I won’t rest until we hire more officers and see 5-minute response times for all priority one calls. Our City Council must use every tool at its disposal to hire and retain officers. At the same time, we need innovative approaches for recruitment. This year, the first class of Seattle Fire Department’s pilot program to recruit new firefighters by building on Seattle’s 13th Year Promise will graduate. I support piloting the same program in partnership with the Seattle Colleges and Seattle Police Department so we encourage our local youth to pursue careers with the SPD and have homegrown officers in addition to all who want to enter the SPD and meet our staffing needs.
We cannot continue to ask our law enforcement agencies to shoulder the burden of every social problem. Three years after the City Council voted to defund the police department, we still have not scaled up the alternatives to policing promised to lessen the need for police officers to handle every call for help. It is a failure of leadership that we are still just talking about expanding proven programs like Health One instead of having done the hard work to ensure mental health professionals replace the need for a traditional response on a significant portion of calls.
Each year for the past three years, Seattle has broken record after record for gun violence on our streets. While there are numerous causes, one thing is for sure—there are far too many guns on our streets. I have been a strong supporter of our state passing responsible gun control, including the recently passed Assault Weapons Ban, waiting period legislation, liability for gun manufacturers, high capacity magazine ban, and other reforms. I am proud that our state has some of the strongest gun laws in the country, but the truth is they are only as good as their implementation. City leaders have let crucial programs like the Regional Domestic Violence Firearms Enforcement Unit and implementation of Extreme Risk Protection Orders fall by the wayside because they lack the focus and urgency to address gun violence in Seattle. At the same time, our city has failed to adequately invest and scale up Community Violence Intervention programs that stem the tide of gun violence. I support establishing a city wide office or division within Public Health of gun violence intervention that will study the impacts of gun violence and develop and implement a community-centered response strategy.
Communities know best how to ensure they are safe. Rather than dictating solutions, city leaders must empower community voices and restore agency to our neighborhoods to take an active role in public safety. That means proactive outreach to small businesses, non-profits, religious institutions, and centers for community – and it means giving them the resources and support they need to thrive. It also means reinstating neighborhood walks with city departments to address neighborhood issues such as broken street lights and safety.
Illicit fentanyl kills at least two people every single day in King County. Mayor Harrell’s executive order outlines an evidence based approach to addressing addiction and help stop the flow of fentanyl into our city. I support the Mayor’s plan to create a drug overdose unit modeled after Health One, build a post overdose diversion facility, and pilot new research based drug abatement programs. Second, we know repeat offenders and providers of drugs must face serious accountability to stop this epidemic in its tracks. The Mayor got it right when he emphasized key high-crime hot spots with extra patrols, directed SPD to focus on the distribution of drugs, and furthered his partnership with the City Attorney to pursue the high utilizers initiative.
Expanding housing options like quad-plexes, townhomes, row houses, and mixed-use development, especially along transit corridors is essential to ensuring that working families can live near work. It is unfair for blue collar workers to have to face long commutes after putting in a full day’s work. Unfortunately, we’ve let bad politics pit us against each other. On one side is more density seemingly no matter the impact on our neighborhoods and on the other are those that want to preserve what makes this City such an amazing place to live. This is a false dichotomy that has led to our city both failing to address our affordability crisis while at the same time approving developments that hurt and displace communities.
One of my top priorities is ensuring no family in the City of Seattle pays more than 10% of their income on child care. The disproportionate impacts of our current childcare system perpetuates systemic oppression particularly for working people and closing those impacts is one of our best tools to narrow disparity in our community. As a parent myself, I chose to put my personal career on hold to take care of my family. After the birth of my two daughters, we did the math as a family – and it simply was not possible for us to afford high-quality child care for our kids in the City of Seattle. I feel incredibly lucky that my family had the means to allow me to take time off and care for our kids, but I know for so many families that’s just not possible. This reality is bad for families, bad for our economy, and bad for the workers who make this City what it is.
