Mayor Jenny Durkan got the full Capitol Hill experience Thursday as she came to the neighborhood for a Pike/Pine walking tour and to announce the formation of Seattle’s first Small Business Advisory Council. The new mayor met a collection of Capitol Hill entrepreneurs, grabbed a latte at Vita — and got a momentary earful from protesters who briefly disrupted her announcement inside Elliott Bay Book Company before being shuffled out of the store where police awaited outside.
One was arrested, dozens of local business representatives applauded the new council, and Mayor Durkan did what she could to roll with the punches and get down to the business of small business in Seattle.
“As we grow as a city we want to make sure that we are able to preserve those parts of Seattle that we cherish the most,” Durkan said with a large collection of Capitol Hill area And one of those things is that eclectic feel of every neighborhood. And that often hinges on the small businesses that are located there.”
Signing an Executive Order at Elliott Bay Book Company, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan established the Seattle’s first Small Business Advisory Council (SBAC). Tasked with ensuring small businesses have a role in informing policies and programs as well as access to resources, the council will provide input on impact of City decisions, make policy recommendations, and help increase access to tools and resources available to small businesses.
“Inventing the future and supporting vibrant neighborhoods means supporting small businesses that call Seattle home. Our small businesses must be a part of solving our urgent challenges of affordability and growth,” said Mayor Durkan. “With this first ever council, Seattle’s diverse and innovative small businesses will have a voice in City Hall and be a part of creating and crafting solutions.”
Durkan also announced the appointment of four co-chairs — two have strong Capitol Hill ties. Donna Moodie, owner of E Union’s Marjorie Restaurant and CEO of Mint Holding food and design company, and Tracy Taylor, manager of Elliott Bay will be joined by Joe Fugere, owner of Tutta Bella, Taylor Hoang, restaurateur and head of the Ethnic Business Coalition.
Durkan was introduced for her remarks by Peter Aaron who brought his book store to Capitol Hill in 2010. Earlier in the day, she toured Pike/Pine businesses including Sugarpill Apothecary, the expansive office of Molly Moon’s, Everyday Music, Caffe Vita — where she ordered a short latte, Retrofit Home, and Cupcake Royale where she was enthusiastically greeted by owner Jody Hall with a swag bag from her company, Goodship, a maker of marijuana edibles. “There’s no product in there,” Hall assured.
At Sugarpill, owner Karen Schwartz gave the mayor a yellow calcite stone. “For optimism,” Schwartz said, telling the mayor her needs as a Capitol Hill shop owner are issues of social services, homelessness, addiction, and affordability. “We’re all running social services out of our businesses,” she said. She also asked Durkan to help make areas like Capitol Hill more affordable. “Workers need to live where they work.”
Meanwhile, Molly Moon Neitzel and staff from the E Pine-based ice cream company told Durkan of their successful 2017 initiative for the demographics of Molly Moon employees to be “more diverse” than Seattle. The company is also in the process of transitioning to “B Corp” status — “for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.” Moon Neitzel told Durkan she started the company and shaped it with social goals out a sense of responsibility to the community. “Because I can do better,” Moon Neitzel said.
Durkan heard more about the need for homelessness services and diversion over policing in stops at Rancho Bravo and Vita where workers are often on the frontline of trying to help people facing addiction and living on the streets.
According to the mayor’s office, the SBAC charter will be determined by February 1st, with the first meeting by March 1. “SBAC members will represent businesses of different sizes, different industries, different neighborhoods, and from different sectors, stages, and ownership models and will include under-represented entrepreneurs: women, immigrants, refugees people of color, and the LGBTQ community,” according to the mayor’s announcement.
Our small businesses are the heart and soul of Seattle. Joined with business owners across Seattle, I signed an Executive Order to create a Small Business Advisory Council pic.twitter.com/diOyGBom9f
— Mayor Jenny Durkan (@MayorJenny) November 30, 2017
— GSBA (@GSBA) November 30, 2017
Durkan also reiterated her opposition to a so-called head tax to help pay for homelessness services in Seattle. The city council has budgeted for a progressive revenue tax force in 2018 that could re-kindle the employee hours tax that was at the center of this year’s budget debate. Durkan said that, “as configured,” the current plan for the tax is a bad idea. She said any head tax would need to help “make sure we don’t harm small businesses.”
According to the city, Seattle has about 36,500 businesses with fewer than 50 employees that employ nearly 200,000 people.
The mayor’s appearance on the Hill and friendly greeting from the business community was marked by what will likely be a recurring theme for the former U.S. Attorney. “As U.S. Attorney, Jenny Durkan used a five time sex offender to impress two muslim men with mental health issues in a bogus terror plot,” the first protester began seconds into the mayor’s statements inside Elliott Bay.
“Jenny Durkan you’re a piece of shit,” she shouted, bringing a chorus of boos, “and you don’t represent the people of Seattle.” As the first female protester was escorted out, a male protester also inside the store also began to read his prepared statement as store staff tried to corral him and send him outside where police took him into custody without incident. Police at the scene said the protester would be booked for investigation of trespassing.