Tag: election 2021

Campaign Fizz: Anti-RV “Eco Blocks” Surround Candidate’s Brewery, Two Polls Test Pro-Harrell Messaging

“Ecology blocks,” commonly used to prevent unhoused people from parking RVs in industrial areas, around Fremont Brewing’s Ballard production facility.

1. Dozens of “ecology blocks” have popped up around the Ballard production facility for Fremont Brewing, the craft-beer company owned by City Council Position 9 candidate Sara Nelson, blocking vehicles from parking in designated public parking areas along NW 47th and 48th Streets and on 9th Avenue Northwest. Although city law forbids blocking the public right-of-way, industrial businesses throughout the city have chosen to defy the law, using the blocks to prevent RVs from parking near their facilities in industrial areas from Ballard to Georgetown.

Fremont Brewing, however, is the only large industrial business owned by a candidate for city council.

The production facility, which is located in Ballard’s burgeoning brewery district, is adjacent to a small encampment that, on a recent visit, included several vans and RVs. The blocks, which are spaced too closely for a car to park between them, surround the block-long building on three sides, with several of the blocks set up in on-street parking directly behind signs indicating parking rules in the area. Using ecology blocks to prevent people from parking in the street, as Nelson’s brewery appears to have done, is illegal, but the Seattle Department of Transportation has declined so far to enforce the law, noting that the blocks are heavy and hard to move.

Next to Fremont Brewing, ecology blocks in the public right-of-way extend right up to a stop sign.
Next to Fremont Brewing, ecology blocks in the public right-of-way extend right up to a stop sign.

Nelson’s campaign didn’t return an email seeking confirmation that Fremont Brewing had placed the blocks around the production facility, and Nelson didn’t respond to an email sent to her business email address. 

The proliferation of RVs and other large vehicles in industrial areas is a product not just of Seattle’s homelessness crisis, but of parking rules that prohibit them everywhere else in the city. During the pandemic, when the city decided not to enforce a law that requires vehicles to move every 72 hours, many RVs stayed put, sparking a backlash among business owners who have turned to everything from boulders to fake “no parking” signs to prevent RVs from parking near their businesses.

2. A new online poll testing messages on homelessness suggests that the supporters of the “Compassion Seattle” ballot measure will have another outlet for their money—an independent expenditure campaign supporting mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell and other “candidates in local elections.”

The poll focuses on homelessness and policing, and tests three possible campaign names: Recover Seattle, Restore Seattle, and Take Back Seattle.

The questions ask voters to choose between statements that purport to represent the two mayoral candidates’ views, although the framing of all the questions is generally pro-Harrell. For example, a question on business describes two possible perspectives: “City leaders should make sure that local companies pay their fair share in taxes so that we have the resources we need to address Seattle’s challenges,” and “City leaders should partner with our local business community to encourage new businesses, keep taxes under control, and create more jobs with livable wages.”

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Similarly, a question about homelessness contrasts “We have programs that will get the homeless off the street, but we don’t have enough revenue. The best way to solve homelessness is to properly fund existing programs by making sure corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes” with “We have the money to address homelessness in Seattle, but we need to make better decisions about what works and where new ideas are needed. An important first step is to make sure our parks and streets are safe for all people.”

Charter Amendment 29 would have required the city to fund thousands of new shelter beds without providing any additional funds while assuring that public spaces “remain open and clear of encampments.” Harrell has said he will implement every major provision of the amendment if elected.

3. A second poll that also circulated yesterday appears to be from the Harrell campaign itself. This poll tests out positive and negative messages about Harrell and asks respondents to say how convincing they find each statement. Continue reading “Campaign Fizz: Anti-RV “Eco Blocks” Surround Candidate’s Brewery, Two Polls Test Pro-Harrell Messaging”

“Compassion Seattle” Is Dead. Now What?

By Katie Wilson

Two years ago, Seattle’s corporate set learned that money can’t buy you the Seattle City Council. Now they’re finding out it can’t even buy a measly amendment to the city charter.

I’ve written before about how Charter Amendment 29, promoted by the business-backed group “Compassion Seattle,” was an expensive unfunded mandate with troublingly unclear implications for the city’s approach to unsheltered homelessness. Last month, a King County Superior Court judge struck it from the ballot for wholly different reasons: It’s a misuse of the initiative process, conflicting with state law and usurping the city’s legislative prerogatives. The state Court of Appeals denied Compassion Seattle’s appeal of the ruling on Friday.

To be clear, I wasn’t an impassive observer in this process. The organization I work for, the Transit Riders Union, was a plaintiff in the lawsuit along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness. TRU is also a part of House Our Neighbors!, the grassroots coalition convened by Real Change to oppose Compassion Seattle.

So yeah, I feel like running some victory laps. But going in circles, even metaphorically, is the last thing to be doing right now. There’s a good reason many thousands of Seattleites would have voted for the measure: It sounded great. It promised to do something about the ever-worsening homelessness crisis. With compassion, no less! It was a false promise, but attractive because the crisis is so vast, so heartbreaking and so visible.

So, what now? Here are four ways forward.

1. The city should make it easier, faster and cheaper to site and build shelter and permanent housing. CA 29 promised to do this by expediting project applications and waiving land use code requirements and permitting fees. This is one part of the measure that was actually good policy, but it also illustrates why the whole enterprise was so wrongheaded. Land use and zoning falls under the purview of the city’s legislative process and can’t be decided by initiative.

There’s a good reason many thousands of Seattleites would have voted for the measure: It sounded great. It promised to do something about the ever-worsening homelessness crisis. With compassion, no less! It was a false promise, but attractive because the crisis is so vast, so heartbreaking and so visible.

Siting shelter and housing for homeless people is often controversial. Suppose CA 29 passed and the city began fast-tracking projects; if disgruntled neighbors sued, they’d probably win. The Seattle City Council already took action in early 2021 to make it easier to site and build permanent supportive housing. The Urbanist reported on that effort here. Next year, Seattle’s new mayor and council should work together to make more changes like these the right way, by developing and passing legislation to allow projects to move forward faster.

2. The city should make smart use of new revenue flowing in from the JumpStart tax—a payroll tax paid by Seattle’s largest corporations—as well as the remainder of the city’s federal American Rescue Plan Act allocation, which will be budgeted this fall. JumpStart’s first year was focused on economic relief from the COVID-19 crisis. But that’s about to change. “Starting next year, two-thirds of the JumpStart funds are for housing and homelessness,” Seattle Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda said. “That’s about $135 million annually for emergency housing, long-term housing solutions and everything in between.”

