The race for Seattle City Council District 4 is full of charismatic and engaging candidates.

But voters need to choose the one most capable of serving District 4 and residents across the city. Hands down that is Alex Pedersen, who has years of experience serving the public and helping cities produce affordable housing.

Alex Pedersen
Alex Pedersen

The Ravenna resident left a private-sector job analyzing affordable-housing projects to run for council. Earlier he was a legislative aide to former City Councilmember Tim Burgess and the Oakland, California, City Council. He also worked for banks financing affordable apartment projects and for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Clinton administration, a job that involved helping cities fund homeless services.

This blend of public and private experience, and deep knowledge of what Seattle can do to produce housing and secure funding for its homeless response, makes Pedersen one of the best candidates among all seven open council races this year.

On homelessness, Pedersen said the city should improve services by following best practices and better coordinating with King County. On housing, he said recent upzones were overly generous to developers and should be assessed to ensure they’re providing promised affordability and not increasing displacement.

“The City Council keeps giving away benefits to the private market without extracting the maximum public benefit, which in this case would be affordability,” he said.

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After seeing President Donald Trump get elected, District 4 should be wary of novice candidates making grandiose promises with catchy slogans. Yet that’s what’s being offered by the two best-funded candidates in this race, union organizers Shaun Scott and Emily Myers. For them, “Tax the Rich!” is the equivalent of Trump’s “Build the Wall!” Such battle cries might resonate with partisans, but the plans fall apart under scrutiny. No, neither big companies nor Mexico will pay for the wish list.

Myers is a scientist pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Washington, while Scott is a former staffer for U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal and past editor of the Real Change newspaper. While both seek new progressive taxes and favored the city’s job-killing head tax, neither could say which regressive taxes they’d reduce to balance the system.

Scott is thoughtful about policy but during a meeting with this board, he showed a lack of understanding about how Seattle levies property taxes on residents. Myers is deeply concerned about inequity and housing availability, but cited false and misleading data to justify her ideological positions on growth, including her desire to allow four-unit apartments on single-family lots.

Their engagement and contributions to the debate are valued, but Seattle’s City Council needs more effective leadership, not more activists promising utopia and learning on the job.

Elect Pedersen in District 4.