Voters overwhelmingly approve $350M King County Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy

Voters this week approved Prop. 1, the Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy. It gives funding to services providing assistance to veterans, military service members, their families, seniors and their caregivers, and vulnerable King County populations. At last tally, more than 67% of King County voters said “yes” to the boost.

Capital facilities, regional health, and human services for housing, financial stability, healthy living and social engagement. It requires a six-year property tax less than 11 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation on all taxable property. The tax increases will reach no more than 3.5% in the other five years. It will raise more than $350 million over six years.

It largely helps domestic violence survivors and veterans. Locally, there are groups like King County Veterans’ Consortium, The Seattle Stand Down.

The levy has existed since 2005 when it was created to alleviate deep cuts in human services and was seeking its third renewal. This time it adopts the outcomes-based framework and gives more support to affordable housing.

Previously, each section of the program typically screened around 2,700 veterans with around a 76% success rate in diversion and housing. You can read more about its performance here.

Election 2017 | Optimism party watches Durkan take expected big lead

With reporting by Kelsey Hamlin and photography by Alex Garland

With the combatants in the central battle in Seattle politics gathering their supporters off Capitol Hill, CHS spent Election Night at Broadway and Union’s Optimism Brewing where City Council candidates Lorena González and Teresa Mosqueda and Capitol Hill-based School Board candidate Zachary DeWolf watched the night’s first ballot counts come in and show the expected early big count for mayoral candidate Jenny Durkan.

Full King County results are available at

Durkan’s Election Night party was held at the strong>Westin while Cary Moon supporters rallied at 1st Ave’s Old Stone Brewing Co.

Durkan, a former U.S. Attorney, would be the first woman elected mayor in Seattle since 1926. The Victory Fund, dedicated to boosting LGBTQ candidates, celebrated her likely victory as the first “out lesbian” mayor in the city’s history. Most viewed her as the establishment candidate due to her legal background and her championship of the justice system for solutions. CHS talked with Durkan about her plans for the mayor’s office in the weeks leading up to Election Night. “For three years I sat in on every police shooting case there was,” Durkan told us at the time. “I have spent decades working for social justice in this city.”

Remembering the last woman elected mayor of Seattle, Durkan joked about her legacy Tuesday night:

She also told a story about meeting a Seattle woman who was alive during the Bertha Knight Landes administration. “Last week, I was in South Seattle at the senior center and I met a woman named Jewell who is 94,” Durkan said. “She was alive when Bertha was Mayor. She has lived in this city for decades. She has lived almost two lives. But today Jewell can barely get by. I sat and talked to her. And she pays her rent and expenses – she has only a few hundred dollars left. And she talked to me about how hard it was and how much she really had faith in Seattle. So wanna tell you Jewell if you’re watching this: Help is On the Way.”

While Durkan stopped short of declaring victory, she did acknowledge from the stage that the Seattle Times had called the race in her favor with only the first round of votes counted. Durkan said the campaign was tough but gave her new love for Seattle. “It has really renewed my optimism for this city,” she said.

Back at Optimism, Mosqueda found herself with a Durkan-like lead over challenger Jon Grant. She also found the appropriate adjective given the brewery setting when we asked her how she felt on Election Night. “Full of optimism,” she said before the first tally showed her with more than 60% of the vote. “I feel like this entire year, the campaign has been about how we pull together the community. People are coming out and showing they want somebody who will work for others… believe in women, believe in me.”

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Election Day on Capitol Hill and the Broadway ballot drop box is busy

It is Election Day in Seattle. Or, really, Election Night — the first drop of early voting counts will hit sometime after 8 PM. Don’t worry. You still have time to vote. And you don’t need a stamp — just a pen.

CHS stopped by the friendly neighborhood King County Elections ballot drop box Monday. The blue and white, tough as nails security box was already doing brisk business with Capitol Hill and Seattle Central voters. Continue reading

Plymouth at First Hill, one point of progress in Seattle’s homelessness emergency

Plymouth Housing Group built the Cal Anderson House — supportive housing for the Lifelong AIDS Alliance — 17 years ago. Now, they’re opening a new building on First Hill, moving in mostly homeless people with disabilities. Because of the mountains of paperwork, moving people in is a slow and rough process that will be finished by the end of December.

Walking up to the building on Cherry Street, the familiar landscape-painted poles under I-5 accompany people sitting out in the cold on mattresses, in boxes and in tents. Plymouth’s own building attempts to bring a piece of that familiarity inside with its own landscape-painted pole in its lobby.

The security-enforced front desk, operated 24/7, lies adjacent. Largely because of its hours, the building has 10 people on staff. Those working the front desk try to keep tabs on their residents so they know everything is alright while not being too intrusive. It’s a tough balance. UPDATE: CHS reported on the staff total for the project. There are 170 total employees across all Plymouth properties. Sorry for the error.

“A lot of the people who moved in to Plymouth Housing units have not been treated well in the system and bureaucracy,” said chief program officer Kelli Larsen. Continue reading

Year two of Seattle’s homelessness state of emergency marked by City Hall sleep-in, debate over ‘sweeps’

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Two years ago, Seattle declared a state of emergency for homelessness and plans to boost spending to address the issue by a few million dollars. To mark this declaration and stop homeless sweeps, activists slept overnight in Seattle City Hall and on the plaza after they gave over 100 testimonies against so-called “sweeps” before peacefully wrapping up their camps Thursday morning.

“As many times as I’ve stood up here since June, I’ve stood at homeless camps with friends,” Travis Thompson said, addressing a Seattle City Council budget hearing Wednesday night as the sleep-in got underway. He described what happens when police come in to remove the homeless. “What little stability you have is ruined and we put them closer to death by doing that … This needs to happen right now, people are dying!”

