Seattle City Council — District 3

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 3 Candidates

Additional Candidate:

Kshama Sawant (Incumbent)  /  No Response

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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Logan Bowers

MHA has been a success, and finally pushing it over the finish line was a huge win for Seattle. There have been few other clearly effective policy outcomes from the council this year. Several other accomplishments have been positive but still deeply flawed. For example, the Council approved a desperately needed public safety contract, but undermined police accountability controls in the process.

Conversely, homelessness and housing unaffordability are both at crisis levels the city hasn’t seen in almost 100 years. No council member has proposed any policies that  will credibly and significantly address either issue. The Seattle Police Department is severely understaffed and not operating efficiently; violent crime is up significantly in  D3 and there has not been a clear response from the city. Seattle City Light rates are projected to rise faster than inflation for the foreseeable future, placing residential rates well above average for the nation. Seattle’s traffic and transportation are getting increasingly gridlocked without any vision or even coherent strategy to address  mobility in the city. Transit projects are apparently arbitrarily delayed or cancelled since a guiding vision or strategy has not been articulated by the city.

I think the City Council has a serial problem in their approach to problem solving. They fail to quantify the nature of the issue before jumping to solutions. That results in solutions that cannot possibly address the issue they think they are solving. An encapsulated example of this is the plastic straw ban. Plastic straws make up a vanishingly tiny portion of the plastic waste stream. As a practical matter, passing a straw ban does absolutely nothing material to save the environment. At the same time, it makes life significantly more difficult for people with physical disabilities who require plastic straws to drink hot liquids (no commercial alternative currently exists). If the council quantified the problem of plastic pollution before spending time on a solution, they would have chosen a completely different approach.


Egan Orion

In recent months, one of the Council’s better moments was with the MHA Upzone legislation, which will create denser neighborhoods and more affordable housing at a time when both are desperately needed. Many have done a good job prioritizing constituent services, the notable exception the councilmember from District 3.

One clear place where they’ve done an insufficient job is in addressing the homelessness and affordability crisis. That, and the head tax, revealed how mired the current Council has been in ideology instead of solutions. The demonization of our large employers by some on Council has made it harder to use those businesses as a resource for finding and funding solutions.


Ami Nguyen

When evaluating the effectiveness of the council, you need to look at both the individual member that I’m running against and the council as a whole. Simply put, I cannot think of a single issue that the incumbent in my district has been effective on this term – except dividing the city and turning people against each other.

The council has devoted significant resources to increasing the stock of affordable housing and some progress has been made with implementation of HALA and the dramatic increase in funding the affordable housing ballot issue. However, supply of affordable housing has not kept up with demand as the population explodes and high- tech jobs drive up housing prices.

The council has made efforts to solve our homelessness crisis, but it’s been inadequate. An audit of Seattle’s Housing Services Department showed that efforts to address homelessness in 2018 suggests coordination between service organizations need to improve along with the need to identify newly homeless individuals and families who would have otherwise been eligible for diversion programs. In addition, the audit suggests more around the clock access to hygiene/bathrooms due to health and safety concerns. I also believe its inhumane to deny people bathrooms and showers. We need much more effort and money placed on solving our homelessness problem.

Events of the last few years have made it crystal clear that some residents and businesses feel that they aren’t being heard, and in no place is that more true than in my district where the councilmember is absent from community events and constituent services. As a councilmember, I will spend significant staff resources, as well as my own time working on constituent issues. We must restore the public’s faith in their government.

Finally, the council must increase accountability and oversight. The council must exert its oversight authority before projects escalate out of control. For example, in efforts to increase bicycle use, there was a lack of oversight in the Pronto bike share program, eroding the public trust in the city. The city should continue its efforts to improve bike accessibility, but must also maintain oversight to ensure that tax payer dollars are not wasted.


Zachary DeWolf

I believe the places it has been effective is in its partnerships and public education supports, I’m particularly grateful for their work on the Families, Education, Preschool, and Promise Levy—it was a great levy and they successfully got it passed. I would also use the example of MHA for both places where it has been particularly effective, and where I believe it wasn’t as effective. In terms of its effectiveness, the MHA created a long runway for conversation about the idea of upzones in our city, which meant they dispelled myths and misinformation. This took a lot of work and community engagement so I’m happy it passed. However, I think MHA could have gone further in creating buy-in from developers, rather than providing what I consider as an ‘out’ through the payment option. Since 2010, we have lost 60% of affordable housing stock across the country and the same is roughly true for our region.


Pat Murakami

One of the effective things the City Council has done is to approve a 12-month moratorium on the conversions of mobile-home parks, though if elected, I would legislate for permanent protection for our limited stock of truly affordable housing, not just mobile-home parks.

Frankly, I feel our current City Council has not done enough to fulfill their duty to the residents and businesses of Seattle. Their job is to develop laws and policies to promote the health and safety of Seattle residents. We have far too many people living in sub-human conditions in tents, RVs and sheds. We aren’t safe when our police department has been told to ignore open illicit drug consumption. Public health is being ignored when nothing measurable is being done about the pockets of squalor and trash all over our city. Businesses are losing customers. Tourists are declining to visit. Conventions aren’t being held in Seattle that we have previously hosted.

