Election Speculation, Sweep Scheduled for Cal Anderson Park, and Sad News at the Seattle Indian Center

1. As speculation ramps up over who will jump into the race for mayor next year, a number of good and not-so-good rumors have come across Fizz’s radar. Here’s a look at the list of potential and supposedly potential candidates, in what we believe is the current general order of likelihood.

Decent Bets

City council president Lorena González. (González didn’t respond to a text sent last week but her name was on the shortlist of candidates even before Mayor Jenny Durkan announced she wasn’t running for reelection.

Deputy Mayor Casey Sixkiller. (Asked if he’s running, Sixkiller—who helped craft a compromise homelessness plan for 2021—responded, “Since the Mayor’s announcement last week I, like many others, have started thinking about the various ways I can contribute to the City and its future. But for now I’m focused on the important work of advancing Mayor Durkan’s agenda while overseeing a number of the City’s daily operations and engaging with our residents and businesses about ways we can support them as part of the City’s ongoing response to COVID-19.”)

Former mayoral candidate and state legislator and current Civic Ventures staffer Jessyn Farrell. (Farrell did not respond to a request for comment).

Former state legislator and current Grist executive Editor Brady Walkinshaw. (Walkinshaw did respond, but didn’t say whether he’s thinking of running.)

Chief Seattle Club director Colleen Echohawk didn’t respond to our email but has reportedly been talking with consultants.

Unlikely

Council member Teresa Mosqueda, who would not confirm anything specific, was reportedly wavering on whether to run for reelection to her current seat this year, much less run for mayor. Word is that she has decided to run for a second term.

Scott Lindsay, the former Ed Murray advisor who now writes reports calling for a crackdown on homeless people in public spaces, has been making a lot of public appearances lately (most recently on KOMO 4’s second installment of the “Seattle Is Dying” propaganda series), but he says he’s “still looking” for “a ‘back-to-basics’ Obama-Democrat candidate who has a serious plan to address our city’s homelessness and public safety challenges” to emerge. “[S]adly, it’s a tough political environment for anyone to want to throw their hat in the ring,” Lindsay said.

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Not Gonna Happen

A grab bag of names are on this list, including people who are unlikely to run and a number who said explicitly that they aren’t running. Deputy mayor Mike Fong and former council member (and, briefly, mayor) Bruce Harrell are on this list, along with former council member/mayor Tim Burgess (who told us he isn’t running, and that “it’s time for younger leaders to emerge”), county executive Dow Constantine (who just announced his bid for reelection and told employees of the county’s executive department last week unequivocally that he isn’t running), and United Way of King County director Gordon McHenry.
McHenry’s name has been floating around for the past week or so, but United Way King County spokesman Cesar Canizales told PubliCola, “Gordon is not running for public office. He is committed to the United Way of King County’s mission and he has no intention of running for public office whatsoever. He has given us 100% assurance, unequivocally that he’s not running.”

2. Several dozen people living in tents at Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill got notice this week that the city plans to clear the park on Wednesday morning, in preparation for the “reopening” of the park. Cal Anderson has been at the center of protests against police violence since June. Seattle Police Department officers have cleared the park several times before—including in August, when several activists occupied the shelter house in the middle of the park—but this is the first time campers have received prior notice, according to an encampment resident.

“They have never given us notice before—they’ve just sort of shown up at five or six in the morning and announced it,” the resident, who said their name was Mud, said. “They don’t like us to be prepared, and I don’t know how they do it, but they usually catch us when our guard is down.”

It’s also the first time, to PubliCola’s knowledge, that the city has orchestrated an encampment removal during the pandemic without the Navigation Team, a group of police officers and social workers who were responsible for removing encampments until earlier this year. The city council disbanded the team as part of the 2020 budget rebalancing package in August. The Parks Department, which already has the authority to remove encampments on its own, plans to orchestrate this one with backup from SPD. 

The city has mostly suspended encampment sweeps this year in light of an explicit CDC recommendation that cities allow unsheltered people to “remain where they are” to prevent the spread of COVID.

The Parks Department says they need to remove the encampment to reopen and reactivate the park, with programming that will include “music, art, community volunteer events, and ongoing offering of social service supports to those in need,” according to a spokeswoman for the department.

The Parks Department spokeswoman said people living in the park threatened Parks employees trying to do routine maintenance with “physical violence” and noted that there have been “three fire responses (a tree on fire and two large illegal burns) and two medical responses” in recent days. “Because of the hostility to parks staff when they are onsite, Parks and Recreation did request Seattle Police support both to notify folks about the request to vacate, and to also be onsite as folks are asked to leave the park to allow for the cleaning to begin,” the spokeswoman continued. “Many individuals associated with continued demonstrations were confrontational [Monday] morning as well.”

The Parks Department says that there are about 40 available shelter beds citywide, and one spot in a tiny house village, that people living in the park could accept if they chose to. As we’ve reported many times over the years, there are many reasons people turn down offers of shelter, including fear of theft or assault, the lack of privacy in congregate spaces, gender segregation, and—more recently—the fact that people are more likely to get COVID in congregate settings. “They ask for our names and some other information and then tell us we can stay in a shelter,” Mud said. “People don’t usually want to do that, for a lot of different reasons.”

3. Lourdes Nolasco, a case manager at the Seattle Indian Center, died of COVID-19 last Friday night, SIC executive director Camille Monzon-Richards confirms. Monzon-Richards said there was no additional outbreak at the center, which is located near 12th and Jackson in Seattle’s International District, and that other SIC employees who came into contacted with Nolasco quarantined themselves for 10 days when she first became ill in mid-November.

“She was a very good case manager, and we’re still reeling from this” news, Monzon-Richards said. “It’s just really hard to believe that she’s not coming back.”

Nolasco had two adult daughters and was a caregiver for a man with developmental disabilities. Although she was not Native American, “she was a member of our Indian Center family,” Monzon-Richards said. “Traditionally, we would gather together and have a sit-down meal, but we won’t be able to do that because of the COVID-19 restrictions.”

Monzon-Richards said the day center requires clients to get their temperature checked and don masks before entering the building, and offers tests to staff and clients every three weeks. The last time the staff were tested, she said, “all the tests came back negative,” including Nolasco’s.

One thought on “Election Speculation, Sweep Scheduled for Cal Anderson Park, and Sad News at the Seattle Indian Center”

  1. You forgot to mention that the city made 17 shelter referrals and helped 9 people move prior to the sweep and still the residents are having lawsuits that say they are being treated unfairly and not given enough warning. The people in the neighborhood deserve to have the use of this park that their tax dollars are paying for. Accept shelter campers and let the neighborhood use the park!

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