At Wednesday night’s budget hearing, both Stop The Sweeps and pro-sweeps group Speak Out Seattle offered ample testimony while people filled the overflow room and rallied outside. As it got dark, others downstairs played in a makeshift band with its own tap dancer. Some said it reminded them of the Occupy movement. People slept in tents, gathered supplies, and huddled around a few heating lamps. Continue reading

13 things CHS heard at the Seattle Peoples Party forum

Tucked into a large church Sunday night, previous mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver moderated two debates through the Seattle Peoples Party platform. Seattle City Council Position 8 candidates Teresa Mosqueda and Jon Grant went head to head and so did mayoral candidates Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon.

The Peoples Party organization coalesced around the activist Oliver last spring in a bid to challenge Ed Murray when the incumbent seemed a sure bet for reelection.  “We started to think about what that meant for those of us who aren’t wealthy or groomed for political office,” Oliver told the South Seattle Emerald as she announced her campaign.

Much of the same spirit shaped Sunday night’s forum. The debates featured a list of predetermined central values and a healthy dose of skepticism. Oliver said she personally feels voting is not the strongest way to instigate change.

If you don’t yet have your ballot in for the November election, CHS says you should still give it a chance. Here are 13 — in the spirit of Halloween — things CHS heard at Sunday’s forum. Continue reading

Why Capitol Hill needs a Sheriff, anyway

Why should anyone on Capitol Hill care about the King County Sheriff’s election? The King County Sheriff’s Office, after all, is responsible for policing in the unincorporated areas of eastern King County. But the sheriff’s office does much more than that, including shouldering quite a few responsibilities in the neighborhood.

Incumbent John Urquhart, 69 of Mercer Island, has been sheriff since 2012 and involved in law enforcement in some capacity for 42 years. His opponent Mitzi Johanknecht, 58 of West Seattle, is a major in the sheriff’s office has been in law enforcement for 33 years.

One of the largest issues emerging in the campaign doesn’t have as much to do with law enforcement as much as it does with management style. Johanknecht, commander of the southwest precinct, said one of the top reasons she’s running is to reverse what she said is a decline in morale over the past few years that Urquhart has been sheriff. She said she hadn’t actually considered running until she was approached by people inside and outside of the sheriff’s office who encouraged her to run.

Urquhart said he is running for re-election because he’s done a good job, and would like to continue. He credits himself for working to change the culture of the shreiff’s office, pointing out that he’s fired 22 people for cause. And has worked to “dismantle the blue wall of silence.”

“We are a much different sheriff’s office than when I took over,” he said.

The sheriff’s office handles law enforcement for both King County Metro and Sound Transit, so if there’s a problem at the light rail station, on the streetcar, on a bus, or at a bus stop, it’s up to a sheriff’s deputy to respond – with help from Seattle Police when appropriate or needed. The sheriff’s office handles search and rescue operations for people who get in trouble or lost when hiking in the eastern part of the county. Continue reading

Seattle City Attorney race proves a battle over reform

As City Attorney Pete Holmes battles challenger Scott Lindsay for the office, both face challenges connecting with Seattle’s communities of color where justice and police reforms remain paramount concerns.

The two attended a debate hosted by Africatown last week, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and developing the Central District’s African American community. The audience heard Lindsay’s motto of “Seattle needs to do more” or “be better” throughout the forum. For the incumbent Holmes, his case was about showing citizens and especially communities of color he has been doing “more” all along.

The forum’s questions addressed issues facing the African American community. When  Lindsay was asked how his work as City Attorney would impact that community, he attacked Holmes’ diversion program for youth funding. Continue reading

Election 2017: Which school board candidate is best for Capitol Hill kids?

Last week, concerns about the challenges faced by a Seattle Public Schools elementary campus on Capitol Hill were a reminder of just how challenging it is to maintain — let alone build — the system amid tight budgetary environments and further squeezing from Olympia. November’s election to select new school board members will be one step in helping the district’s children grow and, hopefully, thrive.

Seattle Public Schools District 5 representing portions of Capitol Hill and the nearby of Central Seattle presents a spirited November contest. candidates, Zachary DeWolf and Omar Vasquez, tried their best to make their case at a recent forum held in the Madrona neighborhood.

Vasquez was previously a Summit Charter Schools board member. Since running, however, he has distanced himself from the work and updated his online resume information.

“I don’t always have control over my work profiles,” Vasquez said. “I’m not hiding anything about this.” Continue reading

Election 2017: The citywide city council races — a Capitol Hill-centric explainer

November ballots are out and voting has started. CHS election coverage has already given you a Capitol Hill thing or three to think about in the Seattle Mayor’s race pitting Jenny Durkan vs. Cary Moon. Now let’s look at the citywide City Council races. CHS has compiled a rundown on the platforms, positions, and campaign rhetoric of the four candidates for Position 8 and Position 9 with issues particularly relevant to Capitol Hill, the Central District, and District 3 in mind.

The position 8 city council seat—which was recently vacated by former veteran council member and now interim mayor, Tim Burgess—is being contested by Teresa Mosqueda, a former state-level labor union lobbyist, and Jon Grant, former director of the Tenants Union. Meanwhile, former civil rights attorney and current incumbent council member representing the Position 9 citywide seat, Lorena Gonzalez, is being challenged by South Seattle business owner and neighborhood activist Pat Murakami.


This race has received the most attention and media coverage out of the two city council seats up for grabs. When Burgess announced last December that he wouldn’t seek re election, candidates began piling on to the race. The August primary pushed Mosqueda and Grant through with 31.59 and 26.87% of the vote respectively (Grant beat out Fremont Brewing owner Sara Nelson for second place by five points). Continue reading