We asked, you answered. Our call for questions for the CHS District 3 Primary Candidate Survey, that is. From dozens of reader proposals, CHS distilled 20 questions, including “Favorite D3 Park,” Which D3 areas “are most in need of new transit and transportation infrastructure?” and “What solutions for homelessness have worked in other cities that you’d like to try here?”
UPDATE 9:18 AM: Due to an error on CHS handling of questionnaire answers, we inadvertently missed candidate answers to a handful of questions. This post has been updated and a description of unanswered questions has been removed. We apologize for the error.
Egan Orion, whose campaign has benefitted from financial expenditures by the CASE PAC, answered a question about how to avoid another very expensive D3 race by 2023: “I think the best way to prevent another expensive, combative election is to elect a council member that lives up to their promises and meets the needs of their constituents.” As you might expect, most candidates took aim at Kshama Sawant and/or PACs in their answers.
Before we get to the other answers, here are a couple of quick stats and observations
- The longest answers came from incumbent Sawant, who leads with just over 4,300 words — 18 of those were either “big” or “business”, a lot more were “most regressive tax system in the country”— while Zachary DeWolf and Ami Nguyen kept it most concise with around 1,700.
- Logan Bowers kept the mentions of his solo wheel(ing) at “only” twice. Nguyen referred to her job as public defender two times.
- Orion used the term “data-proven” or “data-informed” “solutions” three times, one time before claiming the data is “far from clear” on safe injection sites. Orion was quoted saying “I’m all for safe consumption sites,” in Madison Park Times last April.
- Only one candidate used a smiley: Zachary DeWolf, writing he was “rated last place by SOS ;).”
- Pat Murakami leads with the most mention of dogs, including one time to refer to medical marijuana for her dog Yoshi and her late Jack Russell “Terrorist.”
- The Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program is by far the most popular among candidates, at least when you count how many times they namechecked it (seven times). Orion, Sawant, and DeWolf want to expand LEAD; Bowers wants to “aggressively apply” it. Nguyen appears to describe a need for a program similar to LEAD for repeat offenders but doesn’t mention the program by name.
- Volunteer Park is the most popular D3 park.
- All five candidates challenging the incumbent promised to establish a new location for a D3 office to meet with constituents and hold office hours. (Sawant said she chose, partly because of high rents, to focus on hiring more community organizers rather than renting a second office.)
Here’s what candidates said about other issues:
Transit: Sawant, Murakami (who in May told the crowd at a transportation forum in the CD she had to drive to the event because of concerns for her “personal safety” and the only candidate to answer “Maybe” when the Seattle Times asked if Seattle needed more bike lanes) DeWolf, Bowers and Orion all say they want to invest in public transit and bike infrastructure.
Nguyen doesn’t mention plans for either but focuses on constituents who feel “unheard by SDOT,” which she wants to “make accountable” to the city council and constituents. Sawant wants to expand late-night Metro services and wants to explore free late-night ride shares to help reduce traffic fatalities. Bowers and Sawant are the only candidates who mention the city’s scaled-back Bicycle Master Plan. Bowers also linked transportation issues to zoning for businesses within walking distance of homes and his goal to make the city “100% walkable.” DeWolf says that “if you build it, they will come.” Murakami (who answered “maybe” when The Seattle Times asked if the city should be building a First Avenue streetcar line) wrote that she wants to connect the streetcar lines with a “virtual painted magnetic track.” (Read more in questions 7 and 8)
Climate Change: Most candidates, except Nguyen, who only proposes to “subsidize green energy technology for low-come families”, have a lot of ideas on how to combat climate change. Some, like Orion, get somewhat lyrical about “beautiful green energy” produced by, among other ideas, incentivizing green buildings, wind farms, and electrifying public transport. Sawant also proposes the latter and wants to make it free.
Murakami wants to ban plastic water bottles and start a program encouraging everyone, including restaurants, to commit to Meatless Mondays.
Bowers has ideas for Seattle City Light, including changing its rate structure and selling/buying surplus energy.
Bowers, DeWolf, and Sawant brought the climate change issue/question back to public transit, walking, biking, and car dependency. DeWolf and Nguyen also applied an equity lens to the issue. (Read more in question 15)
Homelessness: The survey didn’t explicitly ask candidates to outline plans to address homelessness, though we did inquire about their personal track record on addressing homelessness and asked which solutions from other cities they’d implement. Some highlights: Orion, Bowers, and Murakami all say to be in favor of “housing first.” Murakami says she supports microloans and housing vouchers as eviction prevention, DeWolf calls for “diversion programs” — including conflict resolution, family reunification, mediation, or financial assistance — and an increased focus on youth and young adult homelessness.
Nguyen, DeWolf, and Murakami want to increase permanent supportive housing. Sawant focuses on housing (affordability) and social housing, rent control, the expansion of tiny home villages, and wants to stop the sweeps of encampments. Bowers also said he’d like to try increased spending, like New York, on shelter. (Read more in questions 4 and 5)
CHS doesn’t do endorsements, so we highly suggest to read all the questionnaires — if only to find out which pot shops and parks the candidates frequent, their take on lidding I-5 and public transit habits, which candidate wrote a novel featuring the Volunteer Park Water Tower or who believes that “Seattle is not dying, Seattle is compassionate” — and make up your mind before ballot boxes close on August 6.