The opponents also traded points during a debate on housing and homelessness at St. James Cathedral in Seattle on First Hill Thursday night.
Unions that represent Seattle supermarket and hotel workers announced endorsements of mayoral candidate Cary Moon on Friday.
UFCW 21 and Unite Here Local 8 are exceptions to the rule in the race between Moon and Jenny Durkan, who has the backing of 19 union locals and the Martin Luther King County Labor Council, an umbrella group.
In backing Moon, UFCW 21 said she could work with the council to “improve the lives of workers in our city that has become far too expensive for far too many.”
The night before, the opponents traded points during a debate on housing and homelessness at St. James Cathedral on First Hill in Seattle.
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Moon backpedaled on her stance about Seattle guaranteeing shelter for people experiencing homelessness, denying that she had previously supported the idea of a “right-to-shelter” ordinance.
During a debate at Seattle University Sept. 12, the candidates were asked, “Should the city adopt an ordinance that guarantees people the right to shelter?”
Moon hesitated, then replied, “That’s a really good question. I think, yes. I think, as a society that cares about one another, that wants to watch out for the well-being of everyone, everyone deserves the right to shelter,” she said.
“We haven’t done a good job with it,” Moon said at the time. “We sort of have this system where we provide housing as it becomes available instead of housing as a right that everyone deserves — like we all deserve clean air, we all deserve clean water, we all deserve access to health care.”
She concluded, “So let’s make sure we set up the system to actually follow through, though — we write the ordinance and then also have a backup of how we’re going to achieve the goal of the ordinance. So, yes.”
New York City has a right-to-shelter approach based on a 1979 lawsuit. The approach has dramatically reduced the number of people living on the streets — at an annual cost of $1.1 billion.
When The Seattle Times checked with Moon’s campaign later that week, spokeswoman Heather Weiner stuck with the stance and said Moon would look at other cities for what works best.
Moon offered a modified view Thursday when challenged on the issue by Durkan, who said she wouldn’t seek a right-to-shelter ordinance.
“I did not say we need an ordinance for right to shelter,” Moon said. “I said, in the same way that we in our society consider every human has a right to clean air, to clean water, to enough food to eat, to health care, we should consider that every human has a right to shelter. And we should be pursuing that goal in what we do.”
She added, “I’m not sure an ordinance is the right way to do it, but we need to set that as our highest goal. It’s not a legal right but it is a social right, a human right and a political right.”
In a statement Friday, Moon said, “In theory, I support a so-called ‘right to shelter’ and that is why I said yes at a previous debate. It is wrong to jump to the conclusion that I would, as mayor, push a binding Seattle ordinance similar to laws in New York City.”
Durkan mentioned during the debate her own proposal that the city open up community centers or other spaces in each of its seven City Council districts.
Land use and zoning were another focus, as Durkan noted Seattle’s authority to charge development-impact fees and said the city should relax permitting for the construction of backyard cottages.
Moon agreed about the cottages, also calling for more duplexes, row homes and stacked flats on blocks where only single-family houses are now allowed to be built.
“We have more land in single-family zoning in our city now than we ever have in the past,” she said. “Single-family zoning is a process of class exclusion. It is a socio-economic exclusion tool that I think we have to confront.”
She added, “Just as redlining was a racial exclusion tool, single-family zoning can be doing the same thing around how wealthy people are. So we’ve got to really look at how we can add infill development in single-family zones.”
The supermarket-workers union’s earlier pick for mayor, Jessyn Farrell, failed to advance past August’s primary. In 2013, the union endorsed then-Mayor Mike McGinn.
Besides the Labor Council, which made no endorsement in the 2013 race between McGinn and Ed Murray, Durkan has support from unionized firefighters, longshore and warehouse workers, ironworkers, Teamsters, nursing-home workers, plumbers and construction-trade workers, among others.
Moon’s other two labor endorsements are from unionized janitors and child-care workers.