Seattle City Council — District 2

Downtown’s success depends, in part, on effective partnerships with Seattle’s elected leaders. While DSA does not endorse candidates for office, we do interview them about important issues facing downtown and the city, and rank them according to our priorities.

Candidates are given an opportunity to answer questions in writing and in person about key issues, including public safety, transportation, homelessness, economic competitiveness, and the urban experience.

Candidates who complete the questionnaire are scored on how closely they align with DSA’s priorities in these areas. All scores are posted below. As a part of our commitment to transparency, we also share all written responses — as we received them — so you have an opportunity to better understand each candidate’s perspective.

The primary election is Tuesday, Aug. 6.

Meet the District 2 Candidates

Additional Candidates:

  • Henry Clay Dennison  /  No Response
  • Omari-Tahir Garrett  /  No Response
  • Tammy Morales  /  Declined to Participate

Questionnaire

Click on a question to jump to candidate responses.

  1. Looking at the current City Council, on what issues would you say it has been particularly effective and, in your opinion, where has it been less effective? Why?
  2. More than 52,000 daily transit riders from across all seven City Council districts use Third Avenue daily to get to and from their jobs in downtown Seattle. While Third Avenue acts as a front door to our downtown, it’s also the epicenter of the Seattle’s largest outdoor drug market. A recent report commissioned by DSA and neighborhood district partners has outlined a large amount of criminal activity across the city, including property crime, assaults and robberies, is being perpetrated by a small number of prolific offenders who cycle through the criminal justice system. Have you read the report? If elected to the Seattle City Council, what policies might you pursue to curb property crime and address these issues in downtown in order to make our streets safer for all? How might you work with your elected colleagues to enact these policies?
  3. Homelessness continues to be the top issue facing Seattle, yet we have made little progress toward housing our homeless population. In your estimation, what is the City’s role in addressing this crisis? Where would you spend your energy, leadership and resources to have the greatest impact?
  4. Seattle’s lack of housing options that are affordable to our low- and moderate-income employees is an important issue for DSA and its members. In the wake of MHA passing at Council, what kinds of new policies would you pursue to help expand the availability of affordable housing in Seattle? How might current zoning fit into your thinking? Who would you imagine working with to enact these policies?
  5. Between 2010 to 2018, downtown Seattle added over 85,000 jobs. During this time, we have seen a major shift in how the majority of people get to and around downtown, with percentage of people driving alone to their jobs shrinking to roughly 25%. Still, as the regional transportation and economic hub, downtown street space is at a premium. What steps do we need to take over the next two-to-four years to ensure that people can access downtown and that our streets work well for all users?
  6. DSA currently manages and activates Westlake and Occidental Square Parks through an agreement with the City, which has allowed us to bring furniture, programming, staffing and security into these parks, as we work to make them welcoming for all. We also manage McGraw Square with some of the same types of activities. What is your view of this type of public/private partnership as the City contemplates major new public space opportunities along the waterfront and above Interstate-5?
  7. Downtown Seattle is the economic center of the region, with large and small businesses employing more than 300,000 people. However, economic success for employers and employees are continuously strained by unpredictable and burdensome regulations and taxes being imposed at the city level. How will you work to ensure that there is more predictability and consideration for employers to support growth in jobs, retail, restaurants and investment in downtown?
  8. In 2015, a city report looked at Seattle’s commercial development capacity and determined we could absorb another 115,000 jobs by 2035. Yet, in the last three years alone, we have added over 23,000 jobs, indicating that we are likely to surpass our growth targets much earlier than anticipated. Seattle has limited existing zoning capacity, and inadequate permitting systems in place to accommodate the future demand for commercial development. Where might you look to expand our city’s capacity in this regard?
  9. As the City strives to allocate limited resources to manage and activate our complex urban environment, it has increasingly turned to Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) for support. These BIAs build community capacity and give agency and tools to local communities to address their own priorities. What is your view of these groups and their impact?
  10. Downtown is not only one of the fastest-growing residential neighborhood in the region, but also the jobs center of Seattle. If you are elected to serve on the City Council, how would you go about balancing the needs of your district with the City has a whole? What are the top issues facing your district and how do you see them intersecting with the issues at play in downtown?

