Challenger Ann Davison Sattler relentlessly attacked the work of the Seattle City Council and her opponent Councilmember Debora Juarez at a debate Saturday, while Juarez pointed to progress the city has made on homelessness and stressed her work on issues significant to her North Seattle district.
Although the two candidates differed on several significant policies — including potential new funding for housing and homelessness — the sharper disagreements were over responsiveness to constituents and district representation.
“Where were you when people were contacting me about the encampment behind Lake City Way?” Sattler asked. “We didn’t hear your voice when the emphasis patrols were provided but there was no vote saying why aren’t we getting one in the North End.”
She repeated the refrain — “Where were you” — throughout the debate.
Juarez, who as much as any current council member has embraced district representation and frequently speaks of “D5 issues” at City Hall, countered that she is the only council member with an office in her district.
She talked about new projects she’s helped bring to District 5, which stretches across North Seattle from Broadview and Bitter Lake to Northgate and Lake City, including a new National Hockey League practice facility at Northgate, two future light-rail stations and $16 million for a new Lake City Community Center.
During an exchange on the stalled downtown streetcar expansion (Sattler would scrap the project, Juarez wants more study), Juarez made what felt like a broader point, accusing Sattler of just looking to assign blame.
“I don’t think this is a finger-pointing thing where you can just get angry,” said Juarez, 61, who is seeking a second council term after previous tenures as a lawyer, investment banker, superior-court judge and director of the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs. “The world doesn’t work like that and government doesn’t work like that.”
Sattler, 51, a lawyer who previously worked as an executive with the Seattle SuperSonics, responded that it wasn’t her intent to be angry.
“I’m up here because we want to be heard and we want things to take place,” she said. “We want action.”
Both stressed their personal experience as integral to their approach to politics.
“I work hard, man,” Juarez said. “In Indian country, this is how we’re raised.”
Sattler said that spending time in foster care and being adopted gives her “such great empathy for what’s going on in our streets right now.”
The event at the Greenwood Senior Center was the second 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.
Juarez collected 45% of the vote in August’s six-candidate District 5 primary, to 27% for Sattler.
On homelessness, Sattler said the city doesn’t need new funding sources, just better stewardship of its current budget. Juarez pointed to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s new proposed tax on Uber and Lyft rides as one appropriate new revenue stream, but said she’d also like to see new, unspecified progressive funding sources.
Juarez voted for a head tax on big businesses last year before abruptly reversing her vote to help a 7-2 council majority repeal the measure — a move that came after Amazon and other businesses announced they would fund an initiative campaign to roll back the tax.
She said any new similar taxes would have to go to the voters for approval.
Sattler said she opposed tolling downtown streets, while Juarez favors it, as long as there’s a focus on equity for low-income people who might be subject to the fees.
District 5 has, so far, been the least expensive of the seven council district races this year. Juarez has raised about $93,000, the vast majority through the publicly-funded democracy-vouchers program, which imposes stricter fundraising limits on participating candidates. Sattler, who is not participating in the democracy-vouchers program, has raised just over $49,000, including $14,000 of her own money.
Juarez also has the endorsements of local Democratic groups, most local unions and Durkan, while Sattler is endorsed by The Seattle Times editorial board.