Pat Murakami, a Mount Baker business owner and community activist, would bring more focus on city issues and fiscal responsibility to the Seattle City Council. Voters should elect her to council Position 9.
SEATTLE’S City Council needs fresh leadership focused on improving city government, fiscal restraint and representing all residents.
The Times recommends:
Seattle City Council Position 9
Strengths: Murakami, whose business supports accounting software, is running on a campaign to increase fiscal responsibility.
Murakami has a proven record of advocating for better governance and Seattle’s underserved communities."
City Council members’ primary job is making sure Seattle runs well and continues to be a good place to live, work and run a business.
Pat Murakami, a South Seattle community advocate and business owner, would bring this much-needed emphasis to City Council Position 9.
Among the newcomers in the race, Murakami has a proven record of advocating for better governance and Seattle’s underserved communities. A highlight was blocking the city from declaring a section of Southeast Seattle blighted, which would have enabled property seizures and redevelopment.
Incumbent M. Lorena González, an attorney, has proved to be a capable council member, especially her work to finalize police reforms.
Yet, Gonzalez represents the council’s status quo, including its evolution into a platform for special interests to advance policy agendas. It’s fine to oppose President Donald Trump, but council members need to focus on the city.
Gonzalez is steadfast in her support for the City Hall establishment’s growth and transportation policies, which have done little to help overall mobility or affordability.
The council has also failed to adequately oversee city spending. Unable to afford basic services despite rising revenues, it has authorized a series of regressive taxes, making the city even less affordable.
City spending is outpacing population growth, yet infrastructure such as parks and roads is still overwhelmed by development.
Murakami, whose business supports accounting software, is running on a campaign to increase fiscal responsibility. She wants to form a citizen’s commission to review the city’s budget and spending and stop increasing taxes until there’s a clearer picture of whether current spending is responsible.
The council’s disregard for its basic fiduciary role was highlighted by a recent vote for an income tax on the rich, which Gonzalez supported.
An income tax wasn’t the council’s idea. A labor group was shopping for a city willing to pass such legislation, to potentially reverse court rulings that such taxes are unconstitutional. Seattle took the bait, then patted itself on the back for its progressivity.
Yet instead of insisting that income taxes collected from the rich be used to cut taxes on everyone else — making Seattle’s taxation less regressive — the council floated a list of ways to spend any new tax revenue.
As a longtime Mount Baker neighborhood and school advocate, Murakami would broaden the council’s representation and strengthen the voice of residents who own homes as well as those who rent. Half the population lives in single-family homes and their neighborhoods are Seattle’s bedrock, yet the City Hall echo chamber tends to view both as obstacles to development.
In meeting with this editorial board, Gonzalez, a condo owner in West Seattle, was cavalier when asked what Seattle can do to support homeownership, a traditional escalator to the middle class. She pointed out that half the city rents, then highlighted the city’s recent housing levy — which reduced support for homeownership programs while increasing rental support.
Gonzalez is particularly concerned about the noxious policies of Trump. Yet the council members’ primary job should be addressing the divisiveness that the city’s growth and transportation policies are sowing at home, and a growing disconnect between the policy ambitions at City Hall and the day-to-day concerns of residents and businesses they serve.
Murakami is the best Position 9 candidate to give the council a fresh start and rebuild City Hall’s fraying relationships with neighborhoods and small businesses.