The mayor of Capitol Hill 2017: Jessyn Farrell Q&A

CHS: Alright, I’m a professional, you’re a professional, we’re ready to roll!

Farrell: Alrighty! Good! Good, good! Excellent!

CHS: So tell me about your district. Who do you represent right now?

“There are fewer Title 1 schools in my district now. Title 1 schools are schools where there’s 50% free or reduced lunch or higher. There are fewer than there were when I started out as a legislator because it’s really hard for poor people to afford to live in the city.”

Farrell: Up until when I resigned from my seat, I represented Northeast Seattle, Lake Forest Park, and Kenmore in the legislature. I’d done that for five years. I have been a transit advocate for my career. I’ve gone to law school, worked at WashPIRG, and then, ran Transportation Choices Coalition. When I ran Transportation Choices Coalition, our motto always was, “Holding the line until 2009,” when light rail would open, and then, we would be able to stop fighting over whether Sound Transit should exist or not. We’re still having that fight, but it’s a little different now that people actually get to take light rail and see what it’s like.

CHS: Well, can you tell me about the people you have represented in that part of the city? Way north, that’s super north! It’s like in Canada.

Farrell: North of the Ship Canal, what is it? It is, it’s almost Canada. Okay, so Northeast Seattle is, basically, I have the athletic portion of the U-Dub, not the academics. So that’s very important. I have football and baseball and all the other programs. And then, it goes all the way up to 145th, including all the way out west to Aurora. So there’s Northgate. It’s a really diverse district in that it has some very, very rich parts of town like Laurelhurst and Windermere, and then, some real pockets of poverty in the far north end. I actually grew up there. I was born in very glamorous Lake City.

CHS: I have friends in Lake City. Lake City’s more of my people than Windermere.

Farrell: I’ve lived in and out of that part of town my whole life. I have lived on Capitol Hill as well. And the real issues that people are facing in the north end are not unlike what people are facing in the rest of the city around affordability, as an example, and it comes, I think, in three different flavors.

Unchained by a damaging sex abuse scandal that removed incumbent Ed Murray from a powerful pole position, 21 candidates are vying this summer to be the next mayor of modern-day Pacific Northwest boomtown Seattle, Washington. Of those 21, only two will survive the first round cut from the August 1st primary. CHS may be on a summer news break but we couldn’t resist opportunities to talk with the candidates most likely to be on the mind of Capitol Hill voters in the coming weeks: Jenny Durkan, Nikkita Oliver, Cary Moon, Bob Hasegawa, Mike McGinn, and Jessyn Farrell. The interviews were conducted in recent weeks at locations across the city including coworking spaces, campaign offices, and a diner. The talks varied but revolved around a core set of Seattle issues: Black Lives Matter, affordability, addiction, and homelessness. We have edited the conversations for clarity and length.

In this Q&A, CHS talks with Jessyn Farrell, the three-term state legislator who stepped down from her Northeast Seattle post to be part of the 2017 mayoral race. CHS had questions about transit, development, and, of course, affordability for the urbanist-leaning Lake City native. You can learn more at

Farrell (cont’d): If you’re a renter, you’re really concerned about rising rents, and that’s the case all throughout my district. If you are living on a fixed income, and you own your house, you’re probably worried about property taxes. That’s something that people are worried about. And then, I think traditionally, that’s been a place where families could actually go buy a house. A young family in like the Lake City neighborhood, Pinehurst, a lot of those communities up farther towards 145th, — those are getting really, really expensive as well.

So I think the affordability crisis is hitting my district. It is hitting the rest of the city. And one of the things that really propelled me to actually get into this race was that I am seeing this play out in my district in a really unfortunate way. There are fewer Title 1 schools in my district now. Title 1 schools are schools where there’s 50% free or reduced lunch or higher. There are fewer than there were when I started out as a legislator because it’s really hard for poor people to afford to live in the city. And that’s happening everywhere, right?

CHS: How do we fix it?

Farrell: The word that I’ve been using to define my campaign is urgency. And we really are in this situation where if we don’t figure out affordability and transportation and homelessness and climate and equity; there are these really major issues that Seattle could make progress on, or we could really keep sliding on some of these. You look at San Francisco, which is in some ways, such a wonderful city, but also a museum piece with some real issues around who is able to live there and who isn’t. And it’s important that we get innovative and pragmatic and progressive and bold all at once on these issues around affordability.

