We’re proud to co-sponsor a mayoral forum with a focus on transit and land use issues with Seattle Subway, tonight at 7pm. The seven candidates are Andrew Grant Houston, Jessyn Farrell, Lorena González, Lance Randall, Colleen Echohawk, Casey Sixkiller, and Bruce Harrell.

It will stream online on Facebook (Seattle Subway page), Twitter (@SeattleSubway), and here at the blog. You can also register in order to view it on Zoom and potentially get a question in.

You can join as early as 6pm.

Many thanks to Erica Barnett of Publicola for moderating.

15 Replies to “Watch the Seattle Subway/STB mayoral forum tonight”

  1. Excellent. I can’t tune in this evening myself but hope to catch an archived version.

    Big fan of PubliCola’s work, which is entirely dependent upon contributions from readers. Fyi…

    “PubliCola’s Erica C. Barnett moderated a mayoral forum sponsored by the MASS Coalition, Cascade Bicycle Club, Transportation Choices Coalition, and several other environmental groups last Wednesday.”


  2. Be nice if these candidates took questions direct from listeners.

    Here’s my big one: Why aren’t you speaking directly to the Sound Transit Board to address this “realignment” nonsense and get Sound Transit equal funding w/ highways to fix this?

    1. You can follow the “register” link and enter a question on the registration form.

  3. I hope more open-ended questions reveal how candidates think as opposed to more specific questions about pet projects and peeves.

    I’m a big fan of letting data point to transportation problems and solution as opposed to broad populist actions . For example, many Vision Zero broad actions have already been taken — and new incident appear to be more caused by specifics of the incidents than by general behavior. So ask how do we best study and address safety solutions moving forward as opposed to just “Do you support Vision Zero”?

    To that end, how would each candidate want to organize SDOT? Should we have modes or sections of the city as the key top layer? How should communities participate and affect change in managing our transportation systems?

    The risk is of course double-speak answers. However, even those can still show how aware and perceptive (or clueless) each candidate is about what it takes to be mayor.

    And please don’t waste everyone’s time asking about wildly impractical ideas like closing I-5 or banning all City residents from owning cars.

  4. I think a valid question would be how does the city plan on funding $3.5 billion in bridge repair/replacement with a $20 increase in the vehicle tax that will raise around $7.2 million/year in Seattle, and even if bonded 10 years out will only realize $75 million total. I would think with the West Seattle Bridge closed that would be a fair question. Especially if Charter Amendment 29 passes and devotes 12% of the entire general fund to homelessness over the next 6 years I believe.

    Maybe even throw in the fact most grand proposals like Move Seattle or Charter Amendment 29 barely return 50% of the promised projects for the money. Or how about how in the world did downtown Bellevue become a better urbanist experience than downtown Seattle.

    With the sponsors of the forum you will get exactly “wildly impractical ideas like closing I-5 or banning all City residents from owning cars”, and not how to complete the renovation of the convention center, or by November what Seattle’s future revenue looks like from tourism and working from home. One of my favorite sayings is without the tax revenue there are no progressives.

    I agree with others who have posted transit will not be a key issue for the average non-urbanist voter in November. Most don’t even know ST 3 in N. King Co. can’t deliver what it promised, and see Northgate Link opening in October, and East Link in 2023.

    I can’t believe many will think transit is underfunded in Seattle. I doubt any candidate will want to make any of the street cars a campaign theme, or as Al S. states getting rid of even one of the 460,000 cars in Seattle. (Of course Seattle Subway still dreams of building an underground subway system throughout King Co., so how can many of us take any of this seriously).

    The ballot for the average Seattle resident will be about homelessness and crime, which ironically are not issues on eastside ballots, except keeping homelessness and crime in Seattle.

    Maybe evictions, since I think at some point a court is going to strike down the continuing moratoria on evictions, which according to Seattle is because it can’t figure out how to distribute the federal funds months later while more and more landlords are selling their rental SFH, thus reducing the one supply of affordable family housing in Seattle. Unfortunately I don’t think there is the money, or council, to seriously address either homelessness or crime in Seattle.

