness is directly tied to a lack of affordable housing. The city’s Pathways Home plan, which Durkan supports, assumes that a majority of homeless people will be able to go from living on the street to making a living wage within just a few months—an unrealistic plan that privileges the easiest-to-house while leaving people suffering from addiction, mental health issues, or simply long-term joblessness behind. Moon is the only candidate in any race who has zeroed in on this plan, criticizing its unrealistic promise to “permanently” house thousands with short-term housing vouchers.

At a time when Seattle is deciding what kind of 21st century city it wants to be, it needs a leader who can think in broad strokes, not one who promises more incremental changes. Moon has shown the capacity to be that kind of leader. More than Durkan, she has expressed broad support for big-picture solutions, and a healthy skepticism that the “free market” will solve problems like the lack of affordable housing for low-income and homeless individuals and families. She has also demonstrated a willingness to listen to people and perspectives that have historically had trouble getting a foot in the door at city hall, and—importantly—to reconsider her views when challenged with new information. Mike McGinn, the former mayor to whom Moon is often compared, had a fatal flaw—he didn’t listen. Moon listens, even to people with whom she disagrees. She’s collaborative, not combative, and driven not by ego but by a genuine desire to build a more inclusive city, even if that means listening to people with whom she disagrees.

Moon’s platform isn’t perfect, by any stretch. Her plan to expedite Sound Transit expansion by offering to extend loans to the agency is almost certainly unworkable and unaffordable. Her commitment to city-funded broadband, after study after study (and mayor after mayor) has failed to justify its expense, feels like pandering. She has continued to insist that Vancouver-style property speculation is a major driver of housing prices here despite evidence that this is not the case. And her commitment to “inclusiveness” and “collaboration” in city government could tip too far in the wrong direction—listening to stakeholders is important, but excessive stakeholder input is a major reason Seattle is stuck with a 1990s zoning code in 2017.

All mayors learn on the job. My hope is that, if elected, Moon will learn which of her campaign ideas are realistic and worth pursuing and which should be abandoned. If she achieves a fraction of the vision she has outlined, the city will be visibly changed for the better. I’m voting for that vision.

The C Is for Crank endorses Cary Moon.

City attorney: Pete Holmes

City attorney Pete Holmes has a long record of fighting for progressive causes. He defended protections for hotel workers against a lawsuit by their employers; ended the widespread practice of prosecuting drivers who lost their licenses (and often their cars and livelihoods) because they couldn’t pay their traffic fines; and reduced sentencing for minor crimes to protect undocumented immigrants from unjust deportation. He has also been deeply involved in the city’s efforts to counteract the Trump Administration’s efforts to crack down on progressive cities, defending Seattle’s status as a sanctuary city.

Holmes was active in the creation of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program, which connects drug users with health care, human services, housing, and treatment instead of throwing them in jail for minor crimes, and has worked to reform laws against drugs and prostitution—most notably, by directing police to target sex buyers, not sex workers, in prostitution stings. He was an early, vocal leader on drug reform, working to pass I-502, which legalized recreational pot, while leading a crackdown on shady (and illegal) “medical” dispensaries and home-delivery services that gave the legal weed industry a bad name. And he has led on police reform, navigating a tricky process in a way that has, at times, angered both the police union (which has opposed efforts to impose additional oversight on its members) and some police reformers (who want the power to reject or approve contracts and to hire and fire the chief of police.)

Holmes’ opponent Scott Lindsay, a former public-safety advisor ex-mayor Ed Murray, has shown a troubling affinity for law-and-order approaches to the problem of homelessness and downtown “disorder” (a Rudy Giuliani-style dog whistle if ever there was one). Earlier this year, Lindsay leaked legislation sponsored by council member Mike O’Brien that would have provided additional protections for homeless people living in their vehicles, in a transparent effort to torpedo the proposal. Lindsay’s willingness to violate city officials’ trust for political ends speaks to a lack of judgment that’s concerning in a candidate for a job that requires strict attorney-client privilege. Lindsay raises concerns about declining prosecutions for domestic violence that appear to be legitimate, but it’s hard to know whether to believe him when, for example, he also claimed recently that Seattle has the highest property crime in the country, an alarmist assertion that turned out to be misleading. (Holmes disputes Lindsay’s interpretation of the domestic-violence numbers). Lindsay has also exaggerated the impact of the Navigation Teams (groups of police and social-service workers who do outreach to homeless people living in unauthorized encampments) and suggested that homeless people are far more likely to commit crimes than data suggests—a disturbing tendency toward alarmism for someone seeking an office where measured realism is a far more important quality than the ability to rally a reactionary base.

Holmes could be more active on certain issues, like expanding LEAD to the rest of the city and promoting restorative justice for people accused of low-level crimes. However,  sometimes a steady hand is better than an itchy trigger finger. The C Is for Crank endorses Pete Holmes. 

