Tonight, Seattle City Club is hosting a mayoral debate with six of the leading candidates for Seattle’s top public job, including Jessyn Farrell, Bob Hasegawa, Cary Moon, Nikita Oliver and Jenny Durkan. NPI will be chronicling the proceedings with live updates as the night continues, so stay tuned.
QUESTION: What sets you apart?
ANSWERS: Nikita Oliver stressed that she is an authentic, honest candidate who would help unite the city. (Oliver notably stands alone in having declared her candidacy prior to Ed Murray’s decision not to seek reelection.)
Similarly, Bob Hasegawa reminded the audience that his history in social justice advocacy demonstrates that he has strongly held progressive convictions.
Mike McGinn stated that he has experience being a mayor and claims that he does not work with powerful actors just because it is politically expedient. Moon did not actually answer the question, but appealed to the city acting as a unified force.
QUESTION: How will you reduce Seattle citizens’ tax obligations?
ANSWERS: Hasegawa pointed to the increasing gentrification and displacement of people in Seattle, saying we need more transparency and an effective accounting of how the city invests the people’s tax dollars.
Being more specific, Farrell stated that she finds the dependency on property and sales tax unfair and supports pushing larger businesses to pay their “fair share” of taxes. McGinn and Moon concurred with Farrell, but Moon wants to prioritize the many programs the City of Seattle attempts.
Oliver stated that the city needs to put money towards what it values. She wants to see increased funding for projects to end homelessness.
Oliver stated that the criminal justice system is one area to reduce the city budget as fiscal resources are wasted on criminalizing poverty. Durkan wants to look at what the city needs first, focusing less on whether to decrease or increase our budget.
Almost all of the candidates noted that moving away from our dependency on sales and property taxes will be necessary.
QUESTION: How do you hope to address the threats of displacement and gentrification in the International District?
ANSWERS: Farrell talked about the need for a plan for every single neighborhood, but not a “cookie-cutter” strategy. She did not specify anything meaningful.
Durkan seemed to only expand on Farrell’s comments at first, but then stated that she would be supportive of tax breaks for those at risk of displacement.
Moon expressed a concern about developers pushing for higher profits in Pioneer Square, but did not mention details. Oliver wants to move away from the private market, having the city invest in land trusts and affordable commercial units.
QUESTION: Do you support rent control?
ANSWERS: Oliver declared that she supports rent stabilization, while Farrell noted that rent control is presently unavailable as a tool to Seattle right now. She suggested catalyzing cooperation among larger entities to stabilize rent.
QUESTION: What do you plan to do about illegal homeless encampments popping up around the city?
ANSWERS: McGinn spoke of a need for more shelter, and increased mobilization of resources. Moon argued for more sanctioned encampments and tiny homes, wanting more openness in housing options.
Farrell advocated for moving resources away from police enforcement and into low barrier shelters and mental health/abuse care.
QUESTION: What are your top three strategies for reducing congestion?
ANSWERS: To invest in jobs and housing balance, Moon says we should look at transit biking and pedestrian improvements, and looking at transport with a racial equity lens. Oliver talked about expanding transit that runs east and west, beginning to plan for future light rail stations, and giving free ORCA cards to those under eighteen to encourage youth ridership.
Hasegawa and Farrell echoed Oliver in their support for speeding up the built-out of Sound Transit’s Link light rail. Accelerating the timetables for getting Link to Ballard and West Seattle is something all the candidates seem to support.
QUESTION: How would you go about boosting basic bus service?
ANSWERS: Farrell and Durkan argued for subsidized bus passes and increased bus access, while McGinn and Moon focused their comments on the frequency and speed of service.. Oliver advocated for increasing efforts to educate youth about their mobility options, including getting around by bike. Hasegawa, not unexpectedly, argued for free transit, reducing funds on fare regulation.
QUESTION: Do you feel that the Seattle consent decree was effective? How should we hold officers accountable?
ANSWERS: Moon said the decree was effective in getting the Seattle Police Department to commit to change, but that we must still empower the community commissions and improve standards regarding employment.
Oliver advocated for training on implicit bias and mental health, while Hasegawa echoed her sentiment on mental health and de-escalation training. Hasegawa also noted a need for first aid to be promptly administered following use of force.
Oliver fully advocated for increased community control on law enforcement. Oliver was by far the most eloquent on this issue, noting that the most policed communities, particular communities of color, have far better insight of what police overstep looks like and that the city should be looking to those communities.
Durkan disagreed with McGinn’s comment that the consent degree was not working, stating that the reform was necessary for current improvements.
Moon advocated for fully funding the community police commission as a sign of empowering the commission to increase trust between police and communities.
QUESTION: Do you support the creation of a safe injection site in Seattle?
ANSWERS: Farrell expressed concern, saying she could support of the idea if it is implemented with increased access to mental health and drug abuse resources.
Durkan advocated for drug abuse to be treated as a public health issue as opposed to a criminal issue, supporting injection sites as a part of such a strategy.
Oliver noted that such sites save lives, while also noting that stigma around drug abuse must be mitigated through cultural education regarding addiction.
Hasegawa said that in his view, the opioid epidemic has been fueled by increased access to prescriptions, but the city has not provided public detox centers to offset this impact.
QUESTION: What is your plan to provide equitable resources for diverse individuals with developmental disabilities?
ANSWERS: Oliver advocated for giving the disability community an increased role in legislation while also increasing government funds available to those in the disability community. Farrell and McGinn echoed Oliver’s comments, offering less detail. Moon argued that wealth and power are concentrated in very few areas in the city, but also reiterated Oliver’s sentiments.
Thanks for following along; we hope you enjoyed our live coverage!