Candidate Survey Results: Questions 4 & 5; Seattle Income Tax & a New Youth Jail

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These are the responses to questions 4 and 5 of our candidate survey.

Question 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?

Mayor

Mike McGinn, Mayor

Yes, I support progressive tax reform including an income tax for high wage earners. I highlighted this in my recent campaign announcement because I consider it a high priority, and to help boost the efforts of the coalition in winning the support of the council and mayor.

Nikkita Oliver, Mayor

In short, yes. This particular measure is in The Peoples Party platform and a matter of public record. We absolutely support the Trump Proof Tax, led by the Transit Riders Union, and actually believe it a fair and progressive idea to also possibly address the homelessness crisis in Seattle. We recognize 1) the levies based on property taxes are not sustainable revenue sources; 2) it may take 3­5 years to effectively institute a progressive tax structure given the high likelihood of suit due to the restrictions of Washington state law; and 3) we must explore a luxury tax on the super wealthy of our city, as a handful of other cities have implemented and were successful in creating equitable revenue for their respective cities.

Jason Roberts, Mayor

First, the Low-Income Fare was a great victory! On Trump-Proofing Seattle, I’d like to make sure that I fully understand its effects before I endorse it. The most popular idea; per the Transit Riders Union site, is a 2.5% tax on unearned revenue. This would tax capital gains, dividends, and similar investment gains. Considering the madness in DC I would prefer a lower federal income tax, in addition to a small State income tax, so, that more of our tax dollars stay in Washington.

Casey Carlisle, Mayor

I’m not a fan of Washington’s regressive sales tax, but I’m also not a fan of “progressive” reforms. In my opinion, instead of a sales tax, a flat tax on income is ideal, since it’s proportional – neither regressive nor progressive – but I’m running for mayor, not governor. The state constitution prohibits an individual income tax, so what is a mayor to do? Singling out the wealthy for taxation is immoral, but if you feel that it’s necessary to “Trump-proof” the Seattle budget, then that’s more of an argument for reducing the size of Seattle’s budget. How can we espouse the virtues of equality while simultaneously vilifying a contingent of society, i.e. the rich? It’s immoral to treat people differently based on their ethnicities, so how is it moral to treat law-abiding people differently based on their bank accounts or on any other characteristic?

Keith Whiteman, Mayor

I believe in taxing employers who employ a large amount of people in Seattle whose
employees are mostly high wage earners. The idea would be to reinvigorate and expand the employee hourly tax which was used from 2006-2010 to fund transportation. Under this tax, companies that have more than 1500 employees in Seattle would be taxed on a sliding scale of 1-3% starting at $82k and raise depending on the salary of the employee with no cap on the top tier of amount taxed. Exempt from this tax would be city employees, healthcare providers, Boeing, educators and accredited universities.

I fully support an income based tax in Seattle. The idea that one of the most progressive
and wealthiest cities in the nation can’t cobble together the will to get rid of the intrinsical regressive tax that we currently have is upsetting to me. In reality, I don’t think that a city wide income tax would be fair to Seattle or Washington State as a whole, but I am in favor of fighting for an income tax and in the meantime creating viable a work around.

Harley Lever, Mayor 

Lever, an activist with Safe Seattle and the Neighborhood Safety Alliance, has been critical of new taxes.

Mary Juanita Martin, Mayor

Martin’s position is indeterminate.

Cary Moon, Mayor

I strongly support a progressive higher earners income tax, especially if it is coupled with a decrease in regressive sales taxes. But it’s not a silver bullet. Should Seattle pass a citywide high earners’ income tax just to test the position of the courts? I understand the strategy and don’t disagree with it, but putting our hopes on only an income tax proposal that may take years to run through the legal system diverts attention away from real solutions City Hall can and should implement now.

I am proposing practical, immediate solutions to providing resources for Seattle’s affordable housing, transit, and homelessness crises including:

  • Implementing targeted taxes to deter corporate and non-resident real estate speculation and slow runaway price escalation.
  • Instituting an additional REET tax on luxury real estate.
  • Implementing a statewide capital gains tax on households earning more than $250,000.
  • Closing the many useless tax loopholes on corporations that provide no economic benefit.
  • Increasing inheritance taxes for the ultra-wealthy.

I am continuing to reach out to other experts in our community with a range of perspectives on how we can work together to correct our regressive tax system and make sure we have sufficient money for schools, affordable housing, transit, jobs in the clean energy sector, and other essentials. Seattle’s economy can and should work for everyone, and it can — if we all pay our fair share, and we tax unearned wealth, not just wages.