City Council Position 8: Teresa Mosqueda

The C Is for Crank stands by its endorsement of Teresa Mosqueda, a longtime labor leader who has spent her entire career fighting for workers, women, children, and other marginalized people. Back in July, I wrote,

As the campaign chairwoman for Raise Up Washington, Mosqueda helped draft and lead the successful campaign last year for Initiative 1433, which increases the statewide minimum wage to $13.50 an hour and requires employers to provide paid sick leave. As legislative director for the Children’s Alliance, she fought for implementation of Apple Health for Kids, the state’s Medicaid program. And as campaign director for the Washington State Labor Council, she was deeply involved in this year’s paid family leave negotiations, which resulted in a bill that will provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave for workers who take time off to care for a new or newly adopted child, to recover from a serious illness, or to take care of a sick family member. Mosqueda continued to work on family leave even after she declared her candidacy—a reflection both of her strong commitment to women and families and the fact that she, unlike some of her opponents, can’t afford to quit her job to run for office full-time. If she wins, she’ll also be the only renter on the city council. (No wonder the Seattle Times didn’t endorse her.)

Much of Mosqueda’s work has been behind the scenes—the kind of efforts that tend to go unnoticed but have lasting and important consequences. As the head of the state’s largest health care advocacy coalition, the Healthy Washington Coalition, Mosqueda served on the state’s health insurance exchange board, where she fought to require insurance companies to disclose what services they provide, including reproductive health care. She also insisted that the state of Washington provide information about voter registration to people buying plans on the exchange, an ACA requirement the state tried to circumvent. These issues aren’t flashy. They don’t make headlines. But they matter.

The C Is for Crank endorses Teresa Mosqueda.

Seattle City Council Position 9: Lorena Gonzalez

Image result for lorena gonzalez seattle

Lorena Gonzalez, the capable head of the city’s public safety committee, a leader on gender equity issues on the council, and the first council member to publicly call on former mayor Ed Murray to step down, is being challenged by Pat Murakami, a Mount Baker neighborhood activist who has spent decades fighting against density and light rail in the South End. The choice in this race is obvious. If you’d like to learn more about  Gonzalez’s record and plans for her first full four-year term on the council, I encourage you to read my interview with her from earlier this year, where we discussed a wide range of issues, including displacement, homelessness, and police accountability. And then vote for Lorena Gonzalez.

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18 thoughts on “The C Is for Crank General Election Endorsements”

  1. Great endorsements! Except I fully support Cary’s proposals to look at how Seatte is being effected by national and global financial speculators. Wall Street is the number one backer of escalating economic inequality in the US. We need to form a powerful coaltion of US cities and states to take on Wall Street, and it won’t be easy. Except for the Bernie faction, much of our national government is a wholly owned subsidary of Wall Street. Trump could disappear tomorrow, the whole T-party too, and we’d still be in desperate need of Bernie’s “political revolution”. Go Cary!

  2. You said: “If you want ‘us old single family homeowners’ to participate in the fixing of housing affordability (and other homelessness issues), you have to change your language.” That is where I extrapolated that you were saying I have to change my language, or else you won’t participate.

    And as someone who is a bit literal about language, I’ll add that the phrase you put in quotes and attributed to me is not a thing I said. I would strongly request that instead of putting quotes around words that I didn’t say (“old single family homeowners”) and attributing them to me, you consider the substance of what I did say—the demographics of Seattle are changing, the population of single-family homeowners is getting older, and although that cohort is a smaller and smaller minority of the people living in Seattle, they continue to retain an iron grip on the majority of the developable land in the city. And that does not strike me as equitable.

    1. Fair enough on the accurate quote bit – but I didn’t change the substance of what you did say, I don’t believe.
      Now it seems you’ve devolved to just nitpicking, and using a deflective turn to remove focus from MY initial point – that the language that you choose to use to describe SF homeowners IS divisive and will not get them (us) on your side.
      (If we’re not already. I happen to agree we need more affordable housing – isn’t that clear by now?)

      Seattle resident homeowners are not yet the minority, so you seem to be factually wrong on this point as well:
      Or are you slicing the stats differently?

  3. I’m sure Moon will be ideal for the city in its quest to drive out living wage job creators like Amazon. I mean one sure way to reduce property and rental income is to ensure that nobody has a living wage income, right? Combined with her insistence on conspiracy theories about foreign speculators I wonder if Moon’s goal is to keep Seattle as white as possible.

    Really disappointed in this endorsement. I understand the reasoning, and there certainly are reasons to not support Durkan but I learned long ago not to trust those who look for scapegoats blame the city’s own lack of long term planning on. The fact is that the city dropped the ball, it’s not Amazon’s nor any other major employer’s fault that Seattle has a housing and transportation crunch.

  4. “narrow constituencies (like the aging minority of Seattle residents who own single-family homes)”
    How about the narrow constituency of young singles who think they’ll always be young (and single) and never need housing bigger than 300 sq. ft.?