1. Looking at the current City Council, on what issues would you say it has been particularly effective and, in your opinion, where has it been less effective? Why?

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Mark Solomon

I think they have been effective in passing paid family leave, $15 minimum wage, Mandatory Housing Affordability (with proposed amendments in specific neighborhoods). I feel they have been less effective in responding to homelessness in terms of strategy, planning and funding allocations. Further, City Council as a whole seems disconnected from the people it serves and has demonstrated difficulty in working together towards common objectives or focusing on the nuts and bolts issues on which the Council should be focused; working to ensure the City is safe, functioning, and attractive for residents, employers and visitors.


Christopher Peguero

Effective: Passing of HALA/MHA to build low income and affordable family housing with upzone. Passing $15/hour minimum wage. Transgender health benefits for city employees. Plastic grocery bag ban. Changing Columbus day to Indigenous People’s day.

Less effective: Reversing the course of the EHT. HALA/MHA is weak, the percentage of low income housing is too low and should have been mandatory in new developments vs. putting funds toward city public housing. Soda tax without a sugary tax to sugary coffee drinks. Current SPD contract.


Ari Hoffman

I believe the council is not effectively addressing the issue of homelessness. I believe we are trying to find a single solution to the issue and end up just pushing the issue aside for the police and the local neighborhoods to handle. I propose that we talk to the people experiencing homelessness and find out what they need. We must employ the “equity” approach rather than the “equality” approach. “Equity,” tells us that everyone gets…what they need, even if that ends up being different than what the next person needs.

For example, there is a great, religious organization that offers shelter…if…you pray with them, give up alcohol and have no pets. Not everyone is in a place where they can conform to those standards so they are refused help. Women dealing with substance abuse, addiction and children have a more difficult time finding shelter than single men. Often, women and teens are sexually assaulted in shelters and they end up feeling safer on the streets. Unless we are willing to look at these individual situations and address them, we aren’t going to seriously tackle this problem.

At the same time, we cannot allow our society to accept homelessness as a way of life. It is a failure of a system and that means we must be honest with our systems and their effectiveness. Simply throwing money at a situation, simply putting up tents in public spaces, simply designating some areas as “safe” for injection isn’t tackling the problem. Rather, the council seems to be on a path to treat the symptoms. Further, simply having the police clean encampments rather than treating the opiod addiction crisis only pushes our problems to surrounding cities.

I also feel as though the city has an unhealthy relationship with the businesses here. As an owner of two businesses I know that business is not the enemy, nor are we an unending supply of revenue for every project the council creates. We are happy to pay and donate for programs that fix the issues, but we are not seeing that. In one of the riches cities that has ever been, entire neighborhoods are suffering from virtually no economic development. In other neighborhoods, the only development that is happening is coming at a great cost, pushing the long-time residents out of the city. The showbox is a perfect example. The city could have said to the developers if you build a new theater in the basement and set aside some of the units for low income housing we will fast track your permits and let you build more stories but instead they gave it a historic designation and now there are lawsuits, no extra housing and an aging theater.


Phyllis Porter

I believe the current council has been doing a good job in their willingness to try out new ideas. The votes to ban subminimum wages for people with disabilities and to provide all high school students with ORCA cards are shining example of addressing needs within the community.

The areas where the Council has not been as effective is solving the housing affordability crisis as well as displacement caused by gentrification, particularly here in District 2. While I do appreciate steps the council has taken in recent years, I don’t believe they have gone to the lengths necessary to preserve communities.

2. More than 52,000 daily transit riders from across all seven City Council districts use Third Avenue daily to get to and from their jobs in downtown Seattle. While Third Avenue acts as a front door to our downtown, it’s also the epicenter of the Seattle’s largest outdoor drug market. A recent report commissioned by DSA and neighborhood district partners has outlined a large amount of criminal activity across the city, including property crime, assaults and robberies, is being perpetrated by a small number of prolific offenders who cycle through the criminal justice system. Have you read the report? If elected to the Seattle City Council, what policies might you pursue to curb property crime and address these issues in downtown in order to make our streets safer for all? How might you work with your elected colleagues to enact these policies?

