Seattle City Council — District 6

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 6 Candidates

Additional Candidates

  • Kara Ceriello  /  No Response
  • Jeremy Cook  /  Declined to Participate
  • Sergio Garcia  /  No Response
  • Melissa Hall  /  No Response
  • Jon Lisbin  /  No Response
  • Joey Massa  /  No Response
  • Ed Potthurst  /  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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Heidi Wills

This question gets to the heart of why I’m running. As a working mom, a small business owner, and a former city councilmember who knows how to do this job, I can no longer sit on the sidelines when this city council alienates businesses and turns a blind eye to safety and public health concerns in our parks and in our business districts.

Where has our city been effective? I was doorbelling recently and I asked the first part of that question to a man who moved to Seattle from the East Coast a few years ago. I was surprised by his answer. He said that our city hauls away residents’ garbage regularly. I hadn’t thought about this. I suppose I take it for granted like most people. He said, “Yeah, it’s a big problem in other cities where I’ve lived. Garbage collectors go on strikes. The garbage backs up for weeks. People get mad at the mayor and city council.” In general, our city utilities can be counted on. The council also moved forward with MHA. That’s a start for allowing more housing supply. And thankfully they reversed their decision on the ill-advised head-tax instead of letting that go to the ballot box thereby saving money, time and countless headaches.

Our council has not been effective on many fronts, including focusing on basic functions of municipal government, prioritizing public safety, effectively addressing homelessness, engaging regional jurisdictions in common challenges (including addressing homelessness,) working constructively with the business community, and oversight over city departments. It could be more effective in communicating its goals and broader vision with the citizens it serves.


Jay Fathi

In recent years the City Council has been effective in advancing many important policies, from affordable housing and zoning changes to leadership on minimum wage and sick leave policies.

The Council (and City government generally) has been less effective in articulating and producing tangible plans to address the homelessness and mental health crises. Additionally, they haven’t been meeting many basic representative functions such as truly listening to and hearing their constituents, being transparent, and holding themselves accountable.


Dan Strauss

I came to work at the City Council just as Mayor Durkan was taking office. What I immediately recognized was the leadership Council provided during the transition between four mayors in quick succession. As almost all departments are executive departments there was a power vacuum created for many city employees. Council was successful at filling much of this vacuum and keeping projects and initiatives on track, and the city moving forward. Council stepping up and filling the office of the Mayor during this transition was successful.

There is room for improvement in the urgency to address the homelessness, housing, and public health crisis. We have studied this crisis and we have the roadmap to bringing people inside and off the streets so that we can appropriately address the symptoms of this crisis; property crime, physical security, and how we experience our civic spaces.


Terry Rice

The city is making progress on reducing our emissions to zero by 2050 and has made major improvements to pedestrian transportation infrastructure. The city is falling down on developing and implementing effective strategies to deal with public safety, homelessness and affordability for families and small businesses. The City Council continues to support policies that tackle the symptoms of our biggest problems while failing to do the hard work of addressing the underlying causes.


Kate Martin

Wasn’t it Thumper who said “If you don’t have anything good to say, then don’t say anything at all”? But you asked, so I will.

I have not found the current City Council to be particularly effective and that is why I’m running. In my district, the current elected never transitioned from being an at-large member to a district representative. We’ve essentially been without a voice on the council.

According to the City’s website, “The Seattle City Council establishes City policy through enactment of ordinances (laws) and adoption of resolutions. The City Council also approves and adopts the City’s budget.”

Wikipedia says the council “has the sole responsibility of approving the city’s budget, and develops laws and policies intended to promote the health and safety of Seattle’s residents. The Council passes all legislation related to the city’s police, firefighting, parks, libraries, and electricity, water supply, solid waste, and drainage utilities.

The dictionary says that policy is the principles, often unwritten, on which social laws are based.

I think it would be particularly useful for the council to actually state what the policies are rather than have us guess what they are via ordinances and resolutions.

I would emphatically argue that our policies aren’t, in many ways, promoting the health and safety of Seattle’s residents for instance.

As an elected, I intend to consistently summarize the council’s policy positions on issues (as stated or implied by ordinances and resolutions) in a sentence or two so we can navigate from there to more effective policy positions in cases where the policy is unstated, unclear, ineffective, or outdated.

The elected council positions are non-partisan, but the council is quite partisan and ideological which contributes to the ineffectiveness and doesn’t make for great policy or legislation. It would be better if the councilmembers had a broader base of content knowledge themselves, understood their opponents’ arguments, and relied less on their aides, central staff, special interests, and partisan political rhetoric. Less politics, more policy is one of my themes. Interestingly, out on the campaign trail, voters have no idea what policy even means. (For the most part, they also have no idea what legislative districts are.) I tell them policy is the general basis from which the council makes decisions and forms legislation and resolutions.

With this opportunity to potentially realize district representation, we could see change and compose a more effective council. However, with the 2 at-large positions that seemingly represent no one and 3 incumbents running for re-election, they could have 5 votes and things could stay the same, so it may take the 2021 election to disrupt that. Meanwhile, perhaps we should reconsider whether the at-large positions make sense since they seem to function more as lobbyists than electeds which was often the case when we had all 9 at-large representatives which is why we switched to districts.


John Peeples

Good: SODO arena street vacation – correct vote. Twenty mile-per-hour speed limit on residential streets – correct vote. Passing budgets.

Bad: Tying the hands of law enforcement on criminal activity among the homeless, open-air drug users, open-air mentally ill. Creating an environment of enabling and threatening to enable worse. Us vs. them mentality with transit/cars and people/police and businesses in general/others.

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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Heidi Wills

Yes, I have read the “System Failure Report” which illuminated a real problem with keeping our communities safe from prolific offenders. People who commit crimes, including shoplifting, assault and arson, need to be prosecuted and held accountable. The city council needs to prioritize public safety by not only by working collaboratively with other councilmembers, especially during budget season, but also by expressing support for the police department. Support matters: at the dais, with the media, directly to police officers themselves, and to the broader community. It is counterproductive to have anti-police rhetoric coming from our city council. If an officer makes a wrong call with use of force or racial bias, there’s a system in place to deal with it. But outside of that, how about assuming our police officers are striving to do their best in their challenging and demanding jobs? Too often councilmembers express criticism and cynicism of the whole department without showing appreciation for the challenging work these individual men and women do to protect our community. The council needs to support our police to do their jobs and make arrests in order to keep our communities and business districts safe from criminal activity. It means being active and engaged on the issues of public safety, talking with business owners, police officers and other first responders about what they are seeing on our streets. I feel that our city council is seriously out of touch with the needs and concerns of business owners and residents in my district.

