With two months to go before the deadline to file for candidacy for municipal office, Seattle already has a bevy of candidates lined up for three key races. Two at-large councilmembers as well as a mayor will be elected to four-year terms come election day, Nov. 7, 2017.
Challenging Mayor Ed Murray in the primary are activists Nikkita Oliver and Andres Salomon as well as Casey Carlisle, Mary Juanita Martin, Jason Roberts, Alex Tsimerman and Keith Whiteman. In the at-large Position 9 seat primary, incumbent Councilmember Lorena González faces Marguerite Richard and Eric Smiley. With the exit of Councilmember Tim Burgess from the at-large Position 8 seat, the field is wide open. Former Tenant’s Union head Jon Grant will face off against Washington State Labor Council policy director Teresa Mosqueda and King County NAACP vice president Sheley Secrest, as well as Ryan Asbert, Hisam Goueli, Jenn Huff, Mac McGregor, Rudy Pantoja, James Passey and Charlene Strong.
We are fortunate in Seattle to have civic engagement that produces eight or nine-way local races, but we run the risk of becoming mired in evaluating candidates based solely on resumes, media appearances or vague associations of one’s own. To help voters distinguish between platitudes and real, tangible policy and action, the Seattle Democratic Socialists of America’s Activism and Communications Committees have put together a 13-query questionnaire to help cleave candidates’ views into discernable positions on issues that are vital to members of Seattle DSA.
All candidates currently filed received their surveys starting on March 8 and have been asked for a response by April 8. If a candidate does not respond, the Activism team will attempt to formulate the candidate’s position based upon publicly made statements (or actions, as the case may be). Watch this space for a complete roll-out of candidate responses starting sometime in late April or early May.
You can read the survey for yourself below. For more information on City of Seattle elections, visit the city’s website here. A non-partisan primary will be held August 1, 2017.
1.) Why did you decide to run for mayor/city council?
2.) Seattle city employees will soon have the right to 12 weeks of paid parental leave and four weeks of paid family leave, following an 8-0 city council decision. How will you extend these benefits to all workers in the city?
3.) How do you plan to use the city’s regulatory capacity to enforce recent minimum wage gains and prevent wage theft by employers? What do you think the minimum wage should be?
4.) In response to Trump’s threats to cut federal funding for cities that oppose his policies, Seattle activists, led by the Transit Riders Union, are advocating for wealth taxation to “Trump-proof” the Seattle budget. Do you support this effort? Will you support further progressive reforms to our regressive tax system?
5.) The new youth jail planned for the Central District (also referred to as the “Children and Family Justice Center”) is now running over budget at $225 million prior to its construction. Do you support this facility? What is your plan for disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline and using common resources to produce better outcomes for marginalized youth?
6.) What is your plan for addressing the city’s ongoing housing crisis and the criminalization of our homeless population? Do you support the city’s sweeps of homeless encampments?
7.) Do you oppose state laws preventing Seattle from enacting rent control legislation and other forms of rent stabilization?
8.) Soaring rents are forcing people of color out of their historic communities in neighborhoods like the Central District and South Seattle. How do you plan to address the needs of communities being displaced by gentrification?
9.) Seattle plans to open a safe-consumption site, implementing a harm-reduction strategy for drug users. Do you support this initiative? If so, how will you handle possible objections from neighborhood associations and other groups opposed to having safe-consumption sites in their “backyards”?
10.) In 2011, the the Department of Justice found that the Seattle Police Department engaged in patterns of excessive force, violating both the Constitution and federal law. How will you address SPD’s ongoing pattern of violence, particularly in communities of color? Do you support the use of independent prosecutors in cases of alleged police misconduct? What steps will you take to strengthen civilian oversight of SPD?
11.) Do you support the construction of the proposed police precinct in North Seattle?
12.) In the wake of the city council’s vote to divest from Wells Fargo in support of climate justice and indigenous rights, do you support divestment of Seattle’s pension funds from companies that invest in fossil fuels?
13.) The recent arrest and detention of Seattle resident Daniel Ramirez Medina, a DACA recipient, shows that the Trump administration is willing to harass and deport even legal immigrants. Without a plan for enforcement, Seattle’s status as a sanctuary city is merely a title. What is your proposed protocol for upholding the rights of DACA recipients and other immigrants (including those who are undocumented), and enforcing Seattle’s status as a sanctuary city?