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Mark Solomon

Yes, I have read the report. I would advocate increasing funding for the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program. This program has achieved results in the neighborhoods in which it operates. There needs to be more case managers for LEAD to expand its capacity and not burn out current case management staff. I would fully support funding for the Metropolitan Improvement District to further the work of the downtown Ambassadors Clean, Safety, and Outreach teams.


Christopher Peguero

We need to address the roots of poverty, access to living wage jobs, racial inequity and access to wealth attainment, job placement, access to affordable health care, growing income disparity and disproportionate rates of incarceration and recidivism that disproportionately affects low income people if we are to address the drug market and crime. The City of Seattle can be a leader in application of a race and social justice framework as we build solutions to these issues. We must understand the historical legacy of redlining and other racist public policies that continue to have a ripple effect to keep people living at the edges of our society and in survival mode vs. thriving. Seattle has one of the fastest growing and strongest economies for a large city in all of the United States. We are an incredible wealthy city, yet have some of the largest gaps in income inequity. It is shameful that we cannot find better solutions that bring everyone up as the region build wealth. A benefit of our regional economic success should be that all have the ability to thrive. Until the business community sees this as a benefit and allows for economic disparity to thrive, we will continue to see crime, drugs continue to flourish as a means of survival.

Policies that I am supportive of are:

  • Race and Social Justice
  • Housing first
  • Stop sweeps
  • No youth jail
  • Restorative justice
  • Lead program
  • Safe injection sites
  • Harm reduction
  • Guaranteed living wage
  • Universal health care
  • A public bank that is centered in economic racial equity
Ari Hoffman

The are two approaches. Preventive and responsive. It’s actually less expensive on the city and better for the community to enact proven, preventative measures. The city hasn’t been showing a real drive to implement policies that prevent the kinds of crime that we see. Effective programs for teens, better police presence that targets certain “hot spots” and include follow up, mental health facilities, on demand drug treatment options and expanding drug courts that include the treatment of people with chemical dependency have been shown to statistically reduce crime.

I also believe that we can invest in public, closed-circuit, security cameras in high crime areas. While I know the police tried to implement security camera before, they did so without community input. I believe that in our hardest hit areas, talking with the community about being able to monitor criminal activities will result in a usable CCTV system. I also believe that we must address helping people who have been convicted of crime integrate back into society to prevent them from becoming repeat offenders.

Our current police force is operating at 60% capacity. We must fully fund their operations to protect the people of Seattle. We must strive for a healthcare system that can deal with drug abuse and addiction. Simultaneously we must also recognize that this is a failure of the entire criminal justice system and use the money that the city council controls and allocates to the prosecutors office to make sure that repeat offenders are being prosecuted.


Phyllis Porter

I have not read the report, though I am eager to read it. As a councilmember I will work with my elected colleagues by utilizing my organizing skills to ensure that they understand the issues from all sides.

Here are a few policies I would pursue to curb property crime and address these issues in downtown:

  • Work with my colleagues to create enough temporary shelter with wrap-around services to allow Seattle to enforce our no-camping laws.
  • Continue supporting and expand Seattle’s commitment to Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design in order to reduce crime through urban design. For example, installing brighter street lighting as it has been proven to lower crime rates.
  • Increase foot patrols in hot spots, and replicate the 9 ½ Block strategy where it makes sense.

3. Homelessness continues to be the top issue facing Seattle, yet we have made little progress toward housing our homeless population. In your estimation, what is the City’s role in addressing this crisis? Where would you spend your energy, leadership and resources to have the greatest impact?

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Mark Solomon

The City can use the estimated $90 million we spend annually in a smarter, more effective manner by resourcing solutions that have yielded proven results, such as LEAD and effective case management and engagement undertaken by our community-based partners. We need to prioritize preventing people from becoming homeless in the first place. For those currently homeless, we need to get them inside, safe and immediately served with effective case management and supportive services so they participate in changing their homeless circumstance. I would spend my energy creating partnerships with our businesses, faith-based organizations and members of the community to address the issue. Further, I would support the regional approach put forth by Future Laboratories in their Homelessness Response System King County report.


