District 4

Meet the Candidates

Maritza Rivera

Maritza Rivera
Strongly Aligned

Ron Davis

Ron Davis
Somewhat Aligned

Question 1

Public Safety: The DSA’s core mission is to create a healthy, vibrant downtown for all. It is no secret that the pandemic took a heavy toll on downtowns across the country and Seattle is no exception. As we work toward recovery on all fronts, issues of public safety downtown continue to be one of the top themes we hear from stakeholders. How will you address public safety in downtown Seattle?
» next / all

Maritza Rivera

Public safety is the most important issue to me and the reason I decided to run for office in the first place. I will never forget the waiting and worrying when my kids were in lockdown for hours inside Ingraham High School after last fall’s school shooting. I am running for City Council to bring the urgency, skillset, and focus that is needed to improve public safety and ensure every Seattle neighborhood is safe. Whether it is the highest levels of hate crimes in at least 20 years, more break-ins, car thefts and property damage, the epidemic of gun violence, or the insidious grip of fentanyl on our streets, we deserve better.

I will work to ensure 5-minute response times for priority one calls, a return to full staffing at pre-2021 levels, a comprehensive approach to getting drugs and guns out of our streets, collaborate with neighborhoods to address safety, take property crime seriously and invest in proven alternatives to law enforcement that reduce crime while also reducing harm for communities of color. I believe the City Council’s decision to defund the police was wrong and at the same time I am beyond disappointed that three years after thousands of Seattleites marched for justice we have still failed to adequately invest in proven alternatives to law enforcement. The lack of leadership in actually addressing our problems is fatal for the residents of Seattle.

Our campaign has the most comprehensive plan to address public safety and I would be happy to share our full policy proposal with you, which goes well beyond the 1800 character limit of this form.

Ron Davis

City Hall is failing on public safety. We know what works. We need the will to implement and fund it.

We must ensure access to behavioral healthcare and keep young people busy with positive programming, expand evidence-based community violence intervention, and get guns off the streets. To cut public drug use and overdose deaths, we need to set aside folksy intuition about human behavior (after years of talking about “trusting the science” when it comes to Covid, this should be easy) and prioritize results over ideology. The evidence-based practices that get the best results are clear: provide and allow only medically supervised consumption, with onsite, trained behavioral health professionals who can identify when a person is likely to have success in rehab and ensure readily available evidence-based treatment for when that moment arises. We need to modernize our emergency response with specialization and send the right responder to each crisis, which can drastically shorten response times, deliver better and more situation-appropriate results, ensure police show up when needed, and avoid magical thinking about police hiring markets that SPD acknowledges will yield no more than 30 net officers in the coming budget cycle while most departments around the country are struggling to stay staffed.

We also need to rebuild trust between the community and law enforcement, which means de-escalation training, basic accountability, and good governance with independent, fully-civilian oversight (as with the military or CEOs/boards).

Question 2

Investing in Downtown’s Recovery: Given the importance of downtown to the overall health and vitality of our city and region, what actions will you propose to support downtown’s recovery?
» next / « previous / all

Maritza Rivera

A healthy downtown is critical to the vibrancy and livability of Seattle and to its overall economy. The overall health of Seattle depends on rebuilding our downtown core and doing everything possible to help downtown business, both small and large, succeed. Working as the Vice President of the Hispanic National Chamber of Commerce exposed me to just how difficult it is to run a business, especially for business owners of color. In addition to the usual challenges of razor thin margins, high costs, and disproportionate taxes, Seattle is also experiencing record levels of property crime. Part of why I wanted to run for office in the first place was because of the stories I heard from both small and large businesses that have had items stolen from their shelves, their windows broken into and smashed, hateful graffiti sprawled on their walls and drug use on the sidewalks in front of their doors. All of this after our entire economy shut down for nearly two years.

The City must do more to support businesses both by addressing the systemic issues they are facing like homelessness, crime and substance abuse, but also through direct service, aid, and collaboration. I would be a strong advocate in getting our spending under control and ensure that our investments are targeted towards solving our biggest challenges and not on pet projects from various council members.

Ron Davis

Downtown rests on three mutually-reinforcing pillars: jobs, tourism, and housing.

With downtown’s population at historic highs, we should double down by making it easier to build housing (single track permitting with a builder’s remedy, significant code changes, no design review, expanded zoning envelope). To ensure a complete community, we need a K-8 school (despite enrollment declines elsewhere), better parks, a lidded I-5, public safety (see above), attractive local transit like the Streetcar, light rail stations where people actually are and want to be, grocery stores, childcare, and calm, safe streets. Like lower Manhattan after 2001, this will activate a 24-hour city.

Second, we need to ensure that downtown is a world-class destination. The above investments will help, especially the streetcar, parks, the I-5 lid, and 24-hour activation. But we need to ensure that our events infrastructure remains top-notch, our waterfront is a destination, not a passthrough, and our museums get a level-up. All need great transit connections to the region.

