Seattle City Council candidates are joining The Seattle Times this week for Ask Me Anything sessions on Reddit.
Seattle City Council candidates Sandy Brown and Debora Juarez, running in North Seattle’s District 5, joined The Seattle Times Wednesday for a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session.
Candidates Tim Burgess and Jon Grant, running for citywide Position 8, will answer questions during an AMA at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
Here are some excerpts from Wednesday’s AMA, edited for space:
Question: Do you support Move Seattle? What are your views on how we should be investing to move people and goods around the city in 10, 20 years?
Debora Juarez: The whole city of Seattle is striving to become more transit-rich to decrease our carbon footprint and alleviate the frustrating gridlock that harms commerce and general quality of life. I do support the mayor’s Move Seattle levy. The plan focuses on congestion, maintenance, and safety, areas which need improvement citywide, but where we have especially strong needs in the North End.
The levy was designed using an equity and “highest needs” lens. This means that, out of 24 long-term projects, four are located within the bounds of District 5. Crucially, the levy includes $26 million in funding for the Northgate Pedestrian Bicycle bridge, which would connect the west side of I-5 and North Seattle College to the new light-rail station at Northgate.
The plan also includes funding for sidewalks and drainage improvements, Safe Routes to Schools, local paving projects, safety corridor improvements, protected bike lanes, and neighborhood greenways.
Sandy Brown: Move Seattle is a necessary next step for replacement of the Bridging the Gap Levy. We do need to communicate better with our constituents about how BTG actually did what we said it would and then also how Move Seattle will do what we promise it will.
We do seem to have some trust issues with some constituencies, and clear communication about progress is important. Finally, I’m concerned about ongoing property-tax levies and their regressivity. We need better and more progressive taxing solutions and need to pressure the Legislature until we have some better avenues for taxation.
Question: You two seem to have different ideas about what it means to represent the people in District 5. Sandy has touted his work with neighbors to restore public access to a lakeside beach. Debora has suggested that public representation goes beyond “any particular interest group that wants a bike lane or to save the [Lake City] beach.”
So what does it mean to you to be a district representative on the council? Will you be a steward for neighborhood plans? How will you address demands from community groups and community councils? How will you work to bring more voices into discussions about district needs?
Sandy Brown: Neighborhood leadership is the heart of our democracy. These are people who’ve sacrificed their time in order to improve their neighborhoods, and I count many in District 5 as my supporters. I will always listen to the voices of local activists who know best what local area needs are, and I believe people should volunteer in the communities in part as a way to build leaders on the local level.
Debora Juarez: The Save the Beach group did an amazing job, and I support building more bike lanes. My comment quoted above was meant to address the exciting fact that we now have a district system. Now local community groups will be able to focus their lobbying efforts for change on their new district representative, instead of having to lobby nine separate City Council members (none of whom currently live in the North End).
A district representative brings access and visibility, and allows for greater inclusion of the input of neighborhood groups and issues.
Question: What do you think is the best strategy to address the growing homeless population?
Debora Juarez: The first thing I say is that we must remember that homelessness is a housing issue, not a criminal issue. Too many times we “house” our chronically homeless in our prisons, when we should be taking a “housing first” approach.
The city needs to make a serious commitment to increasing the supply of transitional housing as well as affordable housing targeted for folks under 30 percent of the area median income. We must follow through on our city’s commitment to housing justice, and the (mayor’s) Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) is a good first step.
Sandy Brown: I’m very pleased with the reorientation of the Committee to End Homelessness in King County (which I co-founded) into the new “All Home.” The new strategies are essentially: 1) prevention, 2) enhanced shelter, 3) quick entry into permanent and transitional housing. The strategy emphasizes a key point I’ve made in the campaign: We need an adequate system of emergency shelter, something that was missing in our original plans 10 years ago.
Housing advocates have called for 1,000 new beds, and I agree with that and go the next step: Let’s provide fully adequate shelter bed capacity to meet our growing street homelessness need. Then let’s budget so we can implement the comprehensive recommendations of All Home King County.
Question: What if anything is the importance of having a history in the district you are running in? How long have you lived in District 5?
Sandy Brown: I have a long history of activism in Seattle and I’m proud to have lived in Seattle most of my life. Living in other Seattle neighborhoods is actually a plus in my mind because I see what they have in comparison to what we have. For instance: rubber-tire trolleys in Central Seattle, but not in the North End. Sidewalks, etc., etc.
I’ve so far knocked on over 11,000 doors and feel I actually have a stronger handle on what people are thinking as a result. I’ve had thousands of conversations with residents.
Debora Juarez: I have lived in Seattle for 30 years, and I have lived in District 5 for 25 years as both a homeowner and a renter. I raised my two children here, been involved in my community here, and paid my taxes here for a very long time. This is important because I have lived through the impressive growth that the North End has experienced, and I understand our vision for the future.
I think my time in our district has given me the best perspective on how to manage our future growth so as to preserve the character and the sense of place that we have in North Seattle.