The race for District 4 — a heterogenous section of Seattle that encompasses the lakeside community of Sand Point to Wallingford by Aurora Avenue — took a turn after the primary. Of all of the candidate pairs to fulfill the narrative of a Seattle split between a lurch to the political center versus a leftward shift, perhaps none has done so more than Alex Pedersen and Shaun Scott.
Pedersen worked in the Clinton administration and spent years in the private sector as well as advising former Councilmember Tim Burgess, a centrist Democrat anywhere else, practically a Republican in Seattle. He put weight on listening to constituents, finding budget efficiencies and decrying how the current council ran roughshod over District 4.
Scott is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America who worked on the campaign of Rep. Pramila Jayapal as well as being an author, historian and — briefly — the interim editor at Real Change. He is focused on a progressive agenda that will be paid for through a redistributive politics to counteract what both see as a regressive taxation system.
Boiled down to a few words, they sound like they want the same things — affordable housing, better transit, density without displacement. Allowed the time, it’s clear they want to go about it different ways.
The following has been lightly edited for clarity.
Real Change: Why are you running for City Council?
Shaun Scott: I'm running for City Council because I've lived in Seattle for 26 years have been an organizer around race and social justice, housing justice, economic justice in the city for about a decade. I just had a sense that we were not going to see the kind of leadership that vulnerable and targeted communities need from these council races in this particular district, if we didn't have an organizer with deep ties to frontline communities running in this race. I understood as somebody who's been an organizer with the Seattle Democratic Socialists of America that this is a real turning-point election and that the voice of people that need to see real action from the council on social housing, on redistributive justice, on housing the homeless — it needed to be there in these races and so I decided to run because I felt like I had a certain amount of experience and I've accrued over the years and being an organizer and a lot of perspective that would be valuable in this race and ultimately valuable on the City Council.
RC: Would you have run if Rob Johnson has stayed in the race?
SS: Yes. Rob Johnson — If I remember correctly — announced that he was not going to be running on my birthday. I don't want that to be misinterpreted. That wasn't a gift from Rob we were. I was planning on running for the seat regardless, because you know council really strong leadership in the council around issues of social housing and economic justice was not something that we had seen as much as we need to have seen in previous years. So, I was fully prepared to.
RC: What is it with your birthday and big political events?
SS: Isn't it crazy? I mean Trump was elected on my birthday in 2016. And then Rob last year. And I think [President John F. Kennedy] was elected in 1960 on my birthday as well. It's just something about an early November birthday that just really likes to bring the drama. And then my birthday is going to be you know right around the corner from the election this November so you know we're organizing our asses off to make sure it's going to be a happy one.
RC: The narrative around this election season after the primary has been progressive candidate vs. business-backed candidate. How do you frame this election, and what are District 4 voters choosing between?
SS: I think District 4 voters are choosing between inclusivity and exclusivity. I think an inclusive vision for the city is one that we've tried to put forward in our race. We've tried to put forward a vision for a city where there is enough housing for people who are already here and also for people on the way. An inclusive city is one where we're not balancing our budgets using exclusively regressive taxes but we're seeking progressive revenue options so that you know working families are not feeling gouged by property taxes as much as they are, and renters and students are not feeling the squeeze of regressive sales taxes.
I think an inclusive city is one that has an actually accountable police force in the district where Charleena Lyles was killed by the police in 2017. We have to really take action on police accountability with respect to, maybe establishing or expanding, the community service officer program. Those are unarmed officers that would be directing people to services and helping them come down from mental health episodes. And I think an inclusive city is one where you don't have to be making upwards of $100,000 a year to be able to live here.
It's one where we're looking at land use decisions and reversing an earlier history of racial and class segregation that's been manifest in our zoning code which has outlawed apartments and multifamily housing in 80 percent of the city including most of my own District 4. An inclusive city is one where we have ample transit options where we're using the gift of the two red light rail stations that we have opening up in District 4 over the next half decade to actually place more multifamily housing and expand out from there.