Last, downtown needs to be attractive to workers and businesses. The above will help, especially activation, public safety, and readily available daycare (many parents would give up working from home tomorrow for childcare). Also, the quicker, safer, and more convenient it is to get downtown, the more likely people are to come (which means delivering ST3 with a great UX/station access, passing a Move Seattle levy that speeds up buses and increases frequency, and planning for ST4).

Question 3

Fiscal Priorities: Given the fragile state of downtown’s revitalization, do you agree that the City should prioritize existing spending before imposing new taxes or increasing existing ones? In a detailed manner, please describe how you would propose addressing the budget issues the city is facing.
» next / « previous / all

Maritza Rivera

Having worked at the city in various capacities including a department and for a council member, I have also seen first hand how good stewardship of public dollars has become a lost art. I will work to restore public trust by ensuring every dollar of public money is allocated to the priorities clearly articulated by voters and residents. Bringing urgency to addressing the pressing issues facing our city also means being a tireless advocate for rebuilding trust that our government is a good steward of public dollars.

The vast majority of Seattlites support progressive taxation, but they also deserve to know that their city government is spending that money effectively to improve their lives. I am running to be a committed steward of our resources and an advocate for ensuring new taxes are progressive because I know the burden is far too high for middle, low and no-income residents in our city.

Simply passing new taxes will not solve affordability, homelessness, public safety, or address the crisis of climate change. The City’s budget has expanded significantly in the past 10 years, with the largest increase in taxes in the history of the City of Seattle. Unfortunately, we have less to show for it than we should. This is a failure of leadership. Before rushing into new taxes we must ensure the revenue we have is effectively improving people’s lives. Frankly, I believe we must focus public dollars on addressing what I believe most residents see is the most pressing issue facing our City – homelessness and public safety.

Ron Davis

Downtown needs more residents, transit and parks, and a safe environment. We already have one of the most regressive tax systems in the rich world. Decades of economic research are clear that lower taxes on the rich don’t grow the economy but do increase inequality, higher taxes don’t prompt migration, and, according to the federal reserve, have “no detectable impact on startup activity.” It would be intellectual and economic malpractice to rely on tax cuts or pretend that existing budgets have enough fat in them to deliver anything near the scale of our challenges. No CEO would ever be so cavalier with her company’s finances. Like any business, the city should increase its revenue and cut its costs.

As a CEO, I ran an extremely tight ship; we owe the same to voters. Two examples: we could save ~$50,000 per affordable housing unit with the changes I mentioned above, plus no parking minimums anywhere. We could also save millions and redeploy key personnel if we move uniformed police officers out of event traffic management and general traffic enforcement.

Good business leaders also expand and diversify revenue streams. Given the economic research about how to raise money without harming local economies, an optimized JumpStart, a tax on open parking lots, and a 1% income tax with a $500 rebate (constitutional expert assures me is plausible in court) would work well. There are better examples (e.g., land taxes), but these are too constitutionally risky.

Question 4

Top Voter Concerns: What do you believe are the top three issues on voters’ minds right now, and how would you propose addressing them?
» next / « previous / all

Maritza Rivera

First, crime and public safety. I believe we must fully staff our police department and won’t rest until we get to five minute response times for priority one calls, invest in alternatives to law enforcement that can help to lessen the burden placed on our offices to solve every problem and every call for service, get guns off our streets and support community violence intervention, empower neighborhoods and BIDs to address public safety issues, and bring urgency to ending open air drug markets and accountability for repeat offenders, high utilizers, and dealers.

Second, government accountability. Over 50% of Seattle residents believe that they are taxed too much for what our city delivers and 70% no longer trust us to spend money wisely. We need leaders that will look first for inefficiencies in our bloated budget and ending restricted funding for pet projects with dubious real world outcomes before adding yet another new tax.

Third, childcare costs. After the birth of my two daughters, we did the math as a family– and it simply was not possible for us to afford high-quality child care for our kids in Seattle. First, I’ll work with regional, state, and local partners to identify funding and bonding authority to create additional childcare facilities throughout the city. Second, We need to work with our labor, business, and education partners to make early learning a livable industry that people want and are able to work in. Third, we need to reduce the cost of child care. It is simply far too expensive to build a new child care facility in the City of Seattle.

But absent attempting to address those external factors, we have a supply problem as well. When I talk to builders and realtors they complain about the high cost and uncertainty related to construction permitting in Seattle. If the city is going to address supply, it can’t ‘go it alone’ through an unfunded social housing developer. We need to address the permitting process so that junior level people on the side of the developer and the housing department can get together and agree on whether a particular design would be approved. To do this we can create a catalog of pre-approved designs to cut through red-tape and bureaucracy.

Ron Davis

Homelessness and housing costs. Experts have shown these largely overlap (see, e.g., “Homelessness is a Housing Problem, Page and Colburn, or the more comprehensive “In the Midst of Plenty,” Shinn and Khadurri). I’d work to bring supply in line with demand (we are way behind), expand investment in affordable and social housing for those the market cannot serve, and use displacement prevention policies. For homelessness in particular, I’d scale more temporary solutions like tiny homes and vouchers while building permanent supportive housing for the folks experts call “chronically homeless.”

