Casey Sixkiller is vying to replace outgoing Mayor Jenny Durkan, his former boss. Sixkiller has a long career in politics and lobbying that included stints in the offices of former U.S. Representative Joe McDermott, Senator Patty Murray, and King County Executive Dow Constantine. His consulting firm’s lobbying clients have included oil companies, arms dealers, and private prisons. He joined the Durkan administration in January 2020 as Deputy Mayor of operations and was given important assignments like overseeing the City’s homelessness response. As Deputy Mayor, Sixkiller was the highest ranking Indigenous official in City history.
The Urbanist Election Committee wrote and distributed questionnaires to the candidates and followed up with Zoom interviews this month. We’ll roll out the rest of the Mayoral questionnaires this week and continuing releasing questionnaires in other races. The Urbanist will drop our Primary Endorsement writeups in early July. The Primary voting period starts July 16th; ballots must be postmarked by 8pm August 3rd. For voter information or to register to vote, visit the State election website.
Below are Casey Sixkiller’s questionnaire responses. Check out his campaign website for more information.
What does being an urbanist mean to you?
I believe that strong thriving cities are built on the foundation of great transit, walking and biking choices, a range of housing options that are affordable, and robust amenities including parks, libraries, schools, stores, childcare, and restaurants. But I also know that in Seattle these investments have been lacking for generations especially for communities of color. Being an urbanist is being focused on creating great neighborhoods all across Seattle where all people can thrive no matter the color of your skin or the zip code you live in.
What strategies would you adopt to address the homelessness and housing affordability crisis in Seattle, and do you support the charter amendment proposed by Compassion Seattle?
Decades of disconnected solutions have left us with a patchwork of programs and responses no one is happy with. We need to address this crisis holistically as a region while also making near term progress.
First, we need to create more permanent homes for our unhoused neighbors. I will propose a $1B levy to build 3,000 new housing units so those who need the most support can transition from shelter to a more supportive home. This generational investment will more than triple the number of permanent supportive homes coming online every year.
Second, I think we need to help stabilize working families who often are one paycheck away from becoming homeless. I am proposing the nation’s largest guaranteed income program, Seattle Reliable Income Supporting Equity (RISE) to provide 16,000 low-income families with $500 a month to help meet their basic needs. We know that these programs work and help lift families out of poverty.
Finally, I think we must create new opportunities to increase housing choices in Seattle through rezones, incentives to speed up the delivery and lower the cost of bringing multi-family homes and accessible, affordable public transportation to every neighborhood in Seattle.
How do you envision the relationship between the city and Seattle Police Department changing? How do you plan to look after the safety/well-being of Seattle’s residents, especially those in communities who have faced disproportionate use of force from police?
Despite years of efforts at reforming policing, if you are a person of color in Seattle your experience with law enforcement is very different than most and more likely to involve an armed police response. We must make changes to shift the approach and culture of policing in Seattle to be community-based and community-informed, and more accountable. Moving more 911 calls away from an armed police officer is a critical first step to improve the relationship between residents and the police. It will require expanding crisis response programs like Health One, doubling the City’s unarmed civilian Community Service Officers program, and scaling up non-profit community safety programs so they can respond in real time. Culture change requires reforming hiring practices to increase racial and cultural diversity, ongoing training requirements with an emphasis on non-lethal tools and crisis response, and setting a community-informed standard of excellence, transparency, and accountability for officer conduct and removal.
What is your strategy for equitable development in Seattle and how will that guide your approach to the Major Update to the Comprehensive Plan in 2024?
Seattle is a growing city but the availability of housing hasn’t kept up. If you are a teacher, a social worker, an artist, odds are you can’t afford to live here anymore. To create strong, healthy and inclusive neighborhoods, we must create new housing options so more people can call Seattle home. We need a range of housing choices including duplexes, triplexes, townhomes and other types of multi-family housing.
What is your plan to help businesses recover from the pandemic? What has the pandemic taught you about what small businesses and their employees need?