In July, Mosqueda and her council colleagues passed legislation creating a dedicated fund for revenues from the new tax, to help ensure they’re funneled to their intended uses.

This by itself won’t be enough to create 2,000 units of “emergency or permanent housing” in a single year, as CA 29 arbitrarily stipulated, let alone all the permanent supportive housing and deeply affordable housing that’s needed, but it’s a great start.

3. To go further, the city will need to explore new sources of progressive revenue. Last fall, King County enacted the Health Through Housing Initiative, funded by a one percent sales tax, to scale up its efforts on chronic homelessness; that’s not a progressive tax, but it is buying a lot of hotels. Seattle can do its part without further taxing poor people. Should it raise the JumpStart tax? Design a city income tax? Siphon off some unearned wealth? Push for other new options from the state legislature? City leaders should create a task force made up of policy experts and community stakeholders to research what’s possible and report back on the options.

4.  One of the most unrealistic pieces of CA 29 was the suggestion that the city should suddenly (and with no new funding) start playing a major role in providing mental health and substance use disorder treatment, services that are currently managed mainly through county and state agencies. The city should acknowledge that behavioral health services are a county and state responsibility and work in partnership with King County and state legislators to fund behavioral health care for people experiencing homelessness.

One promising idea comes from 43rd District Rep. Frank Chopp, who points out that health care is the proper responsibility of state government . He’s developing a proposal called “a prescription for a home,” which he hopes to advance in next year’s legislative session. It begins from the recognition that chronic homelessness is usually related to chronic health conditions, which are nearly impossible to heal or treat successfully without housing. Just as the state now funds health care through Apple Health for qualifying individuals, people experiencing chronic homelessness would have a right to a home and wraparound services.

“The core of the program would be funded right out of the state general fund,” Chopp said. Phased in over time, “it would be part of the state Medicaid budget, like nursing homes, like home care, like prescription drugs.” With the state taking on more responsibility for addressing chronic homelessness, local governments could focus on building housing for the rest of the homeless population and for low-wage workers.

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So much for what I think; with CA 29 off the ballot, what are its backers and opponents up to?

“We need to start treating housing as a human right, not an exploitative venture,” said Tiffani McCoy, advocacy director at Real Change. “For-profit housing will never be the answer to our housing needs. We need to immediately start shifting housing away from the private, for profit sector and into the public sphere. We need social housing now.” The House Our Neighbors! coalition, she says, isn’t going away — it’s planning its next steps.

Compassion Seattle, meanwhile, is urging supporters to pay attention to the city elections.

“We can still make our voices heard in the elections for Mayor, City Council, and City Attorney,” the campaign said in a statement. “In each race, the difference between the candidates is defined by who supports what the Charter Amendment was attempting to accomplish and who does not.”

Continue reading ““Compassion Seattle” Is Dead. Now What?”

Harrell Says He’ll Implement Key Provisions of “Compassion Seattle” Measure, Clear Encampments

By Erica C. Barnett

At a press conference a few hundred yards from an encampment in Woodland Park on Thursday morning, mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell said that if elected, he would implement the key elements of Charter Amendment 29—the “Compassion Seattle” ballot measure. A King County Superior Court judge tossed the initiative last week, agreeing with opponents that things like budgets and land use policy are outside the scope of local ballot measures, but the campaign appealed to the state court of appeals, whose ruling could come tomorrow.

Harrell’s “Homelessness Action Plan” would require the city to spend 12 percent of its general fund on homelessness, build 2,000 new emergency housing (shelter) beds within one year, create individualized “service plans” for every person experiencing homelessness, and, as Harrell put it, “ensure that our city parks, playgrounds, sports fields, public spaces, sidewalks, and streets remain open and clear of encampments.” These proposals are all identical to provisions of Charter Amendment 29, which Harrell supported.

At Thursday’s event, which was billed as a press conference but resembled a campaign rally, Harrell fielded questions primarily from a large group of supporters rather than the assembled press. “If and when you become mayor, how soon can we as Green Lake citizens expect to see these encampments gone?” one supporter asked. “I will say January or February, because I work with a sense of urgency,” Harrell responded.

“They are not mean-spirited people. They’re simply asking a very fundamental question: Can our parks be safe again? … Can our children play like they once did?”—Bruce Harrell

Another asked how he’d respond to critics who say that his plan would mean sweeping encampments without providing services. “Look at my record,” Harrell responded. “There are no dog whistles. I don’t have a dog whistle. And I say, how dare people say that, when my wife and I’ve been doing this for for 20, 30 years.”

Harrell also reiterated his proposal to create a city-run program that would give people the opportunity to volunteer or give tax-exempt donations to nonprofits working on homelessness, which he also described at a press conference outside an encampment at Bitter Lake in Mune. “Everyone can chip in—it could be clothing, it could be resume assistance, it could be anything that exhibits an effort to help the problem,” he said.

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Harrell said he understood why Green Lake residents are fed up with people living in the park, where the largest concentration of tents and RVs is located in triangle of land bordered roughly by Aurora Ave. and a portion of West Green Lake Way. The city closed the street to traffic as part of the Stay Healthy Streets program during the early months of the pandemic, and some residents blame the closure for the proliferation of tents. “They are not mean-spirited people. They’re simply asking a very fundamental question: Can our parks be safe again? … Can our children play like they once did?”

His plan for removing people from parks, however, remains vague; in response to another supporter’s question about how he would deal with “the majority of the people that are camping here [who] don’t want assistance,” Harrell said he would deal with people “on a case by case basis,” depending on their needs.

“I have the executive authority [as mayor] to direct mental health counselors and housing advocates down here, I have the executive ability to bring down individualized case management experts down here, [and] I have the ability to once again allow traffic and then have a conversation with the community to see what kinds of improvements down here can be made.”