Our City Council should be taking more decisive action: create affordable housing though a foreign investment tax, such as that in Vancouver, B.C. (a recent transaction would have resulted in 370 units of affordable housing); spend our tax dollars more effectively to provide immediate assistance to those who are economically homeless (with no mental health or drug addiction issues); working cooperative with King County Public Health, to provide residential treatment programs for the addicts living on Seattle streets and/or mental health services as needed; appreciate Seattle-based businesses for the jobs they provide; treat the residents of Seattle respectfully and be responsive to their concerns.

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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Logan Bowers

I have read Scott Lindsey’s report. There are clear deficiencies in our handling of crime and criminals with complicating factors. The most glaring for me was the example of  an individual that was too mentally ill to stand trial, but not mentally ill enough to be involuntarily committed. It is absolutely unacceptable and unsafe to leave someone with significant mental illness out on the streets without treatment, set up to serially commit crimes.

As a council member, I will work with the many stakeholders to close the smaller gaps that should be repairable with coordination (such as ensuring anyone released from jail that is homeless is discharged to a shelter), and work with other legislative bodies (the KC Council and State Legislature) to close the more significant gaps in mental health services for incarcerated individuals.


Egan Orion

The health and safety of all our neighbors must be the top priority of our City Council. We need a data driven, multi-faceted approach to effectively address this issue, but the traditional “lock them up” approach has proven too costly and ineffective in addressing crimes associated with addiction and mental health.

Most offenders are in and of jail on misdemeanor crimes and the nature of their crimes means they will spend little time in jail, and even if they did, the system isn’t set up to help them rehabilitate. It would be more effective to invest more funds in LEAD, which incentivizes “familiar faces” in criminal justice to get into the system of social services rather than go to jail (or face more limited sentences by committing to work within the LEAD framework). This proven system, working with social workers, the police, prosecutors, and other service providers, provides a system with limited gaps and higher accountability. It takes time to work (on average 18 months to really make good traction), but it is effective.

Because incarceration doesn’t benefit an offender with mental health services and medication-assisted treatment (something we need to implement if incarceration is going to reap real, long-term benefits), we need to be sure to have a path of providers waiting for people when they are released from prison. If there is any gap in support, those let out of prison/jail are much more likely to go back to their familiar lives on the streets and they will start the whole cycle over again, increasing petty crimes and burdening the system with people going through one, two, or six times. If we can limit the number of times people cycle through the system, the more the system will truly help people rehabilitate and at the same time cost taxpayers less.

LEAD works. It must be expanded to create an end-to-end system to stop misdemeanor crimes that impact our business committee and residents and provide real help for those experiencing homelessness, mental health crisis, addiction, or extreme poverty.


Ami Nguyen

As a public defender, I work with the most vulnerable populations each and every day. I would advocate for a housing first model – you cannot solve mental health or substance abuse issues if someone is living in a tent or tarp. I would also advocate for easier access to treatment, transitional housing and job training for individuals who have contact with the criminal justice system. In working with my elected colleagues, I would present examples of how treatment reduces recidivism rather than repeated jailing without any treatment.


Zachary DeWolf

Public safety is one of my top priorities, and I see it as a crucial aspect of a thriving downtown Seattle. First and foremost, the most effective way to address this issue is to solve people’s urgent and immediate needs, to keep them out of a survival mode. This includes access to no-barrier shelters, as well as increasing the availability of quality mental health treatment and addiction treatment centers so that our struggling community members can get the assistance that they need. Addressing these upstream services will prevent these problems further down the pipeline. In order to address the existing public safety concerns, a solution as simple as well-lit streets can have a positive impact of decreasing injuries and increasing overall perceptions of safety. I am also supportive of the types of programs that DSA carries out

surrounding cleaning up our streets in the way of: removing litter, cleaning up graffiti, removing empty/unused newspaper boxes and other outdated aspects of our built environment, as well as increasing ‘beautification’ projects. This all feeds into the idea that a clean, well-maintained street that has the perception of safety and cleanliness actually does influence the behavior in these areas. Finally, I believe that the answer is not always to just increase police patrols in these areas – let’s be creative, holistic, and compassionate in our approach to this issue.


Pat Murakami

Yes, I have read the report. It is time to use one standard to apply to everyone, and that is, we all have a responsibility to obey the law and be good citizens. I’m supportive of effective diversion programs and second chances, but we must enforce the law. If someone is dealing drugs they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If someone is an addict, they should be given the option of going into residential treatment or go to jail, with a warning that they must honor the constraints of the treatment and diversion program to avoid jail time. (There is a study that shows that individuals given a choice of treatment or jail are more likely to have a successful treatment outcome than those that enter treatment programs voluntarily.)

It is my hope that the nature of the City Council changes with this election cycle. If it doesn’t, it is time to have townhalls to hear from the residents and businesses impacted by the criminal activity happening downtown, and in our neighborhoods – to hear about the thefts and vandalism that are negatively impacting our city. Questions need to be asked of sitting City Council members:  What level of crime would create a tipping point for you to finally take action?  How bad does it need to get?  How many drug addicts need to die on Seattle streets before you will take action?  Do you need to be the victim of a crime before you will start to care?