The pandemic caused deep, economic harm to our small businesses and the thousands of frontline workers that hold our city together. Every empty store front or shuttered restaurant is a loss to our communities. We need to do more to help small businesses so they can move beyond surviving to thriving. This includes more small business stabilization grants, B&O tax relief, and other supports to help get businesses reopened and hiring. Longer term we need to do more to keep small businesses rooted in their neighborhoods, not priced out by new development.
What tax policies would you advocate for in Seattle?
Our tax system is regressive and we need more tools that support progressive revenue. I support both the capital gains and an income tax as ways to make investments that we know we need. I am also proposing a $1B bond measure to accelerate the creation of 3,000 new permanent supportive homes for those living unsheltered who need the most support. Unlike the current housing levy which invests in housing over a period of 7 years, bonding allows the city to make this investment now when we need it the most.
What are your preferred policies to improve access to public transportation?
Everyone in Seattle deserves safe, affordable and reliable transportation options. As we recover, Seattle needs robust investments in transit and safe streets for people walking and biking. I will focus on expanding transit service and connections to the new light rail stations that will open this year. And as the economy recovers and more people return to work, we must make sure that transit reliability is a priority with the expansion of red bus lanes and other capital investments.
We also need to support investments to achieve the city’s commitment to Vision Zero including expanding permanent Stay Healthy Streets, building out sidewalks in communities in the north and south, and creating safe and protected bike lanes.
Ensuring the successful and on-time repair of the West Seattle Bridge is also a priority for me. We need to make sure that our neighbors and businesses in West Seattle have reliable transportation connections and that this project has strong oversight as well as partnership from the State and Federal government to ensure that we can reopen the bridge as soon as possible.
“The time for letting existing wealthy neighbors say no to new neighbors who are less wealthy is over” — Do you agree and what is your plan to address this issue?
My approach is to bring people together even when we don’t always agree. As a city we have made progress on tough issues like the minimum wage and MHA by finding common ground. To build a more equitable and welcoming Seattle, we have to start with the value of inclusion and seeing the diversity of our residents as a strength, not a reason to divide us.
More specifically, do you support and would you commit to rezoning wealthy neighborhoods like Madison Valley, Montlake, and Laurelhurst to have robust urban villages, especially with frequent transit, university jobs, and multiple hospitals nearby?
As I said earlier, strong, thriving communities are built on the foundation of great transit, walking and biking choices, a range of housing options that are affordable, and robust amenities including parks, libraries, schools, stores, childcare, and restaurants. This means that we need to create new housing choices in neighborhoods with existing infrastructure. I don’t think a one-size-fits-all approach works and we can move past the divisive land use battles of the past by proposing solutions that can accommodate growth in our single family neighborhoods, such as rowhouses and other types of missing middle housing.
How will you balance community input with effective and equitable policy-making?
I have spent my entire career working to bring people together around shared values that result in meaningful policy solutions. Cherokees call this gadugi. I believe in bringing everyone to the table to reach bold solutions, even when we don’t agree on everything. I believe the diversity of our residents and opinions should make us stronger, not divide us. As mayor, I will bring communities together to solve problems.
Do you support allowing missing middle housing like rowhouses in existing single family zones so all neighborhoods contribute to growth?
Yes. I lived in a duplex in the Maple Leaf neighborhood until I was five and lived in a rowhouse in Washington, D.C., and I strongly believe that options such as rowhouses, duplexes and triplexes are important housing options for our growing city.
Do you support increasing progressive taxes (income or capital gains) to pay for affordable housing?
Will you push to make municipal broadband a reality in Seattle?
No with caveats. I strongly believe in public broadband but I do not think Seattle can do it alone. Broadband is necessary infrastructure as we have seen during the pandemic and we need robust investment from the State and the Federal government in order to make this a reality. The State took an important first step by lifting the prohibition on municipal broadband. As Congress considers an infrastructure package, I will advocate for infrastructure investments including broadband for our city.
Do you support establishing a municipal bank?
The Urbanist was founded in 2014 to examine and influence urban policies. We believe cities provide unique opportunities for addressing many of the most challenging social, environmental, and economic problems. We serve as a resource for promoting urbanism, increasing political participation, and improving the places we live. The Elections Committee consists of community volunteers and staff members of The Urbanist and is a standing body representing the political values of our organization.