    As a resident of another city I will be fascinated to see how Seattle votes, knowing I really don’t have any skin in the game (assuming Seattle’s issues stay in Seattle). Durkan supposedly was to be the “adult” among the council, and Seattle has had a very long run of some really bad mayors. So history at least does not suggest much hope that things will change, if change is what you want, and can afford.

    1. Daniel, downtown Bellevue, with its MegaBlocks and seven-lane streets is not really “a better Urbanist experience than downtown Seattle”. Really; it’s not.

      It’s only a “city” in the most sanitized, space-suited, and germophobic meaning of the word. It’s Beverly Hills 98004.

      1. Beverly Hills’ Rodeo drive is a pretty good comp for the new Old Main neighborhood. Super upscale but also a pretty good urbanist experience. I can’t afford anything for sale, but it’s still a very walkable space. Street retail doesn’t need to align with your preferred social class to create good urban form. Cal Anderson and Bellevue’s downtown park might have wildly different clientele but they are both very popular urban parks.

        If Beverly Hills annexed Century City, it might be a better comp for the rest of urban Bellevue, but I think that understates how walkable downtown Bellevue. I don’t mind the superblocks; the city does a good job mitigating it with midblock crossings, particularly with new development creating interior connections. Well designed superblocks with frequent midblock crossings and ample interior public access are effectively Barcelona’s superilles; In a way, Bellevue is just reversing the order of operations by banning cars from the interior of the super blocks and then building interior roads, rather than having the roads first and then banning cars. You could criticize the lack of fine grained ownership (a key tenant of Strong Towns urbanism) in Bellevue’s mega developments, but that’s distinct from the street grid.

  5. Based on the MASS Coalition Mayoral Candidate Forum hosted on June 16, all of the candidates are happy to put forward generally equivalent progressive platitudes regarding transit and housing. The main notable point is that all the candidates are open to further upzoning to facilitate more private dense housing construction.

    Recording here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uz8pEagxUZ4

    That forum was also hosted by Erica C. Barnett and featured five candidates: Andrew Grant Houston, Jessyn Farrell, Lorena González, Bruce Harrell, and Lance Randall. Colleen Echohawk and Casey Sixkiller were unable to attend, but a representative of Echohawk gave an opening statement.

    I haven’t been paying attention to Seattle politics for long, but it seems to me that having ideological opposition between the Mayor and the Council is preventing effective implementation of progressive ideas on the current forefront issues of crime and homelessness for the average voter.

    I am curious to see how Echohawk and Sixkiller contribute to the conversation, given that they must have seen or read a summary of the MASS forum and might be interested in trying to set themselves apart. I imagine there will be a fair amount of crossover in the audience between these two forums, although we’ll probably see less bike/ped/equity interest and more transit/housing focus.

  6. “I haven’t been paying attention to Seattle politics for long, but it seems to me that having ideological opposition between the Mayor and the Council is preventing effective implementation of progressive ideas on the current forefront issues of crime and homelessness for the average voter.”

    Can you explain the ideological divide you see between the mayor (and which mayors) and the council, and how that “is preventing effective implementation of progressive ideas on the current forefront issues of crime and homelessness for the average voter”.

    What progressive ideas are you suggesting would solve issues of homelessness and crime in Seattle, and how have past mayors from Durkan to Murray to McGinn to Nickels — who are the mayors over the last 20 years (excluding Harrell and Burgess) — prevented effective implementation of progressive ideas on solving crime and homelessness? Didn’t McGinn proclaim the most recent emergency re: homelessness? Do you support Charter Amendment 29 as a progressive solution to homelessness? Do you support defunding the police?

    Finally, which effective progressive ideas do you believe eastside cities are using to address homelessness and crime, considering those issues are much less pressing on the eastside than in Seattle, and do you think those eastside policies will work or be acceptable in Seattle?

