Reflecting the diversity and vibrancy of southeast Seattle, the pool of candidates to represent City Council District 2 are all across the political spectrum.
The best choice can be found left of center in Mark Solomon, a crime-prevention coordinator for the Seattle Police Department. A third-generation Beacon Hill resident, Solomon served in the Air Force, retiring as a lieutenant colonel, and was president of a security consultancy he helped found in 2001.
Compared to other District 2 candidates, Solomon is less overtly political but has more professional experience. That’s just what’s needed on a dysfunctional council that’s become a sandbox for special interests, prioritizing their political narrative and policy experiments over the concerns of ordinary residents who just want the city to be healthy, safe and well run.
Solomon has a nuanced understanding of District 2’s residents and the city’s challenges with transportation, affordability, crime and supporting homeless residents. He’s particularly well suited to help oversee the city’s growing community-policing program and efforts to reduce gun violence. Solomon would also be a strong advocate for small businesses, which are being displaced by higher rents, and oversight of city spending.
This is a tough race with passionate candidates. Candidates on the far left and far right of the field lead fundraising. On the left is community organizer Tammy Morales, whose positions generally mirror those of the current wrong-headed council: spend more on housing and services for the homeless population with barely a nod to spending accountability, seek new “progressive” tax revenues and generally support treatment rather than jail for repeat criminal offenders. A vote for Morales is a vote for the City Hall political establishment.
Morales also wants to make riding the bus free. That sounds nice, but Seattle taxpayers are already tapped out and paying more than most to fund transit, including free or reduced transit passes now available to students, seniors and low-income residents.
On the right is Ari Hoffman, a small-business owner pressing the city to better address criminal behavior. His activism was prompted by the city’s failure to protect a private Jewish cemetery from repeated vandalism and trespassing. Hoffman rightly points out that current leadership is making Seattle more expensive with continual tax increases and undisciplined spending. But Hoffman’s blunt demeanor would likely marginalize him on a council of nine. It’s unclear that he’d be able to build the consensus needed to implement his policy ideas.
Solomon represents a more balanced approach. A union member, he has support from both labor and business groups. Rather than antagonize employers, the city should build partnerships with them to address city needs, he said, noting that Seattle already has multiple business taxes in place.
While Morales wants more apartments throughout neighborhoods, Solomon is concerned about displacement in District 2. Like most every candidate, he wants to see additional housing and believes upzones make sense in some areas, like urban villages and transit hubs, but he wants neighborhoods to be more involved in such decisions.
To better address homelessness, Solomon believes the city should increase funding of case managers, build more publicly funded housing and increase efforts to prevent people from ever becoming homeless in the first place. He also wants better results from the city’s human-services spending.
Seattle needs a City Council that’s less polarizing. That doesn’t mean giving up its progressive, welcoming values or efforts to improve transportation and housing options. But it will require a council with fewer activists marching in sync and more independent, pragmatic problem-solvers.
Solomon is the best choice to represent District 2 on this new council.