Over the past month, Real Change’s editorial team has met with six candidates running for office in the city of Seattle. We tackled homelessness, housing and youth incarceration. While we were at it, we asked candidates about the Sonics and their favorite bars in Seattle.
The process was a departure for Real Change. Shortly after the coming election day, I will celebrate six years working for Real Change. And prior to this, each election cycle followed pretty much the same reporting model: A single reporter met with the candidates of a single race, tried to understand their platforms, examined their financing and offered a straight forward news article attempting to contrast the candidates.
Often this was illuminating but other times it was hard to pick apart the distinct differences between candidates who almost invariably operate in a political spectrum limited to shades of blue.
This year, we shook our system up a bit and are presenting six candidates in three races in a slightly different format. I joined reporters Ashley Archibald and Lisa Edge to meet with the final two candidates in three races: mayor, city attorney and Seattle City Council Position No. 8.
Due to space limitations, we were not able to cover every significant race taking place in the region. We selected competitive races that highlight important issues that we believe need to be addressed in Seattle.
While we tailored our questions to each candidate, we tried to speak with opponents on the same issues. How do mayoral candidates Cary Moon and Jenny Durkan plan to address the encampment sweeps? How would Seattle City Council candidates Teresa Mosqueda and Jon Grant approach police contract negotiations? How do Scott Lindsay and Pete Holmes view the role of the city attorney?
We also examined donation data and use of Democracy Vouchers, a new voter-approved initiative that provides four $25 donation vouchers for voters to provide to the eligible candidate of their choice. Who is using them? How much did each candidate donate to their own race? Who collected the most donations from outside of Seattle?
All those answers begin on page 5 in an alternative format, picking out the most important quotes and concepts that we learned in these interviews.
We want to provide a snapshot of each of these candidates, but we leave the decision to you. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Real Change cannot endorse candidates running for office. Real Change can, and occasionally does, endorse ballot initiatives and other legislative decisions.
What became clear in these conversations is that these races could potentially change the direction that Seattle takes as it continues its attempts to become an inclusive city to all while resisting the challenges coming from the other Washington.
These candidates differ on important issues that deserve your attention.
Jenny Durkan proposes a continuation of Mayor Ed Murray’s housing agenda with some improvements. Cary Moon wants a new plan that focuses more on the creation of public housing.
Pete Holmes tries hard to “stay in my lane” in his role as city attorney. Scott Lindsay wants the office to take its considerable staff to move policy changes forward.
Jon Grant wants to take police union contract negotiations on disciplinary measures out into the open.
Teresa Mosqueda wants to bring community members into those closed-door conversations.
From my vantage point at Real Change, I hope these candidates have an eye over the complex factors that contribute to homelessness, poverty and inequity. I hope that these candidates are unwavering in addressing the ways that racism and classism shape the city we live in.
And I hope that they recognize the varied nature of homelessness — how homeless people are not a monolith and that people living in doorways, in tents, in organized encampments, in cars and in RVs have unique needs and experiences that require unique solutions.
We’ll see you at the voting box.
Aaron Burkhalter is the editor. Have a story idea? He can be can reached at aaronb (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Twitter @aaronburkhalter
Election 2017: Seattle Mayor
Election 2017: City Council Position No. 8
Election 2017: City Attorney
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Wait, there's more. Check out articles in the full October 25 issue.