Alex Tsimerman, Mayor

Tsimerman’s position is indeterminate.

David Ishii, Mayor

Ishii’s position is indeterminate.

Bob Hasegawa, Mayor

Hasegawa told Crosscut he supports a Seattle income tax.

Jenny Durkan, Mayor

Durkan does not support a city income tax. She’s said, “Before we ask for another penny [of new taxes] we should make sure we’re using the money wisely.”

Jessyn Farrell, Mayor

Farrell expressed support for an income tax on the wealthy in Seattle.

Michael Harris, Mayor

Harris calls a Seattle income tax “a joke.


City Council

Jon Grant, Pos. 8

Yes, I support Transit Riders Union campaign to pass a 2.5% tax on earned income, applying to Seattle households with gross incomes of more than $250,000 a year. This tax would impact only 5-10% of Seattle households, yet would generate up to $100 million in city funding per year. Too often Seattle and Washington state rely on regressive taxes like sales taxes to fund necessary social services. It’s time that Seattle’s wealthiest households pay their fair share.

In addition to the income tax, I also support increasing taxes on major corporations. Seattle is overly reliant on sales taxes and property taxes to pay for city services. Property taxes in particular can disproportionately burden fixed income seniors and communities of color, contributing to the gentrification of neighborhoods like the Central District. I support raising taxes on major corporations like Amazon to reduce our dependency on property taxes to pay for city services.

Sheley Secrest, Pos. 8

We all know that President Trump has struck out with the courts in his illegal attempt to ban people (particularly Muslims) with visas from entering this country. I believe that any attempt by the Trump administration to block federal funding to cities whose refusal to gather immigration status information is completely illegal will result in yet another defeat for Trump’s agenda in the courts. I was at Seatac when the first ban was announced and offered free legal services to those in need. Of course I support a truly progressive tax system. Some of the richest people who ever walked the earth live in Washington and they do not pay a cent in income tax. Meanwhile, we make deals with Boeing to lower their taxes and they STILL send jobs out of state. And we wonder why we struggle to provide basic services. One of the reasons I am running for office is so that I can help implement a fair tax code.

Charlene Strong, Pos. 8

I would support this effort and would like to see the implementation the details of how the money will be spent be completely clear. Transit Riders Union General Secretary Katie Wilson said in a Seattle times article in February of this year, “discussions will continue about the details, including exactly what would be taxed, what the money would pay for.” I believe it will be very difficult for Trump to execute his threat to eliminate federal funding to Seattle because of a Supreme Court ruling that decided funding can only be withheld if it is relevant to the federal interest in a project in our city.

Historically, our state has been reluctant to even look at a state income tax. Our current taxation system is very much regressive as it hurts the poorest in our state. We need to advocate on a state level for a state income tax that would be more stable in economic downturns.  Our state’s reliance on sales taxes will continue to push upward since 78% of our state’s budget relies on sales tax revenue. Oregon is a great example of progressive taxation and it is ranked as one of the least regressive state which relies heavily on a very progressive income tax that eliminates sales tax entirely. Oregon also has earned income tax credits; refunds targeted toward low-income working families that can give certain households a reduced tax burden or a negative tax bill. Oregon is a clear example of what works and it should be a vivid example of a solution to our ever rising regressive taxation of our citizens.

Sara Nelson, Pos. 8

I support a statewide income tax as part of reforming our state’s regressive tax system. In fact, I supported Initiative 1098 that proposed a state income tax. We need another tool so that we can reduce or eliminate the regressive taxes like the sales tax and rapidly increasing property taxes that disproportionately burden poor and working people. I have some questions about a city-only approach to an income tax and I look forward to a formal proposal in July.

Hisam Goueli, Pos. 8

Goueli supports Seattle as a test case for statewide income tax.

Mac McGregor, Pos. 8

McGregor supports an income tax in Seattle.

Teresa Mosqueda, Pos. 8

Yes, I support creating a Trump-proof budget by supporting an income tax. We live in one of the most prosperous states in the nation, we are one of the most prosperous cities in the state, we have some of the largest companies in our borders – yet not everyone who lives here is sharing in the prosperity that’s been created by workers here.

I have been a strong and clear advocate for tax reform at our state level for a decade. I am currently working now with allies in support of a state budget that would implement more progressive revenue. There is not another candidate who has a longer track record of directly fighting against our regressive tax system at the state, and advocating for more progressive revenue options.