And I think in an exclusive vision is one that does the opposite of all of those things. It's a vision for the city that kicks the can on really hard questions about revenue up to the county, up to the state, up to the federal government. I think it's one that asks for increased police presence but not for increased police accountability. I think it's one with an exclusive vision for the city which is not one that I share, is one that says we need to continue to waste $10 million a year on sweeps of the homeless population which I do not support.
And I think it's ultimately going to come down to both campaigns in this race and us making the case for an inclusive vision for the city. I think that's what voters are going to be wanting to see and that's what we're going do our best to put forward.
RC: Much of your work has been about holding power to account and pushing from the outside. What would be different if you were working on politics from the inside?
SS: I used to be a field organizer for Pramila Jayapal, so I saw what it looked like to actually bring an organizer's mentality into the halls of power. And it's it really amounts to working twice as hard, which coming as a Black man in the United States, that's a message that I received very early from my parents. In my role as a City Council member, it's not going to be enough to make sure that we're studying up on policy, that I'm well aware of all the policy considerations and impacts of any given decision that we're making.
There's a community-building component to it that has to be there as well so that the communities that made my candidacy possible, constituent groups that make my candidacy possible, organizers that are looking to this campaign and also in my tenure as a City Council member to be somebody who continues to speak truth to power — we need to make sure that they're included in any given policy decision that we're making as well. So that doesn't end simply as a result of “jumping the broom” as it were into being on the “inside.”
I think in a lot of ways the movement building that we've had to do to even get through a very competitive primary into the general is only going to intensify in the event that we're actually elected. I look at the way that City Council meetings go down at this point where you have a lot of meetings that are held at points in the day for example where it's pretty inaccessible for people who are mostly impacted by the decisions that are being made there. That's the kind of consideration that we need to look at potentially changing and just expanding what it looks like to be a council member who's actually listening to the community, having regular office hours in the community, constituent services office in the community so that people who are not used to seeing themselves represented in city government see me representing them in city government.
RC: You've raised a lot of money. I think the most actually through the Democracy Voucher program right. Your opponent has raised more overall money. He also has three political action committees behind him. How are you overcoming that challenge of potentially being outspent. How are you getting your message out?
SS: We were outspent by a number of campaigns I think in the in the primary. Emily Myers, who waged a really great campaign had significant labor support, was a real challenge to keep up with in the course of the primary. Cathy Tuttle was knocking on a lot of doors and was independently wealthy in ways that I think set her campaign up pretty well. So we've been we've been jumping over hurdles and obstacles and we take a lot of pride in our ability to overcome them up to this point.
I think that what we're going to have to see is a few things. Number one is making sure that our campaign is building a coalition with our partners in organized labor, building a coalition with the environmental justice community so that it's not only our campaign that's waging this fight against some pretty massive corporate interests that are going to be dumping probably more money than god into this race. But we were used to this kind of pressure through the primary. We knocked on more doors than any campaign certainly in District 4 perhaps citywide.
We knocked on about 19,000 doors, two or three dozen tabling sessions reaching thousands of voters through text banking. So it's really the on-the-ground organizing that’s hard to replicate no matter how much money you have because canvassing is hard and voter contact is difficult to do.
But we're cut out for it and I think it's going to have to be an on-the-ground race. There are a lot of people who thought what was going to end up happening was that we could have potentially had been knocked out by the by the [Chamber of Commerce] even in the primary election. And they focused most of their attention I think on Emily, on elevating Emily Myers’ campaign. And so we know that that gaze or that spotlight is really going to be on us as well.
But it's nothing that we haven't been used to up to this point. You know we've been on Safe Seattle weekly and you know that that kind of scrutiny is something that our campaign most of us being organizers already have been kind of made for.
RC: What are the key issues that you see as unique to District 4 and how do you plan to address them?
SS: So I think District 4 is defined in a lot of ways by disparity. We have the richest per capita neighborhood in Laurelhurst and the neighborhood with the most amount of people per capita that are making poverty-level wages in the University District with as many students as we have there. It's an area where we have food banks and Nickelsville, an established encampment, in the same district as a 55-acre country club. And I think that disparity and reconciling that profound disparity in incomes and prosperity is a gap that we have to bridge if we're serious about actually being an inclusive city.