CHS: With the Grand Bargain, what do you think of the deal? Is it a good one for the city?

“The fact that 1,000 people are moving here a week, to me, is really exciting.”

Farrell: Okay, so let me start from a really high level. I went into transportation and transit advocacy because I really love cities. Cities are like people, and they need to be nurtured, and they need to have systems that work. And cities should be for people. The fact that 1,000 people are moving here a week, to me, is really exciting. At the same time, it’s really introducing these major pressures on our housing. So with respect to HALA, I think that in general, that is a good step. But I would say that we’ve been fighting our affordability crisis using a tool that is part of the picture around zoning. Zoning is really important, and we need to get that right, but it’s not the entire picture. So I would say that I’m generally supportive of HALA, and we need to continue to increase density. We need to do it in a nuanced way that takes into account preserving cultural assets and environmental assets in certain communities. But we need to go way bigger on affordability.

I learned that being in the legislature, I crafted with Brady Walkinshaw and Frank Chopp the legislation that is forcing Sound Transit to increase affordability around transit stations. And so, we need to think way outside of the box. This is the most innovative legislation in the country around what’s gonna happen with transit stations. And we need to do a lot more of that.

CHS: And the levers in City Hall, those will be more useful to you than levers that you were able to use in Olympia?

Farrell: Yeah, the deal with affordability at the state level is that we get to go really high-level, and authorize the use of tools that Sound Transit can use, that kind of thing. And that’s important work. But again, I think that we’re in a crisis, and we need a mayor who really knows how this stuff works, and knows how to build the consensus and put the deals together to bring on a lot more affordability. So to me, that looks like three things. You do need to continue to increase density; that’s important. Again, I think you need to do it in a nuanced way, and planning and community process matters; not getting bogged down in the Seattle process, of course.

But then, the second thing is we have an inventory of surplus property around the whole city. And it’s not just a surplus property that’s held by Seattle, but WSDOT, Sound Transit, the utilities, etcetera. And the city needs to put its resources on… Make its resources available to help find developers, and put those properties into affordable housing. And we have done that. Capitol Hill Housing, we’ve worked with non-profit developers in this community. We’re doing that at Northgate, we’re doing some of that in other places. But I think the city itself has a lot of resources, and we need to really be focused on that.

And this is really wonky, but just as we allocate growth across our region’s 2040 plan, we need to allocate affordability across the whole city. So we need, literally, a neighborhood-by-neighborhood plan that creates housing diversity in every single neighborhood; and that’s really particular to the neighborhood. Some neighborhoods are gonna need rental vouchers to support people who might be displaced. Other neighborhoods where there are transit, major light rail infrastructure investments, we need more density. Other neighborhoods, it will be appropriate to have mother-in-law apartments, and other things like that. But we need neighborhood-by-neighborhood plans so that we can hold ourselves accountable, and so that we can drive resources into building out a pretty significant affordability plan.

CHS: Capitol Hill, in some ways, is a laboratory for this kind of growth. At the same time, I hear from people all the time, “Why aren’t the buildings around the light rail station 100 feet tall, or more?”

Farrell: Yeah, why aren’t they bigger? Yeah, yeah.

CHS: How important is Capitol Hill, really? Is this a model for the city? I’m just curious if you have thought about Capitol Hill as representing this, I don’t know, nexus or crush point of development.

Farrell: Yeah, totally. And I think that that’s exactly right. Capitol Hill really is that nexus of density transportation improvements and figuring out how to preserve the cultural and legacy of the community. How do you keep this a vibrant place for arts and artists? How do you keep this a place where members who are now wanting to age in place or the gay community? How do you make this a community that works in that way? There are a lot of different layers of the challenges that we see across the city playing out in this really small and special part of town.

One of the struggles in the ID, for example, is how do you create more housing but preserve that as a community for people of Asian-American descent to stay there? And I think the same thing, how do you, as Capitol Hill changes, and the legacy of the LGBTQ community changes at the same time, I think that, particularly, around the elderly, that is going to be an issue. How do we preserve and provide services for people who have lived here and wanna age in place? I think the affordable housing picture becomes only more and more important as we talk about that.

CHS: So what do you think about some of the things that have happened in the Central District, like at 23rd and Union around Africatown getting the chance now to be part of the development? The Capitol Hill Housing Project with the Liberty Bank, the inclusive development; the ball is rolling. What would you do to accelerate that?