Rudy Pantoja, Pos. 8

Pantoja says Seattle residents are feeling “squeezed” by taxes and that he intends to work with Congress.

Ian Affleck-Asch, Pos. 9

Although I do support wealth taxation, I do not agree with the numbers as provided. I believe that the greater wealth an individual or corporation has, the greater aid they must render unto all of society. We need a scaling plan on an advancing schedule to ensure that voters actually consider this option. I am a proponent for many progressive reforms, but not as a blanket statement. I’m picky in the specifics.

Lorena González, Pos. 9

González voted for the income tax resolution.

David Preston, Pos. 9

Preston has stated on his Facebook page, “I will oppose all new taxes until such time as the City can demonstrate transparency and accountability for the money it’s getting now.”

Marguerite Richard, Pos. 9

Richard’s position is indeterminate.

Eric Smiley, Pos. 9

Smiley’s position is indeterminate.

Pat Murakami, Pos. 9

Murakami is an activist with the King County chapter of Citizens’ Alliance for Property Rights. Under current Washington State law, income is treated as property.

Amanda Carter, Pos. 9

Carter’s position is indeterminate.

Question 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?

Mayor

Mike McGinn, Mayor

I do not support the current plan for the CFJC facility, and if elected I would work with King County to develop a facility that results in better outcomes for our youth. During my administration, I worked with King County to develop alternatives to incarceration that allowed us to cancel a proposed new city jail. I would take that same approach with regards to the youth jail.

As Mayor in 2010 I launched the Youth and Family Initiative to listen to the community and identify how the city could improves its support for youth, particularly marginalized youth. We doubled the Family and Education levy and worked in partnership with the community on new programs to help our kids succeed. For example, we added health care centers to our high schools and middle schools.

I also expanded the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, and expanded our youth jobs programs. In 2012, my proposed budget included $1.68 million to expand the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative. Established after an increase in gun violence in 2008, the Initiative provides youth enrolled in the program with activities, mentoring, case management, employment services, and other targeted support. The new funding was enough to help enroll 450 more young people in the program, bringing the total enrollment to 1,500. Support for our young people must be a priority in city budgeting.

We also supported the Work Readiness Arts program to provide out-of-school programming that links arts learning and work experiences for up to 70 Seattle youth ages 14 to 18.

Going forward, the school district should continue its efforts to review and improve its student disciplinary processes. It’s been demonstrated that students of color are disproportionately suspended or otherwise punished. I support efforts to improve staff and teacher training, and provide additional case management resources to help students.

Nikkita Oliver, Mayor

No. Not at all. Individually I, but also all the individual members of the Peoples Party, have vocally and publicly opposed the youth jail. I am confident we can find a much more equitable and effective use of over $225, building a youth jail is not it.

Jason Roberts, Mayor

I think the whole project needs to be reimagined. The budget over-run is unacceptable. I would rather see a juvenile and family court facility, rather than a jail. The only youth that should be incarcerated are ones that commit violent crimes such a rape, murder, armed robbery, and particularly heinous cases of assault. In such cases, accommodations can be made is adult detention facilities. I would scrap the project until the public, city, and county can get on the same page with what is needed.

Casey Carlisle, Mayor

I don’t support the youth jail, and my plan for disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline applies to all, not just to the youth. Criminal justice reform is vital. Jailing nonviolent offenders is ridiculous – no matter what their age – especially if the crimes are victimless or aren’t crimes at all (like drug use). That said, I readily admit that I do not have all the answers on this issue or any other, so I welcome your constructive criticism and ideas.

Keith Whiteman, Mayor

I do not support the current design of the youth jail. I do not believe in the traditional “lock them up” approach to jails and prisons, certainly not for those involving youths. I believe that we should design a more modern and compassionate thought based, family centered youth detention center. The idea that we are spending this amount of money for what effectively is a maximum security prison is the wrong approach and should be seen as such. Also, the idea that there is often no bail option for juvenile offenders (it is solely left up to the judge’s discretion) is a bad place to start. This is seen as due to the fact that juvenile detention is based on rehabilitation than incarceration and therefore pre trial detention is acceptable. If that is the case, they cannot justify the design and creation of this youth jail as it appears to me be based solely on incarceration. As a whole, I am in favor of bail and pre-trial detention reform for all of Seattle and this would extend to juveniles as well. More can be read about this on my platform page. Bond reform is something that I am wholly passionate about and is something that can quickly and effectively help all of Seattle.