So we have talked in the course of my campaign about a Seattle-specific Green New Deal. We led on this issue. It's not just about building the housing that we need so people can live close to the city core or having more transit options, it's also about the revenue that we're going to need to actually pay for these things. So, we have said that we would like to see the reintroduction of a of a payroll tax or a head tax. That's something that we would absolutely want to build the political will for and the relationships to see happen on the council.
We've talked about a real estate vacancy tax so that if there are large developers that are putting up units that are potentially going to be unaffordable to working people in the area — like there's a 24-story luxury unit that's a luxury building that's getting ready to go up that the opening of which is probably going to be coincident with another recession and therefore might lay empty for a number of months — we should disincentivize that kind of development with a speculation tax and redistribute that revenue into the construction of actual affordable housing so that the students and renters and people that are on the brink and the district can stay.
You know Emily Myers did a great job of talking a lot about an excess compensation tax that stops that. That's a proposal that I shared her enthusiasm for. If there's a company that's that's able to pay workers in excess of $300,000 there's a certain tax that could be levied against that kind of gulfing wealth inequality within a company at the state level that could raise as much as $225 million that could go towards housing.
And when you have I think representatives that are standing up for that kind of redistributive justice on the one hand and all the tenants’ rights and housing organizers that we have in District 4 we start to shift the tenor of the discourse. Most of what we're doing in politics now is doing a lot of listening to people that have had it pretty well. And that's one scale of the the district. The other scale of the district in that disparity that I was describing earlier is one that we need to be making sure that we're taking care of and boosting up as well.
So I would definitely say that the defining issue is disparity and the answer has to be redistribution and economic parity and fairness.
RC: You have a very ambitious policy platform. What will you prioritize and what do you want to get done first and how do you sell that to your council colleagues and the mayor who is perhaps a bit more conservative than you?
SS: Well we were happy to be endorsed in this race by Cary Moon, Mayor [Jenny] Durkan’s 2017 general election opponent, because I think Cary represented not just good talk about what it meant to have a progressive city but had a platform that I think was equally as ambitious as mine and a lot of ways and we've pulled a lot from policy proposals that she's laid out as far as a Freelancer’s Bill of Rights in particular. I think that the composition of the council is, actually if we take care of business, it's looking like Tammy [Morales] is in good shape [in District 2].
You have to think that Kshama is the favorite in District 3. As progressive as Councilmembers [Teresa] Mosqueda and Lorena Gonzalez are, the sensitivity that [Councilmember] Lisa Herbold also brings to issues of displacement and renters’ rights — not to leave out [Councilmember] Debora [Juarez,] but her race I think is probably the safest one — I think that's actually a pretty favorable council for the kinds of things that we want to see done. I know that because there are a number of things that Teresa talked about in her race that we echo the potentially the use of our bonding capacity, using civic debt to pay for affordable housing.
Lisa Herbold was responsible for stewarding a report that included a recommendation about decriminalizing sex work. So we know that that's something that is on her radar. Lorena Gonzalez, despite voting for a police contract that a number of groups identified at the time as a disaster for police accountability, has since taken the side of those community groups that said that the [Seattle Police Officers Guild] contract contains some real deficits as far as police accountability is concerned. So that's a bridge. And I know that Councilmember Sawant and Tammy also have made economic justice and a Seattle Green New Deal core to their platforms and what they're running on as well.
So I think the relationships are there and I think what it has to do with is is focusing on the issues as opposed to some of the interpersonal wrangling that I think people have maybe seen and grown accustomed to getting sick of with city councils past. With the real progressive wave and us trying to really clear space in the city for what it means to have a truly progressive agenda, I think that we'll be able to make use of those the demonstrated sensitivity to the issues on the ground that other council members have shown.
We're really confident about that.
RC: How do you plan to fund your policy priorities?
SS: I take my cues from a report that the City Council released in the months leading up to the passage of the Employee Head Tax following a task force that was done in early 2018.