It’s not only an issue with making arrests for repeat offenders. It’s a matter of certainty with prosecution. If there is little consequence for illegal activity, there is nothing to curb problematic behavior in our streets. It’s demoralizing to officers that put their lives on the line to make arrests of bad characters and the cases don’t go anywhere. Misdemeanors matter as an accurate accounting of a person’s criminal history. Public safety is more than a core function of city government, it is a charter service. The “Pre-summer Emphasis Program” is a step in the right direction in providing a greater police presence to fix streetlights, remove graffiti, trim trees and make our business districts and neighborhoods safer. We have a relatively small police force compared to other cities. In fact, New York City has twice as many police officers per capita as we do. And as it is, our department has a significant number of vacancies which is stretching our department too thin. We should talk about that as a community. Why is it challenging to attract and retain police officers in Seattle? The city should create a “high impact offender unit” in the City Attorney’s Office. This special unit would handle cases against “high impact offenders” as defined by the seriousness and number of prior offenses. Prioritizing these cases will increase the likelihood of conviction and act as a deterrence of both the offender and others. Seattle should create a “Drug Court” like King County’s Superior Court. There is a “Mental Health Court” but not a drug court even though there is a likelihood that there are more addicted than mentally ill defendants. If everyday people knew that we have effectively decriminalized heroine in quantities between 1– 3 grams, they’d question the trajectory we’re on as a city and region. The criminal justice system should be a source for providing intervention and treatment resources to prolific shoplifters, vehicle prowlers and others who are feeding their drug abuse disorder by wreaking havoc in our neighborhoods and business districts.


Jay Fathi

Yes, I have read the report. There currently appears to be a “hands-off” approach to some of the illegal behaviors occurring downtown, and across the city. This is not only unsustainable for a multitude of reasons, but it is also unhealthy for our city. Let’s be very clear: criminal behavior that threatens or harms others is not acceptable, and we must focus on violent and repeat offenders. The Council must partner with the City Attorney, the appropriate County agencies, and other community stakeholders to move away from what is seemingly a state of paralysis around this issue.

When prolific offenders participate in repeated criminal activity, without intervention, we are then failing the victims of crime, local residents and business owners, and the offenders themselves. We must find ways to allow our justice system to fairly address these individuals, including offering and securing intense mental health and addiction treatment when needed, while also protecting our neighborhoods from continuing criminal behavior. I will work with my colleagues and others to develop and implement workable solutions rather than accept the status quo on this issue, which as stated is unsustainable.


Dan Strauss

Working with DSA on the activation of 3rd Avenue I know the successes and challenges in front of us. Bringing Piroshky Piroshky’s take-away window to 3rd Avenue demonstrates the ability for business to be successful when their front door faces onto 3rd Avenue instead of an adjacent street. Many businesses have historically chosen to place their front door on an adjacent street because of the state of 3rd Avenue.

We have seen Belltown change from being an open-air drug market to a much more welcoming neighborhood as well. We need to continue to work with property owners to provide them support and make sure they know they have options other than to lease with businesses that contribute to the problems we see on 3rd Avenue. Many independent building owners do not always know their options.

Regarding the prolific offenders’ report, we know that putting a person in a jail cell without rehabilitative services will exacerbate the issues they are experiencing once they are released. I will fight for additional mental health resources, bed spaces in King County, and the expansion of diversion programs such as the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program. Of the hundreds of individuals in the LEAD program, less than 10 were identified in the prolific offenders’ report. This demonstrates the effectiveness of LEAD and other diversion programs.


Terry Rice

“The criteria Lindsay used for his list are similar to those used in King County’s Familiar Faces initiative, which, in 2014, identified 1,252 people with four or more annual bookings (94 percent of them with a substance use disorder or behavioral health issue, or both), except that Lindsay chose to zero in specifically on frequent offenders who are homeless, which Familiar Faces does not. Just 58 percent of the people on the 2013 Familiar Faces list had indicators that they were homeless. By hand-picking a list of offenders who are homeless (and by choosing to highlight the stories of mostly people who moved to Seattle from elsewhere), Lindsay’s report feeds into the common, but unsupported, belief that most people who commit property crimes are homeless and that homeless people from across the country come to Seattle to mooch off the city’s generosity.” Erica C. Barnett


Kate Martin

Yes, I read the report.

It seems that the electeds have gone on the defense and deny reality when they discount reports like you commissioned, the “Seattle is Dying” KOMO video, and more. PR firms and political consultants are brought in to do damage control instead of these things prompting the electeds to fix the situation.

When Pete Holmes and Bob Ferguson sued the opioid manufacturer, they said that 80% of the homeless were addicted. Here’s what they said on page 8:

  1. Seattle has seen its homeless population swell, with 4,505 living without shelter in the city and other select areas of King County in 2016 – a 19% increase over 2015. Researchers estimate that over 50% of people with opioid addictions in Seattle are homeless and Seattle’s Navigation Team – composed of outreach workers and police officers specially trained to interface with the homeless population – estimates that 80% of the homeless individuals they encounter in challenging encampments have substance abuse disorders.

Then in other circles, the homelessness is not referenced as an addiction problem, but a housing affordability problem.

I favor law and order. I also want to help people recover their lives. Restorative justice and diversion theoretically make sense to me, but currently there is no funding to make them work or those ideas are inadequately rolled out in the criminal justice system. We can’t release dangerous people to the streets. We need to invest in their recovery from the criminal life where possible or keep them away from the public when that’s not possible. Education and therapy opportunities in the jails is key.

We can’t decriminalize possession of up to 3 grams of drugs and not expect a bunch of users and dealers to start calling Seattle home. Users often rob or sell their bodies to get their next fix. Methamphetamine users become psychotic and violent. We can’t ignore mental illness which when layered with addiction is even more problematic because it’s not safe and public health and safety is supposed to be a basic government function.

I’m fine if Seattle can become an epicenter for recovery from mental illness and addiction, but I’m not fine for us to be an epicenter for perpetuating illness and addiction. Everyone should have the right to recover and regain a productive position in their families and communities, but that needs to be presented as the option, not an option.

The policy direction I favor is to restore law and order including eliminating the disorder of public camping. I’m very interested in prevention upstream.

Here’s the draft policy statement I’m working on:

The City of Seattle (and in turn the county, region, state, and nation) will solve the cycles of poverty, crime, addiction, and homelessness by spending progressively more amounts of money upstream and less money downstream on strategic, geographically distributed prevention and intervention solutions so that occurrences of poverty, crime, and homelessness become rare and brief.

This is how the budgeted investments could shift from reactive interventions to prevention and proactive interventions:

Budget Cycle (biennium) % of Budget for Upstream Investments % of Budget for Downstream

Investments

current 0 100
2022 20 80
2024 40 60
2026 60 40
2028 80 20
2030 90 10

I’m a professional planner, with over 30 years of experience creating win-wins, so you can expect me to take a planner’s approach. I’ll gather information, analyze it, and synthesize it into proposed resolutions and legislation that solves problems and brings people together on the same page.

I’ll be looking for bright spots that we can emulate, rather than reinventing the wheel, when possible. I’ll review budgets and implementation results regularly in order to sunset what is not working and amplify what is. I often think that zero-balance budgeting would be helpful. I recall that Jenny Durkan said she would pursue that, but then she didn’t. We always add money, but don’t evaluate adequately what should no longer be funded. More auditing staff could help.


John Peeples

I have only read the summaries of System Failure. It is my expectation that by the time I visit DSA for an interview I will have read the entire report. However, I did hear the news reports. Report read or not, it is clear that the current city attorney, mayor, and city council have combined in their neglect of their charter duties to provide for a safe downtown (and city-wide, at-large) environment.

As a member of the city council, I would advocate for and insist upon a policy of increased jail time for those top 100 repeat offenders who re-offend who do not mental health or substance abuse problems. It would be an integral part of my policy to divert each mentally ill and/or substance abusing offender directly to appropriate treatment. For those who are not competent to make that decision for themselves, it is the humane policy for the state (ie the city) to make that decision for them. Police contact in response to criminal activity is an entirely legitimate entry to treatment for those who need it.

