If you’re still undecided amidst the live debates and comparison pieces between mayoral candidates Cary Moon and Jenny Durkan, maybe this will finally settle the score.
Moon is personable and approachable. But she speaks from an uncommon point of view: She’s most versed in the lofty language of programs and policies. She often gets into the reeds when discussing affordable housing.
“Definitely my system-thinking, engineer brain likes to go up to the 30,000 foot level,” Moon said. “It’s good for developing solutions but not always good for building public will around them.”
This is the case for a Capitol Hill vote for candidate Moon. * Don’t worry, Jenny Durkan backers — we’ll take a swing for your candidate, next. (UPDATE 10/18/2017: Here you go.)
The crux of Moon’s platform is affordable housing. On the topic, Moon dives into background logistics, naming real estate investment trusts and private equity funds. She said Seattle needs to understand what drives up prices and what viable tools can legally “disincentivize” it.
“This is not normal, prices are rising twice as fast than any other city,” Moon said.
“We have allowed outside actors who are not folks who live and work in our city to use our housing market as commodities. We’ve got to block that activity.”
To understand what’s going on, Moon said she will hold a housing summit. She does have some theories of her own.
“I think the housing affordability crisis,” Moon said, “the fact that our economy is generating tremendous wealth but only for a lucky few, and the racial equity in our city are all three intertwined. And all need to be confronted at the same time.”
The homeless and affordable housing crisis are where Moon said she will focus her efforts. In addition, she frequently cites helping small businesses. She feels they build long-term economic prosperity.
The silver-haired mayoral candidate talks about racial equity and disproportionate impact quite a lot, but does her resume walk the talk? Not so much. Moon has primarily worked on sustainable transportation and “smart growth” issues in Seattle. She named working on the People’s Waterfront ten years ago, which focused on creating a civic space by taking back 22 acres of city-owned public land that the Washington State Department of Transportation used.
“[This activism] is not for disadvantaged communities, I’ll just own that,” she said. “Since then, I’ve really shifted away to looking at deeper issues: How do we generate an economy that benefits everybody?”
Moon has also worked with Honest Elections Seattle, to keep money out of local politics, and housing affordability. The candidate didn’t name any specific action items she would implement should she take office, however. Instead, she listed off desires after acknowledging that civil rights leaders and communities of color have been doing the work for decades.
“Watching the degree to which the people who have access to power in the city are not engaging fully on the change we need to make has really galvanized my attention to that,” Moon said. “I feel like we’ve got to invite communities of color to have a seat at the table, at all departmental leadership teams, and the mayor’s office.”
Her first step would be to listen, then she’d focus on “righting historic wrongs via allocating resources.”
She is also in favor of Initiative 940, which would change law enforcements’ malice standard, adding a “good faith” clause and requiring independent investigation. Moon has signed, endorsed and donated to this measure. Durkan, however, has also endorsed the measure.
“I’ve been working with that group and believe exactly in that solution,” Moon said. This isn’t shocking. Moon is very much a challenger while still not being on the extreme left.
“I am committed to using my wealth…to build a better city. I ask you, if you were lucky like me…wouldn’t you do the same thing? Invest in making a better world? So I’m not ashamed.”
Many are uneasy, however, about Moon’s wealth:
Moon lists her assets at $4.1 million, including a condo near Pike Place Market with views of Puget Sound and the Olympic mountains. The condo is valued at $1.8 million according to Zillow.
UPDATE: CHS has updated this portion of the article to more accurately document Moon’s wealth.
But during Seattle University’s Monday night forum, Moon explained she didn’t start off that way, citing that she struggled in the middle class.
“I spent most of my 40s as a single mom, struggling, having anxiety attacks every month,” she said. “I am committed to using my wealth…to build a better city. I ask you, if you were lucky like me…wouldn’t you do the same thing? Invest in making a better world? So I’m not ashamed.”
She also asks others to hold her accountable and wants to set up feedback networks. The point of reference for her was the ‘90s where Seattle did neighborhood planning. Moon wants to bring this back and hold more structured, facilitated conversations with communities. This might explain why her answers often involve summits and forums rather than hard-stance, specific action items.
“I know in the mayor’s office we need to have folks from the community to feel empowered enough to say, ‘wait a minute,’” Moon said, “or straight up ‘this is not working for my community and here’s why.’”
When she decided to run for Seattle mayor, Moon didn’t expect to develop a thick skin.
“As a person in civilian life who’s worked on constructive issues and helping identify solutions and strategies, typically I get treated with gratitude and respect,” she said. “Running for office is a much crueler and hostile world.”
Moon said her harshest critics are ones who have a seat at the table and want to keep it that way.
“They like the access they have in government now, and are very mistrustful of anybody who wants to change that,” she said. “The Chamber of Commerce, they feel fairly hostile. The Seattle Times’ editorial board: can’t tell if curious or hostile.”
But it’s not all bad. Moon named a good 15 organizations and groups that she admires in Seattle, but couldn’t give person-specific names. She later named a small business owner as someone she admires, but wasn’t sure if she remembered the name correctly.
Nonetheless, Moon calls for solidarity. While she started her campaign with broad solutions, she says she’s refined them by working directly with community groups.
“I know the center of how we change course is building on a really strong, unified movement across labor, communities of color, environmental justice, economic progressives,” she said. “We have to learn how to build trust and work on each others’ issues. I’m always pushing the envelope of what’s politically possible and legally possible.”
Moon feels she stands starkly separate from her political rival, Durkan. Perhaps this sentiment is coming from a rooted frustration from local outlets calling the two female candidates one in the same.
“I’m really focused on racial equity and sharing power and blasting through the barriers that have kept Seattle in this quietly, unintentionally, deeply unequal system for too long,” Moon said. “I am ready to shift that power and access. [Durkan] is really protective of the status quo.”