Christopher Peguero

See comments above on my priorities. We must increase the number of sanctioned encampments. There are currently 400 unsanctioned encampments throughout the City of Seattle and 8 sanctioned encampments. We must increase the number of sanctioned encampments. Sanctioned encampments provide garbage pick up, an access point for drug and alcohol treatment and mental health counselling and job training. Those folks experiencing homelessness cannot address these issues without basic stability first. The constant threat of sweeps makes it impossible to address the needs of our most vulnerable. In 2018, the City of Seattle spent $10,000,000 on sweeps that did nothing but push people from one neighborhood to the next without getting people housed. That money could have been used to invest in public housing to get people off of the street. Currently the homeless crisis narrative is being driven by folks like you and I, people who are housed, thriving, far from the realities of living on the street surviving. In the many years of equity and inclusion work that I have done, the first step in addressing issues or problems is to center on folks with the potential to be most impacted by the solution. The best way to approach solutions to homelessness are to bring folks to the table that have experienced homelessness and successfully found a way out to help build programs and policies.


Ari Hoffman

We need to make our emergency housing more efficient. And we do that by focusing on the individual needs of those suffering from homelessness. There are many different causes for homelessness. For those suffering from mental illness, we need to create facilities that the city charter allows for so that they can get the treatment they need. For kids kicked out of their homes, we need specific foster facilities for teens to prevent them from trying to make it on the streets. To those who work everyday and cannot pay rent, we need affordable housing units. As a more fiscal conservative, I know that it’s cheaper to keep people in their homes than it is to lift them out of homelessness and we should look at more training for higher paying jobs. If we successfully address these problems, we will be left with the hardest cases, the cases too often associated with crime. Those cases are the ones that mostly likely will end up in the criminal justice system.

I believe my energy would go to building or converting unused public buildings for shelters. I believe we need different shelters for different groups. Women and teens often have a legitimate fear of sexual assault in basic shelters so they should be separated. I also believe that we should not tie getting people off the street to specific religions or even a sobriety requirements. When help comes with conditions, we risk people not seeking help. We need them up and off the street first. Everything else can be treated after that.

We have vast, unused spaces and buildings in Seattle that can be used to help people now. Something more than a tent or a broken-down RV.


Phyllis Porter

Our homelessness crisis shows no signs of slowing down, and it is up to us as elected officials to do everything in our power to alleviate this problem. In terms of where I spend my energy, leadership and resources to have the greatest impact, I would focus on advocating for increased access to affordable housing as studies have shown that having access to more affordable housing is one of the most effective ways to get people off the streets.

Additionally, it is cheaper to keep someone in their home than it is to get them into housing once they have become homeless. I am supportive of rental and mortgage assistance and other programs to keep people out of homelessness because they are effective and cost effective. I would expand these programs and increase partnerships with non-government entities to provide no-strings funding to people that need immediate assistance when feasible.

I think it is important to point out that Seattle is not going to be able to solve this crisis on our own. We simply don’t have the space and funding necessary to do this alone. This is a regional problem, and requires a regional solution.

4. Seattle’s lack of housing options that are affordable to our low- and moderate-income employees is an important issue for DSA and its members. In the wake of MHA passing at Council, what kinds of new policies would you pursue to help expand the availability of affordable housing in Seattle? How might current zoning fit into your thinking? Who would you imagine working with to enact these policies?

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Mark Solomon

I would convene a District 2 Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) evaluation committee. This committee will be comprised of representatives from the neighborhoods in District 2 and will take a look at how the MHA has impacted neighborhoods. I will bring the suggestions from this committee to the council and I will urge my colleagues to make the necessary changes in order to minimize the displacement of our neighbors in District 2.

Further, I would allocate affordable housing funds to the District. The Seattle Office of Housing manages Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning (MIZ), which requires developers to designate a percentage of units as “affordable,” or pay fees to the Affordable Housing Fund. I will work to have a fair portion of these funds designated to housing projects in District 2, so that fees earned in our District are used to support those in our District.