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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Logan Bowers

King County is facing a homelessness rate of about 0.5%, in line with other West Coast cities (SF – 0.85%, LA – 0.54%, PDX – 0.63%). While we can and should reduce this  rate through policy improvements (particularly land use, see Q4), we should expect that we will need to provide services for about 13,000 unsheltered individuals county-wide on an ongoing basis. Right now, we provide shelter (and related services) to only 6,000 individuals—6,500 bed deficit.

Evidence shows that the Housing First model is the most effective way to address the compounding issues (mental & physical health, addiction disorders, etc) for those experiencing homelessness. As such, I see closing the 6,500 bed deficit as the highest priority for addressing homelessness in the region. We will need to be thoughtful about how we expand services to provide a continuum of care. Some individuals will be able to exit into self-sufficiency, others will need community support in some form on a continuous basis. Our expansion of services will need to be matched carefully to the needs of each underserved cohort of homeless individuals.

It is also worth noting that New York City spends approximately $230 per capita per year on homeless services while the King County area spends approximately $95 per capita per year. In essence, we are funding a cut rate level of services and are receiving cut rate quality of service. I do expect we can use our existing resources more efficiently, and there are significant deficits in monitoring and accountability for some of our contracted service providers; both issues I intend to address. I do expect, however, that once we have improved the efficacy of our existing spending, we will need to  return to the voters for additional revenues if we wish to truly address homelessness.

Homelessness is a region-wide issue and will require coordination with the county and neighboring cities and towns, so additional discussion will be necessary before we can identify the best route forward on this front.


Egan Orion

Seattle communities should be healthy, safe, and vibrant. Seattle has a core responsibility to shelter and house our unsheltered population. I would work on expanding the number of low-barrier 24/7 shelters available (and put them throughout the city); prioritize treatment on demand, using in part the additional funding coming from the state legislature for mental health and substance abuse; create incentives to bring back online apartments and hotels which have laid unoccupied for decades using Economic Opportunity Zone tax deferrals and other programs; implement a program similar to Atlanta’s “Open Doors” so the city has market-rate apartments available immediately for low-income, temporarily homeless individuals and families; and explore any other possibilities that will expedite the availability of affordable housing.

With our expanded partnership with the county, I would also look into a large bond to fund more than 1000 supportive housing units for our chronically homeless, work to waive the permit fees for those new developments, and ask the state to waive sales tax. I think we have to look at every stage of the journey from the street to permanent housing and make sure we have a comprehensive data-driven model to inform our decisions. Let’s make sure our funding is being used efficiently, defund programs that aren’t working, and give programs that are working the support they need.


Ami Nguyen

Homelessness is a regional issue that requires regional solutions. The new joint King County/Seattle approach is long overdue.

It is the City Council’s duty to find a solution to Seattle’s homelessness crisis. I would commit my time addressing the problems and solutions highlighted in the Seattle’s Housing Services Department audit report. This would include investing in a software for resource organizations to communicate and collaborate and funding more around the clock hygiene/bathroom centers. In addition, I would work on funding working training programs for homeless and formerly homeless individuals and collaborate with employers to hire homeless individuals and/or individuals with criminal records.


Zachary DeWolf

Watching my representative’s lack of urgency in addressing this issue is what motivated me to run for this seat in the first place. Both as someone who has experienced homelessness/housing instability and in my current role as Program Manager with All Home King County, I have grown deeply in my expertise on the issue of homelessness. My work at All Home centers around two important areas, youth homelessness and prevention & diversion services. As it pertains to youth, we know that 48% of adults experiencing homelessness experienced homelessness as a young person. This means, if we shift our focus toward preventing and addressing youth homelessness, we can easily disrupt the pipeline into an experience of homelessness. Plus, the Diversion approach in homelessness has shown to cost a fraction of other interventions with high rates of exits to permanent housing. We need to more deeply invest in what’s working and right size our funding for other interventions. Overall, the role of local government is to ensure that our city is a place where everyone, regardless of means, can live with dignity. This means meaningfully and thoughtfully addressing the homelessness crisis. This issue is intricate and complex, and will require all of us to come together to implement effective solutions. Fortunately we already have evidence-based solutions that work, programs such as Diversion; enhanced shelters; by name lists; increased bedcounts in no-barrier shelters; a ‘housing-first’ approach – which believes that getting people into housing, even temporary housing, is the first necessary step towards helping them address their other problems; increasing summer employment and other opportunities for our young people; and others. I will not only work carefully with the funds we already have dedicated towards this issue, to ensure we are investing in the most effective and cost-effective solutions, I will also fight for other progressive revenue sources to combat this crisis.

Additionally, this is not a problem that the city of Seattle can, or should, solve on its own. It is time that our surrounding cities step up their investment, and partner with us. It is also imperative that we work with at the state level on funding and investments in this crisis.


Pat Murakami

We can’t call everyone on our streets “homeless” and expect to provide the proper solutions. Barbara Poppe’s report of our failure to adequately address the homeless crisis did not contain the words ‘drug’ or ‘addict’. We can’t bring people into proper shelter without determining each person’s needs and addressing them. We need to provide a different set of services for the economically homeless (housing vouchers, job counselling and caseworkers) from those who are living on our streets due to mental health and/or drug addiction (residential treatment, proper medication, caseworkers and mentors to closely follow their progress).