Farrell: So again, I really think that having a neighborhood-by-neighborhood plan, and inventory of cultural assets that we want to preserve, environmental assets. But then also, building into that, how are we gonna make affordability? And how are we gonna increase the sheer number of houses and housing options that are available? And again, I think that it needs to be community-based because I think communities know their assets best. But I think that we also have to be really realistic about what it means to house 1,000 people additionally every week. That’s a lot more housing than we have now.

CHS: When you talk about neighborhood-by-neighborhood, my bell goes off. How do you make that socially equitable? If it’s up to a community that’s not diverse, really… what do you do?

Farrell: My principles behind this are, one: Every single neighborhood needs elements of housing diversity in it. Every single neighborhood. My belief around this affordability crisis is we can’t leave any neighborhood off the hook.

CHS: So Windermere, I’m gonna pick on those guys because I think it’s funny.

“I think the goal is that you have enough people to line up together to make the politics work.”

Farrell: Let’s talk about Laurelhurst. Because there actually is a big property in Laurelhurst.

There’s the Talaris property in Laurelhurst, that is, at some point going to change hands and I think that we should say as a city that we’re going to make sure that there is… And there are partners in that community… Seattle’s Children’s needs workforce housing, very close, right? There’s already U-Dub Housing, which is a kind of public housing quite frankly. It’s publicly subsidized housing for people. And so I think that there are some models in that neighborhood that if you were to point to and say, “Look this already exists here. Let’s figure out how to do this in a way that… ” Again, that’s a property that has amazing trees and all this stuff. But how do you do that in a way that actually brings affordability?

The question that you’re asking is, “Well, what do you do then around each neighborhood?” And I think again, it’s an iterative process, where you do truly need to be in dialogue with the neighborhoods, because I think people who live there understand the neighborhoods best. But at the same time you need to be realistic around what it means to maintain affordability. And I think that if you ask almost anyone in the city, not everybody, but almost anyone, you would say, “We’re all in this together.” And if we’re really going to solve or make progress, ’cause I don’t wanna say we’re gonna solve affordability. But if we’re gonna make progress on this and have true options for people from a range of economic means, then everybody’s in this together.

CHS: Alright. Well, I’ll be interested to see everyone lining up together in this.

Farrell: They won’t line up together. But I think the goal is that you have enough people to line up together to make the politics work.

CHS: I understand. I also understand the challenge. We see it in Capitol Hill. Capitol Hill has very wealthy areas that are on the edge of some of the zoning changes. I’m going to guess that those are the areas that change the least, but that’s just… I’m a cynical person.

Farrell: Yeah. And I guess what I would argue about that is that, really we need to take a literally a street by street approach and an arterial by arterial approach and really look at what assets a community has around transit infrastructure for example.

CHS: I just think it tends to be a real challenge because it’s difficult to swing people to think beyond their street.

If we elect you, you’re going to fix transit in Seattle, right?

Farrell: There’s a lot we can do. There’s so much.

CHS: The Seattle Transit Blog stuff and you’ll just make it happen, right?

Why does it feel like we’re still so far away on these things? The time for the light rail and even someone trying to take the bus from Lower Queen Anne to Capitol Hill and knowing they’re going to be late.

Farrell: Yeah, that stinks.

CHS: And this is 2017. So what can the mayor do to fix that?

Farrell: There’s a lot.

CHS: Just fix it all.

Farrell: Well, you can’t fix it all, but there’s actually a lot that the mayor can do and that’s exciting. So number one, I really think that having light rail on the east side of the city, it’s changed my life, right? It took a long time to get it but four minutes to Capitol Hill from Husky Stadium.

CHS: Yeah. I think you could do psychological testing around here and you’d see people just have a better outlook on life.

Farrell: Happier. Yeah. My life is better. My life is honestly better because of light rail.

CHS: Rich people and Amazon especially are happy.

Farrell: I suppose. Yeah, right. So I think the question becomes then, “How do we make sure that the west part of the city gets light rail faster?” And there’s some really specific things that we can do to deliver that faster. And I can talk about it if you’re interested.

CHS: How much faster?

