Seattle and King County Voter Guide 2021

0
430

We gathered several hundred responses from our readers about questions they want candidates to answer. We then took those questions and created a questionnaire for candidates to answer.

Here’s what we asked candidates about homelessness: 

• Would you eliminate all camping on public property? If so, how?
• Do you support sweeps even when housing and/or supportive services are unavailable? 
• What is your plan to reduce the number of unhoused Seattleites? When do you anticipate accomplishing that? How will you pay for your plans? Whose taxes will go up?
• Agree or disagree: Efforts by the city of Seattle and King County to combat homelessness are having too little effect on the problem and there’s almost no accountability. How would you measure success?

On housing: 

• Should the eviction ban continue?
• Do small landlords need specific support from your administration? If so, what does that look like? 
• How will you increase the supply of housing that costs less than 30% of renters’ income?
• Do you support rent control? 
• What letter grade would you give renters’ protections in Seattle and why? 

And here’s a column opinion writer Joni Balter wrote about “Compassion Seattle.”

Not all candidates have yet responded. We will update this section as we get more replies. We only edited for typos, otherwise answers are pasted verbatim. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order by last name. 

 

From the mayoral candidates:

From Colleen Echohawk, candidate for mayor

Echohawk’s emailed reply did not contain details about whether she was responding to a specific question. Her answers are included nearly verbatim, below. 

On homelessness…

It is unacceptable that we live in a city filled with billionaires, yet see grandmothers, brothers, and cousins living on the street. I have dedicated my life to ending Native homelessness. At Chief Seattle Club, we have moved 681 folks into permanent housing since 2018. I will leverage my experience, resources, and partnerships to move to functional zero homelessness. I know it’s possible because at Eagle Village, our shelter targeting those chronically homeless, 53 residents exited and none have returned to homelessness. My 22 Point Emergency Housing Action Plan to move everyone inside in 14 months: https://www.echohawkforseattle.com/emergencyhousing

On housing…

A massive wave of evictions will not benefit anybody as tenants become homeless and suffer more. As Mayor, I will extend the Eviction Moratorium until our communities actually start healing from COVID-19. I will aggressively pursue federal and state dollars, as well as leverage City resources for rent relief. By partnering with BIPOC and neighborhood focused organizations, we can ensure rental assistance is delineated with an equity lens. I support the Utility Discount Program’s cost reductions in Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities for income eligible residents. I believe this program should be expanded.

From Jessyn Ferrell, candidate for mayor

What is your plan to reduce the number of unhoused Seattleites? When do you anticipate accomplishing that? How will you pay for your plans? Whose taxes will go up?

I’ve laid out a step-by-step plan with a specific timeline so the public can hold me accountable to solving this humanitarian crisis. We will provide over 2,000 interim housing options, including hotel rooms, tiny homes, and FEMA emergency housing in the first year, with 3,500 units of permanent supportive housing online within four years. Working families already pay an unacceptably high percentage of their income in taxes; we know we’ll need more revenue than to accomplish this, and we’ll make sure the wealthiest among us are paying their fair share to solve this problem.

On housing:

Should the eviction ban continue?

Yes, for two simple reasons. First, we know it is far less expensive and less traumatic to keep someone housed than it is to lift them out of homelessness. If we allow this wave of evictions to take place, we are making a policy choice to push people out of their homes during an unprecedented crisis that the people who lost their jobs during COVID did nothing to cause. Second, we still have millions in rental relief to distribute — our government’s sluggish response to disbursing state and federal aid should not be the reason anyone loses their home.

From Andrew Grant Houston, candidate for mayor:

Would you eliminate all camping on public property? If so, how?

No, I would not continue the hostile terrorizing of our unhoused neighbors. In a city with an affordability crisis, stagnant wages, and mid-pandemic recovery, it is unreasonable and ineffectual to punish unhoused and unsheltered Seattleites for surviving in a problem we refuse to adequately address. The solution is housing. We must fund and build 2,500 tiny homes as an immediate solution to this crisis.

Do you support sweeps even when housing and/or supportive services are unavailable?

No, sweeps are inhumane. It is within the mayor’s authority to stop all sweeps, which I would do immediately and with no exceptions.

Agree or disagree: Efforts by the city of Seattle and King County to combat homelessness are having too little effect on the problem and there’s almost no accountability? How would you measure success?

Agree. Seattle and King County had close to 12,000 people unhoused and over 5,500 completely unsheltered in the latest Point-in-Time Count Report. The number of unhoused neighbors remained the same over the past few years.

Should the eviction ban continue?

Yes. COVID-19 exacerbated the affordability crisis we already had. We haven’t seen the full economic fallout of the pandemic, let alone an adequate recovery, which means many individuals, including myself, still owe insurmountable rent debts.

 

From Lance Randall, candidate for mayor:

Randall’s emailed reply did not contain details about whether he was responding to a specific question. His answers are included nearly verbatim, below.

On homelessness:

We must end the undignified neglect of our homeless neighbors by City Hall and our leaders. Over the last decade, the number of houseless individuals has skyrocketed, and actions from City leadership have not supported or stabilized these thousands of individuals. To stabilize our neighbors and get them off the streets, I will establish “Dignity Communities” using surplus city property and leasing private property to create safe places for temporary shelter with service providers on site, amenities to meet basic human needs, support teams and job placement for sustainable earned income. 