By increasing the consequences for the purely criminal element among the 100 we CAN reduce their poor behavior. A part of the plan for the 100 is to emphasize correct therapy that includes counseling while incarcerated.

I will sit down and ‘talk it out’ with every one of my city council colleagues. The goal would be to understand the thinking of each and every one of them and help them see clearly which of their current policies are not working and invite them to support the new approaches that I propose above. I might even learn something new, too.

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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Heidi Wills

Seattle acts too often in a silo. We need city leaders who will collaborate with state and regional jurisdictions on a coordinated regional approach because homelessness doesn’t end at our city borders and because our city doesn’t have the funding capacity to solve it, especially with regards to needed mental health services. We need more shelters, transitional housing and wrap-around services, including drug treatment on-demand, with a dire need for more case workers.

In the short-term, the city can no longer condone people sleeping in tents in our parks and open spaces. It is not compassionate to allow people to continue to live in such deplorable conditions. It is unsafe and unhygienic. This is a public health issue for people in tents and for our broader community which merits stronger urgency to solve. We are serving no one’s best interests with the status quo. Because of the 9th District Court Ruling and because of common sense and decency, people need somewhere to sleep that has hygiene facilities. Until we have enough shelter beds, I favor immediate short-term housing such as modular housing, container housing, and/or FEMA-style emergency tents with running water and toilet facilities, private lockers for personal storage, and case workers to assist people on their continuum towards self-sufficiency. In the long-term, we need more permanent supportive housing with wrap-around services. I would work with the private sector in a collaborative way to help fund more permanent supportive housing. Premera, Providence and Swedish showed the way by each donating $5M to Plymouth Housing. We need more of this.

To build trust with the electorate, there must be more transparency and accountability on how current funds are being spent and what taxpayers are getting for their dollars. What’s working and what’s not? Why would more funds be needed and what would they go toward? Our system now is too fragmented and there is duplicative services. In order to be financially and programmatically successful, we must coordinate services. A regional entity is best suited for this.

Seattle should look to best practices in other communities around the country. There are good examples of other cities managing homelessness and providing a continuum of care better than we are. San Antonio’s Haven for Hope is one such example.


Jay Fathi

As one of my longtime proud-Seattle friends stated recently, “when it comes to homelessness, it feels like we’re failing.” And as I canvass across my district, this is the number one issue I hear from residents. The path to homelessness is usually long, often involving a history of child or domestic abuse, trauma, inadequate treatment for mental health problems, lack of strong family or support systems, addiction, job loss, unaffordable housing, and poverty. These are common and interrelated contributors to homelessness. Because this is a complex crisis, it requires intentional interventions, at multiple levels, over time, for us to make headway. The City must do a better job taking a leadership role in addressing this crisis while fostering community-wide solutions that include business, community, neighborhood, faith-based and veterans groups, and other social service organizations. We cannot have an “us vs them” mentality, and we can’t say it’s just “up to the city” to address the underlying causes of homelessness. It will take honest dialogue, financial investments, utilizing actual data, and real partnerships to make improvements.

There are currently multiple city agencies, County programs, and contracted community organizations, working on this crisis. Yet our own City Auditor indicates there are gaps, opportunities, and that we should be studying and learning from practices in other cities and jurisdictions. The City should be coordinating and organizing our regional efforts across the coalition of stakeholders that includes agencies, service providers, businesses, and residents. One of the most immediate approaches I’d lead on is making more stable, permanent, and supportive housing available for the chronically homeless on our streets, many with mental health or addiction challenges. Research and our direct experience show that the most cost-effective and sensible approach is to provide permanent supportive housing, like that provided by Plymouth Housing and DESC.

Additionally, the City must get creative to lower costs for building more supportive housing. For example, the city government should consider waiving building permit fees, expediting siting decisions, and persuading the state legislature to waive the sales tax on new construction for facilities serving the chronically homeless. These simple steps could erase millions of dollars in costs and get this specialty housing built faster.

As a lifelong family physician in Seattle who has focused primarily on serving homeless and marginalized populations, and as a business and community leader, I look forward to bringing effective, collaborative, and healthy leadership to our City Council around this critical problem. It is our moral obligation to improve our efforts around the unsheltered in Seattle.


Dan Strauss

We have done the studies and have the roadmap to address the homelessness, housing, and public health crisis. I will not fund additional studies to tell us what we already know, and I will fight to fund implementation tied to outcome-based measurement with regular public reporting.

The Council’s role is to work with the Executive in her implementation of the solutions and to partner with King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties to address this crisis on a regional level. We can’t wait any longer and need to lead our regional partners today.


Terry Rice

The first thing that we need to do is increase funding to upstream diversion programs. We are rehousing people, but more people continue to become displaced due to many factors including the rising cost of rents in the city. We must also build more low-income and middle income housing and low-income housing with wrap around services for people who have severe and chronic mental illness and/or severe and chronic addiction problems.


Kate Martin

Our region’s response to homelessness is disjointed and embarrassing. If the head tax debacle hadn’t happened, the electeds might still be thinking their failed response is fine. Even now, their theory of change flow chart for solving it at the bureaucracy end is worrisome.

Homelessness is a symptom. The rate of homelessness nationally today is about 1% of our population or roughly 3 million people. Our region reflects that statistic. Worth noting is that 6 million Americans have bi-polar disorder and 3 million Americans have schizophrenia. Both of those disorders are often layered with addiction. 1 or 2 out of 10 people that use drugs (including alcohol) are at risk of serious addiction for both genetic and environmental reasons that we don’t fully understand yet. I would conclude from these statistics that our response should be at a 1% of population scale at this point.

While we’re still trying to understand it all and hopefully head upstream with the solutions, we have to provide supportive housing for the homeless. That might mean after they’re released from prison, jail, or psych facilities to the point where they are not a danger to society or themselves. Active addicts need to be incentivized to choose recovery in order to get more freedom and supportive housing. The housing cannot be overnight shelters, tiny houses, tents, or RVs, but instead permanent supportive housing. Some will be able to transition out and some won’t, depending on their afflictions.

That supportive housing must be geographically distributed across rural, suburban and urban areas in ratio with the populations. Right now, Seattle has over 70% of the unhoused population in King County, but only has 1/3 of King County’s population. Other jurisdictions are not providing services and facilities in ratio with their populations.

Interestingly, when I asked Jeanne Kohl-Welles what the rest of King County was doing, she didn’t know. Three months later, she still doesn’t know. Dow doesn’t know either. They haven’t been keeping track. Jeanne said that since Seattle is the seat of King County government, it makes sense that we have all those services and facilities downtown, but I don’t think that makes sense at all. For instance, if needle exchanges are the solution – which of course they’re great at stemming the spread of communicable diseases – then all of the county should have them. We need an HQ2, not more concentration of services and facilities in Seattle, especially not downtown. There should be a moratorium on that location. Claudia Balducci said that they don’t want their own Pioneer Square over in East King County. I would argue that I don’t want it either, so what else are they doing? Nothing it turns out.