Our City leadership has failed to follow Barbara Poppe’s thoughtful recommendations regarding homelessness in general and fund programs to align with a well-conceived plan of action. It was frustrating to watch the City Council budget hearings as they added their pet projects to the mix without regard for a bigger vision or the previous outcomes of those agencies.

If elected, I will audit the over 100 agencies that are being funded to address ‘homelessness’ and determine which agencies are not producing any measurable results. Going forward, I would want to consolidate the effort into a few effective agencies that would continue to be monitored for outcomes and measurable results.

Since we have a housing crisis, we must act expediently to address the problem:  contract directly with builders to build SROs on surplus city property (which could later be converted to youth hostels); work with King County to convert the nurses’ dorm across from Harborview into a residential treatment program for drug addiction; temporarily use long-vacant properties to serve as emergency housing. We can act swiftly and decisively by working with our Governor to bring additional resources to Seattle to address the problem and assist with the construction of proper shelters. Long-term, I want mandatory, inclusionary affordable housing in all new developments, across the affordability spectrum.

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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Logan Bowers

Seattle is in the midst of a severe housing shortage. From 2011 to 2018, Seattle added over 100,000 workers to downtown alone (according to my sources). During the same time period, Seattle added only 30,000 homes within the city limits. Where are the other 70,000 workers and their families supposed to live if we don’t add more homes? The answer is that they either displace existing residents, or they are forced to commute from outside the city, adding to our severe traffic and pollution woes.

I propose returning all Seattle neighborhoods to their original roots. Neighborhoods that were platted prior to segregation-driven zoning policies allowed modest multi- family housing on all parcels. That is, it was legal to build duplexes, triplexes, and small multifamily buildings in every neighborhood. Indeed, in the older neighborhoods, about 30% of the homes are multifamily to this day even though the neighborhood is ostensibly now single family only. We should legalize multifamily in 100% of the city with appropriate controls on architectural style to ensure neighborhoods retain their character as they grow. A very modest addition of one triplex per block would add 35,000 housing units to the city’s supply.


Egan Orion

There will be more zoning changes in the coming years and with those in mind—especially in residential areas—we should make sure both townhouses and condos are included. The latter give people with disabilities and seniors who want to age in a place more options for housing. And condos are generally a more efficient use of space. We also need to build more duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes, a key part of that “missing middle” in housing and a way to create denser neighborhoods while still largely preserving the nature of our single family home communities. Like during the HALA process, working with affordable housing organizations like Capitol Hill Housing and putting them at the same table with developers would be a good way to address the challenges of affordability from both sides and look for creative ways to get to more affordable housing by opening up the conversation.


Ami Nguyen

Creating affordable housing should be accessible to residents as much as it is to commercial developers. Unfortunately, in this past decade, most new housing constructed has been luxury housing. Almost a quarter of Seattle residents spend more than HALF of their income on housing, primarily rent. We need more affordable housing to address homelessness, to keep seniors in Seattle, and to address climate change – most emissions in Seattle are from transportation.

The city should create policies that make construction of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and detached accessory dwelling units (DADUs) more accessible for residents. I would imagine working with residents, land use attorneys, architects and general contractors about how the city can make development of ADUs and DADUs more accessible. For example, having a free database of sample blue prints from an architect may reduce the time and cost for residents to construct ADUs and DADUs.


Zachary DeWolf

Zoning restrictions are a major source of the strain on our current available housing stock. I was very happy to see the passage of MHA and related legislation, and would propose to continue aggressively investing in these endeavors. Our city has incredibly diverse needs, and currently apartment developments are banned in approximately 65% of our city. We must work to lift those bans, and continue diversifying our housing stock by allowing construction for single-family homes, multi-family homes, apartment complexes, condos and townhomes, and that all of this construction must also be balanced out to meet the affordability needs of our neighbors. We can also look at the overly burdensome permitting process, and providing more staffing allocations in order to speed up this process.

One idea that I am interested in is is working with colleagues at Building Changes on piloting a shallow rent subsidy. A shallow rent subsidy could be targeted to people who don’t have more than $400 to their name. In our region, about 40% of our neighbors don’t have more than $400 to their name and could easily have one financial circumstance push them into poverty or homelessness. We could target a low subsidy of, say, $500 a month to families in need for a year. Provide them stability and an opportunity to save. But, and I will say this all throughout the campaign: we need to make sure that the precision of our solutions match the precision of the harm initially inflicted. We need to be specific and precise in who and how we’re supporting our most vulnerable neighbors. Plus, we need to be doing more upstream, such as focusing on evictions and free civil legal aid similar to New York, or providing more pathways to home ownership, supporting smaller landlords that are providing affordable places for people to live.

What might be an interesting idea is to prioritize diverse housing types around our public schools. In the 2016-2017 school year, we had around 4,200 students experiencing homelessness in our public schools. That’s one in 13–students are likely to have at least one peer student experiencing homelessness in their classroom. Zoning is one of the leading indicators of segregation in our schools. I wrote about this in Real Change last year.