Harley Lever, Mayor 

Lever’s position is indeterminate.

Mary Juanita Martin, Mayor

Martin’s position is indeterminate.

Cary Moon, Mayor

We need to rescale the project and prioritize funding for restorative justice and alternatives to incarceration instead of building a new youth jail. Additionally, we need to follow through oncommunity oversight of police and push for continued progress toward anti-racist policing and a fairer criminal justice system. Kids are precious, and we need to invest in helping those who have been abused, traumatized, and left behind get back on their feet. The alternatives to incarceration for youth offenders — like peace-making sentencing circles, creative justice, mentoring programs, family intervention and restorative services — are essential and must be adequately funded at scale.

Alex Tsimerman, Mayor

Tsimerman’s position is indeterminate.

David Ishii, Mayor

Ishii’s position is indeterminate.

Bob Hasegawa, Mayor

Hasegawa’s position is indeterminate.

Jenny Durkan, Mayor

Though Durkan requested the 2011 DOJ review of SPD that got the ball rolling on police reform, her position is largely indeterminate.

Jessyn Farrell, Mayor

Farrell’s position is indeterminate.

Michael Harris, Mayor

Harris’ position is indeterminate.


City Council

Jon Grant, Pos. 8

I strongly oppose the Youth Jail proposed in the Central District, and have regularly participated in No New Youth Jail and Black Lives Matter protests against its construction. We should not be spending over $200 million on failed “solutions.” Data show that jailing non-violent youth puts our entire community at risk because those same youth are more likely become violent offenders as adults. Young offenders who are incarcerated are 67% more likely to be in jail again by the age of 25 than similar young offenders who were not incarcerated.

Additionally, according to the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative’s December 2015 assessment, only 16% of crimes committed by youth were designated as “violent.” The majority of violent offenses committed by youth were simple assaults, which is a misdemeanor. As a community, we can do better. States and communities across the nation recognize that finding alternatives to incarceration reduces recidivism, reduces crime rates, and saves municipalities money. We should take the $225 million earmarked for the Youth Jail and instead invest it on community-led, restorative justice based programs.

I strongly support alternatives to youth-detention, including restorative justice strategies. We should expand city grants to organizations like Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) who are already doing excellent, community-based work to rehabilitate youth who offend. Schools all over King County and in Seattle are starting to invest in restorative justice programs. I support expanding access to these programs while reducing reliance on punitive discipline strategies in schools. In Seattle Public Schools, black students are 18.6% of the student population and are suspended at a rate of 12.9% while white students make up 43.2% but are only suspended at rates of 3.8%. I support ending out of school suspensions in favor of restorative justice practices.

Sheley Secrest, Pos. 8

I am already working with No New Youth Jail.

Over the past decade, crime has decreased by 60%. This is largely because we are starting to treat the problems in our communities, rather than the symptoms. Instead of spending money on more law enforcement and jails, we need to continue to invest in prevention services and create real opportunities for people to succeed in our community.

We should continue to make investments toward community led efforts that work directly with youth violence prevention; we should continue to financially support successful outcomes like those achieved by the Urban League Career Bridge, and we should continue to invest in apprenticeship opportunities like those we see at the Seattle vocational Institute. These are the types of programs that actually reduce crime and help provide financial stability for those who are the most vulnerable or struggling. Together we will continue to invest in programs that lift up our communities and provide opportunity instead of placing people in jails.

Charlene Strong, Pos. 8

I do not support this facility.

The criminal justice system has been looking for more nuanced approaches recognizing that young people should be considered less culpable at the time when a crime is committed. The zero tolerance policies are clearly not working and are far too punitive. It is imperative that we disrupt this school-to-prison pipeline. Once a child drops out of school, they are eight times more likely to be incarcerated than youth who graduate from high school.  I would like to see how programs such as restorative justice, which provides the ability for students, teachers, families, schools, and communities to “resolve conflict,” could be broadly integrated with our school system as an alternative.

Sara Nelson, Pos. 8

We must do everything we can to advance police reform in order to decrease the racial disproportionality of incarcerated youth because the worst possible outcome is children in jail. A youth detention facility is required by law and the conditions at the current facility are not humane. So, yes, I do support a new facility with a revise so that families and detained youth have a safe place to see one and other. To tackle the school-to-prison pipeline, we must address the systemic issues that affect marginalized youth, including economic opportunities, job training programs at the community college level if they are unable to attend four-year schools, continue to support and expand existing family and education programs that look to bring equity into these oft-neglected communities.