Christopher Peguero

We need to build the 6,000 low income and affordable family housing public housing units the City of Seattle promised when it declared a homeless crisis four years ago. To date, nothing has been built. We need to build 3 and 4 bedrooms units near transit corridors and all districts need to shoulder the responsibility of having these units. We need local control of rental and eviction laws. We need to increase multi family zoning and address the legacy of racial covenants, segregation and racial disparity of home ownership of redlining laws and how that legacy continues to today in single family zoning. This would take a coordination of economic/banking, real estate, neighborhood groups and City/County/State agencies to address.


Ari Hoffman

We know that the developers have been contributing to the pool funds and that those funds are not currently being used. We need to use them to develop housing units. MHA allows for us to ask builders to build units rather than just donating money, we should hold them to that. Even if we have to partner with them to build them in the neighborhoods with the most need. I believe the council is on the right track with the ability to upzone in the neighborhoods that need revitalization. I know there is opposition on some sides to what is often called “gentrification”, but Seattle only has so much square footage. First, on an environmental level, density will keep people close to their jobs and out of their cars, on an economic level, more inventory will drive the cost of each unit down, finally, on a social level, the only way to fit the people of Seattle into homes is to build multi-unit dwellings. I believe that I can work with Councilmembers Herbold and Juarez and many of the candidates on these issues.

We need to upzone along the transit routes. That will keep people out of their cars while keeping older homes and families in our neighborhoods. There are undeveloped areas that can be built up near the light rail in District 2 that can add density without dislocating current populations and not add to traffic congestion.


Phyllis Porter

We must move forward with increasing the supply of housing as quickly as possible, understanding that there will be constraints given high construction costs and lack of supply for space to build.

Seattle needs to approach development and other neighborhood infrastructure like public transit and schools with much greater coordination, so that development doesn’t overburden neighborhood infrastructure. Some items worth considering are using deed restrictions on small public properties to simplify the disposition process for affordable housing where practical and fixing the permitting process and working with neighborhoods on other common-sense zoning reforms.

I would look to bring all stakeholders to the table and work together on legislation that has taken impact from all those who would be impacted.

5. Between 2010 to 2018, downtown Seattle added over 85,000 jobs. During this time, we have seen a major shift in how the majority of people get to and around downtown, with percentage of people driving alone to their jobs shrinking to roughly 25%. Still, as the regional transportation and economic hub, downtown street space is at a premium. What steps do we need to take over the next two-to-four years to ensure that people can access downtown and that our streets work well for all users?

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Mark Solomon

We need to increase access to public transportation, improve infrastructure, and encourage innovative options to meet our region’s growing mobility needs. I support policies that promote safe, reliable options for employees to get to work and allow for the efficient transportation of goods, freight and services. We need to Increase public transit service – capacity, operating hours, and business areas served – to meet employment needs and provide a positive experience for the user. Elected leadership and transportation agency leadership need to engage the business community to ensure transportation projects meet the needs of our region.


Christopher Peguero

We need to pursue and incentivise all public and shared modes of transportation while discouraging single occupancy into downtown. Busses, street cars, rideshares, bikeshare, pedestrian, carpooling and the Link need to be robust options outside of driving in single occupancy to get into the downtown core. This is not only a capacity issue but and environmental and climate issues. I will support the idea of congestion pricing as long as those dollars raised go to building a more robust and affordable public transit system. I would like to see the reestablishment of a no fare zone for all shared and public transit within the downtown zone.


Ari Hoffman

Here’s what the statistics tell us. One according to Red Fin’s Walk Score, Seattle is the 8th most walkable large city. Two, the number of people walking to work increased by 60 percent from 2009 to 2015. Walking has increased so much that SDOT has written a its Pedestrian Master Plan and presented it to the city council for review. While it has a 20-year blueprint to make Seattle the nation’s most walkable and accessible city, I believe we can do more. We need to fully-fund the street construction and maintenance. The Move Seattle Levy did not raise enough to provide the construction and maintenance that a city this large and this old needs. We need to invest in our city streets and even have the talk expanding the streetcars well. I know that there is a cost to this, but investing in downtown will help move people in and out of the core, which, at the end of the day, is good for business.