    I think the November election will pit Seattle’s very progressive faction — transit, upzoning, bikes, defund the police, “equity”, free housing for all — against the more moderate (for Seattle) faction of Seattle voters who tend to pay the bills. Depending on the results of the election, look for eastside housing prices to soar even higher, in part because two kids in private schools in Seattle equals an extra $40,000/year to put towards a mortgage on the eastside.

    I agree with you that housing affordability will also be a major campaign issue, along with homelessness and crime, and should have listed that earlier. However I don’t know that there is any solution considering much of the emergency housing is zero AMI and so very expensive for a city, and upzoning so far has only led to even higher housing prices, although politicians like it since it sounds like “equity”, and costs the city nothing, but does not create affordable housing below 80% AMI at best.

    In the end, I don’t think Seattle has the money for even 1/3 of the promises the candidates will make, especially when it comes to housing and transit, and that is the main limiting factor whether you are progressive or conservative.

    1. Things like Durkan cancelling the 35 Ave NW bike lanes, delaying the Street Sinks program, forcing the council to override her budget veto, etc. Durkan isn’t a conservative, and yet you don’t need to be a (R) to be in ideological opposition to making systemic change.

      I don’t expect you to agree with the solutions, but I also don’t understand how someone who’s witnessed decades of failure to address an obvious worsening problem to think that continuing to do more of the same (too little, too late) is the right way to go. If you think the problem is unsolvable, fine, go back to your hovel on an island. But if that’s the case, I beg of you to get out of the way of people who are open and willing to even considering a different approach. If the problem ends up on your doorstep, well, the eastside in its infinite genius can continue to prove Seattle wrong.

    2. Ah, more smug, holier-than-thou Eastside Masters of the Universe® nattering. Thank you for an entirely predictable post.

      1. Well, I didn’t really get an answer to my question about the progressive ideas Seattle mayors have blocked for 20 years that will solve crime and homelessness, except perhaps a bike lane on 35th, or a lot of late night angst about the eastside which although predictable is pretty disappointing.

        I am not claiming to have the solutions, but thought maybe someone else did considering the posts claiming progressive solutions have been blocked by past mayors. All I asked is what were those progressive solutions that were blocked? I think that is a fair question in a race for Seattle mayor.

        I think the primary for mayor of NYC is telling. Since the Democrat candidate will be mayor, the primary is an early tell on races in the rest of the country, especially in large blue cities, and ranked voting which has resulted in candidates banding together to challenge the front runner.

        Right now the front runner is a former police captain. Four of the top five candidates support increasing police funding, and one proposes defunding the police.

        According to the polls and campaigns, crime and public safety dwarf every other issue, in a race for the Democrat candidate for mayor. Yang has openly come out and slammed the homeless and crime in the city, and he is running number two.

        NYC is larger than Seattle, and has seen a steeper increase in crime, but Seattle proportionally has more homeless per capita. I still think homelessness and crime/public safety will dominate the race for Seattle mayor, although I haven’t heard a lot of good solutions so far (and none on this blog).

        Housing affordability might be an issue, but it at most affects only 1/2 the population who rent, while homeowners have seen a steep increase in the value of their houses, although recent residential zoning changes might be a smaller factor in the race.

        I’ve read the candidate interviews on The Urbanist, and some campaign literature, and tried to watch the video of the candidate forum, and still I haven’t really heard real solutions to homelessness or crime/public safety, except spend more money the city does not have. God forbid a candidate would address funding bridge repair and replacement.

        I think Seattle is at a point where it can’t afford to select another disappointing mayor. Murray and McGinn were suppose to be the progressive solutions some claim exist, and Durkan a more moderate and common sense approach to balance the council. None of these mayors succeeded, but the next mayor must succeed with a very ideological council and deep division in the electorate. I just wish one of the candidates would propose some real solutions.

      2. Since the population has grown by 25 percent since 2010, Seattle appears to be doing quite well. It’s not St Louis or Detroit. Property values have surged (and still increasing) and construction is still very active. The “doom and gloom” portrayed by right-wing media is just envy because it doesn’t fit their liberal=decline narrative. If you can knock a mayor, you have to also give them credit for their role in enabling the phenomenal population and economic growth that we have recently had.

