Tammy Morales and Mark Solomon diverged sharply on multiple issues Tuesday night as they debated who should next represent District 2 on the Seattle City Council.
Morales said the city should adopt new public-safety approaches, cease clearing unauthorized homeless encampments, tax large corporations and accelerate bike-lane construction.
“Moving people from one side of the street to another is not only inhumane but a waste of city resources,” she said.
Solomon said Seattle should grow its police force, continue trying to move people from encampments inside, pursue public-private partnerships “rather than going to the tax well” and think twice before building bike lanes that can go underused.
“Leaving (homeless campers) in those conditions is not humane,” Solomon said.
During one rapid exchange, Solomon said, “What I’m saying is there has to be balance, not that we don’t need bike lanes.”
Morales replied, “There is no balance right now. It’s all about cars.”
Early on, the candidates were asked about a recent deadly shooting at the Westlake light-rail station.
Seattle must hire more police, Solomon contended, noting the city’s population has boomed. Morales said black-market guns “are everywhere,” calling for a firearm-tracing law. Both said community organizations that prevent violence should be bolstered.
Morales and Solomon are competing for an open seat because Council President Bruce Harrell decided not to seek reelection. District 2 encompasses Southeast Seattle and Georgetown, stretching from the Chinatown International District to Rainier Beach.
The clash at the Rainier Arts Center in Columbia City was the first in a series of City Council debates hosted by Seattle CityClub, with The Seattle Times, Seattle Channel, KUOW, KCTS/Crosscut, KING-TV and KOMO-TV as media partners.
All seven of the council’s district seats are up for grabs this year, with only three incumbents running. The two candidates in each district with the most votes in August’s primary election advanced to the Nov. 5 general election.
Morales, 50, is a Lakewood homeowner and a community organizer with the Rainier Beach Action Coalition. Solomon, 59, is a Beacon Hill homeowner and crime-prevention coordinator with the Seattle Police Department.
Morales finished first among six candidates in District 2’s primary, garnering 50% of the vote. Her campaign has raised $168,399 from 2,265 donors, with $124,925 sourced from taxpayer-funded democracy vouchers.
She’s endorsed by groups such as the union for Seattle Public School teachers and Seattle’s Sierra Club Chapter and politicians such as U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Seattle Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda.
In an opening statement Tuesday night, she said she was “raised by strong women” to work for economic justice. “The time for incrementalism” on taxing large businesses and building affordable housing “is over,” Morales added.
She pointed to work in Texas, saying she helped a Democratic lawmaker pass a measure in a Republican-dominated state.
Solomon was endorsed by The Seattle Times editorial board and finished second in August, earning 23% of the vote. His campaign has raised $83,910 from 1,087 donors, with $65,675 sourced from democracy vouchers.
He’s endorsed by groups such as the unions for Seattle’s city-government office workers and firefighters and leaders such as Mayor Jenny Durkan and former Mayor Norm Rice.
In the primary, an independent PAC associated with the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce put about $120,000 behind him.
Solomon mentioned growing up in Beacon Hill and said living in the house his grandparents built has helped him to remain while neighbors have been priced out.
Solomon said he’s running because, “This is my home,” and vowed to be more responsive to constituents than some current council members have been.
He cited experience commanding troops in the Air Force as evidence he won’t be pushed around but said he would collaborate with colleagues.
Though both candidates expressed support for employers subsidizing transit passes and concern about fare-enforcement officers targeting some people more than others, Morales suggested the city might require subsidies and said public money spent on fare enforcement could be better used, while Solomon said Seattle should encourage employers to help and stopped short of arguing against enforcement.
As for last year’s short-lived head tax on high-grossing businesses, Morales said some such measure is needed to address homelessness because working people can’t keep dealing with property-tax hikes. Solomon said he worried about whether the money would be smartly spent. City Hall should partner more with businesses and religious institutions, he said.
Asked for a disagreement with the mayor, Solomon said she shouldn’t have used extra soda-tax revenue to bolster Seattle’s general fund. Asked for an agreement with Durkan, Morales said she couldn’t think of one.
Morales expressed support for allowing duplexes and triplexes on more blocks and for safe drug-consumption sites, mentioning her property includes a garage apartment and saying, “people hate density but they also hate sprawl.” Solomon voiced doubt about both ideas, noting consumption sites may not treat addiction and saying he would prefer to see Seattle concentrate density around transit hubs.
The next two debates in the CityClub series are Saturday at the Greenwood Senior Center. The District 5 candidates will take the stage at 12 p.m., followed by the District 6 candidates at 2 p.m.