We need to fix and build more sidewalks. In order for an area to be walkable, we need to keep people out of the street. It’s not safe. Finally, we need to hold ourselves accountable for spending on the transit projects.


Phyllis Porter
  • Here are some key areas that need to be taken into consideration:
  • Implementing Light Rail, including paying close attention to station access issues in areas with major topographic challenges and street grid challenges is going to be incredibly important.
  • Most people who work downtown walk at some point during the day, no matter how they access the city. As downtown grows, we need to widen our sidewalks to accommodate the growing number of pedestrians.
  • I would also like to see increased communication between SDOT and business/residents to create new pedestrian options where practical.

6. DSA currently manages and activates Westlake and Occidental Square Parks through an agreement with the City, which has allowed us to bring furniture, programming, staffing and security into these parks, as we work to make them welcoming for all. We also manage McGraw Square with some of the same types of activities. What is your view of this type of public/private partnership as the City contemplates major new public space opportunities along the waterfront and above Interstate-5?

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Mark Solomon

These public/private partnerships are essential, the benefit all parties and they work. The City has to work in partnership to get things done; the City can’t do it alone. I have personal experience in working in partnership with the Downtown Seattle Association. As Crime Prevention Coordinators, my colleagues and I wanted to get car prowl prevention information to all the rental car centers in Seattle and at SeaTac airport because of eh high rate of car prowl experienced by visitors to this region. We developed the content, got input from the Seattle Visitors Bureau as to which languages other than English were spoken by visitors to our region, and partnered with DSA to do translation and printing of the materials into Japanese and simple Chinese as well as English. This past year, these brochures were delivered and displayed at the rental car counters throughout downtown Seattle and at the Rental Car Center at SeaTac. This could not have happened without Police working with the Visitor’s Bureau, DSA and the rental car companies


Christopher Peguero

I think they are a great way to bring the public cost of park management down to free up funds to other parks within Seattle, especially other neighborhoods that otherwise might not see those dollars, i.e., SE Seattle, RSJI/environmental justice neighborhoods of the City. Also, these partnerships build larger ownership and pride in these public spaces. I do think maintaining a framework of how these public/private partnerships are led with a lens of race and social justice is critical to offering programming that is racially, ethnically and culturally appropriate and significant needs to remain a priority.


Ari Hoffman

I love it. I actually think we function better when the public decides what they want and the organizations best skilled to implement the projects are allowed to do so. I am also a proponent of local effect, local control. That means that those are affected by the project or live or work in the designated area should have a hand in the planning, implementation and maintenance of any projects in said area.


Phyllis Porter

Equity concerns can be raised when these types of public private partnerships are proposed and enacted, and I will always keep an eye out for potential equity issues. From my experience, these partnerships provide much needed support for these spaces.

7. Downtown Seattle is the economic center of the region, with large and small businesses employing more than 300,000 people. However, economic success for employers and employees are continuously strained by unpredictable and burdensome regulations and taxes being imposed at the city level. How will you work to ensure that there is more predictability and consideration for employers to support growth in jobs, retail, restaurants and investment in downtown?

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Mark Solomon

With regard to this question, I would work in support of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Legislative priorities because they align with my thinking on this subject:

  • Keep the cost of doing business affordable for all sectors to maintain a diversity of industries and employers.
  • Maintain predictable and transparent tax systems and business regulations to ensure the Seattle region is competitive.
  • Support the Associate Development Organization (ADO) for King County to retain and grow existing businesses in our community.
  • Ensure that new revenues, policies, and programs are based in evidence, and work collaboratively with the business community on their design and implementation to ensure they do not jeopardize our region’s economic success.
  • Strengthen and cultivate relationships between businesses of all sizes and local government, including inviting meaningful participation from Seattle’s Small Business Advisory Council.

Establish a reliable point of contact for businesses to get in touch with local government and ensure businesses have opportunities to meaningfully communicate about issues that impact them.


Christopher Peguero

Bringing businesses that have the highest potential to the pressures of gentrification and displacement to the table, in order to influence the development of city programs and policies and their implementation is one of the highest priorities for me and my campaign. When we build strategies that address the issues of those most impacted by disparity and oppression we all benefit, including large business. That will be my priority.