Hisam Goueli, Pos. 8

Goueli’s position is indeterminate.

Mac McGregor, Pos. 8

McGregor opposes the new youth jail and would instead work to put tax dollars towards programs to help at-risk youth, including mental health services, programs to help them finish high school, substance abuse help, trade school, and mentoring programs.

Teresa Mosqueda, Pos. 8

I don’t support developing more detention beds or a jail. I do support our public dollars going to expanding non-detention services, such as family intervention, family counseling and restorative justice services so that there is a safe space for families and youth in moments of crisis and to prevent moments of crisis. I support working in partnership with Seattle agencies, King County and our state agencies to assist youth accused of violence.  We don’t want to send these youth to jails – instead restorative justice models help youth get the services they need in community and be held safely until they can be returned home with family. I want our public investments to build more community and family based services, prevention programs and counseling. I want us to invest in preventing youth from getting arrested, interrupt the school to prison pipeline, and create more jobs for working families in this city.

We can help close the achievement gap and prevent the school to prison pipeline if we invest in our communities. Data shows that when we take youth out of the classroom due to suspensions they do worse in school, which further compounds the school to prison pipeline. I have fought for health care for every child so that children miss fewer days because they have the health they need. I have fought for more educational and apprentice opportunities for our communities, and fought for priority hire so that more of our black and brown families and parents are able to get living wage union jobs, and their children don’t have to work. I fought against an unjust and subminimum training wage every time it’s been introduced in the state legislature – because low income economically disadvantaged youth who have to work to support families shouldn’t work for subminimum wages.

When we reduce these economic stresses, and invest in our communities, families and youth have better outcomes and we lower the youth incarceration rates which helps prevent recidivism. Working families need good living wage jobs, better employment opportunities, family leave, sick leave – all of which I have fought for and been a leader to help accomplish. I have also fought against Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs) from courts and jails that cause more recidivism. LFOs rip apart families when a formerly incarcerated youth or adult cannot pay court/jail fees. I have fought to pass Ban the Box state legislation to make sure people can re-enter the job market and thus their children have more economically stable family incomes.   

I spent years working to pass progressive legislation to help kids lead healthier lives and invest in long term success with the Children’s Alliance to reducing racial, economic, and geographic disparities that lead to unacceptable inequities in our criminal justice system and perpetuate systemic problems.  

We need to set real targets for zero youth incarceration, but that has to start with programs and outreach early in life. While King county has one of the lowest rates in the country, and the Best Starts for Kids levy and other programs are targeted at reducing the inputs that result in problems later in life, we must do more and we must remain committed to zero youth incarceration.

Rudy Pantoja, Pos. 8

Pantoja’s position is indeterminate.

Ian Affleck-Asch, Pos. 9

Things running over budget are upsetting and overly abundant; it is obvious we need a reformation of our budgeting process. I support rehabilitation -but not imprisonment- for all offenders except the worst. That a jail is required is obvious, but it serves only as a glorified training grounds for criminal behavior unless properly maintained. We must -as a society- drive criminal enterprise out of our lives, and encourage the healthy growth of our children. So, yes, I support that the youth jail exists, but am worried about its program. My plan for keeping all persons from crime and imprisonment would be focused on identifying and extending resources to troubled youth from all walks of life.

Lorena González, Pos. 9

During her original campaign, González said, “I am strongly against the incarceration of youth but I think that framing this discussion around the construction of the youth jail misses the point. The goal should and must be to aggressively work towards zero incarceration of our youth, particularly youth of color, who have been failed by institutions infected by a history of racism. Our community would be better served if King County’s leadership dedicated the use of the building and money towards providing preventative services to opportunity youth and their families, such as therapy or defending against unfair school discipline actions. I have a robust understanding of our criminal justice system and how it intersects with racial injustice and would do as much as possible to dedicate resources at the city towards preventative services that will make a youth jail obsolete.”

David Preston, Pos. 9

Preston’s position is indeterminate.

Marguerite Richard, Pos. 9

Richard’s position is indeterminate.

Eric Smiley, Pos. 9

Smiley’s position is indeterminate.

Pat Murakami, Pos. 9

Murakami’s position is indeterminate.

Amanda Carter, Pos. 9

Carter’s position is indeterminate.

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