    1. I have yet to meet a single person who thinks they will always be young and single, except in the form of straw men in arguments disparaging renters as naive and stupid.

      1. lol, good response, although I’ve seen my share of them who don’t act like they know that, at least not until they hit 30. I used to be one myself; is your memory so bad you don’t remember what that was like?

        How about “the narrow constituency that thinks increasing density by itself will solve our environmental problems”?

  5. “aging minority of Seattle residents who own single-family homes”
    That’s pretty divisive language for those folks that set down roots, pay significant property taxes, and represent a valuable segment of the populace… You prefer perhaps absentee landlords, or multi-family slumlords that have zero investment in community?

    If you want “us old single family homeowners” to participate in the fixing of housing affordability (and other homelessness issues), you have to change your language. “We” have a significant community investment – and a social investment of our own – and we are not all NIMBY’s. So please drop the derisive generalizations.

    1. This disparagement of “absentee landlords” really reads to me like a way of renters indirectly, to hide the classism behind it.

      I spent considerable time in two rental houses in my time in Seattle; one was rented from a woman who lived a few blocks away, and owned a few other houses on the street; the other from someone who’d retired to somewhere in Eastern Washington, whom I saw all of one time in four years of renting. The latter was a vastly superior landlord who cared about the house, respected my rights as a tenant, and took care of problems quickly and professionally. The former was a busybody and a racist who made absurd excuses to avoid basic maintenance, and when she couldn’t come up with any hired her grossly incompetent and unqualified friends for those tasks, and routinely violated landlord-tenant law by entering the premises without warning or permission.

      It would be grossly unfair, of course, to infer from my own limited experience that landlords who live further away are always or even generally preferable (although plenty of other renters I’ve known have observed similar patterns). But the habit of treating “absentee landlord” as a slur never really seems to come with any logic or data to back it up; it’s hard for me to see it as anything other than either cheap anti-outsider pandering, or indirect renter-bashing.

      Why does physical proximity make landlording more virtuous? I want a good landlord; I don’t care in the slightest what zip code they reside in. Distance removes any temptation to try and fix something on the cheap themselves, rather than hiring a qualified professional; proximity doesn’t remove the temptation to try to cheap out and avoid the costs of proper maintenance.

      1. This is a great set of points. Unfortunately it does not conform to the method of winning Seattle elections today, namely creating easy and over simplified villains. The ‘winning combo’ of villains this cycle appears to be:

        – Absentee Landlords
        – Foreign property investors (may not exist)
        – Amazon
        – Non-Seattle natives (defined as anyone in Seattle less time than Cary Moon’s 19 years)
        – Minimum wage employers
        – Living wage employers
        – The ‘wrong kind’ of diversity (ie: Indian and Asian tech and medical workers)
        – The rich so long as they are not Cary Moon and her husband
        – The establishment (defined as anyone who has actually spent their life winning victories for progressive goals vs just being loud about it)

        If Moon wins my prediction is that its another term like McGinn’s.

    2. And also: I want *neighbors* who are invested in the community; I could care less about the people they sent their rent checks to. I have no idea whether the guy who retired and move east cared about the community in the slightest–all I can really say about him was he was a conscientious and respectful landlord, which is plenty good enough for me. But I did, and conducted myself accordingly, which seemed to be good enough for most of my neighbors.

      1. The problem is those “conscientious and respectful landlords” are disappearing along with the “aging minority of Seattle residents who own single-family homes” because they tend to be of the same demographic. I see their affordable rental houses being sold, torn down, and replaced by million dollar houses.
        Part of maintaining affordable housing in the city (any city) are policies that encourage the conservation of that housing stock—and finding new younger owners who will maintain the non-rentier landlord tradition. Not likely with neoliberalism ascendant.

    3. Really? You won’t participate in the process of adding housing throughout the city if individual urbanists use language you don’t happen to like? That seems a bit divisive to me. Also, for what it’s worth, this lifelong renter finds it pretty “divisive” when people tell me I haven’t put down roots in the city where I have lived (and paid my landlord’s property taxes along with all the other taxes that we all pay in Seattle) for the past 17 years.

      1. Nowhere did I say that I won’t participate in the process, ECB.
        But I personally don’t like your language, that’s right. And I think it’s counterproductive to your (our) goals of creating more affordable housing, to use language to divide like you do.
        That’s why I asked (suggested) that you drop the divisive generalizations.

        This language does zero to move us to a solution that taxpaying homeowners will need to help fund. In fact it may perturb those SF homeowners who will be part of the solution. So, is it the best approach to achieve the end goal? I’m thinking not.

        As to renting – nowhere did I say or imply that renters don’t put down roots. I’ve lived here my whole life (mostly), and at times I have rented. Due to longevity, my roots are likely deeper than yours – but not because you’re a renter.
        And odds are that you’re not paying your LL’s taxes. In most cases rent paid just barely covers mortgage payments, maintenance, and interest.

        You’re in the language business – so I know you know it matters.

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