Pat Murakami

HALA has failed to provide the affordable housing we need in Seattle. The in-lieu fees are completely inadequate, if collected at all, to address the issue of affordability. We can’t let developers pay $5 to $22 per square foot to opt out of building affordable units when the cost of construction is roughly $300 per square foot. I would eliminate the in-lieu fees still allowed in the proposed MHA legislation and require inclusionary affordable units in every new development, across the affordability spectrum. That modification, combined with a foreign investment tax, would be a great start to providing an adequate supply of affordable housing units.

The proposed upzoning in the MHA legislation, if passed, will disproportionately impact minority communities and low-income households. I don’t believe the City Council has properly filtered the legislation, to date, through the lens of the Race and Social Justice Initiative. I would hope that review takes place before any legislation is passed to ensure upzones are applied equitably. I would prefer to see upzones in the Urban Village areas as designated by the Neighborhood Plans which communities across Seattle agreed upon through a long process of outreach and consensus building.

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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Logan Bowers

We’ve added over 85,000 jobs to downtown Seattle, but we haven’t added (and indeed we cannot add) 85,000 cars’ worth of road capacity to downtown. With almost 80,000 daily riders, Link Light Rail is also already at crush load during rush hour. King County Metro is also under a capacity crunch; all extant bus bases are full so Metro will not be able to deploy materially more service for 5-10 years while they build a new bus base. We will need to be creative at the city to keep our city mobile.

First, we need to make the most of what we have. SDOT must invest in bus lanes, queue jumps, and signal priority so that we can keep our existing bus fleet moving as fast and efficiently as possible. Second, we need to legalize scooter rental fleets. Uber & Lyft constitute up to 15% of downtown traffic, and we know that scooters are frequently used instead of a taxi trip in cities where they’re available. Roughly, scooters could reduce automotive traffic by up to 5%. Finally, we need to fully implement the  Bike Master Plan and connect downtown to adjacent residential neighborhoods with safe protected bike lanes. Bicycles move considerably more people in significantly less road space and are becoming much more popular in hilly cities like Seattle with the advent of low cost e-bikes. Giving workers living nearby a safe alternative to driving or taking the bus frees road and transit capacity for workers living farther away that don’t have those options available to them.


Egan Orion

Multi-modal transit, and more of it, is needed. The downtown streetcar is one piece of this, but we also need more frequent light rail trains during peak times and more connected bike lanes. The dedicated bus lines have improved the speed of buses through Downtown and having more express buses can make things easier for commuters and visitors to get around the Downtown corridor faster. Protected bike lanes, as part of an overall connected citywide system, will also allow for safe travel by bikes but also in new micro-mobility solutions coming online, including and especially e-scooters, which I’m a proponent of.


Ami Nguyen

Access to and through Downtown is important for all of Seattle, given its role as the hub of the region and major employment center. With removal of the Viaduct, additional buses on Downtown streets and the construction of a major addition to the Convention Center, access to Downtown is essential. The arrival of light rail to Northgate in 2021 and East Link in 2023 will help a lot, but we can’t wait for then.

One area where we need to partner with King County is on solving the first and last mile problem, meaning the short distances that people need to travel to get to light rail or bus routes. King County Metro is experimenting with an innovate program to bring more residents to light rail. If that is successful, I’d like to work with King County to expand it into Seattle.

The additional bus service approved by Seattle voters in 2014, for 2015 through 2020, must be renewed. If not renewed, we face a precipitous reduction in bus service in 2020. This is funding critically needed for Rapid Ride bus routes.

We should survey drivers why they have decided to drive rather than take public transportation. If responses reflect an area where public transportation is inaccessible or unreliable, then the City should work with King County to improve public transportation access to that area. I would also recommend having government service branches in neighborhoods rather than concentrating all services to just downtown. This would not only allow greater accessibility to government services, but also alleviate car congestion in downtown.


Zachary DeWolf

The downtown area is a hub of activity for all sorts of commuters – motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists – and we need to prioritize the safety and accessibility of all. For me, this means continuing to promote alternative means of transit – especially by increasing our availability of protected bike lanes throughout downtown, and availability of bike storage. Well-maintained sidewalks with ADA compliant curb ramps are critical for our pedestrians. Additionally, we must work closely with SDOT as our public transit system continues to grow. I would like to see us also more deeply integrate our schools into our neighborhoods – this can be accomplished by ensuring that public bus schedules take into account school class schedules when making their schedules, so that teachers and school staff can better utilize our public transit.

This is also relevant to our affordability crisis, as more and more people are finding it impossible to live where they work. Many who work in the downtown area are being pushed further and further out of the city to find housing. We need to be sure that people are able to live within reasonable distance of their workplace.


Pat Murakami

We need to increase our mass transit services in the downtown corridor. I would like to see better parking availability on the borders of downtown, combined with frequent bus service through the corridor. I would like the city or county to own and operate electric scooters (with baskets for shopping bags, etc.) that remain in the downtown corridor, with proper parking spots so they don’t obstruct our sidewalks. The scooters should be allowed to operate in our existing and potentially new bike lanes. A properly operated scooter program could be a source of revenue of the city or county and serve to move people effectively. (San Diego has a great scooter program.)