Farrell: Years. And here’s what we do. Number one. So the EIS process can take a really long time and that’s where you get that community ability to hold stuff up and get bogged down. And I think what we need to do, and the mayor could set this table, is, “What is the preferred alignment before we go into the EIS process?” Because if you have your three alternatives, you argue over your three alternatives and it goes on forever. So that literally shaves off years of that project. That’s one thing we can do. The next thing we can do is, these are super unsexy things but permit streamlining. And I negotiated with the Republicans at the state level to streamline permitting for highway projects. We should do that for Sound Transit so that the agency gets an up or down decision on permits, both at the local level and at the state level much sooner than two years or three years and stuff like that.

And then let’s talk about bus service. And we need to really radically improve bus service. You can stop me ‘because I love all this stuff but…

Having worked at a transit agency, if you can save $100,000 somewhere, that’s literally another bus run, right? So when we’re talking service hours, those efficiencies actually matter. And one of the things that we haven’t done thoroughly is integrate Metro Bus Service with our new light rail service. We haven’t finished that and a lot of the things. And I know that there was a real controversy over what happened to those routes up here in the north end. And we can do better on that, and if we get that right, we can actually put more money into bus service across the city.

CHS: Is it possible that fixing the transportation system, getting light rail accelerated, figuring out a way to speed up how we make buses better, could be more important to affordability than anything that HALA is doing? Is there something to that?

Farrell: I think it cuts a lot of different ways. You have to have good ways for people to get around the city that are beyond cars, right? The city is full of cars so we need other ways for people to get around. That’s step number one for sure. But is it more important than the affordability? I think the problem is that we’ve historically had conversation about transportation and land-use in really separate silos, right? That’s the power of mixed use development and transit oriented development and all that, is you’re putting people near the transportation infrastructure. And so HALA and transit have to go together. We need to densify around the station. We need to be densifying around Roosevelt. That’s gonna be really hard. That’s a single family neighborhood, but we need to make sure that there are people who live there to make that billion dollar investment used.

CHS: I don’t want to skip over public safety, and mental health, and addiction, and the discussion around them. What do you think about things like the Navigation Center? What do you want your philosophy around homelessness to be in Seattle? Because it’s such a sad problem for us.

Farrell: It is such a big problem.

Nicole Macri has endorsed me, which is great. And we are working together and have worked together in the legislature on these issues. And what I would say fundamentally, is that people need… Everybody deserves a house or a stable place to live over their heads. And that you can’t treat addiction and mental health issues without that stability. And that a lot of the ways we’ve done it by having short term housing or by even having 18 months, that’s just not long enough to allow people to really have the supports that they need to have stable lives. That’s just the bottom line. People need a place to live. And we need as a society, to provide that very low income housing for people with services. Navigation Center is good. There are some things that the Murray Administration has done that are, I think, not so great in learning while they’re doing.

CHS: Like what?

Farrell: So like sweeps. I don’t support sweeps.

My general take on this is that we do have to have sanctioned encampments. And we need to have sanctioned encampments because you need to have public safety services, you need to have mental health services there, and you need to have sanitation services. And I think that the key with this though is that is has to be temporary. We are going to have sanctioned encampments for the next five years or for the next two years. But the reality is that people are in tents, and that’s just the deal. And that we need to provide places where people can be safe during a period of transition.

Second thing I think is that we need… The reason people are in tents is because there is a shelter bed shortage across the city and across the region. And as mayor, I think that we need to look to the region to open up more shelter beds. There’s a homelessness crisis in communities across the region and we need to be able to work together. One of the conversations was, “Well, how do we open up more maybe non-traditional spaces as shelter beds?” And I think if we have that as a region wide discussion; not just as a city wide discussion, I think we would find that there are probably places that we can open and come up with in the very short term so that people have a place to stay.

CHS: Things like backyard kind of things? Or the tiny house kind of things?

Farrell: That would be the third piece of it; so I’m talking about maybe government buildings that are not shelters. So, for example, there’s the King County Archive building on 12th. Could we work together to figure out another place for archiving and put some kind of services there?

CHS: I’ve thought about the golf courses.Well, honestly, I think the city still owns Jefferson Park, right?

Farrell: And Jackson Park too, I think.

CHS: And then we should also acquire Broadmoor.

Farrell: Right, there you go. Every neighborhood on the hook. I think the shelter beds piece is a regional issue. And then finally, I think yeah, but in the very short term, there’s a lot of energy around tiny homes. It’s an opportunity to partner with unions in the private sector and it gives people a place where they can store their stuff during the day and that kind of thing. And I think that has to be part of a very short term solution. But again, I think the broad issue and the long term solution is, we need a massive investment in very low income public affordable housing, and you do that by, I think, leveraging surplus property around town and beyond; again, regionally. Because that’s the most expensive part of it, is the land, and if we have land that’s already publicly owned, then that helps us get there.

CHS: What about safe injection sites, supervised consumption?

“Part of the issue is there has to be a real commitment to the support services that people need.”

Farrell: I support those and I do in part because we already have people in our communities using. And it might be in an alleyway, it might be in our backyard. So the issue is not that, “Uh-oh, these people are coming to the neighborhoods.” They’re already in our neighborhoods. So, the question then becomes, “Where and how do you site that?” And that’s a real issue.

CHS: How should that be solved?

Farrell: Well, I think that you have to provide… Part of the issue is there has to be a real commitment to the support services that people need. And I don’t just mean the people who have addiction issues, but the community needs to make this safe. So what are we doing around public safety? Around lighting? Around improvements to the streetscape? There might actually be physical built infrastructure that we need to be improving. And we know that there’s an interface between build environment and public safety, right?

CHS: I can see that. I can see people making that trade.

Farrell: Yeah, exactly. If you made it, “Let’s put sidewalks and lighting and really make it so that what could seem unsafe is safer because of sight lines and all that kind of thing would happen.” So that way, I think you’d need a commitment to infrastructure in a community. Commitment to public safety; true commitment to the resources that people would need. And again, I think that we also need to be looking at the housing piece and how do we get people into safe places in a longer term.

CHS: So, what you’ve learned in Olympia, transitioning to City Hall, how do we get enough money to do things in Seattle?

Farrell: My basic approach on taxation and taxing generally, is that any system is a statement of values. And so, we have an upside-down system where we allow the very wealthiest among us to have access to loopholes and the very poorest among us are having an unfair burden of taxing. And that says something about what I think is wrong with our tax system. And there are really good reasons for that; they are both historic and the way politics work in Olympia where you have lobbyists that get paid a lot of money to preserve tax loopholes. That’s very real. And it’s something that I actually think our initiative system should remedy.

I would love to see initiatives in 2020 to roll back certain tax breaks, inefficient tax breaks, for the oil industry for example, or for big banks. Take it to the people. So, that’s kinda broadly what we should do. As mayor and at the city level, there are some tools that we have. I think that generally we need to be looking at impact of these on developers and I think that as we are bringing more people into the community, we need to make sure that we have the infrastructure, whether it’s school infrastructure, sidewalks, to support those folks. And so, I just think there’s a nexus. A lot of other jurisdictions do it. It makes sense. The other thing about… So, for example, with the income tax, I support an income tax test case. Seattle’s job is to be kinda edgy and push the envelope. There are very real legal issues with it. If it were upheld, my belief is that we should actually buydown the property tax with it. I, as a legislator from Northeast Seattle, people pass taxes up there, but never have I heard so much concern about the property taxes I have in the last six months.

It’s the go-to.

CHS: The catch-all. It’s the only lever?

Farrell: That’s where we go. And again, I think that people are willing to pay for services in Seattle, but we are hitting limits on how we do that. So, another issue, I think, with taxes generally, is not only does it hit individuals in an unfair way, but it also hits businesses, where we have gross receipts being taxed instead of net receipts. So, I think that we need to look at our B&O taxes in the city and make sure that we have exemptions that are meaningful for small businesses, and maybe that means looking at, for larger multinational or larger corporations that are able to shoulder a greater burden.

CHS: So, what about municipal broadband? Do you care about that? Support it? Everyone says they support it. It seems like it’s so easy to say. But… aren’t you gonna piss Comcast off?

Farrell: No. I think that we need to look at internet as a utility. It has become a basic service that people need access to, to have information, to be able to conduct business. It has become totally fundamental to the way we live, and just as water or transit or other things that we see as essential public services. I think that that is what has become the case with municipal broadband.

CHS: Well, you’re not gonna differentiate yourself from the other candidates on that one.

Farrell: On that one, no.

CHS: New youth jail, do you oppose it?

Farrell: I oppose it.

CHS: How much do you oppose it? Do you oppose it that they should just never build it?

Farrell: We should not build it.

So, here’s what I think the fundamental problem is with that approach. Number one, we need to talk and listen, as a bureaucracy needs to listen and respond to what communities see as solutions for their communities. And so, I think it would be much more productive to have had a conversation at the outset around the major impact that our criminal justice system has on youth of color, and to say, “What supports do you as a community need to keep kids safe, to nurture them, to make them successful?” And I think we would have heard things like: “We need more restorative justice opportunities. We need to make sure that the school to prison pipeline, that kids aren’t getting arrested for not going to school.” That some things like that, that kids have access to meaningful summer programming and economic opportunities. I think that if we had asked those questions at the outset, we would have had a different solution set than a new youth jail.

CHS: What do you think of the process of where it kind of is heading now?

Farrell: A huge amount of credit to community activists and anti-racism activists who’ve really raised this issue in the public over the last three and four years, and I think that it is getting on the right track, and it’s only done that by really significant targeted strategic community activism. And sustained. There have been a lot of roads in that decision-making where somebody could have said: “Alright, well, it’s time give up, because the city’s permitted it.” Or whatever. But I think that we need to make budget decisions that are based on supporting and nurturing kids and not incarcerating them.

CHS: Also not gonna differentiate yourself from others.

CHS: Well, what about something in your area? The North Seattle precinct, do you oppose that plan? Where are you on that?

Farrell: Yeah. Again, that was, I think, there are needs for facilities but again, I think what happened in the planning process is we lost sight of what is the goal here; is the goal to have this catch-all? Or is it really to provide an updated and upgraded public facility? And again, it got way bigger than I think it needed to get.

CHS: So again on the scale, would that be like a total restart?

Farrell: I would need to scrutinize the financial implications. Yeah, we need to redo that, that’s the bottom line. And I think there are better ways to do it. There’s the two-precinct idea, I think that’s really worth investigating.

CHS: What about rent control? Is this something that is even worth our energy in the city? Or is it a bad thing?

Farrell: I think that as a political issue in Olympia, we are probably not going to overturn that ban unless there is a radically different politics that happens over the next several years. But I would say in the next mayor’s tenure that is probably not going to change. That said as a policy tool, I think that there are places in the world that have implemented it in a nuanced way, like Berlin, where there can be some benefits. And if we’re facing an affordability crisis I think we should put all the tools on the table and look at them. But at the same time, the politics are just that that is not gonna get taken off, that’s not gonna be a tool that I think we can get through the legislature.

But again I think there are a whole lot of other things we can do short of that that allow us to infuse a lot more in affordability and to support people who are housing vulnerable in our community.

“Here’s the deal, if you don’t like change, then I’m probably not your candidate, that’s the bottom line.”

CHS: So what about protections for or preservation incentives for long-term businesses? Kind of this idea of almost like preserving cultural assets, what do you think about something like that?

Farrell: Small businesses are really an important cultural asset to a community, and I do think that we need some kinds of incentive programs and supports, and I would argue for arts and culture as well, to help keep businesses afloat as we are rapidly changing and redeveloping communities, and I think that there is something to be said for that. And I think that the incentives that you use and the way you assess need really matter, and that’s kind of tricky but I do think that it’s something that we have to explore as we’re talking about really changing the character of neighborhoods through up-zoning in density.

CHS: It’s definitely… It’s funny how much of the angst about the development really sometimes is just about places like Bauhaus.

Farrell: Yeah, I miss Bauhaus.

CHS: Good luck to them. So what about all the NIMBY and the YIMBY battles? Do you like the word NIMBY? Do you use it?

Farrell: I don’t. Here’s the deal, if you don’t like change, then I’m probably not your candidate, that’s the bottom line. This is a city that is dynamic, that has people who want to come live in it, and we have to change. The cost of housing is changing, so whether you like it or not things are changing. And so the question then becomes, are we being proactive and willing to take some risks as a community around density and around different kinds of housing options and other things? Or are we gonna batten down the hatches and become a museum piece the way San Francisco has become? And I think that is not what we want as a community. If we believe that we are a sanctuary city and all are welcome here, we need to make sure that we have housing options to reflect that value.

CHS: So, how do you see this race playing out? 21 candidates, not all of them serious of course.

Farrell: That’s a lot.

I think the race at the end of the day is gonna be about finding your base and getting those folks to vote. Here’s one of the really jarring things about the electorate; last year 34% of people voted in the primary. And you probably know all these stats, right? That’s pretty abysmal for a city that kind of prides itself on its civic engagement and all that kind of thing. But what that means in a really kind of primary is that you need to deliver the folks that know you and that like your message, so obviously the transit base. I need to know those folks. And the great thing is we have a lot of information about how people vote on transit, right? And so those are the precincts that I will be focusing on.

