Nikkita Oliver ran for mayor in 2017 on the Seattle People’s Party platform and finished a close third behind Cary Moon in the primary. This cycle, Oliver opted to run for Seattle City Council instead of running for mayor again, targeting Position 9 citywide seat vacated by Council President Lorena González’s run for mayor. Since their last run, Oliver has continued working with youth entangled in our criminal justice system as executive director of Creative Justice. During a summer of widespread protests against police brutality in 2020, Oliver emerged as a leader and helped articulate demands that the City invest in Black and brown communities and divest money being squandered on an unaccountable Seattle Police Department. Upon jumping in the Council race in March, Oliver’s first hire was urbanist luminary Shaun Scott as campaign coordinator. Check out their campaign website for more information.
The Urbanist Election Committee wrote and distributed questionnaires to the candidates and followed up with Zoom interviews this month. We’ll roll out our Seattle City Council questionnaires this week and continuing releasing questionnaires in other races. The Urbanist will drop our Primary Endorsements very soon. 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 Nikkita Oliver’s questionnaire responses.
Do you support the charter amendment proposed by Compassion Seattle? Why or why not?
No. This amendment will further criminalize poverty and houselessness, instead of providing a solution that responds to the root causes of those conditions. “Compassion Seattle” would codify sweeps in our city charter, making them permanent. And its provision for 2000 units of “emergency or permanent housing” takes place on a timeline that will not allow for the construction of permanent housing.
The amendment mandates a minimum 12 percent of the city’s general fund go to fund inside the Human Services Department to pay for shelter, housing, and supportive services such as counseling and drug treatment. This year, the city will spend 11 percent of its general fund on the Human Services Department. “Compassion Seattle” admits this formula for the 2021 city budget would have produced a fund of $192 million — $16 million more than what was actually budgeted.
Most damningly, “Compassion Seattle” doesn’t propose any new revenue. A 2018 study by McKinsey concluded that King County would need to spend $400 million every year on housing—not temporary shelter—to provide affordable housing, permanent supportive housing, mental health facilities, and public hygiene services to ameliorate King County’s homelessness crisis. We need a real solution, and “Compassion Seattle” isn’t it.
Goldilocks question: The Seattle Police Department’s budget is too big, too small, or just right. Explain your answer and the trajectory you’d like to see.
SPD’s budget is too big. We need to continue defunding AND we must continue the work of building community-based and -led responses to harm and supports as well as key violence prevention and intervention strategies.
When people’s basic needs are met, we build safety. Meeting basic needs is a baseline for community safety. Our city deserves better options than violent policing and mass incarceration as our only choices for public safety. The majority of what we call crime happens because people do not have their basic needs met.
In order for us to create the safer city we imagine, we need affordable and social housing, equitable transportation, affordable childcare, fully funded schools with school counselors, restorative justice coordinators, and health services, more culturally responsive and accessible youth programs, health and sex education that teaches healthy relationships, accessible mental health supports, an array of community-based options for supporting domestic violence survivors and restorative and transformative responses for those who cause harm, civilianized 911, community-based drug user supports, and thriving wage employment opportunities.
We must make investments in mobile mental health and crisis support teams immediately, so we can get the right care to people experiencing emergencies when they need it.
The 2018 police contract repealed accountability measures, gave officers a big raise plus backpay, and eight of nine City Councilmembers voted for it. What does the next police contract need to have in order to earn your vote of approval?
The next contract the City enters into with Seattle Police Department must reflect a deep value for protecting the lives and rights of residents from police violence (especially QTBIPOC communities and communities impacted by over policing and police brutality), it cannot impede the Council’s ability to continue the work of defunding an ineffective model of “public safety” and effectively fund and develop a model that works for everyone, and it cannot allow officers to evade accountability (including firing) when they commit acts of misconduct. Furthermore, the contract must not put any additional dollars into policing for more training nor additional failed systems of accountability.