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 general election is Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Meet the District 2 Candidates

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.

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?

» next / « previous / all


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.

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?

» next / « previous / all


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.

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?

» next / « previous / all


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.

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?

» next / « previous / all


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.

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?

» next / « previous / all


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.

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?

» next / « previous / all


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.

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?

» next / « previous / all


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.

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?

» next / « previous / all


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.

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?

« previous / all


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.

Candidates recently answered questions on local issues from The Seattle Times. You can read their answers here.