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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Logan Bowers

Commerce, entertainment, and amenities are key to activating public space. It’s entirely predictable that the Pike Place Market is the most crowded public area in city since it has a high density of all three of these things. I strongly support alliances with private private providers of services to make public areas useful and compelling spaces for the residents of the city and tourists who visit.


Egan Orion

Whenever we can activate public spaces, we make them safer and utilize those spaces to their maximum benefit. Whether through public/private partnership or through city employees serving as hosts in those parks, the public seeing these hubs of civic life as safe and inviting makes city living better for all of us.


Ami Nguyen

This program has really enhanced the experience of being downtown. This form of Public and Private partnerships is beneficial for the community and I’d look to expand it. We would need to ensure that access and use of the parks are non-discriminatory and equitable.


Zachary DeWolf

I am such a fan of activating public spaces for public good. It’s also a great strategy to bring life to areas—and preventing and reducing crime. I also believe that municipal government officials need to be creative in both our solutions and our revenue streams – a public-private partnership is a perfect opportunity to explore both of these opportunities. Frankly, we need to be partnering with people who share the city’s values of providing a positive and meaningful quality of life to our citizens. And as someone who has been supportive, particularly as an early endorser of the “Community Package” and the Lid I-5 folks, I would love to see the city supporting more of these opportunities, however, I would be interested in working more closely to design these spaces with women, young families, and people with disabilities in mind.


Pat Murakami

I think these public/private partnerships are great. They save the city from having to fully staff these parks, and the parks are more engaging than they would be without DSA’s involvement. As long as ownership of the property remains in the hands of the city, I am fully supportive of more such public/private partnerships.

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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Logan Bowers

As a small business owner myself, I am no stranger to the sometimes byzantine maze we must navigate simply to get a permit or pay our taxes. We were also subject to a “surprise” $2000 increase in the cost of our business license that the council passed in the dead of night without telling anyone. We first heard of it in an email on December 30th, two days before it went into effect. The antipathy of the city towards businesses  is something I also experience firsthand and is unacceptable.

One of my four key values is “Transparency and Accountability,” and to me that means that the residents of the city have the right to weigh in on city policy before it is enacted. A council that is governing responsibly should not need to spring tax increases or regulatory burdens on the community without discussion and balance.

The council has also consistently failed to prioritize efficiency within the departments. For example businesses that apply for permits at SDCI, face long wait times and unacceptably high costs. Residents of the city ultimately pay these costs, and inefficiency this hurts us all.


Egan Orion

We need to do a better job connecting with all major stakeholders. We can’t ensure everyone will come to the table, but we need to make sure everyone has a seat. Seattle can continue to be a great place for workers and businesses alike—there’s no reason both can’t thrive. This shouldn’t be a zero sum game—Seattle can pursue policies that ensure our challenges are being addressed without making one side out to be a loser. I’ll listen to the needs of new and existing businesses, work to address their needs, and will help create compromises that ultimately put us all ahead.


Ami Nguyen

I would sit down with representatives from each group privately to learn about their concerns, and then meet as a larger group with each stakeholder in the room. This would allow me and the other eight Council Members to understand how we can provide the smoothest transition for employers and employees into new policies.


Zachary DeWolf

First, we need to talk to small business owners and quit conflating large corporations with small businesses. Nearly 90% of businesses in the Seattle region are small businesses. We know that for many people of color, queer folks, immigrants, starting your own business can be very hard. We’ve got to ensure we’re supporting more representative businesses that come from many different communities. Plus, the city should have a positive working relationship with small and large businesses to illicit ideas, feedback, and identify places where there are burdens and ways that businesses can provide more support. My priority if elected will be to foster these positive working relationships, and to actually listen to our small business community in what they need to thrive. Then, we should expand the great work that’s already happening, such as the OED tenant improvement support for smaller businesses, free education for new and just beginning business owners about taxes and running a small business, and working with developers to translate the needs of small businesses into their commercial development, such as ensuring the commercial space isn’t too big for new small businesses. They did this in the International District and we continue being a voice for our smaller businesses in this regard.


Pat Murakami

I own a business. I understand the strain on businesses as I have IT clients in just about every industry in the area. I know some business owners work to pay their staff and take little or nothing themselves. I know other business owners that have taken out loans to make payroll or pay taxes. I also believe the past six years have resulted in a lot of new taxes and regulations impacting employers. Several of my clients have chosen to leave Seattle or close their businesses altogether because of the new taxes and regulations.

First, I promise to never vote for a new tax until we have taken an in-depth look at our current bloated city budget to determine how we can reduce spending and/or produce better results from the budget. Our city budget has increased by $2 billion since 2012, but does Seattle look or operate better today than it did 7 years ago?

Second, I promise to bring the genuine voices to the table that would be impacted by any new legislation – not the pre-arranged ‘yes’ folks that agree with the City Council to ensure their continued funding – but the actual residents and businesses that would have to deal with the results of proposed legislation. As an example, businesses should have been brought to the table before the ill-fated Head Tax was voted for by the City Council. I will work with businesses to phase in changes in a way that works for everyone. I will always have an appreciation for the impact new taxes and regulations have on all employers in Seattle and the region.