Ari Hoffman

I am one of those very business owners you are referring to. I know the difference between good regulations that help keep the people safe and businesses competitive and bad regulations which stand in the way of progress. I am running to be a voice for business on the council. I believe that we must be able to justify each potential tax proposals and I want to be the council-member who keeps an eye on. I believe we need a full audit on our permitting laws. Laws are designed to protect people, not to stop growth and production. It should not take three years to build a single-family home because of code issues. It should not cost an additional $25,000 in permit fees and expenses for a youth building I built for the synagogue. We cannot grow to become the city we are destined to become if we will allow ourselves to grow. And, while we are auditing, we have to ensure that all builders are treated equally.


Phyllis Porter

I believe that the Council has to do a much better job of communicating with our business community, and working together to come up with solutions that both parties can agree to. Instead of bringing in business at the end of the decision-making process, the Council should bring all impacted parties to the table to ensure engagement throughout the process.

8. In 2015, a city report looked at Seattle’s commercial development capacity and determined we could absorb another 115,000 jobs by 2035. Yet, in the last three years alone, we have added over 23,000 jobs, indicating that we are likely to surpass our growth targets much earlier than anticipated. Seattle has limited existing zoning capacity, and inadequate permitting systems in place to accommodate the future demand for commercial development. Where might you look to expand our city’s capacity in this regard?

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Mark Solomon

In my District, I would look at potential zoning changes in the SODO and the non-residential areas of Georgetown. I would do so with community input from those that live and work there; too often decisions are made about what is going to happen to a community without getting input from those who live and work in the community. I will also work towards equitable development funding for commercial space development and Property Tax Credits to reduce small commercial space lease rates throughout our business nodes.


Christopher Peguero

In our adoption of HALA/MHA, we have an opportunity to support commercial and business growth in mixed residential and commercial zoning as we upzone in neighborhood centers and transit corridors. This will be especially beneficial for small minority owned businesses. In partnership with low income housing organizations and land trusts. This has the potential to mitigate the pressures of gentrification and displacement of immigrant and refugee, limited English proficient, people of color and low income communities. Expansion of the cities commercial development should remain in areas of the city that do not have a high percentage of these demographic groups unless there is opportunity to have those existing businesses to remain and thrive in place and not be gentrified and displaced. My campaign has promised to establish a community identified culturally significant small business fund to help racially and ethnically important businesses from the pressures of gentrification and displacement.


Ari Hoffman

Overhaul. Simply put, we do not have a history of building for the future. We need to invest in Seattle as though we are building for 200,000 jobs, because if we build it, they will come. These are choices we have to make. At first, we will have to explain the price tag of our forward thinking, but any good business knows you need to invest money to make money. The system of half measures and poor attempts end up costing more in the long run. Building rail lines that are too small for the rail cars is a waste of money. It makes no sense and we can do better. We have to.


Phyllis Porter

I have consistently heard that the city’s permitting system needs to be fixed, and I think this is an area in particular where the council can take action. Two areas I would consider after hearing from all stakeholders are:

  1. Additional height in certain areas downtown after accounting for things like seaplanes and livability concerns.
  2. All half-mile station areas around link light rail stations for further upzones. Focusing on transit oriented development should be a top-priority.

I look forward to learning more about this issue and hearing which areas DSA has identified as having additional development capacity.

9. As the city strives to allocate limited resources to manage and activate our complex urban environment, it has increasingly turned to Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) for support. These BIAs build community capacity and give agency and tools to local communities to address their own priorities. What is your view of these groups and their impact?

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Mark Solomon

BIAs are a great resource and I fully support them. I work very closely with the SODO BIA now, and in the past worked very closely with the Broadway BIA. Together, we have sponsored numerous community public safety events for businesses and residents. In fact, in 2018, I partnered with the SODO BIA to hold a SPD/BIA Sponsored safety summit specifically for cannabis industry enterprises located in SODO & Georgetown. These partnerships are invaluable.


Christopher Peguero

This can be a great tool if it also incorporates and prioritizes a racial equity outcomes in implementation.