They said look if the, head tax ends up getting repealed or for whatever reason it doesn't work out, here's a menu of about six or seven revenue options that the city has the latitude to pursue. Among those was the excess compensation tax that I talked about, the real estate vacancy or speculation tax, I believe there's also a mansion sales tax that was recommended as well. I think we also need to be looking at the fact that we have County Council elections happening as well. And you know our campaign wants to build relationships with some of the candidates to make sure that we're we know that we can actually have a city-county partnership.
I think too often when we talk about regional solutions to housing and homelessness that's in a lot of ways a euphemism for “it's just not going to happen at the city level so look to you know look to the county or look to the state.” This is our way of saying, “Well, let's call the bluff there.” We actually are going to have some turnover in the County Council. Let's you know build those relationships and build those inroads so that we can actually make good on increasing the revenue commitments that we need to make to actually have serious solutions with respect to affordable housing in this area.
It's a number of things, both things that the city has identified but not necessarily taken a leadership on that it's need to have taken and then also partnering with the county. And I think which is something that's happened in in Portland in Los Angeles. Portland recently had a debt financing proposal that brought in about $1 billion in its partnership with Multnomah County and I know Los Angeles had a Proposition HH H I think it was called that was also about using county revenue for addressing homelessness and that's something that we can absolutely do here in the city as well.
RC: The economy is showing signs of weakness and suddenly everybody is overnight an expert on the inverted yield curve. Germany's economy is faltering. No deal Brexit will hit the global economy hard. Trump’s trade war with China is hurting Washington's agricultural industry. If we face another recession what will you do to protect satellites?
SS: The difference between Germany and the United States is that Germany has actually made over the decades a real investment in its social safety net. The United States has not done that. When I got out of school in 2008 it was the summer of the Great Recession and the years after that. What happened with the state and its budget shortfalls is that they decided to make up gaps in revenue by increasing tuition. I look at some of the tuition increases that hit my peers were a little bit younger than me even as early as 2009, ’10, ‘11 and you started to see where young people at that point were really getting penalized for the crime of going to try to get an education from a major R1 university which is just not something that we should be doing.
At the microlevel groups have been organizing around this for years. I mean the Transit Riders Union had a Trump Proof Seattle campaign was oriented around instituting an income tax which was later proved to be… I won’t say “illegal,” I’ll say “semi-illegal” by the state Supreme Court. So there might be legal daylight around instituting that kind of tax at the city level. Who knows what might happen over the next four years? And so it's here again — and I don't want to sound like I’m banging the same note over and over again here — but it has to do with the fact that for so long institutions and organizations that have been providing supportive housing, non-profit housing providers that have shovel-ready projects but not necessarily the money to acquire the land needed for them need revenue.
And even the Chamber of Commerce's own commissioned study in 2018 the McKinsey report said that if we're serious about addressing our housing issues and the constellation of issues that come with it — as far as mental health treatment, as far as food banks — we will have to double our revenue commitment. So that there again is another reason why I think the lack of economic parity in our city is a really defining problem not just for my district, but for the city as a whole. And that's only going to get exacerbated in the course of a recession. Iit also bears pointing out that so often we see these recessions or turn downs in the business cycle and oftentimes our civic leaders use those as an opportunity to double down on the same things that got us into that recession in the first place, so that we did not necessarily see at the local level a push in 2008 or ‘09 to additional revenue sources because the thinking at that time was just the market we'll be able to figure itself out we only need to subsidize it to the point where it can get back on its feet.
And that's just proven to be roundly untrue. So, I think this has to be taken as an opportunity at all level of government levels of government if there is a recession — which is seeming increasingly likely by the day — we need to have policy proposals in place for actually getting us to the place where the public sector doesn't have to sustain huge losses, where working people don't have to sustain mass layoffs, where housing prices don't escalate and explode through the next recession cycle and take this as an opportunity to rebuild an economy that will actually work for everybody.
RC: You touched on this briefly earlier but how do you plan to tackle housing affordability in the district in District 4. Do you support upzoning the Ave? What's your take on single family zoning?