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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Logan Bowers

As I noted in Question 4, we must find space for these 115,000 new workers and their families to live. That means ending the prohibition on duplexes, triplexes and other multifamily housing that the city disastrously embarked upon during the era of segregation and has reinforced ever since. As I noted in Question 7, we cannot allow inefficient and expensive permitting processes hold up the construction of the housing and infrastructure the city needs to serve these new neighbors.

We also need to be aggressively investing in transit capacity to bedroom communities outside the city limits. To the extent we cannot build enough housing for every last new worker in the city, we need to provide transit connections to nearby communities that can supply that housing. We could, for example, offer to subsidize bus service to an adjacent city using Transportation Benefit District funds concomitant with that city forming a new urban village or upzoning an existing one.

On permitting, my observation is that the council has never prioritized efficiency in the construction-related departments because they have a strong mentality that “developers deserve to pay,” without realizing that the money ultimately comes out of our wallets as the consumers in this city. I intend to reverse this backwards thinking and as part of my oversight role, ensure every department is focused on effectively facilitating the coming growth in this city.


Egan Orion

As a District 3 councilmember, I would advocate for a more distributed approach to building capacity. For example, on Capitol Hill we’ve had limited zoning options for office space in the Broadway corridor. Fortunately, the MHA Upzone legislation creates massive opportunity for us. I think by concentrating additional commercial growth around transit hubs would help to make all of our neighborhoods more prosperous. Additionally, I would take a look at existing zoning in places like Downtown and help streamline the impossibly opaque permitting systems to make sure they work efficiently so we can bring new development online faster.


Ami Nguyen

The recently passed MHA legislation is added zoning will allow the City to build an estimated 6,000 affordable units, in addition to 30,000 market rate units, over the next 10 years. This added development capacity will also support commercial development. I think it’s important that, before making more changes, we monitor the development that occurs in the early implementation of MHA and make changes based off our learned experience.

Finally, the long delays at the Department of Construction and Inspection (SDCI) is unacceptable to me.


Zachary DeWolf

In 1926, the Supreme Court of the United States, under the opinion of Justice Sutherland, wrote that apartment houses were a mere “parasite” and a “nuisance” to the neighborhood. I often think about how some of our residents’ current feelings about zoning are “otherizing” and stigmatizing to folks living in apartments. We’ve got de facto apartment bans in almost 65% of the city. I believe MHA was a great first step, we should be more bold and ambitious in our planning around development and zoning relief to allow more housing types, missing middle, and apartments/multi-family housing across more areas of the city. It’s going to take a lot of tough conversations with neighbors about change but change that we need in order to welcome in all of these new neighbors. Additionally, we should look to parking lots, surplus land the city owns, golf courses, and SODO (where we might be able to get creative about projects that look and feel similar to Portland’s Pearl District). Plus, we cannot overlook that zoning and apartment bans are having negative effects on our public schools-making them more segregated. And while what I’ve described affects residential zoning, I see potential for another green opportunity. We have 105 schools spread across this city, I would be interested in looking to these schools as future hubs, much like the organizing work we’ve done for transit-oriented development at light rail stations, for example. I was grateful to be a part of the Capitol Hill Champion to work on the community vision and values for the Capitol Hill station. We should be making our 105 public school hubs, as well. We could dedicate a certain amount of the zoning around our schools for upzone/affordable housing, small businesses and smaller non-profits, as well as senior centers, child care centers, and transportation hubs. More of our neighborhoods could be welcoming to smaller businesses and absorb some of the impact of adding more jobs in our city and provide economic impacts in more places across the district.


Pat Murakami

We need to charge developers impact fees as new development occurs, both residential and commercial. We must have adequate infrastructure to support the additional jobs and residents coming to Seattle – adequate transit, roadways, utilities, school capacity, first responders, etc. We need to ensure we have adequate resources to support the increase in population, such as an adequate fresh water supply.

It is vital to have a vision for Seattle’s future, 5, 10, 50 years from now, and to build and develop to meet that vision. The big vision, a coordinated plan for the future is lacking. I would work with my fellow Councilmembers to develop that vision, along with Seattle businesses and residents, then work with the appropriate city departments to deliver on that vision, ensuring we have the capacity to support the job and population growth.

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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Logan Bowers

I support BIAs as a critical tool in the toolbox to improve the quality of life for people who live and work in Seattle. I do not consider them a substitute for effective governance from the city.


Egan Orion

As a BIA director myself, I think establishing and growing BIAs is an incredibly effective way to make commercial zones work better, attract more customers, and stay vibrant. I have a lot of thoughts on this, but put simply, I think it’s a fair and consistently-funded business district mechanism, and the city should do all it should to encourage and support the BIAs in the city.


Ami Nguyen

BIAs have had a positive impact on Seattle. They are a great way for communities to have more autonomy over their space. It is important to set up systems to ensure that BIAs represent the local community rather than just a small, vocal group. This includes providing interpreters and translated materials.