But his promise—which would put the city at cross purposes with the new regional homelessness authority, which is taking over all the city’s contracts for homelessness-related services next year—came with a hard edge. “I just think that there has to be consequences for that kind of action,” Harrell said, referring to people who don’t accept the services or shelter they’re offered, “because many people—and I’m very close to the world of people struggling with drug and alcohol treatment, people that have challenges—many of them are in denial. Many of them do not know what they need. They just do not.” Continue reading “Harrell Says He’ll Implement Key Provisions of “Compassion Seattle” Measure, Clear Encampments”

Vaccination Resistance at SPD Continues Amid COVID Spike; Harrell Turns Down Police Accountability Debate

1. The highly contagious Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus is spreading quickly in Washington, including within the Seattle Police Department. In the past three weeks, 29 officers tested positive for the virus, marking the highest increase in cases within the department since the beginning of the pandemic. SPD also saw cases spike in April, when roughly 20 officers tested positive for the virus.

The new spike also spurred a sharp increase in the number of officers in quarantine. At the beginning of August, only one officer was in quarantine; on Monday, 33 officers were isolating themselves. The number of officers in quarantine reached its peak in late November of last year, when 80 officers quarantined after exposure to the virus; those figures plummeted at the beginning of the year, routinely falling into the single digits.

This month’s increase in infections among police officers comes on the heels of Mayor Jenny Durkan’s decision to require all city employees to receive the COVID-19 before October 18, 2021 or risk termination. The city’s vaccination mandate sparked outcry from the coalition of city unions, including the two largest unions representing Seattle police officers, who argued that any decision that affects working conditions requires the city to come to the bargaining table to negotiate how the city implements the new rule.

In a letter to interim Labor Relations unit head Jeff Clark, coalition co-chair Shaun Van Eyk wrote that the October 18 timeline won’t leave enough time for the city to “bargain in good faith”; instead, his coalition demanded that the city not enforce the mandate until it completes negotiations with the unions.

Mike Solan, the president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, is among the loudest critics of the vaccination mandate. In a letter published on his union’s blog on August 9, Solan claimed that more than half of his union’s members are vaccinated, though he suggested that mandating vaccination could prompt officers who have resisted the shot to leave the department in protest.

“SPOG is concerned for the safety and wellbeing of all of our members including those with personal vaccination beliefs,” he wrote. “Can Seattle now endure more losses of police officers due to Mayor Durkan’s vaccination order?” A week later, Solan clarified on his podcast that his objection to the mandate “isn’t about whether the vaccine works. That isn’t our lane.”

So far, SPD has been unable to track its employees’ vaccination status because of privacy rules, but the city’s vaccine mandate could provide a chance for the department to start collecting this data.

Van Eyk said Monday that intransigent conservatives aren’t the only ones who aren’t getting jabbed; some employees of color are hesitant, too, because they mistrust a medical system that has historically exploited African Americans and other BIPOC individuals.

2. The state auditor’s reported Monday that the city council’s controversial contract with the nonprofit Freedom Project to oversee the Black Brilliance Research Project last year was built on questionable foundations.

While the council’s decision to award the $3 million no-bid contract to the same organizations that lobbied for the funding didn’t technically break any state rules, state auditor Pat McCarthy wrote in a press release on Monday that “the city exercised only the bare minimum of accountability and transparency” while handling the contract.

The city council initially set aside dollars to pay for research about public safety spending priorities last fall at the urging of a fledgling coalition called King County Equity Now (KCEN); according to the auditor, the council decided long before awarding the contract that KCEN would receive city dollars to lead the research. But because KCEN wasn’t technically a nonprofit at the time, the council turned to South Seattle-based restorative justice nonprofit Freedom Project to handle finances while KCEN led research teams.

The arrangement allowed the council to award the contract to Freedom Project without a bidding process; in turn, KCEN hired Freedom Project as a sub-sub-contractor. But the collaboration between Freedom Project and KCEN collapsed shortly before the contract’s end in February of this year, driven partially by disputes about late payments to researchers.

In the review, the auditor’s office criticized the council for shaping the $3 million contract to fit KCEN’s proposals before awarding the contract. McCarthy also argued that the council agreed to accept deliverables that were too broad to be meaningful, leaving room for questionable spending and a final research report that didn’t provide a clear blueprint for launching the highly anticipated participatory budgeting process. “The City did not specify how the money would be spent, including requirements on administrative costs; a method for compensating community participants; research methodology requirements; and details on how the City would use the results,” McCarthy wrote in a letter to the council and Mayor Jenny Durkan last week.

McCarthy’s letter included recommendations for avoiding a repeat of the widely criticized Black Brilliance Research Project contract, including improving how the council documents its decisions about awarding contracts.

Meanwhile, budgetary and administrative disagreements about how to move forward with participatory budgeting have delayed the project—originally intended to begin in the spring of 2021—until next year.

3. Mayoral candidate and former city council member Bruce Harrell turned down an invitation from the Community Police Commission to participate in a general election debate that was supposed to happen in September, prompting the CPC to cancel the debate. The CPC is one of the city’s three police oversight bodies; among other duties, it recommends reforms and weighs in on policy proposals related to policing and police accountability.

Jesse Franz, the spokesman for the CPC, told PubliCola Monday that the CPC had planned to focus specifically on the mayoral election this year, and had no current plans to host debates in the races for city attorney and City Council positions 8 and 9.

As we reported last month, the CPC held a spirited debate over whether to host a candidate forum at all. Some members, including the Rev. Harriett Walden, contended that elections are outside the commission’s scope, while others, such as commission co-chair LaRond Baker, argued that the CPC’s role includes informing the public about potential leaders’ positions on public safety issues.

In a statement issued after PubliCola reported on Twitter that the debate was canceled, the CPC said that although “Bruce Harrell has declined our invitation to participate,” the commission “still hopes to find the best ways to educate and facilitate a community dialogue about the critical issues Seattle’s future mayor will face regarding public safety and police accountability. We hope to share those plans with you at a future date.”

Harrell’s campaign did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Monday.

Primary Election Night: Voters Reject “Outsider” Mayoral Candidates, Cuing Up General Election with Stark Contrasts

By Erica C. Barnett

With reporting by Paul Kiefer and Maryam Noor

Moments after the first batch of primary election results appeared on King County Elections’ website last night, mayoral candidate Lorena González’ campaign consultant Heather Weiner rushed across the tasting room at Jellyfish Brewing, where a crowd of several dozen had just moved to get out of the rain. “Oh my god, it’s really good, you guys!” she said excitedly. The results showed González 10 points behind former council member Bruce Harrell, 28 to 38, with former Chief Seattle Club director Colleen Echohawk and ex-state legislator Jessyn Farrell far behind in the single digits.