Seattle has hundreds of open jobs in the trades, social work, public safety, case management, and so many other industries. In many cases, these jobs pay a thriving wage with good union benefits. But through a combination of lacking investment in our community colleges and critical apprenticeship programs and social pressure to avoid some kinds of working jobs, we’ve closed off generational wealth building opportunities for those that need it. I am committed to expanding the Seattle Promise 13th Year to help the next generation access these thriving industries, investing in apprenticeship programs, and breaking down barriers for individuals joining the trades or other industries by helping to pay for startup, equipment, training, or other costs associated with them.
Whether it be by foot, transit, bike, or car, we should spend less time traveling and more time where we want to be. While in recent years Seattle has been successfully reducing vehicle travel, we can do better. We will connect communities to each other and to more opportunities with clean, reliable and convenient buses and trains, and through walking and biking options. This starts with integrating transportation and land use, recognizing the best and most sustainable transportation system is one where you live close to where you need to get to.
I have worked at the city in various capacities including in a department and for a council member. I will work to restore public trust by ensuring every dollar of public money is allocated to the priorities clearly articulated by voters and residents. Bringing urgency to addressing the pressing issues facing our city also means being a tireless advocate for rebuilding trust that our government is a good steward of public dollars.
Simply passing new taxes will not solve affordability, homelessness, public safety, or address the crisis of climate change. The City’s budget has expanded significantly in the past 10 years, with the largest increase in taxes in the history of the City of Seattle. Unfortunately, we have less to show for it than we should. This is a failure of leadership. Before rushing into new taxes we must ensure the revenue we have is effectively improving people’s lives. Frankly, I believe we must focus public dollars on addressing what I believe most residents see as the most pressing issue facing our City – homelessness and public safety.
Our state’s tax code is one of the most regressive in the country, with those that can least afford it paying upwards of 20% of their income, while those that can contribute the most to our city’s prosperity pay less than 2%. While I will work for efficiencies in the current budget first, any new taxation should avoid increasing the burden on middle, low, and no-income families. The vast majority of Seattlites support progressive taxation, but they also deserve to know that their city government is spending that money effectively to improve their lives. Unfortunately, far too often that is not the case.
Every neighborhood should have access to safe, reliable, and quick multi-modal transportation options, including foot, transit, bike, or car. That means spending less time in traffic and more time in our communities or with our families. While our leaders have campaigned on making Seattle a “15-minute city” for almost a decade, we’ve not made significant progress in connecting our communities and integrating our transportation system with land-use and housing. Transportation is the single-largest source of climate emissions in Seattle. The best investment in fighting climate change is creating connected communities where you can live close to transit, green space, amenities and community hubs.
Collaborating with downtown businesses to create a real plan for net-zero buildings could cut carbon emissions in Seattle by as much as 10%. The Building Emissions Performance Standards proposed by Mayor Harrell are an excellent start and the most significant policy proposed to meet our climate goals in the last two decades. Now, we need to work with community and business leaders to support this policy and create pathways for businesses to exceed expectations and meet the standards set before 2050. At the same time, Seattle must also bring higher standards to new construction and to residential zoning as well, which collectively contribute to over 20% of our city’s emissions.
One of the most important strategies to prepare for the impacts of climate change is preserving and fostering our natural tree canopy. According to the most recent report from our Office of Sustainability and Environment, a 13% increase in tree canopy is associated with a 0.5-degree reduction in temperature, and is one of the best ways to reduce the impacts of heat islands. The loss of tree coverage in the last decade has been devastating and inequitable, disproportionately occurring in communities of color. While collaboration with developers and housing providers is essential to preserving our tree canopy, the vast majority of the loss occurred on publicly-managed lands. The impacts being felt in our communities are a policy choice stemming from a lack of commitment to our trees and to equity. In addition, feasibility studies show that strategies like lidding I-5 would significantly reduce carbon emissions, create thousands of units of affordable housing, reduce pollution, and increase green space and tree coverage.