Public Safety. I’ve outlined in detail above; in short, I’d invest in community violence intervention programming, get guns off the street, scale a fourth (behavioral health-focused) 911 crisis response, and use this to ensure less than five-minute wait times for an emergency response, fully fund behavioral health services, and build trust through de-escalation, good governance, and accountable law enforcement.

Although climate doesn’t have the same immediacy or salience to many voters, many express concern about climate-connected issues like housing, transportation, vision zero, the tree canopy, and climate justice. To address these, we must make it as quick, easy, safe, convenient, and comfortable to get around the city without a car as it is with, electrify everything that isn’t human-propelled, rebuild our tree canopy, legalize complete neighborhoods and reform building rules to make low-carbon mass timber construction feasible, and move toward climate-friendly building standards.

Question 5

Return to Office: One of the most impactful things we can do to drive downtown revitalization is to get more people here – visitors, tourists, residents and perhaps most importantly, workers. A steady and consistent flow of employees downtown who are eating, drinking, shopping and engaging in recreation brings much needed support for our small businesses and public spaces. Do you believe that city workers should work in person three or more days per week?
» next / « previous / all

Maritza Rivera

Absolutely. So much is at stake with workers returning to in-person offices. Our city has invested in significant physical infrastructure in our downtown core, and so many restaurants, small businesses, and industries rely on foot traffic downtown. We are not a virtual downtown. I am thrilled that major corporations including Amazon have moved to require three days in the office, and believe the City of Seattle should at least follow suit. As a City employee myself, I have seen how our teams are more effective in-person and know how essential in-person work is to our local economy.

Ron Davis


I consider the revitalization of downtown to be extremely important, and I consider the city government’s role in bringing this about to be central. And I’m quite skeptical about this kind of paternalistic mandate. I haven’t seen evidence that such a mandate would help the city accomplish its basic functions, and it seems quite likely that it would actually hinder it by increasing staff recruiting and retention costs and creating more vacancies (which means getting less work done). You expressed interest in efficiency above – this risks undermining that very goal.

And though the city’s role in revitalization is extremely important, I don’t think bringing the aforementioned risks to city government just to raise traffic, and a few thousand workers’ likelihood of buying lunch on University Street rather than in the University District is a particularly compelling use of managerial power, nor a particularly potent tool for economic recovery.

Fortunately, I have offered up a detailed plan for bringing about a downtown recovery, and it’s more ambitious in terms of public investment than anyone else in the race and will do far more to differentiate downtown and draw in far more people than this suggestion would.

Question 6

If there were any important details about your candidacy that you were unable to provide in response to the previous questions, please take this opportunity to share that information here:
« previous / all

Maritza Rivera

My life experiences have shaped me into being the ideal candidate for Downtown Seattle Association members and the residents of District 4. My parents moved from Puerto Rico to New York in search of a better life. I grew up in a tough neighborhood in the Bronx, on the 5th floor of a five story no elevator building. My dad was a welder and my mom worked at a factory. I was tapped to work in the White House as President Clinton’s Hispanic liaison and later served as a Vice-President of the National Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, where I worked closely with Hispanic small businesses from across the country.

In Seattle, I have had the privilege of working at the ACLU post 9/11 to protect Muslim communities from xenophobia, at City Hall working for Former City Council Member Tom Rasmussen, for Mayor Durkan, and now in the Harrell Administration as Deputy Director of the Department of Arts & Culture. This combination of non-profit, civil-society, city council and mayoral administration experience makes me uniquely qualified to help our city solve its most pressing challenges.

Ron Davis

I’m running because, as an entrepreneur, CEO, and dealmaker, and as a nerd steeped in the science of housing, homelessness, transportation, crime, drug addiction, and climate- I’m tired of watching City Hall drown good policy in an ocean of hand-wringing.

We face serious crises–homelessness, mental health, drug addiction and overdoses, the crime spike, and looming climate change. Our business community has brought plenty of ambition to their industries–but too often, our city government has faced big problems with disheartening provincialism.

I grew up in a wage-earning family and launched a journey that landed me at Harvard Law School and in the comfortable, professional world–a journey that would have been impossible in Seattle today. I’ve seen firsthand the enormous gap between merit and outcomes, the ways that those who have gotten lucky often hijack local rules to lock in their privileges, and the ruinous economic, social, and climate consequences.

We can have a green, clean, safe, inclusive city with shared prosperity. All it requires is political will, capacity building, and investment.

Amazon is famous for taking the long view. Other candidates may offer you short-term financial opiates, like a JumpStart tax cut – but the evidence is clear that this will not net out favorably for Seattle’s competitiveness. And taxes like that are the only realistic way we are going to fund our biggest priorities –including yours.

I hope you’ll join me and take the long view.