González, backed by labor and progressive leaders like Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (who was there last night) and Bernie Sanders, said the results showed that voters “want a mayor who will stand up to big, wealthy corporations who have millions to stop progress, but refuse to pay their fair share when it comes to addressing our most significant issues in this city. … We are done fighting around the edges. It is time for a mayor who’s going to center working people and our issues in City Hall and that is what tonight represents.”

Over at his party, held on a narrow stretch of Astroturf beneath the Bluwater Bistro in Leschi, Harrell struck a different tone, promising to bring “energy and new ideas” to the mayor’s office while rejecting big changes like defunding the police. Instead, Harrell said, he would work to “reimagine” and “reform” the department ideas that echo the incremental approach pushed by current mayor Jenny Durkan. “We will change the culture and build trust with our police department,” he said. “I understand why some people call  for defunding, but I’m interested in reimagining.”

A persistent narrative leading into last night was that that people are “sick of the activist city council” and are looking for leaders without council ties. That narrative struggles under the weight of last night’s results,

For the last few weeks, political observers and consultants have speculated that Echohawk would see a late surge, spurred in part by an ad blitz and a 16-page mailer that outlined her policy positions in detail, including her 22-point plan to address homelessness; before the results came in last night, even some at González’ party said they thought the mailer was particularly potent. Ultimately, though, Echohawk ended the night with 8 percent—too small a showing to surge back in later counts.

At her party at Tamarind Tree in the International District, Echohawk and her supporters put a positive spin on the blowout. After the results came in, Echohawk told PubliCola she felt “amazing,” because “we lifted up the issues I really care about. And we made the whole city, all the campaigns, talk about homelessness. I always say that those experiencing homelessness are the people I did this for.”

A persistent narrative leading into last night was that that people are “sick of the activist city council” and are looking for leaders without council ties. That narrative struggles under the weight of last night’s results, which included a 3.5 percent showing from former deputy mayor and mayoral candidate Casey Sixkiller, who campaigned as an outsider on a “fix this mess” platform. Collectively, Harrell and González served 18 years on the council, spanning four elected mayors—the definition of institutional players.

Echohawk field organizer Matthew Mitnick noted last night that her campaign slogan was “a new generation of leadership,” which he said encapsulated her approach and appeal. “She brings a perspective of someone who hasn’t just spent years and years and years bickering in city hall, but rather working on the ground with those most impacted,” he said.

Ultimately, outsider appeal carried little weight; a third “outsider” candidate, former state legislator Jessyn Farrell, ended the night with 7 percent, and a fourth, Andrew Grant Houston, got just 2.5 percent. (Houston’s campaign was a triumph of fundraising, with more than 5,000 donors, but that reflected a smart organizing strategy more than organic voter support).

George Gibbs, a 49-year-old González volunteer who had never worked on a campaign before, said, “frankly, it’s the activist council that’s working to create a more just city. And that’s what drew me to [González].” Gibbs said his support for González was also a vote against Harrell—who, he said, “has given more conservative voters a place to park without calling themselves Republicans. My impression, having been around Seattle with my eyes and ears open, is that people are a lot more conservative than they let on.”

“The challenges that face the city right now merit experience in local government, and I think that that is what people are saying,” González said last night. “I ran this campaign talking about the good work I have done as a council member, and I think that tonight’s results show that that is resonating for voters in the city.”

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and González

If labor support helped propel González into the general election, business support was equally important for Harrell, who benefited from a $350,000 independent expenditure campaign funded by downtown real estate developers and property managers. Over at the BluWater Bistro, Harrell’s supporters—many of them longtime family friends—told PubliCola they hoped Harrell would “clean up” the city and restore it to the way it was in the past.

Patricia Johnson, who volunteered on Bruce’s first campaign, said, “Bruce is going to help restore Seattle’s identity. We used to be a welcoming city, but with crime and homelessness running rampant, we need someone to clean up the streets and bring us back to what we once were.” Her husband, James Johnson, who graduated from Garfield High School a few years ahead of Harrell, added, “We just want the city cleaned up.”

Aaron Allen, a supporter whose mother was an administrator at Garfield when Harrell was a senior there, said Harrell “is the only candidate who really represents what it means to be from Seattle.”

“You have to have some emotional tie to the people you want to lead,” he said. Continue reading “Primary Election Night: Voters Reject “Outsider” Mayoral Candidates, Cuing Up General Election with Stark Contrasts”

How Seattle’s Mayoral Candidates Rank Green New Deal Priorities

Photo by Atomic Taco; Creative Commons license

By Maryam Noor

In 2019, the city of Seattle joined a growing list of US cities by passing a local Green New Deal resolution that would mobilize all city departments to reduce the city’s reliance on fossil fuels and invest in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by pollution. The resolution calls for new public investments to increase access to healthy foods, transition homes from natural gas to electric power, and strengthen green building standards.

In September 2019, just months after passing the Green New Deal resolution, the city council passed an ordinance requiring the city’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment to establish a 19-member Green New Deal oversight board, including eight members of communities directly impacted by racial, economic, and environmental injustices.

But in the years since the two bills passed, the city still hasn’t implemented many of the policies it recommends.

As PubliCola’s new intern, my first assignment was reaching out to Seattle’s mayoral candidates to ask them what they think of the policies outlined in the Green New Deal, and which ones they’d prioritize if elected. We also asked them to rank four policies in order of importance: Appointing a Green New Deal oversight board [Editor’s note: See correction below]; ensuring free public transit for all Seattle residents; decreasing the use of fossil fuels in Seattle homes; and exploring alternative housing models that aim to increase equity and affordability, such as community land trusts and limited-equity coops.

“
We’ve taken steps forward in banning reliance on fossil fuels in new construction of commercial buildings. I think we need to use the focus on that to make sure that we are not continuing to build infrastructure that delivers one of the most harmful emitters and products out here.”—Mayoral candidate Lorena González

Of the six candidates who responded to our questions––Colleen Echohawk, Jessyn Farrell, Lorena González, Bruce Harrell, Andrew Grant Houston, and Lance Randall–– Houston, Farrell, and Randall all said that alternative housing options would be their first concern. Farrell said she considered free public transit equally important, and Randall questioned the validity of free public transit in general.

“I would say in terms of importance, the alternative housing models would be my first priority,” Houston said. “In order to build new housing, it’s going to take at least three to five years, and so that’s something we should start off immediately.”

Farrell said affordable housing and transportation have to work together; you can’t have one without the other. “You gotta do housing and transportation together.”

