The six frontrunners — Nikkita Oliver, Bob Hasegawa, Jessyn Farrell, Jenny Durkan, Mike McGinn and Cary Moon — sat down for the Growing Gracefully Mayoral Forum this month.
Most of the candidates are former office holders and entrepreneurs and operate in social circles comprised of lofty political power and corporate endorsements. They spoke to solutions of problems with a 10-foot pole of authenticity, out of touch with the footsteps of our reality.
Seventy-five percent of the time, most of the candidates may have said the “right response” for what the city needs and what people want to hear. But they say it with a flat tone that has never spoken for and been there on the ground, in the city, in the schools and at the rallies and in the community. People in the community, doing real work to save the youth, making safe spaces for our citizens.
In response to a question about preserving historic centers and culture, State Rep. Jessyn Farrell mentioned stopping gentrification, although I find it odd that she couldn’t be found at any of the only anti-gentrification rallies in the city. The weekly “We want in” rallies occurred all through the spring, on the Central District’s heavily gentrified corner of 23rd and Union.
“Make streets more walkable.” Are those streets walkable for Black people? Before we improve the visual aesthetics that were a rousing theme in remarks by McGinn, Moon, Ferrell and Durkan.
Durkan said that Columbia City has been a protected city when it comes to preserving culture. Has she not seen the luxury condominiums, the expensive yoga studios that minorities can’t afford, the chain stores such as All The Best Pet Care, and Pagliacci Pizza and PCC, clearing out Black-owned community businesses?
With candidates like Nikkita Oliver bringing out knowledge and a sense of political analysis and intersectionality to the forefront, mayoral forum moderators are no longer asking liberal questions to be met with status quo politics, as in prior elections. This is reflected in questions to raise the bar for Seattle. The candidates most grounded and invested in reality are shaping the race.
State Sen. Bob Hasegawa may have said some good things, but he had to give the credit to other candidates, who often said they wanted to “piggyback off of what Nikkita said.”
Who do you trust to have the political will and the commitment to support affordability and to change the definition of what affordable is? Not just the relatively surface-level “liberal” tendencies, but the dynamic and invested heart for real, tangible justice you can taste. Who can say that in their own words, from the premise of compassion and with the authenticity of a real community member?
Community-detached, highly connected political elites aren’t good candidates because they say so, or because they were the only person wearing a “D” in a self-professed liberal state. They have to prove it: Were they there?
Gui Jean-Paul Chevalier is a Seattle-based recording artist and author from rural Washington, living counter-small-town mind for the cause of humanity. Read previous columns from Gui.
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