With 1% of the nation homeless, then every jurisdiction must be participating in the solution. Seattle has 2500 supportive housing units. We probably need another 5,000 and King County probably needs 13,000 units. Within Seattle, each City Council District has 100,000 residents. To me, that means that each district needs 1,000 units of supportive housing. Opting out can’t be an option. We have to all in.

This problem will not be solved downstream alone. When we shift our focus to upstream on this issue, we’ll need a lot fewer supportive housing units downstream.

That said, we’ll need to establish some kind of humane recovery villages to transition folks from homelessness. Those need to be geographically distributed, too. We need to find out who everyone is, what their obstacles are, and triage them to the support they need. The criminals need to be sifted out and dealt with separately in secure facilities. The mentally ill and addicted need to be supported to recover their lives to the maximum extent possible and we definitely need more small community-based residential psych facilities. Additionally, incarceration doesn’t need to be a concrete cell where a life is wasted away, it can be a recovery and life restoration process. We have to be bold in our aspirations and the funding of the solutions. That likely means redistributing the funding pies to much more effective programs.


John Peeples

In my estimation, the city should: 1) advocate for prevention; 2) quickly meet the immediate needs of each and every community member who ‘falls down;’ and 3) ensure that those who have ‘fallen down’ get back on the road to reestablishing their dignity and self-sufficiency.

In a truly well-functioning civic environment, homelessness should rare, brief, and one-time. The shame, degradation, humiliation, and embarrassment should be enough to ensure that personal behavior is changed to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. The shame, degradation, humiliation, and embarrassment are, indeed, humane and compassionate. To buffer people from these feelings and emotions is to deny them the human dignity and strength to prevent its recurrence.

By prevention, the city can remove barriers to developers so that building low-income, inexpensive housing is once again economically feasible. This will relieve demand and price pressure on existing housing stock. Further, it is entirely within the duty of the city to advocate for lifestyle choices that reduce housing costs – finding roommates and housemates, reducing non-housing personal expense, personal/household budgeting, seeking higher-paying work, moving to lower-cost housing, and simply asking for a reduction in price of housing. These measures work. And, they result in individuals and their families realizing the dignity of choosing a path to a higher bottom line. Not a single one of us is owed government/public financed lifestyles that are unsustainable. As a member of the Seattle city council, I will be vocal about that.

Quickly meeting the immediate news of each homeless person means offering them a clean and safe public triage center where qualified professionals can render appropriate care and services. The housing arrangement would be partly communal and partly private – community food/kitchen and laundry – private (with roommates) room and shower. This arrangement would be temporary. The homeless do need to be pointed by the state toward permanent housing, dignity, and self-sufficiency.

Getting the recently homeless back on the road to dignity, permanent housing, and self-sufficiency means incentivizing employment, life skills instruction, fostering community among those temporarily housed as noted above. Having a community and developing relationships improves anyone’s chances of staying out of homelessness.

I generally advocate for a more hands-off approach, even with the city council, the government body closest to the people. However, when people break and fall down for whatever reason, it behooves the state to take action to restore (NOT store) each down-and-outer to the community standard of dignity and self-sufficient, contributing citizenship. The current city council and some non-for-profits have failed spectacularly in accomplishing this. For all our money they’ve spent on this problem, it just keeps getting worse.

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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Heidi Wills

We need more housing of all shapes and sizes to welcome more people into our neighborhoods to be closer to where they work. Ideal places to live are walkable, close to transit, near schools and jobs and parks and places to eat, play and shop. We must integrate more housing types into our single-family zones such as ADUs, duplexes, triplexes and rowhouses to address the real need for housing for people of all incomes. We need to increase densities where we have the transportation, schools, parks, and other amenities to support those residents. I realize that this will take considerable effort because frustration over zoning changes runs deep in my district. Real listening and conversations with people who care about the context and character of their neighborhoods will help. Districting of the city council will necessitate this kind of empowerment of the residents in our community. I am prepared to facilitate meaningful conversations about how we incorporate more housing types into the existing fabric of our neighborhoods.


Jay Fathi

Seattle must continue to modify its zoning regulations and improve density; with the continued massive influx of new residents and population growth, this is absolutely critical. I will work with neighborhoods, housing advocates, developers, and other expert individuals and organizations to continue to develop policies that will expand the availability of affordable housing.

MHA was an important step, but this impacted only 6% of Seattle. It is additionally concerning that apartments built in some upzoned areas will be using expensive materials and passing those expenses on to future renters, making them unaffordable for many low and middle-class renters. By spreading out the zoning changes in residential areas, we can be considerate of communities’ wishes to cap building heights and preserve historical and cultural community spaces. We can then zone more areas to encourage duplexes and attached and detached accessory dwelling units. These units will be more accessible for low and middle-class earners, and have the additional benefit of putting rental revenues back into the hands of local families.

We need to make room for the new workers and families moving to Seattle, but we risk pushing out longtime residents, particularly low-income and communities of color who are being priced out of the areas where they have lived and worked for entire generations. As Seattleites making higher wages buy homes and rent spaces, prices go up and often our communities of color and the underserved are disproportionately pushed further and further away from the City. Our housing crisis requires all hands on deck, and that includes local communities ready to step up and make their neighborhoods more accessible for low and middle-class earners — and for some areas, this may very well be the first time they are zoned in a non-exclusionary way.

I’d also like to explore the City’s Multifamily Tax Exemption (MFTE) Program, which gives tax exemptions to apartment buildings that are reserving 20-25% of their homes for income and rent-restricted folk. Unfortunately, I’ve heard firsthand from workers in Seattle trying to access these apartments that the rental prices are still so significantly high that these middle-class employees don’t make enough money to qualify to rent the apartment at the discounted rate. And finding these MFTE apartments can be a difficult undertaking as well, as there isn’t a central database, and the reward is only a small decrease in monthly rent. We must continue to work on refining this program, and ensuring that it is indeed producing results which are solving the problems it was initially designed to address.


Dan Strauss

We need to incentivize the building of and expand the amount of verified-income housing that we have in our city to ensure people can afford to live in our city, with the income they earn. With Mandatory Housing Affordability, we need to ensure that when in-lieu fees are generated that they build housing in the zip codes that they were generated from.


Terry Rice

I would work to fulfilling the promise of the HALA and ensure the passage of the current ADU/DADU proposals to bring an immediate supply of low-income housing to the market. I also support expanding the urban villages to increase density around transit hubs and finally use public lands to develop public housing.


Kate Martin

Lack of affordable housing is a huge reason for my decision to run for City Council. I think we should be developing affordable housing options in proportion to the various income groups we have. I also think we should move toward much more ownership – across all income brackets – and less renting. I consider ownership the ultimate and best form of rent control.

We’re just not developing the right carrots to incentivize the building of affordable housing.

I’m certain we can create all the affordable housing we need if we did that right. The strategies our city has adopted are not going to get the job done. MHA will accomplish almost nothing. All the HALA rezoning / MHA requirements will yield is 10 pseudo-affordable units per urban village per year over 20 years and they won’t be geographically distributed. 6000 units over 20 years is useless. The legislation the council is about to consider to change the Accessory Dwelling Unit legislation threatens to make things even worse. We do need a few tweaks of that – and I was a prime proponent of backyard cottages 10 years ago and design them in my work – but we don’t need to eliminate ownership requirements. Owners who occupy their houses tend to offer the cheapest rents to tenants.

I propose that we rebrand and rename Single Family neighborhoods to Sustainable Families and Groups because it seems we have all the single-occupant housing we need. Sustainable Families and Groups zoning could maintain the 35% lot coverage, but offer incentive programs for people to redevelop their owner-occupied property or their current house to the 35’ limit to the peak of the roof, so more people could live in the house. I live like this. I rebuilt my house from a rambler to a 3 story and we have the maximum allowed 8 people living here very comfortably, spaciously, and affordably in shared space.

If we incentivized some of this kind of development in the Sustainable Families and Groups zoned area with zero-interest loans to owner-occupant developers, we could have a competitive process to develop one house with a concept like mine in every legislative precinct. In District 6 where I am, there are about 150 little legislative precincts with about 200 lots in each of them. You wouldn’t even notice the change. That would produce housing for well over 1000 people x 7 districts = affordable housing for 7000 people. We could achieve that in a couple of years. When we needed more, we could have another round of competition. The possibilities are huge.

We could also promote the building of these kinds of houses as co-ops where people form a corporation and they all own shares in the property where they live. This would be very affordable and would have very positive impacts on our neighborhoods and business districts with more long-term residents with roots.

Also, I asked my neighbors if I offered them a zero-interest loan to tear down their dilapidated garages and rebuild them with carriage houses above would they do it? They said yes.

Yes, we need new ideas for affordable housing, and I have them.


John Peeples

First, audit every provision of our city’s building codes, contracting rules, and zoning provisions to identify any and all barriers to building the widest variety of housing. I’m a bit perplexed that the city would continue to pursue schemes such as MHA with complicated rules that only increase costs for the builders/developers. Second, disseminate information about personal finances that should be common knowledge, but, sadly are not. As a member of the city council, I will be vocal about the personal power each citizen and/or resident has to choose financial resiliency and stability independent of government. Third, current zoning needs a clean up to achieve greater simplicity so that concentrates new building at transit hubs and routes while leaving our cherished single-family housing inventory as is. Lastly, I would work with anyone willing to sit down with me – builders, developers, municipal experts, housing advocates, and other even merely curious who may very well have an idea that unlocks this knot. As I learn more from those more experienced and wise than I, I will build out a model of housing costs that shows the upward and downward pressures. (I am an engineer after all.)  I will share this model on my city webpage so that everyone can see the factors that influence the cost of housing and the actions the city council can take to relieve pressure on the market. The current zoning and MHA, HALA, contracting rules, and building codes all just seem to me to combine to push up the cost of housing.

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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Heidi Wills

It’s a balance of interests as a truly multi-modal city. With limited road space, we absolutely need to prioritize public transit, not just through downtown, but throughout Seattle in order to access downtown. We need to ensure that cyclists and pedestrians have safe facilities.

To make public transit a viable option for those not already using it, we need to solve the first mile/ last mile to access it. Beyond car-sharing and bicycle-sharing, an idea to improve mobility which is non-polluting is electric scooters. I’m glad the city is interested in a pilot project. In the cities where they are allowed, they are extremely popular. I had the opportunity to use them in L.A. They would not only lower our carbon footprint, at the same time, they’d offer a new low-cost and convenient transportation option. Of course, safety is an issue, so we need to encourage helmet use. Scooters shouldn’t be allowed on our sidewalks to interfere with pedestrians, so they’d be used on our streets and in our bicycle lanes. We also need corrals for docking so we don’t clutter our pedestrian right-of-ways. As more people use scooters and bicycles, hopefully, fewer people will drive.

We are likely too early to consider congestion pricing until our regional transportation network is more robust. Once it is, it’s worth considering. It will no-doubt be controversial at the beginning, just like the U-Pass was at the UW when I advocated for that as student body president in 1990-91. Now it’s replicated all over the country. In time, we may come to embrace congestion pricing. To address equity concerns, why not implement a sliding scale for commuters based on income and type of driver with different structures for freight, delivery vehicles, work vehicles, carpools, and standard commuters. And perhaps only charge for peak times? If drivers utilize a “Good-To-Go” pass, it enables us to introduce a sliding scale payment structure. Seattle needs to move forward carefully. We don’t want to discourage people from coming downtown.

I’m glad that the City is moving forward with the Center City Connector. We need to have a long-range vision to move not only the people of today, but the people of tomorrow and those numbers are growing beyond expectations.

I’m excited by your Third Avenue Vision and its focus on an activated, pedestrian-friendly corridor with improved infrastructure, added safety and cleanliness, and much healthier and more vibrant streetscapes. I agree that electric buses need to be prioritized to mitigate pollution, noise and our carbon footprint.

If elected, I’ll look to your organization for more ideas so we can make commutes for workers downtown easier, and so we attract more visitors, diners, shoppers and residents downtown while easing congestion on our limited roadways. I agree with your focus on improving pedestrian safety and prioritizing people-centered mobility options.


Jay Fathi

The immense transportation challenges facing our city are well known. The sources of these issues include our geography, existing infrastructure, our decision to not invest in improved mass transit 50 years ago, and Seattle now being such a coveted destination both for jobs and tourism. Seattle needs to continue on its path as a national leader to comprehensively address better solutions for people to access downtown — whether by mass transit, bicycle, car, or on foot. There are a multitude of options we must continue to investigate, pursue, and for many (if not all) of these, implement — including the street car, additional buses and bus routes, expansion of light rail, better bike paths and bike safety measures, and ensuring safe walkability. This must all be done while keeping a growing and healthy downtown (and all of Seattle) economy in mind.


Dan Strauss

For my parent’s generation the car and ability to drive was a signal of freedom and for my generation – not relying on driving a car is our signal of freedom. We need to look to international cities for models on how we streamline downtown streets so that cars, trucks, and people can keep moving. When we have gridlock, everyone gets stuck.

This means enforcing blocking the box violations, providing safe places for people to bicycle and scoot, ensuring transit doesn’t get stuck in traffic, and keeping traffic moving for people who have no choice but to drive.


Terry Rice

We must use the streets to ensure that we have a connected bike network, to prioritize bike and pedestrian safety and to increase dedicated bus lanes to move more people in the most efficient and climate friendly way.


Kate Martin

Yes, that statistic is tough because while fewer percentage-wise are driving alone to downtown, we have many more workers going downtown, so we’re not getting out of the problem.

Jarrett Walker, the transportation consultant who has the Human Transit blog says that transit needs to be a choice that a person in the free world can make and I couldn’t agree more, but Seattle is definitely not there yet.

For the buses, we need more dedicated bus lanes to get to downtown. I always feel smug when I’m on the #5 moving along Aurora in the bus lane while all the cars in the driving lanes are not moving. I also think we need to stop cutting bus service as light rail lines open. That just reinforces the argument that light rail is a bus on rails. We need both light rail and buses.

We also need more personalize transit or micro-transit like Microsoft has with their Connector buses. When Expedia arrives, it’s going to get even crazier traffic-wise. I don’t imagine many of those families will jump to relocate due to the difference in the crime rates and the lower quality school outcomes compared to the Eastside, so we have work to do.

I wonder if we could do more with staggered work schedules and make the buses and light rail cheaper or free for a couple hours a day before the peak commuter times in the morning and afternoon to incentivize that staggered schedule. It wouldn’t matter to people that get their passes free from work, but for those who pay it may help. That is only possible if we actually have transit capacity to take those riders which we currently do not have. As much as we talk about everyone riding the bus and light rail, we just are not really prepared to serve them. The 28x that I ride regularly is usually full going southbound during peak times in the morning starting at NW 65th St., a full 5 miles from downtown. The irony is that the commuters coming in from further distances get a seat and the folks living closer in don’t.

Finally, perhaps the rideshare companies like UBER could operate only on UBER Express Pool terms during the main commuter hours so that there would be multiple riders sharing the ride. I use UBER Express Pool regularly and it hardly adds 5 minutes to my arrival time and I like that I’m sharing the ride.


John Peeples

First, our downtown (and Seattle at-large) streets belong to us all – cars, bicycles, buses. Curb to curb, we all need to share the road. Lanes need to be shared by all. I support and wish to promote buses and encourage their use.

The city can take a two-pronged approach – add busses to current heavily-travelled routes, and adding buses on other routes to encourage their use.

All users must be vocally encouraged to be courteous – not overly deferential, but courteous – of other users.

I will pursue increased use of bus lights – that is, the lights that allow buses to go first, clearing the righthand lane so that righthand turning cars can then do so. Then allowing the other lanes to proceed. This has worked to separate cars and buses.

I agree that it is fair that motorcycles be allowed to proceed at a red light-as-stop sign due to not having the weight to trip the sensor.

I would, however, add adaptive light sequencing that, say, on Sunday mornings on Ravenna Boulevard and downtown streets so that, if a car is going the posted speed limit, the lights will change to allow the car to continue. Sensors, NOT surveillance!

Fifth Ave should be a throughway – front Denny clear on down to SODO. Get going and go the speed limit, then you keep going. If, for instance, Pike or Pine L/R are full, then drivers (cars, buses, motorcycles) need to be retaught that they may not turn, but rather, must continue straight and take the next available L/R turn. This will keep traffic moving. L/R turns onto 5th Ave can then enter 5th as usual if clear and there is room.

All of these ideas change the lights so that drivers are allowed the final say (unless they do something illegal and get caught by human law enforcement), not Big Brother.

The streets downtown already belong to all of us. I 110% appose congestion pricing as an American. The state should have no interest in punishing us for traveling downtown whenever we want on the streets that we own. The Mayor’s ‘congestions pricing’ amounts to a liberty ‘take-away.’  I will not stand for that and as a member of the city council, I will jealously guard my fellow American’s freedoms and liberties. Congestion pricing eviscerates both for no benefit to any of us. Remember, sensors, NOT surveillance. Sensors detect if a vehicle is approaching and use that to decide whether or not and when to change lights to keep traffic moving most efficiently. The government should have NO interest in who is driving and who is approaching and who is where.

While I support and encourage bus transit use, I also value the rights, freedom, and liberty of single-occupant car users to travel on our downtown streets. The mayor’s campaign against single-occupant vehicle is unbecoming an American.

There is enough room for all of us.

Further, I would require ALL municipal employees, including elected representatives, to carpool or vanpool, take bus transit, or bike to/from work if required. For those municipal employees who do not need to face customers, I would set a policy of working from home/remotely all but once or twice a month. I would also ask (we can only ask) larger downtown employers to heavily incentivize carpooling or vanpooling to/from work. Employers should have no interest in what employees do with their off-hours time. Period.

Lastly, the street car needs to be discontinued and the grooves filled in. The street car is generations past its useful life. The streets are for bikes, motorcycles, busses, and cars. Call it the rubber-rail. Not for street cars.

In the end, I welcome the newcomers to their jobs downtown. The onus, however, is on the government to ease the way via adaptive lighting, municipal work rules and other methods that I haven’t thought of that do not burden the liberties and freedoms of any one type of traveller.

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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Heidi Wills

I think it’s absolutely terrific that DSA enlivens the public spaces of Occidental Square and Westlake Parks with programming and security to make them community assets. I have a track record as a city councilmember of not only being supportive, but being a proponent, of public/private partnerships. I have noticed that city councilmembers who don’t are often skeptical or even hostile to business. I believe that the council needs to be a constructive partner in how it works with our business community. It is one of the reasons why I am running. As a small business owner, I want a city council that values businesses as an integral part of the fabric of our city and as a constructive part of solutions to bettering Seattle. Public/private partnerships along the waterfront and above I-5 would foster public life, invest in recreation and leisure space, and activate our new waterfront park with positive urban experiences open to all.


Jay Fathi

I think the results to date have been great. These spaces bring together the community in a wonderful way, and the city and DSA should be proud of their progress, as these spaces benefit residents, workers, tourists, and businesses. Done properly, I support future public/private partnerships following the same model as the City contemplates similar opportunities in new areas and new neighborhoods.


Dan Strauss

We need to create contracts that incentive and promote public/private partnerships activating our civic spaces. Our Department of Parks and Recreation and the Seattle Parks Foundation do amazing work and there are so many other people and organizations throughout the city who want to contribute. We should encourage local engagement of public spaces; having a clear and consistent process to do so is crucial to it’s success.

In my work at the City Council I am currently working on the improvement of City Hall Park, Prefontaine Place, and Fortson Square. We know the level of success these civic spaces will achieve is related to the amount of activation they receive. The work DSA and other private/public partnerships create is how we can be sure these spaces reach their full potential. This starts with an easy and straightforward process of partnership.


Terry Rice

I love this type of public/private partnerships. As a small business leader working in the travel and tourism industry I’ve seen firsthand the positive impacts of these public space activations for visitors and locals alike.


Kate Martin

I think it’s the only way to go at this point. I’ve studied parks and what makes some work and others not work most of my life. When NYC moved forward with the partnership for Bryant Park, it was really reassuring. When women come to a park with their children and the bathrooms are safe, you know you’re doing something right.

The waterfront has me worried, that’s why I proposed that we build a new elevated park bridge after tej Viaduct removal to complement and feed users to the areas along the surface arterial. Without a real view, the areas proposed along Alaskan Way will be very hard to program when the sun’s not out or the cruise ships are not in town. I felt that downtown needed a new magnetic park space. I was just never convinced it could get that along a busy arterial truck route in a mostly amusement park atmosphere. I support you if you get involved in managing that space. It’s going to be expensive to program. I wonder if a great urban dog park would help program the space or some recreational opportunities that could create spectacles.

I don’t know enough about the proposals for I-5 to comment at this time, but I can say that in my park studies, it’s the programming of the perimeter and giving many users a reason to walk through the space that help the most. Programming the space itself is often a response to not being able to program the perimeter or not being able to give people a route though the park that is natural or makes sense. Freeway Park is an excellent example of a very difficult park space. The perimeter is mostly dead and there are few legitimate reasons to cut through there. Trying to overcome that is mostly impossible.


John Peeples

I like it. Thank you!  Those activities at McGraw, Westlake, and Occidental make for community cohesion. However, a truly well-functioning city would provide this sort of programing on its own.

However, I’m all for the waterfront park/improvements as long as they do not impede business and commerce. Ours is a working waterfront. That working waterfront is a gem and a community asset – dirt, grit, and all. I will oppose any impediments to keeping business and commerce from humming along. Further, I oppose the I-5 lid park.

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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Heidi Wills

As a small business owner myself, I know the importance of engaging with the business community and others who are impacted by city policies before they are enacted. The lack of that engagement by the council has been a great source of frustration and polarization in our city. I intend to work collaboratively with employers to support growth in jobs, retail, restaurants and investment in downtown. The health and vibrancy of our economy depends on it.

Our businesses are sources of more than valued products and services, but also innovation, creativity and solutions to today’s problems. I understand the importance of businesses as job providers and as a major part of our tax base. I am hearing too often of business owners looking to relocate outside of Seattle. Tom Douglas is a constituent in my district. He is fed up with the city council and moving part of his business to Bellevue. This needs to be a wake-up call to our current city council and to the incoming council. If elected, I’d like to convene a conversation on this topic. How competitive is Seattle compared with other cities in attracting and supporting businesses?

If we had local government leaders who recognize the value of having cutting-edge businesses located in our region, and a willingness to work with those companies in a constructive way, that synergy could be game changing on a whole host of issues. If elected, I’d look forward to being part of a collaborative and constructive working relationship with the business community.


Jay Fathi

City-level regulations and taxes should be streamlined with consideration to County, State, and Federal practices so the process is easier for local businesses.

We have social services at the local level that need to be paid for, and we need all hands on deck. This may need to include new taxes, but as we saw with the Head Tax fiasco, it’s irresponsible policy-making to create these policies without bringing everyone impacted to the table, including businesses and corporations that would be impacted. Open and robust dialogue creates more sound policy for all. As we did with the increase in minimum wage, there should be considerations on implementing new policies or requirements over time, along with a robust communications campaign to ensure employers and the public are aware of the changes and can plan accordingly.


Dan Strauss

I will always pick up the phone whether we agree or disagree, and whether I have good news or bad news to share. We need to ensure our small businesses are set up for success and our large businesses want to retain the corporate responsibility that Seattle is known for. Seattle companies are known for Nordstrom’s quality of service, Dick’s drive-in assisting with tuition and childcare, Starbucks providing health insurance, and REI investing in land. We need to support businesses being national leaders in taking care of their employees and customers.


Terry Rice

As a small business leader and responsible citizen I have seen regulations come out of the city that I agree with and some that I don’t agree with. For example, I was a supporter of a $15 minimum wage and Sick and Safe Time. However, I did not support the Head Tax because it is a literal tax on jobs and it would have impacted some of Seattle’s most iconic locally owned businesses many of which produce high revenue and low margins. One of the most important areas for innovation from the city is providing more user centric resources to help business understand and ensure compliance with the changing regulatory landscape.


Kate Martin

I think of business as owners, managers, workers, suppliers and customers. I’ve been a small business owner most of my adult life. Creating win-wins among all those players is essential and that’s what I favor.

I’ve seen the climate at City Hall become more and more hostile to the ecosystems of businesses. I was not in agreement with most of the legislative changes that I felt would hurt businesses and they did. I worked for Four Seasons back in the 80s making a boatload of money (I thought at the time) as a young server at Shuckers. The whole scheduling debacle and the minimum wage set up that hurt tipped employees was sad. Hangover pay masquerading as sick leave makes me unhappy. The soda tax was just bad legislation.

I think it’s going to be a struggle to keep downtown vibrant given the changes in the way people shop. We don’t need to handicap those businesses further with rules that don’t apply outside of the city of Seattle. Some of the City Council members take their marching orders from outside influences that we didn’t elect and that’s how we wound up with a lot of that legislation. We should make it easier to elect people who aren’t owned by special interests.

I don’t think the parking issues have been resolved and that puts us at a distinct disadvantage to other areas.

Also, I think we can conclude that panhandling that supplies a drug or alcohol habit is not good for business (nor the addicted people themselves, nor downtown residents and visitors). I’d like to see much more effective panhandling policy that leads people to recover their lives.

One idea I have that is very favorable to business is called Fair is Fair Healthcare. It would open the City’s self-insured pool (currently 28,000 people in it) to anyone who works or lives in Seattle at cost. If we could build the pool to 100,000 people or more, we could all have Cadillac coverage for a great price, not just City workers and their families. It has lots of benefits for businesses and workers, alike, and would cost the City nothing. You can read more about it here.


John Peeples

I will insist on a front to back, top-down audit of such regulations and taxes to simplify them and advocate for a minimum timeframe for their effective dates thus promoting predictability. In the end, however, it is the duty of the city council to hold the line on spending and spend on efficient activities so that no one thinks it necessary to create new taxes (aka new revenue streams). The increased economic activity we have experienced over the last 8 or 9 years has been a real blessing. Taxes should be seen only as a mechanism to provide for a community-wide infrastructure that can be used by anyone. Taxes should not be viewed as a punishment, or used that way. It shouldn’t be viewed as us versus them, but, rather a predictable and small as possible amount for the benefit of all.

By simplifying the taxing structure and perhaps reducing taxes and reducing civic spending in preparation for the inevitable ‘rainy day,’ we can encourage more business and commerce downtown. That, in turn, will bring in more revenues from the existing streams rather than creating (or, pretending to create) a need for new streams.

Also, I believe recently imposed measures such as ‘secure scheduling,’ ‘paid family/parental leave,’ and other impositions on the relationships between employer and employee work to restrict business and commerce and impose increasing barriers to entry for new businesses and their prospective employees.

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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Heidi Wills

I am open to hearing from you about where you think we can expand our city’s capacity for commercial development. I have even heard an idea of lidding I-5 downtown for commercial development and/or housing opportunities close to our employment center. I am also hearing that there’s a need to improve permit efficiencies so that requests are processed and reviewed faster, and that the failure of the city’s upgrades to the permitting system impact commercial development and investment. Predictability and reliability are critical to businesses. Should we hire more city staff to review permits so they move through the bureaucracy faster? I’m sure you and your members have great ideas on what is needed by the city and l look forward to learning more from you.


Jay Fathi

This is an area where I would want to first partner with existing organizations and advocates, such as DSA, the Chamber, the MIC, and others, to get a better sense of current inventory and opportunities for future growth in commercial, retail, manufacturing, and other non-residential land use capacities in our geographically limited urban environment.

I believe we must continue looking for ways to thoughtfully plan and build a Seattle that is poised for future growth, while addressing the challenges of a changing economy, demographics, and climate. I look forward to being an engaged partner in these efforts.


Dan Strauss

Washington, D.C. just completed a new commercial space located above Interstate-395 known as Capitol Crossings. Not only does this reconnect the city, it also creates additional development capacity. Here in Seattle we are exploring the ability to build a lid on Interstate-5. We should encourage public/private partnerships such as Capitol Crossing here in Seattle to reconnect neighborhoods and capture growth potential.

I will also work with communities to understand where we can build taller and more dense buildings while maintaining light and airflow for everyone to enjoy. We need to preserve our communities and promote our economy.


Terry Rice

Urban villages should be a mix or low-income, middle-income and commercial spaces for retail, restaurants and offices putting jobs in the communities where people live.


Kate Martin

I’m a planner, so I’d need to see that analyzed and solved in a planning process. Offhand I can say that it would be great to decentralize some commercial development to areas that have more available land both far north and far south and who want and need good jobs that local people can train for. That’s a boat we’ve missed with all the growth – well-paying jobs for folks who are already here.

I’m very unhappy with the death of a thousand cuts form of displacement of maritime – industrial – manufacturing land by condos, bars and coffee shops that produce jobs with much inferior pay and benefits so I’ll not be a proponent of any of that.