Randall doesn’t want free public transit, at least not for everyone, because he believes it wouldn’t be practical or affordable.

“I believe more in subsidies for low-income people who need help, but there are a lot of people who can afford to pay for transit and they should pay for it because we have to pay the drivers,” Randall said. “We have to do bus maintenance. We have to purchase new buses.”

One of the most ambitious goals of Seattle’s Green New Deal is achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. In order for Seattle to do so, the amount of greenhouse gases that enter the atmosphere need to be equal to the amount taken out in the city. Hitting this goal would mean implementing incentives to reduce carbon emissions, such as carbon taxes and electrification of industries and transportation, and long-term investments in clean energy sources like renewable diesel or biogas.

Only one candidate, Lorena González, put reducing carbon emissions in Seattle homes at the top of her priority list. To some extent, this is already happening. In February, the city banned the use of natural gas for space heating in new commercial and apartment buildings larger than three stories and for new heating systems in older buildings that match these qualifications. The ordinance also bans the use of natural gas to heat water in larger hotels and apartment complexes.

González doesn’t think it’s enough. “Fossil fuels are the largest producer of carbon emissions. 
We’ve taken steps forward in banning reliance on fossil fuels in new construction of commercial buildings,” González said. “And so I think we need to use the focus on that to make sure that we are not continuing to build infrastructure that delivers one of the most harmful emitters and products out here.”

Find out how the six candidates ranked the four issues we asked about below.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that the mayor and council had not yet appointed the members of a new Green New Deal Oversight Board. The board has been appointed and will convene later this year. We have edited the story to remove quotes about the board, but have left the rankings below in their original order.

Continue reading “How Seattle’s Mayoral Candidates Rank Green New Deal Priorities”

PubliCola Picks: Lorena González for Mayor

In this critical, post-COVID election year, Seattle needs a mayor who understands the job, has a plan to translate their progressive values into policy, and can jump into the job with both feet on day 1. City Council president Lorena González will come to the mayor’s office with a well-defined agenda, a solid track record, and a set of achievable plans for addressing the city’s thorniest issues..

González has set a standard for not just talking a good game—but getting things done. In her two terms as a council member, she has pushed for—and passed—protections for hourly workers, such as the secure scheduling bill; established a permanent legal defense fund for immigrants facing deportation; and passed a number of underreported but important election reforms, including a ban on some corporate contributions, new transparency requirements, and restrictions on indirect lobbying, in which lobbyists seek to influence the public without revealing who’s paying them. She has also been a pragmatic and savvy advocate for police accountability, spearheading a police accountability ordinance in 2017 that advocates hailed as a groundbreaking step for reform.

And, in a lone dissent that got little coverage at the time but telegraphed her understanding of the challenges inherent to a “regional approach to homelessness,” she voted against a plan for the new regional homelessness authority that handed significant power over to suburban jurisdictions that pay nothing to support the authority, but wield outsize influence over its policies.

A lot has happened since 2018, including a nationwide movement to hold bad cops accountable and demilitarize and defund police departments across the country. González recently told PubliCola that if she was voting on the same contract today, “I’d vote very different[ly].”

González noted before her prescient vote that “politics have already taken hold in this structure.” She was right. We’re already seeing the ramifications today, with suburban cities adopting anti-homeless policies and insisting on their own, locally unique “sub-regional” plans. The former co-chair of the city’s Progressive Revenue Task Force is also right about how to tackle homelessness in the future; she’s committed to adopting new progressive revenues to fund the billions of dollars the city will need to truly address homelessness instead of passing a ballot initiative that she has called an “unfunded mandate” designed to cement the “status quo.”

González has caught some flak from the left for voting, along with seven of her eight council colleagues, to approve a 2018 police contract that nullified some elements a historic 2017 police accountability ordinance. But activists who want to castigate her for this vote should consider a bit of context. At the time, the police union had been without a new contract since 2014, after members rejected a negotiated contract in 2016. Meanwhile, Mayor Jenny Durkan was working overtime to convince the public and the council that police would quit en masse if they didn’t get the raises promised in the contract. Most council members, including dogged police accountability advocate, council member Lisa Herbold, agreed that the new contract, though inadequate, was an improvement on the existing 2014 contract, keeping parts of the accountability law intact and preserving a law requiring cops to wear body cameras on duty.

Finally, a lot has happened since 2018, including a nationwide movement to hold bad cops accountable and demilitarize and defund police departments across the country. González—a former civil rights attorney who secured a $150,000 settlement for a Latino man who sued the city after a Seattle police officer threatened to “beat the fucking Mexican piss out of” him—has expressed support for this core agenda. She recently told PubliCola that if she was voting on the same contract today, “I’d vote very different[ly].”

González has a real vision for Seattle’s recovery—one that doesn’t rely on clichés or empty promises (how exactly will philanthropic giving fund the $450 million to $1 billion the region needs to spend every year to address homelessness, Bruce?) For starters, she wants to make it easier for renters to stay in their homes, providing rental assistance as well as caps on move-in costs that can add thousands of dollars to the price of an apartment. Continue reading “PubliCola Picks: Lorena González for Mayor”

Fact-Checking Pro-Harrell Mail, Poll Tests Arboreal Opinions, Union’s Role at Homeless Authority Still Unclear

1. The King County Regional Homelessness Authority’s governing board approved a bare-bones initial staffing plan for the agency on Thursday, but not before a lengthy conversation about the future of labor unions at the new agency—and the future of city employees who currently do the work that’s supposed to move over to the authority next year.

The city’s Homeless Strategy and Investment division, which is part of the Human Services Department, is currently represented by the PROTEC17 union, which also represents county human services workers. KCRHA director Marc Dones has said that they want to hire a whole new team for the agency, and that anyone at the city who wants to keep doing their current work will need to apply for the open positions just like everyone else. Dones has also said that although they support unions in general—saying on Thursday, for example, that “we would be delighted to have one or more unions represent our staff”—union reps and at least one city council member want more reassurances.

On Thursday, Seattle City Council president Lorena González told Dones that the law the city passed agreeing to join the new authority requires “a plan for transitioning staff positions to the new authority.” 

Shaun Van Eyk, the labor representative for PROTEC17, told PubliCola that the union wants any succession plan (an agreement that gives the union the right to represent anyone at the new authority who job falls within the “body of work” that existing union-repped employees are already doing) to include a right of first refusal for employees who remained at their city jobs even as the city repeatedly pushed their layoff dates forward. Although permanent HSI employees have been assured jobs elsewhere in the city, many of the jobs in the division are currently filled by long-term temporary workers, who have no job guarantee once the division shuts down.

