On the Issues
Homelessness is the dominant issue of this election. But it’s not the only one. On this page, I provide highlights of my positions on homelessness, public safety, affordable housing, transportation and climate change, with links to more detailed position statements. I also summarize my thoughts on the future of three key places in District 5: Lake City, Northgate, and Aurora, again with links to more details. Lastly, I discuss a special resolution I am committed to sponsor if I am elected, to right some wrongs in Seattle’s relationship with our home Native American tribe, the Duwamish.
I believe Seattle is facing both a drug crisis and a housing crisis. Together, they feed into what gets called “homelessness.” Both crises require action, but the City has not faced up to the consequences of the drug crisis for our neighborhoods. Needles, trash, stolen bikes, and human waste accumulate in illegal encampments that the City has tolerated in our parks and other public spaces. Less affluent, working class or transitional neighborhoods get hit hardest by this. Here in District 5, that would especially include Lake City and neighborhoods near Aurora, but almost the entire district has been touched by it. The City needs to show some backbone, demonstrating compassion to these neighborhoods, not just the homeless.
For years, I have also advocated for expansion of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program, which trains police officers to identify low level offenders who could be better served by case management, treatment, and other social services than by the criminal justice system. This does not apply to every offender, but it does apply to some. The result has been reduced crime, reduced public costs, and saved lives. LEAD began on Aurora in 2018. I want to see it expand there, in Lake City, and as soon as possible to the rest of the district and the city.
Seattle needs to provide more incentives and opportunities to provide affordable housing, both for our poorest residents and for those earning above 60% of the area median income but still struggling to pay for housing. At the same time, we need to provide protections for those living in existing, unsubsidized affordable housing that may be lost to redevelopment. By the City’s own analysis, residents of urban villages in District 5 are among those at highest risk of this loss anywhere in Seattle.
I generally support the legislation currently before the Council to encourage the construction of more Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). However, I think we should continue to require owner occupancy, at least during the initial construction of ADUs. We should also require that at least one of the units on a lot actually provide affordable housing, to fulfill what is supposed to be the primary reason for this legislation.
Lastly, I support many of the ideas in the Seattle Planning Commission’s report, “Neighborhoods for All.” These propose relatively modest changes in single family residential zones that could open up much more of the City to affordable new housing.
Public safety is the core responsibility of our government. It is not faring well in Seattle—particularly regarding property crime, which directly relates to our drug crisis. We need to face up seriously to the actions needed to address this crisis, which are not a matter of either/or. We need more treatment, more case management, and more law enforcement.
There have to be serious consequences for repeat offenders. But we also have to recognize that the criminal justice system is not the best alternative for the mentally ill or for many addicts. That is why I support the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program (see above, on “Homelessness”), as well as restorative justice programs.
We need more police officers. We also need a new North Precinct headquarters—and we really should divide the current North Precinct (everything north of the Ship Canal) in two, so it is closer to the size of other precincts around the City.
Transportation and the Climate Crisis
Pedestrian safety is a huge issue in District 5, where two-thirds of the City’s missing sidewalks are located. We need a commitment from the City to equity. We need a funded plan to make our urban villages and the pathways to our schools safe. We also need better east-west transit connections, particularly for the coming Sound Transit stations. And we need a safe bicycle network across the City.
All of this is important to our quality of life. It is also important so that Seattle does its part to meet the greatest challenge facing humanity: the climate crisis. I use that term instead of "climate change" to emphasize the urgency of action and the serious consequences of inaction, since disrupting the comparatively stable global climate that has allowed human civilization to develop is an enormously foolish risk that we as a species are continuing to take.
Seattle needs a comprehensive, accountable plan to move us toward the City's adopted goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. We're far from that now. We need action on some basic steps, including building an equitable network of charging stations for electric cars, replacing the 18,000 oil furnaces that remain in the city with electric heat pumps, and planting thousands of trees and protecting the mature ones that we already have.
Fighting for Our Neighborhoods
The Aurora Corridor
Aurora Avenue North is the most neglected place in the City of Seattle. It will not remain so if I am elected to the City Council. I will work with the Aurora-Licton and Bitter Lake communities and businesses along Aurora to begin to fulfill the promises that naming those areas “urban villages” should have entailed more than 20 years ago.
The Lake City community has a plan, developed with input from hundreds of residents, which envisions an “ever safer, more beautiful, healthy, and connected” community, even as Lake City grows more dense. But retaining affordability will be a huge challenge.
Lake City needs a partner in its District 5 representative, one who will listen closely to the entire community’s concerns and aspirations, who will help leverage and guide City investments sensitive to those aspirations, and who will be accessible to everyone as Lake City undergoes what is likely to be profound change. Through my long history with the D5 Community Network, Thornton Creek Alliance, and the North District Council, I have shown I can be that sort of partner.
Northgate is at the geographic and economic center of District 5. Huge public and private investments are currently underway or contemplated there. The current council has done nothing to involve residents in shaping Northgate’s future—despite gaping needs for pedestrian improvements, huge concerns over traffic and parking, increasing public safety concerns, and major displacement threats for low-income renters. Working together with residents to ensure action on these issues would be a top priority for me as District 5’s representative on the City Council.
The City of Seattle is located on the ancestral lands of the Duwamish Tribe—and, of course, is named for Chief Seattle. Despite this, the City has never formally supported the Duwamish Tribe's efforts to obtain federal recognition. Nor has it acknowledged the early role of Seattle citizens in blocking a reservation for the tribe. Nor has it apologized for the horrific and inexcusable ways the City and its citizens treated the tribe for decades after that. Nor has it ever pledged amends and committed to a respectful and mutually beneficial relationship with the tribe for the future. It is long, long past time for this.
I have therefore drafted this resolution, which I am committed to sponsoring if I am elected to the City Council. Some would argue that recognition of the Duwamish is a tribal issue that a non-Native American should not get involved in. I would argue the opposite: that support for the Duwamish Tribe is a unique obligation on the part of non-Native Seattleites, to acknowledge historic wrongs and to try to put them right.
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