This week’s second Council District 3 candidate forum was more scripted than the first but Kshama Sawant and Pamela Banks still managed to get in a tussle or two.
“Rent control is not the answer, it doesn’t generate units and it creates false hopes,” Banks said about her opponent’s signature campaign issue.
“Candidates who take campaign funds from companies like Vulcan show they could not create affordable housing,” Sawant said during one of her opportunities to punch back.
Sawant has been clear about her affordable housing goals including support for rent control, linkage fees, and city-developed housing. For Banks, who has served as public relations lead for the Department of Housing and Human Services and served on the board of organizations like Capitol Hill Housing, the affordability platform is more fluid though CHS discussed issues of homelessness and the soaring cost of living in Seattle with her earlier this year.
All five candidates gathered Monday night before a Madison Park/Madison Valley crowd Monday evening. Inside The Bush School’s expansive indoor gym, residents of District 3’s northeastern neighborhoods heard candidates run through the standard gamut of questions, plus a few neighborhood specific ones.
Unlike past forums, candidates were given many questions ahead of time and the crowd was noticeably more subdued.
Rod Hearne shared a cautionary personal story about the rapid changes on Capitol Hill when asked about how Seattle could accommodate hordes of new residents while keeping neighborhood character. Hearne, a marriage equality organizer and the race’s only gay candidate, said he was called an anti-homosexual slur last week while walking alone on Capitol Hill.
After the event, Hearne told CHS that he was walking near Summit and E Pike when one male in a group of “dude bros” called him a gay slur. After living on Capitol Hill for 10 years, Hearne said it was the first time he felt unwelcome as a gay man in the neighborhood. “It was like, Ok, this is real,” he said.
During May’s candidate forum at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, the candidates hardly acknowledged one another. This time around it was Carter, a self-described “informational candidate,” who threw several jabs at incumbent Sawant, calling her dishonest for saying she was the only independent candidate not accepting corporate cash.
As with most public forums, there were a few missteps along the way including when Banks struggled to say what differentiated her from other candidates.
Facing a key local issue, candidates were asked if they supported the planned bus rapid transit line on E Madison. Beach said no, Hearne waffled, and all the others said yes.
And lest they forget how far the boundaries of District 3 actually extend, candidates were given this question: Capitol Hill and Central District get lots of attention, how will you represent needs for the entire District 3? The answers were mostly un-illuminating.
The forum came one night after Sawant’s massive Town Hall campaign rally, which featured a slate of local and international speakers.
The top two District 3 vote-getters in the August 4th primary will head to the general election in November. No additional District 3-focused forums have been announced. See the rest of CHS’s District 3 coverage here.
CHS Notes from Monday night’s forum:
- As the only renter in the race, Beach said she worries every year if rent increases will force her to move. “I work for a nonprofit and I will never be able to buy a house in this neighborhood,” she said.
- In addition to calling for residential rent control, Sawant said Capitol Hill’s storefront businesses should have their rents stabilized as well.
- All candidates responded “no” when asked if Seattle Police respected protestor rights during this year’s May Day demonstrations.
- None of the candidates rode a bus more than three times in the past week.
- Beach made her call for Seattle to be the first U.S. city to reach gender pay equity.
- Calling for a millionaires tax to fund mass transit and fees on big developers to fund city-owned housing, Sawant said “I want to live in a city where all people can live in dignity.”
- Banks: “Unfortunately … we can’t stop people from coming here, we can’t put up a gate.”
- Sawant: “Giant developers have run roughshod over neighborhoods.”
- When asked about how they would work with other council members, Banks took a dig at Sawant by saying “you won’t get anywhere by belittling colleagues.”
- Sawant’s response: “When we organize grassroots efforts, we get progressive legislation.”
- “We cannot put every transportation mode on every street,” Banks said, adding that the city needed to invest more in road infrastructure. “You can lose a tire in some of the potholes we have right now.”
- All candidates supported the mayor’s Vision Zero campaign to eliminate accidental pedestrian deaths and called on more work to be done to improve mobility for the disabled.
- Sawant was the only candidate to call for more citizen oversight of the police department.
Here’s a look at the contributions reported through June 9th by the campaigns: