With forum and debate season underway, D3 candidates talk homelessness, small biz, and ‘a Green New Deal for ordinary working people’ with some of their youngest constituents

In a Sunday afternoon forum and an early test of their platforms as they speed toward an August primary, four candidates for the Seattle City Council’s District 3 seat — including current council member Kshama Sawant who called for a “a Green New Deal for ordinary working people” — answered questions from some of their youngest constituents on a range of issues from homelessness to small business development.

The event, led by the King County Young Democrats, hosted forums for five of this year’s Council races. The other three D3 candidates were urbanist Logan Bowers, Seattle School Board Director Zachary DeWolf, and public defender Ami Nguyen, while neighborhood activist Pat Murakami and Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce head Egan Orion were not invited to participate due to time constraints.

UPDATE 4/29/2018 9:05 AM: KCYD chair Derek Richards offered this explanation for the invitation decisions:

There are about 57 candidates whom have declared for Seattle City Council, it is literally impossible to have a forum to include all of them and not have the meeting be a 12 hour marathon. With the candidates we had it still took 3.5 hours. It sounds like you are more interested in many of the other great organizations and neighborhood councils that will be hosting district specific candidate forums in the months leading up to the primary vote where you will be able to hear all of their opinions and I would encourage you to attend those.

UPDATE x2: Richards provided some more context on the decision around D3 in a message to CHS:

Since we were fitting 5 different districts in our meeting we had decided 3 candidates per district to keep the forum around 3 hours. For district 3 we did number of individual contributors, which gave us Councilmember Sawant, Logan Bowers and Ami Nguyen. Then the day we were going to send invites Zach DeWolf announced and had 2 city council endorsements and all the school board endorsements so we made an exception for D3 to have 4 candidates. However all candidates are welcome to speak at our endorsements meeting on Sunday May 19th at the WSLC between 5 and 7.

No matter the question, Sawant, a member of the Socialist Alternative political organization, pivoted to affordable housing concerns and her push for rent control. She repeatedly decried the council for its handling of the head tax and its overall lack of political courage. Answering a question on waste management, the council member called for a large-scale climate overhaul led by Seattle.

“The bottom line that we need, in terms of a Green New Deal for ordinary working people, is a massive public works program to expand transit and affordable housing and, primarily, what we need is social housing,” Sawant said, calling for a tax on big business to fund this publicly-funded and -owned housing proposal. Continue reading

Capitol Hill case at center of flap over judge’s cozy relationship with KOMO’s ‘Seattle is Dying’-themed coverage, political group — UPDATE

A call from the Seattle City Attorney for a municipal court judge to step down from his position leading the court over “apparent violations of the canons of judicial ethics” is also shining new light on Seattle media and activists who claim they are dedicated to shaping more accountable government in the city.

Pete Holmes and Anita Khandelwal, director of the Department of Public Defense, say in a letter released Wednesday that Seattle Municipal Court Judge Ed McKenna should step down as presiding judge and recuse himself from criminal cases after “predetermining harsh outcomes for defendants and advertising the sentencings to local media,” Crosscut reports.

The case at the center of the unusual courtroom activities has a Capitol Hill connection. The crime took place last November when an angry man punched a victim without provocation in the crosswalk at Broadway and Pine. The blow sent the victim’s headphones flying and left the shaken man with a swollen lip. It landed the assailant, Francisco Calderon, in jail and set in motion a bizarre episode in Seattle justice with a judge allegedly shaping his proceedings for a television reporter and a political group. Continue reading

Library levy — at a bargain table price of only $43 per Seattleite per year — heads for August ballot

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With a final price tag of $219 million, the Seattle City Council has finalized the Seattle Library levy proposal for the August ballot.

CHS wrote here about the core seven-year property tax proposal that will replace an expiring levy and will provide about 25% of the system’s budget.

“From story time to summer learning programs to adult learning classes, our libraries advance equity, education and opportunity for all who call Seattle home,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a statement to CHS about the levy. “If we are going to build a city of the future, then we must build the libraries of the future, too. By renewing our shared investments in The Seattle Public Library, we can lift up the places where communities come together, open up doors to learning, and make Seattle a more equitable place to live.” Continue reading

Sawant scores a Human Services win vs. Durkan, next tangle over Central Area Senior Center transfer develops

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan may have practical reasons to withdraw the nomination of Jason Johnson to head the Human Services Department, the city’s frontline in its homelessness response, but she chose to make the announcement into a political attack on District 3 representative Kshama Sawant.

“Led by Council member Sawant, the City Council has politicized and failed to act on the confirmation of one of the most important roles in Seattle today,” Durkan said, “the person who oversees our City’s day-to-day work to prevent and respond to homelessness.” Continue reading

Pacheco selected as interim D4 rep — and land use and zoning chair — on Seattle City Council

Abel Pacheco, a former Seattle Central political science teacher and current director of strategic engagement for the University of Washington’s Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement program, will serve as interim District 4 representative and finish Rob Johnson’s term on the Seattle City Council.

The council selected Pacheco Monday afternoon in a replacement process that played out following Johnson’s earlier than expected exit to take a job with the NHL’s Seattle expansion effort. Continue reading

The new plan for filling Seattle’s City Council vacancy

(Image: City of Seattle)

With reporting by Seattle City Council Insight

Monday night, the Seattle City Council will hold a public forum with the candidates to represent District 4 and Northeast Seattle after the exit of Rob Johnson last month.

Due to “a scheduling conflict due to a religious observance,” the public forum originally scheduled for last Thursday was rescheduled for Monday, April 15th, at 5:30 PM in the Bertha Knight Landes room at City Hall. Continue reading

Central District, Hill part of Seattle neighborhood economic development grants

Seattle’s Office of Economic Development has detailed $1.3 million in support for neighborhood businesses — including $215,000 for the Central District and $90,000 for Capitol Hill — as part of the Only in Seattle program.

The city says the recipient “local business communities in 17 neighborhoods” are working on “comprehensive, multi-year strategies” for economic vitality and small business stability. Continue reading

With focus on equity and access, here’s the book on Seattle’s $200M+ library levy proposal

The Seattle City Council will hold a public hearing Thursday evening on Mayor Jenny Durkan’s plan for hiking the Seattle Public Library levy up to over $213.3 million in property taxes over the next seven years.

The new proposal, which first needs to be approved — and possibly modified — by the City Council before before voters get to weigh in in early August, would replace the city’s 2012 levy of $123 million, which was fairly easily approved by voters and expires at the end of this year.

“While Seattle’s voters have historically supported our library system, I don’t take their support for granted,” said  Debora Juarez, who chairs the council’s Select Committee on the Library Levy.

The money under the mayor’s plan would increase access to all of the Seattle Public Library’s 26 branches, sustain and raise investments in technology, expand literature purchases, and continue maintenance. Continue reading

Sawant ethics complaints over Socialist Alternative influence dismissed

The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission has announced it has dismissed two complaints lodged against District 3 representative Kshama Sawant over allegations the City Council member misused her position on behalf of her Socialist Alternative political organization.

“Fundamentally, I believe that elected officials are free to structure their decision-making process as they wish, subject to the will of the voters every four years,” SEEC director Wayne Barnett writes in his decision. “Campaigns are won and lost based on voters’ estimations of whose interests elected officials are serving and who interests they are not. I do not find the way Councilmember Sawant makes her decisions to be a misuse of the position.”

The dismissal covers two complaints filed against Sawant including one from District 3 opponent Logan Bowers. Continue reading

Kenton Apartments tenants say they’re facing another Capitol Hill ‘economic eviction’

(Image: Milestone Tenants Fight Back)

A group of tenants is hoping to organize against the new owners of the 1926-built Capitol Hill brick apartment building they call home and fight back against what they say is an “economic eviction” underway on 16th Ave E.

“Tenants have been here as long as 11 years and we’re invested in staying in our homes in a way that is affordable and sustainable,” the Milestone Tenants Fight Back group writes. “We know the only way to do this is through our collective action and with the support of our broader community. In other words, we want to stay and fight!”

According to King County records, a company operated by Milestone Properties closed its purchase of the Kenton Apartments for $4.6 million in late January. The owner and manager of apartments in Seattle’s University District, Queen Anne, Greenwood, Interbay, Capitol Hill, Fremont, and Wallingford neighborhoods purchased the 300-block 16th Ave E property from its longtime family owners. Continue reading