On housing: 

My strategy will focus on creating more equitable policies that will enable more people to live in the city. I will organize a group of industry and neighborhood leaders with city staff to prioritize the creation of a diversity of rental and for sale housing options. This will include: 

  1. Review opportunities to create a staggered Residential Zoning where density limits are responsive to site conditions, land values and desired outcomes.
  2. Create more flexibility within the Single-family zones, such as reducing the minimum lot size at block ends
  3. Establish more opportunities for Land Trust models

 

From Casey Sixkiller, candidate for mayor: 

Do small landlords need specific support from your administration? If so, what does that look like?

Small landlords are not the villains the City Council has made them out to be — many of them are families trying to earn supplemental income so they can continue to live or retire in Seattle. The City Council’s approach has forced many small landlords to consider selling their properties. As Mayor, I will treat small landlords like the critical partners in meeting Seattle’s housing needs that they are. Rather than choosing sides, I’ll craft practical solutions that keep people housed and ensure small landlords have rental proceeds to pay their bills and keep that unit in the rental market.

 

Responses from City Council Position 9 candidates

From Corey Eichner, Council Position 9 candidate: 

Would you eliminate all camping on public property? If so, how?  

While the long-term solution is being transformative in our city infrastructure with more affordable housing and high-paying jobs, there needs to first be an immediate short-term response.  We have to ensure adequate and appropriate support exists while maintaining that temporary housing structures cannot become permanent fixtures in our community.  We must set a regional budget priority, to massively increase the access and availability of rapid re-housing measures to provide safe alternatives to those without homes.  It doesn’t work to have large-scale shelters with beds and bunks.  There needs to be multiple entry points for rapid rehousing including tiny houses, hotels, safe parking lots, etc.  We need to recognize the dignity and needs of our neighbors and ensure that our temporary homes are provided without preconditions such as requiring employment or being free from substance abuse, and that also meet the individual needs of our neighbors without homes.  

Do you support sweeps even when housing and/or supportive services are unavailable

No

Should the eviction ban continue? 

Yes

Do small landlords need specific support from your administration? If so, what does that look like?

Yes, we have to support individual landlords. We must continue to fund financial support for landlords and look for creative tax exemptions that could be provided to assist landlords struggling to pay mortgage while supporting renters.  Legal advice and support must be provided for both renters and individual landlords supporting renters in crisis.

Do you support rent control? 

Yes

Agree or disagree: Efforts by the city of Seattle and King County to combat homelessness are having too little effect on the problem and there’s almost no accountability? How would you measure success?  

Priorities in government are represented in how budgets are set.  As a city councilmember, addressing the homelessness crisis would be my top priority.  Out of the nearly 130 million federal COVID relief funds, Seattle earmarked only $49 million for housing and homelessness.  I would have supported a much higher percentage. 

 

From Nikkita Oliver, Council Position 9 candidate:

On homelessness:

  1. Do you support sweeps even when housing and/or supportive services are unavailable?
  2. What is your plan to reduce the number of unhoused Seattleites?
  3. Agree or disagree: Efforts by the city of Seattle and King County to combat homelessness are having too little effect on the problem and there’s almost no accountability? How would you measure success?

Stop the sweeps; repurpose the funds to provide our unhoused neighbors with housing, supportive services and radical accessibility. Disrupting the small bit of stability people have self-generated exacerbates our public health and safety crises. Our solutions for housing affordability and homelessness have failed to respond to root causes. We need short term, mid-term and long-term solutions; including radical accessibility, tiny house villages, parking programs, hoteling, and building green, social, affordable housing. The Jump Start Tax has allocations for housing; which is a top priority. There are progressive revenue options such as a vacancy tax, speculation tax, and raising the REET.

On housing:

How will you increase the supply of housing that costs less than 30% of renters’ income?

First, we preserve pre-existing housing that costs less than 30% of a renter’s income. We then end single family zoning. Our current zoning pattern has bifurcated the city; ⅔ of residential land is inaccessible to all but those with the highest incomes. We need a mix of housing and residential patterns including an urban infill strategy. We partner with local non-profits through community land trust and consider a housing trust fund to establish ongoing, publicly funding sources for affordable housing. We will maximize our return on the Multifamily Housing Tax Exemption to incentivize more private developers to build affordable units.

 

From Brianna Thomas, Council Position 9 candidate:

Would you eliminate all camping on public property? If so, how?

No, there are publicly held lands that could be put to work, and we can’t pretend that sweeping people around the City is a “solution”. A return to city sanctioned encampments that provide onsite wrap-around services, autonomy, and have a collective sense of community moves us in the immediate right direction of stabilizing folks coming out of concurrent traumas. During the COVID-19 crisis we saw a substantive uptick in people living in vehicles across the City. Until we are able to provide those folks a safe place to park, make repairs to their vehicles, and get assistance with things like updating tabs and accessing individualized recovery plans, then we must use every tool in our toolkit, including using public land in every corner of the City. 

 

Back to top