Ari Hoffman

BIAs are brilliant. Again as a business owner, I know that I am not going to invest in something that is going to be detrimental for my business. Businesses coming together to invest in master plan areas increases the benefit of both the businesses and the surrounding communities. I have enjoyed working with the SODO BIA.


Phyllis Porter

BIA’s are a great tool and benefit areas like the CID, Columbia City, and SODO.

10. Downtown is not only one of the fastest-growing residential neighborhood in the region, but also the jobs center of Seattle. If you are elected to serve on the City Council, how would you go about balancing the needs of your district with the City has a whole? What are the top issues facing your district and how do you see them intersecting with the issues at play in downtown?

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Mark Solomon

The top issues facing my district are public safety (violent crime, property crime, well maintained infrastructure, pedestrian and cyclist safety), housing affordability, displacement of families and businesses, and the impacts of homelessness. I’ve also heard throughout the District that City Council is not hearing their concerns or addressing their needs. These issues are no different than any other neighborhood in this city, so as City Council, we need to be accessible and responsive.

One thing I want to work towards, and what I’m already exploring, is partnering with our vibrant tech sector and building trades to create apprenticeships and internships for youth and adults in the community so they can take advantage of the jobs this booming economy has to offer. I want to grow the talent needed downtown in District 2 and I want to partner with downtown to make that happen.


Christopher Peguero

Small businesses feeling the pressure of gentrification and displacement, especially minority owned, black and brown, immigrant and refugee and limited English proficient businesses. Issues of affordability, access to public transportation, equal access to resources and the ability to thrive in place are the biggest hurdles for our district. As the region continues to thrive economically – we are quickly becoming unaffordable  to many who have called Seattle home prior to our region’s boom. I worry that Seattle is/has become a playground for the wealthy only. We must look at ways for all people to thrive in this very wealthy city and recognize that when we do so, we create a business environment that is rich, healthy and stable – only perpetuating the potential for continued growth.


Ari Hoffman

Crime and housing shortages are big problems in my district. It feels like Rainier Beach, Columbia City Georgetown and SoDo are often neglected compared to Downtown or Northgate. We need a infusion of economic growth in our areas that incorporates the people living here, not displaces them. Keeping that in mind, we are a united city and we need to ensure that every aspect works for the people here and the tourists that come.

Business friendly environment. I live and own businesses in district 2. I am on the ground living with the crime affecting business our shops. We just want to make a living in a safe and secure city and I believe we can make that happen.

Finally, we need to address our traffic. We need parking lots at the light rail so people can leave their cars and commute. We need to build housing units where we build the light rail stops and we need more, quality bus routes and stops.


Phyllis Porter

I believe the top issues facing not just District 2, but Seattle as a whole are access to housing, homelessness, and transportation. I truly believe that solving these issues is going to require all hands on deck, and we have to recognize that what happens in one part of the city can have unintended consequences in another.

In terms of transportation, a large number of Light Rail stations are located here and it is imperative that we have safe and reliable transportation. Many of the people who ride the light rail get off somewhere downtown, and as such it is beneficial for all the businesses downtown that employees and customers who use public transportation are able to reach them.

My top priorities for the district in regard to transportation are expand bus ridership, relieve road congestion and boost the economic activity in the urban villages and transit stops, and to prioritize the Vision Zero plan to keep casualties down. Phase 2 has been delayed since 2017 and is expected not to resume until later this year or 2020. To me, this is unacceptable. A safer Rainier Ave will not only be good for those that live here, but it will also be good for business and those who commute. As the project is continued from S. Kenny Street to Henderson, it will also make it safer for the storefront businesses that are aligned along the corridor. The corridor is a major connection to downtown Seattle, and I plan to fight for a Rainier that one day may be safe enough for those that travel by bike to work in the downtown area to be able to use the shortest route from the south-end.

In regards to homelessness, many of our service providers are located in the downtown area, which has centralized services. Seattle has less than ⅓ of the county’s population and almost ¾ of the county’s homeless population. We cannot continue to try and solve homelessness on our own, and it is going to require a true regional solution in order to accomplish this. This means using any and all methods at our disposal to bring neighboring cities to the table and get to work fixing this problem.