I’ve made the case for mayoral candidate Cary Moon before and our election board did too in our Primary and General Election endorsements. With ballots out and the November 7th deadline to get your ballot postmarked looming tomorrow, I thought I’d reiterate the case. Cary Moon isn’t just an urbanist, she’s the candidate who can make Seattle a city that leads on environmental sustainability and social justice.
1. Cary Moon’s goal of quadrupling the amount of affordable housing.
Moon would inject some ambition into Seattle’s housing policies. This is a region that voted to invest tens of billions in light rail in 2016. Where is the comparable investment in affordable housing? Moon promises to do the heavy political lifts to find the money–whether that’s a capital gains tax, an income tax, a real estate transaction tax, or a speculation tax.
2. Cary Moon would fight for bus-only lanes to keep transit moving.
Any transit rider can tell you, Seattle buses could be much faster if it wasn’t for traffic congestion. Too often one motorist will block an intersection and delay a bus loaded with upwards of 100 commuters. We’ve heard mayoral candidates pay lip service to bus priority, but we trust Moon to follow through. It helps that she brings an urban planner’s sensibility to our transportation geometry problems. She promises to put people walking, biking, and riding transit ahead of single-occupant vehicles. Jenny Durkan ranked the needs of pedestrians last at the Growing Seattle forum we co-sponsored. We reviewed Cary Moon’s transit plan in detail before.
3. Cary Moon is more experienced where it counts when it comes to being mayor.
While few dispute that Durkan’s legal resume is impressive, Moon’s experience is more applicable to the job of being mayor. Being mayor is about setting the right values and selecting the right leaders for City departments. Through her advocacy with the People’s Waterfront Coalition, Moon demonstrated people-centered values rather than car-centered values and earned acclaim both from city administrators like Jemae Hoffman and from outside observers like The Stranger. More recently, Moon co-wrote a four-part series about addressing Seattle’s affordability crisis. Durkan is a skilled prosecutor that was slotted to pull in a salary of $2 million at her corporate firm before taking a leave of absence to run for mayor. What her core values really are on transportation, housing, and wealth inequality are less clear, but seem to lean toward the status quo. While her five years as US Attorney for Western Washington is impressive, that experience as a prosecutor suggests she would side with law enforcement rather than criminal justice reformers.
4. Cary Moon supports municipal broadband. Comcast is a major donor to Jenny Durkan’s campaign.
Every month Comcast or CenturyLink extorts you $60 or more for your internet bill. It doesn’t have to be this way. As the internet becomes more and more important for kids to do their schoolwork and for people to find jobs and build professional networks, the fact some cannot afford internet is a major equity issue. Building municipal internet is not likely to be cheap on the front end, but it’s something that will protect residents of Seattle for years to come. Municipal internet would insulate us from price gouging and protect net neutrality at a time when the telecom giants are plotting to take it away. Cheap internet could help start-ups launch and drive down costs for many small businesses. It’s an investment that would pay dividends far into the future. Too bad Jenny Durkan preferred cozying up to Comcast and company to taking a bold stand for municipal internet. Comcast and CenturyLink have invested more than $50,000 in the race on the side of the candidate preferred by the Chamber of Commerce.
5. Cary Moon would fight for protected bike lanes and safer street designs.
In the last four years, we’ve seen a slowdown in progress to building out Seattle’s planned protected bike network. To be blunt, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has sometimes seemed unsure whether they’ve had a mandate from the mayor to make the tough choices needed to build new protected bike lanes and give pedestrians and cyclists priority at intersections. We’ve seen pedestrian and transit priority actually decrease at times in order to serve motorists, such as on Mercer Street. Perhaps it’s only natural when Ed Murray came into office in part riding “bikelash” and exploiting his predecessor Mike McGinn’s caricature as “Mayor McSchwinn”. Moon would get SDOT on task again and provide political support when the bikelash comes. She’d champion road diets on dangerous streets rather than pander to motorists. With Durkan, we’re likely to see another Ed Murray in the mayor’s office, blocking SDOT from doing what’s right.
6. Cary Moon knows how to talk to the city about rezones.
Much has been made in this race about how Durkan and Moon have the same policies. That’s only true if you ignore context. Moon stood up for rezoning Seattle in the primary while Durkan was courting single-family-homeowner votes. Durkan has since shifted toward a more pro-growth policy. The question again is who do you trust when the chips are down? Is it Jenny Durkan whose political strength is in wealthy single-family enclaves and who recently sold her mansion in Windermere for $4.3 million to upgrade to a $7.5 million mansion her partner Dana Garvey is building at a undisclosed location? As much as some urbanists want a leader who will champion “naked upzones” and give the middle finger to anyone who stands in their way, the reality is we need to build a durable coalition to sell citywide zoning changes. Cary Moon promises to build an inclusive process and it seems she well-situated to convince Seattleites who are still on the fence to support upzones because she’s been researching, writing about, and working on housing affordability issues for years.
7. Cary Moon opposes the homeless sweeps; Durkan wants to continue sweeping homeless camps.
While Cary Moon has consistently called for an end to the homeless sweeps so that service providers can build relationships with people experiencing homelessness and so we can focus resources where they count, Durkan wants to continue playing Whack-a-Mole because it’ll score her political points with people who just want the problem to be somewhere else. If the City Council is not able to pass their proviso that would prohibit spending any money on costly homeless sweeps in 2018, it will matter even more who is in the mayor’s chair.
The clock is ticking. Don’t forget to postmark or turn in your ballot at a drop box by 8pm tomorrow.
Doug Trumm is publisher of The Urbanist. An Urbanist writer since 2015, he dreams of pedestrianizing streets, blanketing the city in bus lanes, and unleashing a mass timber building spree to end the affordable housing shortage and avert our coming climate catastrophe. He graduated from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington in 2019. He lives in East Fremont and loves to explore the city on his bike.