SS: So to take the questions in reverse, I think land use decisions generally is one of the main levers of power that the City Council has to transform our city. Single family zoning has made apartment complexes illegal in upwards of 80 percent of the city. Again if we're actually serious about building the housing that we need to meet our climate goals so people aren't driving such long distances to and from work, pumping those carbon emissions into the air, if we're serious about giving students a break in so that they're not having to worry about two and three and four jobs while going to school to cover the cost of rent and rising costs of living, then we have to reform our zoning code to make it so that our city can absorb more multi-family apartments.
That has to be coupled I think with a commitment to public investment in housing, because we don't want to have a situation where we're just opening up more swathes of land so that developed developers that are not necessarily based here can build housing only affordable to people who are making $95,000 a year. So we do have to proceed with caution, but proceed nonetheless. Upzoning the Ave could be combined with pedestrianizing the Ave. It's something that the new District Mobility Group has called for and suddenly you would have an area where more people are encouraged to explore the city on foot. That would be good for the small businesses that are in the area.
Our campaign is looking into what a what a comprehensive rent commercial rent control policy would look like.
I mean the area as well so that we don't see huge rates of displacement especially for the immigrant and [people of color]-owned businesses in that area. And the first question that you asked was tackling housing. And these are all related to one another in the sense that the Chamber of Commerce whose own study saying we need to double the amount of money that we're spending on that we're currently spending on housing and housing services in the area and that would have to come from a combination of sources both city level and county level.
But when even the Chamber of Commerce is telling you we're not spending enough money on this and we need more revenue, what more of a signal do you need that we're just not doing enough? Part of the reason why some candidates are able to say the city is throwing away money is because if you're chronically underfunding certain programs then of course the money is actually going to be wasted because you're not actually meeting the financial benchmarks you need to get to for a given program to work. I was not supported or endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce in this race — surprise, surprise —but I do think that they were onto something in the McKinsey report which they funded, and very promptly tried to back away from I might add when it when it indicated that we needed increased revenue that was probably going to have to come from a combination of federal grants and taxes on the business community. I actually share and support that recommendation. I would be curious to see if my opponent in this race who has been endorsed by the Chamber would stand by the Chamber's own study which says that it's going to take more redistributive justice to actually house the homeless in this area.
RC: Youth homelessness is down in the county overall but it's still highly concentrated in the university district. At the same time shelters and services that target youth and young adults are being pushed out and how do you address this issue?
SS: I think it has to do with making sure that we're hearing from the impacted communities and not making high-level policy decisions that don't actually take into account the needs of people who are going to be impacted. Youth homelessness is a multifaceted, very articulated problem where people find themselves houseless for a number of causes. For some people it has to do with economic stressors. For others it has to do with maybe people running away from home because they might be LGBTQIA+ folks in households that are not that are not tolerant.
We see so much about you know getting neighborhood feedback from folks that opposed bike lanes or want to see a bike lane or neighborhood feedback from people who want to see a transit lane. What about a neighborhood feedback process and a focus group process for people that are actually going through houselessness and homelessness so we can hear what it is exactly that they need and we can invite frontline communities and partners that are actually doing the work but need work more resources to do it well to hear what the areas of need are? Even if we get to a point where there is gridlock around the City Council not necessarily wanting to make good on all the funding — the promise of more funding that I think we need to be seeing — identifying those areas of need is going to help us when we're building relationships with state legislators, when we're building relationships with federal legislators around what additional funding could do. So I would say a big part of this has to do with moving the echo chamber of Seattle politics, if you will, in the direction of making sure that we're getting all the feedback that we need from people who are the most vulnerable not those who for whom the system is currently working pretty well.
RC: What's your policy on homeless encampments sweeps?