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12 thoughts on “The mayor of Capitol Hill 2017: Jessyn Farrell Q&A

  1. Awesome interview. Jessyn Farrell is that hard-charging Transit Hawk that is going to fit right in on the Sound Transit Board. The more Jessyn talks, the more I as a political independent wonder why I’m not a Democratic Party member.

    I really hope folks realize elections for Mayor and Sound Transit Board are NOT beauty contests, there actually has to be some gray matter. Some indication of strategic thinking capability. Some policy substance.

    Granted, I don’t like ALL the votes then-Representative Farrell took and deals made. But at least we got ST3 and a real chance, to get out of the cloud of I-695 on transit. Also a genuine opportunity to push Transit-Oriented Development so those who truly need to live in the city and have timely access to services (e.g. the disabled) don’t end up so far away they end up on the social security safety net.

    Please Seattle, vote FOR Jessyn Farrell. Please.

  2. Sorry, but I totally disagree and will certainly not vote for this candidate. I don’t think tearing down neighborhoods simply to stuff in as many new arrivals as is possible is at all a terrific idea.. I think will end up destroying the very reasons that so many people want to come here and leave us with large areas of cheap new housing that becomes shoddy and falls apart in 10 or so years at the cost of diverse neighborhoods, lovely historic homes (and not just the big ones – small 100 year old working man’s houses are just as wonderful), parks and green spaces and neighborhoods that people want to live in and raise families – not just occupy for a few years while they are young.

    • Boohoo – so you can’t afford to live in the most in demand neighborhoods right out of college – I’ll give you a clue – neither could most of us. We bought in neighborhoods we could afford and worked to make them better places and that’s what you’ll have to do too. Where I live is pretty nice now – but when we moved here there were drugs, shootings, open prostitution, not a lot of neighborhood businesses… few people wanted it then, but now everyone thinks they deserve a spot without paying their dues. Too bad – this is what I’ve saved for and worked for and I don’t intend to simply give it away because young people whine.

    • Nobody is asking you to give away anything. Just more housing for more working people. Wow.

      It’s just views like yours create a situation like San Francisco. We’re at a real turning point here where either Seattle totally gentrifies or not. Some shared sacrifice is probably the way forward.

    • THANK YOU, (call me a)NIMBY. Couldn’t have said it better. It’s amazing to me that people all expect the best of everything just because they want it. Like you, my first house was a block or two off a busy boulevard famous for drug dealing and hookers. Everybody thought we were crazy to live there, but we stuck it out as “urban pioneers” and cleaned it up ourselves. And yeah, there were PLENTY of beautiful houses in other areas of that city that I couldn’t afford either– and I didn’t whine about “affordability”. You buy in a shitty area and you pitch in to clean it up and do your time with sweat equity. All this energy crying about lack of affordability would be better spent trying to learn new job skills that are so in-demand that they pay the big bucks that are driving up housing costs. It’s called “teach a man to fish”, etc. Get off your asses and invest in yourself instead of expecting a deal.

    • “Nobody is asking you to give away anything. Just more housing for more working people. Wow.”

      Really? Below-market rate housing has to be subsidized by somebody. Guess who that is? In this city it takes the form of one property tax levy after another. The brunt falls squarely on middle-class homeowners. A total of 9, in fact, in just this mayor’s term, and it’s not even finished yet. It gets really old.

    • Asking for more high density and cheaply built housing ≠ give me free housing

      People are free to buy ugly low-end apartments if that’s what they can afford.

      • Thank you Tom. So sad to see these folks just scream, “NIMBY” without even seeing a detailed plan yet or understand the Jessyn Plan is to give each neighborhood a large amount of flexibility.

    • I agree with “Nimby.” I have seen many examples lately of smaller homes of character (occupied by people of modest means) being demolished for ugly, cheap box apartment buildings…..all because greedy developers want to cash in. One by one, our neighborhood is losing a lot of what has made it livable.

      Where is it written that we MUST accommodate everyone who wants to move to Seattle? If there is no room, they will just have to make another choice.

    • I would add that building and building….and building…is NOT the answer to affordability. Thousands of units have been added in the past few years to our housing stock, yet rents have continued to rise significantly. It’s a fool’s errand to think that continuing to do the same thing will result in another outcome.