“Marc has the ability to not only acknowledge PROTEC17 as the exclusive bargaining representative for those bodies of work, but to offer a right of first refusal for those folks doing that work currently,” Van Eyk said. “Part of my duty in this role is to advocate for our members [who have been] keeping the work going, especially with the delays.” The authority is currently about seven months behind schedule, and it’s far from clear that it will be prepared to take over hundreds of contracts from the city’s homelessness division in January as planned.

The larger question is how the new authority, and Dones in particular, will work with organized labor. King County Executive Dow Constantine appeared unnerved enough by the conversation about succession to add, “If I could just be completely frank, it is unlikely, approaching a zero likelihood, that the county or the city would fund a non-union successor to its union operations. That seems inconceivable.”

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2.  A flyer promoting mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell that arrived in voters’ mailboxes last week included what looked like an unusual disclaimer: “No corporate money paid for this mail piece. Hundreds of local residents gave their own personal money to send you this message.” The mailer, produced by an independent expenditure group called Bruce Harrell for Seattle’s Future, says Harrell, who played for the Huskies, will “go on the offensive to move Seattle forward.”

The claim is a stretch. While Bruce Harrell for Seattle’s Future is funded by individual donors, the top donors to the IE are employed by, or in charge of, corporations with billions in assets and a huge vested interest in pro-business policies. Among the biggest contributors: Goodman Real Estate CEO George Petrie and his wife, Alyssa ($100,000); Hunters Capital owner Michael Malone and his wife, Barbara ($25,000); and retired seventh-generation banker Joshua Green III ($10,000).

In fact, the top seven employers of people who contributed to Bruce Harrell for Seattle’s Future (after “not employed”—people who listed their occupation as “retired” or “homemaker,” many of them formerly in real estate or married to real estate bigwigs, made up $98,000 of the group’s approximately $300,000 in contributions) were real estate firms, accounting for $117,750 of the group’s total contributions. So while it’s true that the people who gave money to the pro-Harrell group are “individuals,” their interests could hardly be more corporate if they were writing checks from their company accounts.

Finally: The IE campaign doesn’t have contributions from “hundreds of local residents”; it doesn’t even have 100 contributions, much less 100 from Seattle. About a third of the 79 donors listed at the Public Disclosure Commission live outside city limits, mostly in Eastside suburbs.

3.  An odd new online poll goes far beyond election questions, asking respondents about everything from their support for a future Seattle-only light rail measure to earthquake safety along I-5 to detailed questions about the city’s tree canopy. It’s unclear who’s behind the poll, but the specific issues it highlights dovetail with priorities articulated by council members Lisa Herbold (using bonds to fund bridge maintenance over bike lanes and sidewalks) and Alex Pedersen (bridge money, plus restricting development by preventing tree removal on private property.) Continue reading “Fact-Checking Pro-Harrell Mail, Poll Tests Arboreal Opinions, Union’s Role at Homeless Authority Still Unclear”

PubliCola Questions: Nikkita Oliver

Image via nikkitafornine.com

As PubliCola prepares to endorse candidates in the August 3 mayoral and council primary elections, we reached out to the leading candidates for mayor and City Council Position 9 with questions about homelessness, housing, police accountability, and economic recovery.

Their answers to these questions will help inform our endorsements, coming out next week. Endorsements will be based on each candidate’s record of action, public statements, interviews with PubliCola and other media outlets, and responses at the many candidate forums that have taken place over the summer.

Today, we’re highlighting Nikkita Oliver and Brianna Thomas, two of the leading candidates for Seattle City Council Position 9, the seat currently held by council president Lorena González, who’s running for mayor.

A third candidate for this position, Sara Nelson, is the only candidate in any race who did not respond to our questions.

Nikkita Oliver, an attorney, organizer, and performer who rose to prominence during their unsuccessful but well-publicized run for mayor in 2017, runs a nonprofit, Creative Justice, that offers arts programming as an alternative to jail for young people. As an activist, they helped lead efforts to stop King County from building a new youth jail, and were deeply involved in last year’s Black Lives Matter protests as an advocate for divesting from the police department and investing in community safety, including housing, child care, and intervention programs. They also support ending exclusionary zoning, investing in municipal broadband (one way of enabling more people to work from home), and scaling up participatory budgeting, a way of allowing people to vote on what gets funded in the city budget.

Here’s what Oliver had to say in response to the eight questions PubliCola posed to the Position 9 candidates.

When responding to people living outdoors, the city has historically focused on large or highly visible encampments, and reserved resources and enhanced shelter or hotel beds for people at encampments removed by the city. This focus on large, visible encampments tends to exclude many unhoused people of color, such as Native Americans, from access to the most desirable services. What would you do to improve equity in access to services for unsheltered people of color, particularly the Black and Native homeless populations?

We need to be creating radical accessibility throughout the city for our unhoused residents. We propose ending sweeps and utilizing those dollars for garbage pick-up, mobile hygiene stations (including showers and clothes washing), accessibility of public restrooms and water stations, and mobile clinics and supports that include dental and physical health. Where possible, we would like to see mobile units that provide haircuts, undergarments, and other hygiene needs.

More of the services we utilize need to be led by communities of color, especially Black and Native communities, so that they are culturally responsive and representative of the communities with the least accessibility to services. These services and supports, including the above radical accessibility plan, need to be low-barrier. Black and Native communities experience the highest rates of criminalization and have historically (and presently) been brutalized by the government; therein having a rightful distrust of government supports and services. When people access city-based or city-funded services, they should not fear being further criminalized or brutalized while accessing those supports or being forced to commit to things like religious services, addiction services, or other types of services while receiving basic needs supports.

Meeting the basic needs of our unhoused residents cannot be dependent upon compliance with receiving other types of services. Such requirements make it hard to build trust and rapport, especially in Black and Native communities, and often “turn people off” to receiving such support later, if needed. Having mobile units also allows the City to respond to different needs throughout the city and target our supports towards those most marginalized and vulnerable community members, such as the Black and Native communities. It also allows us to be flexible about how and where we show up, as many residents without homes may not always remain in the same place. Having the ability to be flexible and evolve with the needs of community members without homes is key to meeting these initial basic needs.