SS: I don't support the sweeps. I mean I think we have wasted $10 million a year on brutal and inhumane sweeps of the homeless in the city of Seattle. I went to one of these sweeps last year and in April of 2018 as a as a protester and as a journalist and saw firsthand not only how cruel they are but also how ineffective they were in the sense that the Ravenna Woods encampment in District 4 was I believe that was the fourth time in about four or five months that it had been swept. To what end I do not necessarily know, but I know that if you spend $10 million dollars a year and that that number is poised to go up, it looks like, because Mayor [Jenny] Durkan has decided to go down the road of embracing what even she called “broken windows policing” and escalating the sweeps that we're seeing in the area.
We've been doing that for six or seven years so people have to ask themselves: Looking back, would you rather have had that $60 or $70 million of revenue spent on some of these services that we actually need as far as supportive housing as far as expanding Law Enforcement Assistant diversion programs or do you think that that was money well spent on some of these encampments? Do you think that we should continue with the sweeps or do you think that we need consumption sites and treatment centers so people can get the treatment that they need especially where housing intersects with homelessness? Do you think $60 or $70 million a year worked for the sweeps or do you think that money could have gone into a community service officer program where you have officers that are you know going to some of these encampments and getting people connected to services?
I think this is a real question and one point of differentiation among many between myself and the opposition in this race and in some of the other City Council races —I think when we're going in the direction of having a more holistic city, a compassionate city. It turns out those are also just better policy recommendations and concerns than doing things like sweeps that waste time and money and by the by there are members of the city's own Navigation Team who have said that they're starting to lose morale and are sitting out some of these visits that are happening between the Police Department and these encampments because they're just not working. They were brought on people who were wanting to provide actual services to help houseless people who need them, were brought on thinking that they were going to be doing real good.
And that's turned out to be something other than I think what was promised. So, I absolutely do not support the sweeps. And I think that they were a failed policy and an ineffective one in addition to a cruel one.
RC: How do you plan to improve transportation and road safety?
SS: So road safety is you know in a district where we've had 35th Avenue — I think has been a real fault line in the conversation or on road safety — is another big differentiating point between an inclusive vision and an exclusive vision for the city. I think that people should be able to explore their city on foot by bike without the fear of being the latest pedestrian casualty.
And so I would absolutely support the building out of the city's Bike Master Plan which Mayor Durkan campaigned on. That would include placing bike lanes around major roads like 35th Avenue because they have a dampening effect on traffic speeds that make them actually safer for pedestrians to walk on. So I would start with the basics and say that a number of council members who campaigned on seeing a Bike Master Plan built out as well as the mayor know can really recognize that this is an opportunity to make our streets safer here safer for pedestrians as well.
I mentioned wanting to pedestrianize streets at urban villages like the Ave. I think that that would be something that would have a stimulative effect for small businesses as well and also additional funding requirements for where we're falling short as far as meeting our Vision Zero goals. We've been endorsed in this race by pretty much every environmental organization that has endorsed from the Sierra Club to Seattle Subway to the Transit Riders Union because of our commitment to climate justice, which I think includes building a city where people are not as car dependent as they currently are and having more transit options throughout the city.
It's something that I think would also be beneficial to you know making our streets just more accessible by foot as well.
RC: If you win, how do you plan to remain accountable to the people in District 4?
SS: I mentioned earlier the idea of having a constituent services office weekly, kind of office hour where people are going to be encouraged to come and talk with me directly and individually. I have made a commitment to pledging 40 percent of my salary as a City Council member towards the creation of a strike fund for Seattle workers as well which serves two purposes. Number one it's very difficult to represent and I think remain in touch with the needs and the anxieties of people if you're making 40 percent more than they are. And I also think that labor and the city on campus is going to be responsible for building the workforce housing that we need to see. We have so many workers on the [University of Washington] campus that are currently going out going without the benefits that they need, without the contracts that they need to see in order to feel like they can have an economic foothold in the city that they're helping to make is vibrant and dynamic as it is. And in the event that there needs to be direct action that workers have to take, as has happened with UAW 4121, they need to know that they actually have a council member that's going to be supporting them not just with words but with an actual material commitment to making sure that they can make it through a labor dispute without having to worry about how to how to put food on the table.
So that's a commitment that I have made as a council member and that's not changing.