John Peeples

The permitting office(s) first and foremost. I’m an engineer. Knowledge, attitudes, hopes and dreams all go into a request for a permit. Consideration of the public benefit is done by the municipal bureaucracy (both beneficial and make-work) in order to issue the permit. Cost – time and money – depends on how long that municipal machinery takes to do its evaluation. I will champion an audit with all stakeholders to look at the process and find out what is truly necessary and what isn’t. The rules and regulations that govern the current permitting processes were made over many years. The business conditions and civic attitudes and personal or business habits that made those rules and regulations necessary yesterday may no longer be at play today. Thus, it is time to update. (Truth be told, updating should be a regular, periodic event.)

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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Heidi Wills

I am glad and grateful to the business communities that have done the hard work to establish and fund BIAs. The Ballard Alliance is a tremendous resource to my district. Frankly, it’s the BIAs that are engaging in the work that the city should be doing including basic functions around street cleanups. And yet businesses involved with BIAs are not only paying their fair share of taxes to the city, they are paying additional funds to hire people to perform core city functions in their business districts.

It’s the BIAs that brought to the attention of city leaders and the broader public the serious problems around prolific offenders. BIAs are sounding the alarm bell around the need to prioritize basic services such as public safety, and the city should not only take notice, but make substantial and meaningful changes to address these critically important issues to our city’s quality of life and ability of small businesses to stay in business. (See answer 2, as well.)


Jay Fathi

There is no one size fits all solution in urban planning and policy, and having local BIAs are important as they provide a way for neighbors to get involved in the process of improving their communities. I led a large company in downtown Tacoma for nearly 6 years and the BIA there was an excellent partner.


Dan Strauss

I am a firm believer in local advocacy which is why I support the district representation and I am running to represent District 6. I have had positive experiences with the BIA in my district.


Terry Rice

BIAs are grassroots way for communities of small and big businesses to come together in support of the issues that are important to them. These groups should have a seat at the table when it comes to planning in the neighborhoods that they represent.

Kate Martin

We’d be in real sorry shape without the BIAs.


John Peeples

Local is good. With what little, admittedly, I currently know about BIAs, I approve of their use as long as they advocate for business and commerce – both of which require the willing participation of both businesses and customers.


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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Heidi Wills

People in Seattle do not occupy just one district. They may live in one district, work in another, dine or shop in another, and have kids in school in another district. I have neighbors who work downtown, and I know residents of downtown who work in my district. We are all connected and we are better off when we are all better off. We need a city council that remembers that just because we have a talented workforce today with tremendous employment opportunities, that doesn’t mean that Seattle shouldn’t be competitive to maintain and attract employers and residents.

The top issues facing my district are the same issues facing our city as a whole. We need a council that is focused on basic services. These are the ordinary acts of government that matter to the lives of the people in Seattle, from safe neighborhoods to clean parks to transportation infrastructure improvements. While there are many interest groups who press councilmembers to stand for their interests and values, most of the average voters I talk to as I go door-to-door are fed up with virtue signaling and they want a city council that will prioritize delivery of core municipal services.

As I go door-to-door in District 6, the most pressing issue on people’s minds is addressing the root causes of homelessness more effectively. This issue affects the city as a whole too and certainly downtown. Our city and county elected leaders would be better served by utilizing the expertise of the high-tech community in my district. For example, at a Fremont Chamber of Commerce meeting, I met a Tableau employee who told me how his company is helping to better track the data of services being provided to people experiencing homelessness. Seattle has the third-highest number of people experiencing homelessness. System fragmentation is a critical weakness leading to disconnected services, duplicative functions, and duplicative data collection, making the system difficult to navigate for people seeking assistance. Our region needs to consolidate command and control functions into a regional authority to appropriately identify and scale solutions and target resources to emergent needs. Collecting numbers and characteristics of those experiencing homelessness and quantifying the need for services is essential to not only meeting needs, but to identifying effective strategies to address the needs. Tableau is doing that work. Fremont’s tech sector is perfectly poised to be a catalyst to solving some of our region’s most vexing challenges. As a councilmember, I would be more collaborative in engaging with the business community around the pressing issues facing my district and our city as a whole.

Another top issue facing my district is transportation. People want greater mobility throughout Seattle and to downtown. Commute Seattle continues to reap dividends in improving mobility. I find that many residents of District 6 would take public transit if there were additional capacity to serve them, but buses during peak hours are too full to even stop at bus stops further south in their routes as they head into downtown. Prioritizing public transit continues to be an important issue to our quality of life.


Jay Fathi

This ‘balancing act’ is a key skill for elected officials at the Federal and State levels, and now in Seattle, at the municipal level. It is a time-honored, historical component of representative government. Our Council members must all realize that we are elected by and ‘represent’ the constituents in our district, but we collectively govern the entirety of our great city, and we must cooperate to achieve the greater good for all. The key issue right now in District 6 centers around homelessness, and this very clearly intersects with the same issue downtown. There are other issues impacting both individual districts, and downtown and the city as a whole, and our Council members must continuously work collaboratively to strike a healthy balance between representing their constituents, while considering our entire Seattle community.


Dan Strauss

How we manage and direct our work downtown sets the stage for how our urban centers can be managed if enough growth occurs. We need to be forward thinking about how we grow and manage downtown so that it is reflective of Seattle values and uses best practices of city management.

Ballard and many parts of District 6 can benefit from public/private partnerships activating civic spaces, creating efficient and effective freight delivery for the goods we use, and can build the transportation systems we need to keep up with the density being built outside of downtown. Before Ballard was annexed by Seattle, we were the second largest city in King County. This is why our downtown grid is walkable and I can easily find fourth generation Ballardites.

Today, we are experiencing the same issues as the rest of the city, and we have a unique opportunity to lead how growth is focused and managed. By the end of my term, Downtown Seattle will once again look to Ballard for best practices on managing it’s downtown core.


Terry Rice

While the majority of the council is elected in district elections we create policy and legislate for the city at large. The issues of homelessness, affordability, transportation and public safety that impact my district are not dissimilar to the issues that impact downtown. Where we should focus on geographical distinction is in the types of solutions that may be required based on the specific needs of a neighborhood.


Kate Martin

I’ve been a downtown proponent all my life and have served on many advocacy efforts that were and are citywide. I may live in District 6 and be running for council in District 6, but I will have no problem balancing the needs of the rest of the city because I’ve always thought and acted in favor of the whole city.

That said, each district needs stronger representation and solid plans for the future that are more political-proof. I’d also like there to be discretionary funding made available to the districts so they can get support from City Hall for a variety of projects. It could be like the Neighborhood Matching Fund, but much more money and a better intra- and inter-district process for determining projects that are in the plans.


John Peeples

Right now, they are the same for D6 and Downtown: 1) homelessness and the afflictions that contribute the that problem – mental illness, drug use, poor life decisions, circumstances beyond the control of the afflicted; 2) public safety – the under-policing problem and the city attorney’s choice to de-emphasize certain offenses. To a lesser extent, there is the traffic issue.

In the end, I anticipate no problem that would be cause for choosing D6 over Downtown. A city council that re-commits to sound fiscal management, public safety, and truly humane treatment of those among us who ‘fall down’ can serve all neighborhoods.