“More dollars to the Seattle Police Department will not make Seattle safer. It will only further entrench a violent and reactionary response to harm. It is also fiscally irresponsible, as increased investments in SPD continuously fail to deliver on the false promise of public safety through policing and punitive systems.”

It cannot stop there though. The racial wealth gap, exclusionary zoning and red lining, the lack of affordable housing and low-barrier shelters and supportive transitional housing, the continued rising cost of living in our region, and the lack of access to high-wage employment are all largely to blame for why so many of our unhoused resident are Black and Native. We need low-barrier permanent and transitional supportive housing that is, again, led by Black and Native communities because we are able to respond to the cultural and spiritual needs of our community members. The expertise to run these facilities well and sustainability may not exist throughout all Black and Native communities and so the City must commit to providing the technical support needed to build and sustain these spaces. For example, we could start by working with the Africatown Community Land Trust regarding the Keiro Building so that [the Africatown Land Trust] can launch culturally rooted supportive housing in the Central District.

Lastly, the Race and Social Justice Initiative requires the RSJI toolkit be employed in assessing our work and implementation as a City. We must take seriously utilizing all tools at our reach to ensure our work is actually aligning with our vision for the City as it pertains to RSJI. In this regard, we should employ full-time staff in each applicable department whose only role is to ensure that we are to our very best aligning with the principle and values outlined by RSJI.

In 2020, a majority of the city council said they supported defunding the police by at least 50 percent. Was it a mistake for them to make this commitment? What gaps in Seattle’s non-police public safety network can be filled on the shortest timeline, and which are the most pressing priorities?

No, this was not a mistake. I do not believe that we would have won the 18 percent defund without the movement pressure for 50 percent and the commitment of council to at least try. Additionally, Seattle Police Department’s budget has doubled since 2010 when John T. Williams was murdered. In the last 10 years we have seen a DOJ investigation, a consent decree (which we are still under), the murders of many more residents, the development of three offices related to the accountability legislation, the 2017 accountability legislation passing unanimously, the 2018 CBA [Collective Bargaining Agreement], which prevented the accountability legislation from being fully implemented, multiple uprisings in defense of Black lives, and the 2020/21 protests where thousands of protestors were brutalized.

Some would say 50 percent was not a well thought out number. I would say, considering the above, the continued outsized growth of SPD’s budget, and the lack of true public safety for all, 50 percent is well thought out and reflective of the lack of change we have seen in SPD and public safety generally since 2010 despite much investment in SPD. More dollars to the Seattle Police Department will not make Seattle safer. It will only further entrench a violent and reactionary response to harm. It is also fiscally irresponsible, as increased investments in SPD continuously fail to deliver on the false promise of public safety through policing and punitive systems.

Big picture: The City should see as many functions as possible moved out of the hands of armed officers or from being supervised and overseen by SPD officers. With some retraining away from the culture of SPD, the parking enforcement officer (PEO) workforce could take some of these tasks as outlined below. This will likely have to be tackled in the new CBA because it would be taking aways tasks currently assigned to officers.

Defund and remove all military equipment designed for crowd control and remove SPD’s responsibility for crowd control. Crowd control is a broad category which does not just include protests. There are other groups that could be accessed to do this work. When it comes to sporting events, we could work with our partners in organized labor to have trained flaggers help people and cars move effectively around the stadiums, partner with the community safety hubs (funding in the 2020 rebalance package with $4 million), bike brigade, and trained de-escalators and peacekeepers for rallies.

Lastly, to ensure some brevity in my answer, Decriminalize Seattle, who I’ve been organizing with since 2019, in our 2020 blueprint presented to the Council a blueprint for police divestment and community investment that I think is still useful as a guiding document for this work. I will still outline a few things below that I believe can happen quickly.

“As officers continue to leave the department, new hiring should be frozen, all salary savings should be recaptured and moved into funding and scaling up non-police responses to harm and meeting basic needs.”

Civilianized 911: As of June 1, 911 was no longer housed with SPD. It is now a part of the Community Safety and Communication Center—a new, independent city department. This department should house other civilian crisis response and program safety programs. We can quickly make sure the new dispatch has new training and operating instructions so that they are sending calls to non-police responders when possible. We need to expand HealthOne so that it can receive a larger volume of calls. The city is investing $10 million in an 18-month expansion of community-based responses. We need to assess those who received funding, what kinds of calls or referrals can they receive, what is the connection between other HSD programs and supports and our new civilianized 911, and what other programs or infrastructure needs to be built (based on types of calls 911 typically receives) to provide the best supports when residents are in need or crisis. As officers continue to leave the department, new hiring should be frozen, all salary savings should be recaptured and moved into funding and scaling up non-police responses to harm and meeting basic needs.

Parking Enforcement Officers (also supposed to be transferred): PEOs were supposed to be transferred on June 1st, but there is a debate about whether they should go to CSCC (the new department) or to SDOT. The PEOs want to go to CSCC, their supervisors (and the mayor) want them to go to SDOT. This move will not happen until September while the City figures out where PEOs should go. The PEOs want to take on more work that police currently do, and they think moving to CSCC will make that possible: “SPEOG union president Nanette Toyoshima, on the other hand, wrote in a letter to council last year that parking enforcement officers could take over some duties usually handled by sworn police officers, like responding to minor car crashes and enforcing red light violations, if they were in the new CSCC, according to PubliCola.”

Local elected officials and candidates have often emphasized the need to revitalize downtown Seattle as the primary focus of post-COVID recovery. What is one specific action you would take in Seattle’s non-downtown neighborhoods to promote economic recovery and neighborhood vitality?

The Seattle City Council has already passed legislation for commercial rent control for small businesses in Seattle affected by COVID-19. This ordinance provides protections for Seattle small businesses in the form of rent control, repayment plan requirements, and prohibition on late fees, interest, and other charges. One issue with the legislation is that prohibitions outlined in the legislation only remain in effect until the civil emergency proclaimed by Mayor Jenny Durkan on March 3, 2020 is terminated. Commercial rent control in a city as expensive as Seattle is generally a good thing for small businesses; I recommend we keep this ordinance in place even after the emergency proclamation has been terminated.

Continue reading “PubliCola Questions: Nikkita Oliver”

PubliCola Questions: Brianna Thomas

Brianna Thomas 2021 Questionnaire – Seattle City Council Pos. 9 | The  Urbanist
Image via peopleforbrianna.org

As PubliCola prepares to endorse candidates in the August 3 mayoral and council primary elections, we reached out to the leading candidates for mayor and City Council Position 9 with questions about homelessness, housing, police accountability, and economic recovery.