RC: Police accountability work is moving very slowly and recently the mayor said that accountability measures and remedies should wait until the next police contract. What do you think about that, and how would you deal with this situation if you were on council?
SS: For a while there I was the only candidate to say that I would have not voted for the Seattle Police Officers Guild contract if it came across the dais and I was on the City Council. I still hold that opinion.
Now having advanced to the general election I think it's really unfortunate in the day that we're sitting here right now as Eric Garner's killer I think was fired by the New York Police Department and let go without the promise of a pension, other cities which have also had issues with being under a federal consent decree are making the kinds of progress that you know the city of Seattle has not. People say that what we need to be doing is worrying about police morale and how the police are feeling in the city of Seattle and doing work here under a consent decree and one of the things that would really help boost morale is if our police department wasn't under federal investigation anymore. I mean I think that would be something that would probably lead to a better working climate for some of our officers.
I think it was also too bad that we saw the formation of an ad hoc committee that was designed and a lot of ways just to skirt, again, a federally mandated process of police accountability vis a vis our Community Police Commission. And so I think it has to do with making sure that the next in the next round of contract negotiations that we have council members that have pledged to listen to the community, listen to the 25 community groups including the ACLU that said you can't ratify a contract that rolls back valuable police accountability measures.
This is something that Mayor Durkan, of all people, I think should have been familiar with because in 2011 she actually said in her capacity as a U.S. Attorney that one fifth of the time that Seattle Police Department, in particular, uses force it's unconstitutional. So I don't know how the switchover happened or how the change happened, but when we're talking about accountability if we have a mayor that's not necessarily accountable to communities that are victims of police violence, then that's where a council is supposed to step in to say this is no longer something that we can suffer on our watch in the city.
And again I don't think that it's about having a council that rows in the same direction as the mayor. If the tide is taking us off a waterfall we need to actually have council members that are going to stick up for community pledges around police accountability and I think it's an issue that is really one that I think speaks to what it means to actually build an inclusive city. Because while we're talking about having as much public housing as we need new housing developments, what good is that going to be if the communities that are able to live in those units are going to be under the gaze of a police force that is operating with a warrior mentality and not with the “protect and serve” mentality?
So for the creation of the city that we need to see police accountability I think is a real component of that and it has to do with making sure that we're pushing back against unaccountability wherever we see it be it from police officers guild or from the
RC: Are there any misconceptions about you or your platform that are out there that you want to refute?
SS: I think that there might be an impression that I'm not somebody who is interested in representing the real needs of people in my district. And that when we talk and on my campaign and really broad terms about really big issues like climate justice and affordable housing that that maybe it sounds like this guy is kind of running for Senate or something like that and not actually into the granular nitty gritty of what it means to be a city council member. And so yeah my response to that is that you know I've lived here for 26 or 27 years, longer than a lot of people that are saying Seattle can't change and we can't have new affordable housing because it's going to change our neighborhoods and things like that, and it's like well I've seen those changes happen before, and we have an opportunity to actually manage them so that they're for the better for the benefit of the people who we have not heard in our civic discourse for so long. When you start talking about you know a public bank so that students can get low or no interest loans or small businesses can get lower no interest loans, and when you start talking about municipal Wi-Fi so that renters in my district don't feel the squeeze of having to pay upwards of $150 a month for internet and internet-related expenses because we haven't heard those voices for so long in our political discourse. It seems weird and strange and like it's not organically coming from the bottom up in the community, but you know about 6,000 voters I think disagreed with that assessment in the in the primary election, and if we can find a way to add another 8,000 more I think we'll be in good shape.
RC: So what's your favorite place in your district?
SS: Favorite place for dinner is Flowers on the Ave.
I will always get the Buenos Aires steak every time I go there. That's what I order. As far as other bars, there's a great place called the Westy in Roosevelt that has the best chicken and waffles that I think you can get and north of the Ship Canal.
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Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC
Lisa Edge is a Staff Reporter covering arts, culture and equity. Have a story idea? She can be reached at lisae (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Lisa on Twitter @NewsfromtheEdge
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