Neighborhoods For Smart Streets is a grassroots political organization of community members and small business owners in North Seattle that advocates for:
- Safe, smart neighborhood streets
- Access for people and families of all ages and abilities
- A thriving business community
- A local government that is invested in and listens to its neighborhoods and is not driven by ideology or special interests
Born out of the successful Save 35th community advocacy movement, Neighborhoods For Smart Streets supports candidates who express and exemplify commitment to these ideals.
By September 8, 2023, you are invited to answer these questions, which will help us advise our group about who to support in the general election.
- If elected, what would you do to ensure that small or local businesses and Seattle “main streets” like 35th Ave. NE thrive?
Small and local businesses are a community anchor as well as an entry point into the local economic system for many immigrant and refugee communities. They provide the supportive infrastructure for our large businesses. To ensure they not only survive, but also thrive, the city must effectively restore public safety. This requires a multi-prong approach of hiring more police officers to reduce response times as well as expanding our civilian community service officer program to be in all neighborhoods connecting with neighbors and conducting outreach to others. It also requires the city to be proactive in outreach to tent/RV encampments so that those in need don’t languish in unsafe conditions and small businesses don’t lose essential business.
The city should also look to expand the downtown ambassador program to other neighborhoods to help address trash clean up and graffiti removal. Other ideas: reduce lengthy permitting times and streamlining the process; assign city staff to help small businesses navigate succeeding in live/work spaces; explore ways to help offset rising insurance costs for small businesses; work with the Office of Economic Development to address the skyrocketing costs of commercial rent through the Business Community Ownership Fund; cap personal guarantees to two years of rent plus tenant improvements.
- In 2020, the Seattle City Council resolved to defund the Seattle Police Department, with some Councilpersons pledging to cut as much as 50% of SPD’s budget. Did or do you agree with that Council decision to defund SPD? If you agree, why? If you disagree, why? More generally, how do you propose transforming policing in Seattle?
I disagree with the decision to defund SPD’s budget because even at the time SPD was understaffed compared to national numbers. This decision resulted in further loss of staff in a city department that was already struggling to meet public safety needs. We are seeing the results in unacceptable response times to Priority One calls such as assault in-progress, unacceptable case closure times because of reassignment of detectives to fill the gaps, and many many calls to 911 receiving no police response.
At the same time, the city still lacks a strong accountability structure for SPD officer misconduct. And, SPD is still struggling to correct its simultaneous over and under policing of BIPOC communities. The next Seattle Police Officer Guild (SPOG) contract is currently being negotiated. The council that takes office in 2024 will be asked to approve this contract. That council must insist on a strong accountability structure similar to the one approved in 2017 but then bargained away. With 300-400 new officers at some point joining the ranks of SPD, this is a perfect time to create a new culture around accountability.
Additionally, the next contract must allow for the “civilization” of certain responsibilities so that we can create and implement a robust civilian responder program to deal with public safety issues that do not require an armed officer response. We need armed responders, co-responders (behavioral health specialists to handle behavioral health crises with access to officers should that be necessary) and civilian responders (community service officers, social workers).
- Since at least 2020, certain officials in Seattle City Hall have proposed a civilian rather than police response to individuals in a mental health crisis, with Eugene’s CAHOOTS program cited as an example. Do you agree with such a proposal? If you agree, why? If you disagree, why? If you agree, why do you believe this proposal has not yet been adopted and, if elected, what exactly would you do to help such a proposal become a reality?
Yes, I agree because behavioral health specialists possess the requisite training and skill set necessary to work with individuals experiencing behavioral health crises in a manner that does not potentially escalate the situation. These crisis response workers will have access to police should they deem that necessary for their safety. This is an important safeguard that the crisis responders I worked with as a Superior Court judge frequently utilized .
The program is set to launch next month after being in the works since 2020. I believe the delay in implementation has been due to collective bargaining constraints. If the pilot project is successful, I would like to see it expanded into a new public safety department.
- In June of 2023, the Seattle City Council voted 5-4 to reject a bill that would have allowed the City Attorney’s Office to prosecute public drug use. If you were on the Council then, how would you have voted on that bill and why?
The fentanyl crisis requires us to use all the tools available to us, imperfect as they are, to get our residents disabled by addiction the intervention and treatment they need to turn their lives around. As a Superior Court judge, I routinely entered sentences that diverted individuals into substance use treatment. The outcomes were successful often enough to believe this was a worthwhile tool. I would have voted in favor of the original legislation with the addition of a stringent data collection and reporting requirement and quarterly reviews from the City Attorney.
- If elected to the Seattle City Council, how would you help address the acute mental health, drug, and housing affordability crisis in our community? What, if any, services do you believe should be supported or expanded by the state to find effective local solutions?
We need more in-community behavioral health treatment. We must use the recently passed State Assisted Outpatient Treatment act to access more treatment for individuals cycling through the criminal legal system. The UW is building a behavioral health training facility at the NW Hospital site that will include on-site behavioral health treatment. We must ensure this project flows smoothly and opens timely. We must site one of the newly approved Crisis Care Centers in District 5. We must utilize Ricky’s Law for involuntary treatment into substance abuse programs. We need more aftercare treatment facilities for our first responders to take individuals who have survived an overdose. We must pass Councilmember Nelson’s pilot project for on-demand substance use treatment. We need more state dollars for all three. All affordable housing is subsidized in some fashion so we need to look at the most effective methods of subsidy.
- In the summer of 2020 and earlier this year, individuals have protested at city officials’ homes to express their displeasure with their policy positions. Did or do you agree or disagree with protests at city officials’ homes? If you agree, why? If you disagree, why? If you disagree, what exactly would you do if elected to help deter the harassment or intimidation of city officials at their homes?
I disagree with protests at city officials’ homes and hope this behavior would give voters pause in considering a candidate for office.
- Our coalition has identified a number of streets in northeast Seattle that require traffic calming to make them safer for everyone (e.g., NE 95th, Sand Point Way). If elected, what exactly would you do to help make such arterials safer?
We need to add traffic calming measures such as speed humps, roundabouts, traffic speed signs, and red light cameras.
- Is there anything else you would like to add to demonstrate how your candidacy aligns with our stated mission?
I have received the sole endorsement of the Seattle Times, Mayor Bruce Harrell, Council President Debora Juarez, and King County Executive Dow Cowstantine because I am not a member of the “activist class” and will “eschew ideological debates” to deliver sound results of safe, thriving neighborhoods for all.