Their answers to these questions will help inform our endorsements, coming out next week. Endorsements will be based on each candidate’s record of action, public statements, interviews with PubliCola and other media outlets, and responses at the many candidate forums that have taken place over the summer.

Today, we’re highlighting two of the leading candidates for Seattle City Council Position 9, the seat currently held by council president Lorena González, who’s running for mayor. First up, González’s lead staffer, Brianna Thomas. Stay tuned for candidate Nikkita Oliver.

A third candidate for this position, Sara Nelson, is the only candidate in any race who did not respond to our questions.

Brianna Thomas worked on campaigns to raise the minimum wage in SeaTac and fund public financing in Seattle—and ran for office herself, losing in the crowded 2015 primary for the District 1 council seat that ultimately went to Lisa Herbold—before joining council president González’s office in 2016.

Since then, she’s gained an insider’s perspective on how the council operates, working on police accountability legislation, proposals to reduce corporate influence on elections, and a “secure scheduling” law that provides more predictable schedules for hourly workers. Thomas talks almost reverently about leadership and service, and her answers to policy questions often contain a reality check about process and political capital. If elected, she says she’ll work to pass “legally defensible progressive revenue” to address homelessness, reform cumbersome design review and permitting processes, and work toward 24-hour affordable child care, among other priorities.

Here’s what Thomas had to say in response to the eight questions PubliCola posed to the Position 9 candidates.

When responding to people living outdoors, the city has historically focused on large or highly visible encampments, and reserved resources and enhanced shelter or hotel beds for people at encampments removed by the city. This focus on large, visible encampments tends to exclude many unhoused people of color, such as Native Americans, from access to the most desirable services. What would you do to improve equity in access to services for unsheltered people of color, particularly the Black and Native homeless populations?

Maintaining the hoteling program would be a great way to get people off the streets and into a temporary indoor location. There they can have access to toilets, showers, clean water, and privacy, whereas outdoors on streets they couldn’t. Allowing people to live on streets as a permanent solution is inhumane. As Black and Native people are overrepresented in homeless populations, we must focus on wraparound services that will prioritize them (i.e. the Chief Seattle Club), including working with partners that are dedicated to serving these specific communities, in a way that isn’t predicated on such onerous/micromanage-y requirements that take away from the time needed to do the actual WORK.

I am prepared to work with all stakeholders in the region to ensure our budget reflects the urgent need for housing and wraparound services. Programs like JustCARE center getting folks out of tents, and into appropriate shelter that restores our community and our neighbors’ dignity.

In 2020, a majority of the city council said they supported defunding the police by at least 50 percent. Was it a mistake for them to make this commitment? What gaps in Seattle’s non-police public safety network can be filled on the shortest timeline, and which are the most pressing priorities?

I had a front row seat to last year’s discussion, debate and subsequent action around the movement to Defund the Police. I do believe that this commitment was well intentioned, and that the commitment was made in earnest. Unfortunately, the realities and restrictions on our current ability to fulfill this promise made it an empty one.

I stand by the council’s decision to divert millions of dollars from the general fund and SPD budget to reinvest in community based alternatives. The Council also identified approximately $30 million for a participatory budgeting program, which is unprecedented in the City’s history.

“As a Black woman, I deeply understand the call to dismantle the current carceral system, reinvest in community, and right generations of race based violence suffered by my community.”

One of my top priorities is criminal justice reform, beyond the police department’s budget. I was part of many of the difficult conversations and resulting council actions around police funding, informed by community. As a Black woman, I deeply understand the call to dismantle the current carceral system, reinvest in community, and right generations of race based violence suffered by my community. As a public servant and policy advisor that has been working on issues surrounding the reform and reimagining of policing since 2016, I feel trapped between the limitations of our continued monitoring by the [Department of Justice], which community called for, and a Collective Bargaining Agreement that patently refused to accept many of the calls for accountability set out in the City’s 2017 Police Accountability Ordinance.

I don’t believe there is a magic number that we can commit to until we do the thorough work of looking at what the police should actually respond to. What I am certain of is that we don’t need a gun and badge holding officer to respond to things like folks facing houselessness needing help, mental health calls, or giving out parking/speeding tickets.

Local elected officials and candidates have often emphasized the need to revitalize downtown Seattle as the primary focus of post-COVID recovery. What is one specific action you would take in Seattle’s non-downtown neighborhoods to promote economic recovery and neighborhood vitality?

Due to the impacts of the pandemic, hundreds of Seattle businesses have permanently shut their doors, including many with BIPOC owners. That is why I will propose a temporary abatement of B&O taxes for new small businesses, so we quickly fill empty storefronts. The Council should continue to work to simplify and improve permitting processes for businesses, like we saw with the extension of outdoor dining and Safe Street permits. I will also lead on expanding the Office of Economic Development’s budget, as it has the potential to become an incredibly important resource for BIPOC business owners, as well as creating a small business liaison. This is something I’ve heard would be beneficial directly from small business owners.

“I deeply and truly support our continued work to turn our upside down tax structure around, but I have done this work long enough to know that passage of legislation isn’t enough. We must find solutions that not only meet our most pressing needs, but will also withstand the inevitable legal challenges that we have become accustomed to after passage.”

Our zoning laws also play a role in economic recovery and neighborhood vitality. I’m a firm believer in 15-minute neighborhoods that are walkable and transit accessible. COVID highlighted the importance of having healthcare, childcare, grocery stores, recreation, small businesses, and work close to home. We have to prioritize changes to our restrictive zoning that currently keeps businesses and housing density out of our neighborhoods.

Assuming Charter Amendment 29 becomes law in Seattle, what city programs would you cut or deprioritize in order to dedicate 12 percent of the city’s general-fund budget to human services, and how would you go about adding 2,000 new shelter or housing spots by the end of next year?

I would like to take a good hard look at the current commission structure in the City. With over 80 commissions currently, many of which have disparities on technological access, requirements for inclusion of those with subject matter expertise (including lived experience) and staffing shortages, the system as built simply isn’t delivering. However, this sort of restructuring will not lead to the additional $16M needed to cover the investment gap laid out in the proposed amendment. Continue reading “PubliCola Questions: Brianna Thomas”