Seattle City Council candidate Nikkita Oliver has evolved into a polished politician since a failed 2016 mayoral run revealed a sporadic voting history and an appetite for civic disruption. Voters should not be fooled by the slick talk. Oliver still advocates dangerously destabilizing policies that would undercut Seattle’s attempts to reform policing and help unsheltered people find housing.

A vote for Oliver is a vote for doubling down on the worst decisions the city council has made over the past two years. If elected, Oliver’s policy proposals would push an already reckless majority even harder left, with enough votes behind that agenda to override any mayor. That’s a dangerous place for city governance.

Sara Nelson has right approach to expanding Seattle’s prosperity
Seattle Times editorial board endorsements: Nov. 2, 2021, general election

Seattle needs immediate solutions because people are hurting today. Sara Nelson is the superior candidate. Oliver would instead bring aspirational and impractical policies to an environment highly likely to vote them into reality. The council’s knee-jerk cuts to the Seattle Police budget over the last 18 months left the department down 300 officers and detectives, without a permanent chief and unable to respond to all 911 calls of distress. Homeless encampments sprawl through parks, greenbelts and sidewalks near schools and neighborhoods. The council has balked at public demand to get those thousands of unhoused people into new housing fast.

Oliver’s policies welcome these massive problems as features. In an interview with the homelessness publication Real Change published Oct. 7, Oliver said homeless encampments should remain in place with “radical accessibility” added — in Oliver’s description, “mobile shower units, mobile laundry units, mobile health clinics” — while the council innovates solutions to housing affordability. Never mind that this would require years, if not decades, especially since the Oliver approach also involves revamping city taxation with restructured property taxes and new burdens on businesses.

Oliver also proposes creating a permanent fund in the Parks and Recreation department to “support people who use the parks for housing.” Homesteading the public’s parks is illegal, as Oliver — an attorney — ought to know.

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On Twitter, Oliver has posted declarations like “abolish prisons” and being “all in for” city attorney candidate Nicole Thomas-Kennedy, a fellow “abolition” espouser. The “Seattle Solidarity Budget” Oliver champions on Twitter proposes immediately “defunding SPD by 50%” and cutting misdemeanor prosecutions in half. Its replacement plans are “building grants for community-based organizations” and growing a $60 million budget process for voters to decide spending — each of which would need months and years to set up. Meanwhile, 911 calls require constant responsiveness.

The Oliver-backed “Solidarity” proposals also eliminate the SPD narcotics unit and defund the Special Victims Unit by half, effective in 2022, replaced by “community-based services for survivors.” Oliver’s council campaign platform goes still further, calling to “end Seattle’s contract with King County Jail” and eliminate city-imposed fines.

This agenda of magical irrationality should not be voted into authority over Seattle civic institutions. A city where safety concerns and inadequate police responses are pushing businesses, visitors and residents elsewhere cannot be made safer by voting this “abolish the police“-tweeting candidate into office.

Voters citywide should make a clear-eyed assessment of where Oliver stands, and the risks if the council’s overzealously activist majority moves still further from sound policymaking. Business owner and former council aide Nelson is a far more trustworthy candidate for Seattle’s future.