Zachary DeWolf

I am supportive of these initiatives, and see them as a great opportunity for local neighborhoods to have a stake and a voice in developing their unique character, particularly the BIA’s in Capitol Hill and the Chinatown/International District neighborhoods. During my time on the Capitol Hill Community Council, we worked closely with then Executive Director Michael Wells on supporting BIA in our neighborhood and I appreciate that they can be a helpful tool in supporting hyper local community development.


Pat Murakami

Over the decades I’ve lived in Seattle, I’ve witnessed many business districts transform from lack-luster to thriving districts. I am in favor of BIAs setting priorities and goals for their own business districts, as no one knows the issues facing a business district better than the businesses located there. The city should do what it can to support the success of all businesses and to support the agendas of BIAs. I also prefer each community having its own flavor and character as opposed to every business hub being cookie cutter copy of the next business hub.

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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Logan Bowers

District 3’s top issues are largely the same issues facing the rest of the city: housing affordability, homelessness, transportation, public safety, and access to child care. The residents of the district do not believe their responsibility to their community ends at  the district boundary and as their representative, neither do I. As a district representative, I do consider it paramount that I be the subject matter expert on how the solutions to each of challenges the city faces apply to my district. For example, among SDOT projects, transit and bike paths will be much more important to District 3 whereas I expect sidewalk installation will likely be more important to District 5. My job will be to ensure that as the city implements programs and policies, the specifics and details match the needs unique to my district.


Egan Orion

I think there are two key areas where the needs of my district and the needs of downtown align. One is an advocate for constituents with regards to increased regulation and taxation of businesses (small businesses in particular). Second, are the issues that arise from homelessness in our neighborhoods. How can we keep business prosperous and successful, while also helping those living in Seattle who are either without shelter or on the verge of homelessness? Crafting a solution to these issues, and striking a balance between the two, will be essential for the new council.


Ami Nguyen

District representation is a great way for city-wide and district level issues to be addressed. District representation ensures that historically marginalized communities are more fairly represented. I see the needs of my District also as needs of Seattle as a whole. Balancing the issues would mean each Council Member is given the same opportunity to address their District’s issues as the other Districts.

Many of the residents of my district work downtown, and downtown pays the most taxes of any council district. Affordable housing and homelessness are top issues that are top issues facing District and downtown.

Solutions need to be shared equally throughout the city so that low-income and affordable housing is not concentrated in one neighborhood or District.

It would also be beneficial for District 3 and downtown to collaborate on opportunities for small businesses. Seattle should foster 24-hour neighborhoods between Capitol Hill/First Hill and Downtown. For now, Downtown is busy during business hours, but empty during the evening whereas Capitol Hill is busy during the evening, but much less lively during the daytime. It would be beneficial to have a mixture of businesses so that Capital Hill/First Hill and Downtown can be lively throughout the day.


Zachary DeWolf

I am deeply enmeshed in my community, and have been fighting for my Capitol Hill neighborhood since first moving there in 2012. I see the issues in my district as many that have been mentioned already – homelessness, affordability, and transit/accessibility. In addition to being motivated to run because of our homelessness crisis, I was also motivated to run because I have witnessed the massive displacement our Capitol Hill neighbors are facing – many are people of color, and many have lived here for generations. They are now being pushed out because they can’t afford to continue living in their homes. All of these issues are not just intertwined in my own district, but intertwined with the needs of the city as a whole.

I will balance this work much like I’ve been intentional about doing as a Director on the Seattle School Board. As a representative of the same geographic area as the City Council, I’ve had to be responsive and speak up for the schools in District 5, and I’ve made it a point to better understand how the system is working overall by visiting other schools, examining school specific programs, speaking to students/schools, focusing on student homelessness. All this to say, my understanding of public office has been finding that balance between the city as a whole and my district.

Homelessness is such a complex conversation. You have neighbors in Madrona who may see it less or from further away than First Hill and Capitol Hill see it and we have to thread the conversation by utilizing those with lived experience. Affordability is also a huge issue. We have 80% renters in Capitol Hill and other areas more single family—we know certain neighborhoods can include more housing types. Public safety is another issue. Many folks see issues of gun violence and harm towards our neighbors as nothing a few more cops couldn’t fix. But our problems—the deeper issues and unmet needs of many of our neighbors—can’t be solved by just having more cops. Income inequality continues to affect people. Our job as government is to work with whomever is willing and able on solutions to avoid ever making people feel they need more cops in their neighborhoods: we need to invest in youth programming all year round, and provide more meaningful support to victims of violence.


Pat Murakami

Though I am running for a district position, I will always vote for what is in the best interests of Seattle residents and businesses regardless of the district in question. I would never vote for a program to be placed in another district that I wouldn’t be willing to have located next door to my house or business.

The growth in downtown is bringing great prosperity to Seattle, so I will continue to support that prosperity and growth. But the prosperity isn’t always making its way to the districts. In District 3 we have many un- or under-employed young Black men. I would like to see a cooperative effort between employers, Seattle Public Schools and our local colleges and universities to produce the workforce required by the major employers in the region. I would like to see more economic opportunities for the residents of Seattle, which support and expand the prosperity to more:  funds to invest to minority-owned small businesses, development grants, training and apprenticeship opportunities, etc.

The more economic development and success we have in the districts, the more people who will have the disposable income to patronize the shops and restaurants of downtown Seattle.