The Seattle City Council candidate forums hosted by the Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS) coalition zeroed in on transportation and housing issues and revealed not all races were created equally.
The District 4 (D4) forum displayed a considerable consensus around adding density in single family zones and making streets safer for people walking, rolling, biking, etc. Granted, this consensus was furthered by the absence of Alex Pedersen, homeowner group groupie. Apparently Pederson was talking with some Magnuson Park neighbors about public safety instead. Here’s a tweet recap of the D4 debate by yours truly. (See D4 forum transcript.)
On the other hand, District 7 (D7) candidates were much more hesitant to go all-in on a safe streets and urbanist platform; our own Ryan Packer had a tweet thread from the D7 forum. In fact, most were much more excited to blow something like a half a billion dollars doing a one-for-one replacement of the Magnolia Bridge to expand car capacity in D7 rather than grapple with funding more pressing needs for transit, sidewalks, and biking infrastructure–which the same candidates often painted as too expensive. Queen Anne Greenways tweeted that they’d like to trade for some D4 candidates. (See D7 forum transcript.)
Likewise, a wide variety of transportation and housing takes were on display District 6 (D6) and some were not too into the MASS platform. Retiring Councilmember Mike O’Brien has generally been a stalwart for safe streets and housing justice, but some in the district are taking his retirement as a chance to go in the opposite direction. (See D6 transcript.)
District 2 (D2) was somewhere in-between with some candidates telling MASS supporters to take a hike on their priorities and/or making stuff up (cough: Ari Hoffman). But frontrunner Tammy Morales (who lost by less than 400 votes to retiring Councilmember Bruce Harrell last time around) displayed a firm grasp of the issues. (See D2 transcript.)
The District 3 (D3) still has an incumbent in Councilmember Kshama Sawant so it had a different dynamic with challengers taking an aggressive stance in hopes of erasing the advantage of incumbency, as Natalie Bicknell reported. Fireworks aside, candidates seemed amenable to reducing the primacy of cars to make space for people, while their housing solutions varied along a spectrum from free market-focused fixes (Logan Bowers) to social housing centered platforms (Sawant). (See D3 transcript.)
Rooted In Rights recently released all the forum videos (complete with transcripts and closed captions) so you can see for yourself who were the standouts. Seattle Tech 4 Housing was nice enough to code all the rapid-fire responses into spreadsheets for each race to more easily see the differences.
District 2: Tammy and Friends
District 3: These Dudes (and Pat) are Coming for Sawant
District 4: The Urbanist Showcase
District 6: A Big Kayak to Fill
District 7: In Which a $400 Million Bridge is a Must Have, but Bike Lanes are Too Spendy
Primary is Fast Approaching and So Are The Urbanist’s Endorsements
So stay tuned for more candidate coverage. It really is a whirlwind election with four open seats and more than 50 candidates. The Urbanist Election Committee is hard at work with questionnaires and interviews plan to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Doug Trumm is the executive director 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. He lives in East Fremont and loves to explore the city on his bike.