        Homelessness is a condition and not a disease. It is caused by many things. It’s something that has to be managed by a variety of both carrots and sticks. It’s such a big challenge — with many challenges out of the control of any mayor — that pinning it on a mayor is pretty silly. It really should be called a “shelter challenge” rather than a “homeless challenge”.

        For starters, homelessness occurs for different durations. Then, some people would rather be homeless than restricted or orderly. It really is intertwined with poverty, behavior and mental health, relationships with family and friends — and in many long-term cases drug abuse (including alcohol). Throwing money at just homelessness by itself isn’t effective; it has to look more systemic approaches.

        Personally, I’m more worried about crime and responses to that then I am towards a random homeless person minding their own business. I’m hearing stories about police investigations of crimes delayed by many hours, for example. Seattle has crime every day that should never happen.

        If I had to levy a failure of Seattle leadership, it would be that there is not a better public interaction at the council level. I had hoped that the council districts would have brought about better listening and interacting with neighbors. I have never had my district council member reach out in any way — even through a mass mailing or a widely-announced community meeting. I’ve even attended public workshops where council members were either no-shows or agency hosts won’t identify them in the room. It’s like they are too arrogant to invite interaction with a constituent — and that’s unfortunately true for those that even espouse the most liberal ideals in the press. I’ve lived in many similarly-sized cities where the bonding is much better. The irony is that with such a surging population, the old political customs in Seattle can be uprooted without too much effort.

      3. The only solution to the homeless crisis is to give them housing. The question is how or whether that will happen and who will pay for it. Either we put the people who can’t afford market-rate housing into subsidized housing, or get used to them living in tents or outside, or drive them out of the city or metropolitan area, or put them in jail under pretext charges like in the 1700s, or shoot them and bury them in a mass grave. What other alternative is there?

        I don’t know what “progressive ideas” previous mayors supposedly blocked, but the fact remains that for twenty years they allowed housing prices to escalate and homeless to increase and did nothing about it. They did a few things like limited upzones and a few subsidized-housing units and homeless services, but it was a drop in the bucket compared to the need. Until the 1970s the otherwise-homeless lived in what where then called SRO hotels — cheap apartments with communal bathrooms. The city closed those due to fire codes and zoning and didn’t replace them, and that’s why people are living on the street. So what we need to do is replace that housing.

        The SRO hotels closed at the same time the city tightened zoning restrictions. Until around the 1920s there was no zoning: people built what they wanted, and the tradition was more compact vertical buildings, more corner stores, and more bottom-floor stores throughout residential areas. Then the city enacted single-family zones but left large areas lowrise. Many of those lowrise areas continued to have single-family houses, but the owner had the right to densify them. They didn’t, because the housing demand was low, and they could only get one or two more stories so it wasn’t worth replacing the house. In the 1970s the city froze those areas at their current level of development, thus expanding the single-family-only area and putting it just a couple blocks from neighborhood commercial centers (which would become urban villages). It also banned apartments smaller than a medium studio size, thus probibiting new SROs from being built. The later “apodment” wave (a modern kind of SRO) came through a loophole in the zoning code: a house could have eight unrelated people and still be “single-family”, so developers built houses for eight people that looked suspiciously like apartments but weren’t officially apartments. The city later plugged that hole, allowing somewhat more density but banning the smallest studios and sub-studios (“microapartments”).

        “I think Seattle is at a point where it can’t afford to select another disappointing mayor. Murray and McGinn were suppose to be the progressive solutions some claim exist,”

        Seattle went through a bad phase where it tossed out a series of mayors for no good reason. Schell, Nickels, McGinn, and Murray were all reasonably good and deserved another term, but voters tossed them. (Murray resigned anticipating voters would toss him, for something that may or may not have happened decades earlier.) Durkan is the first one I’d say doesn’t deserve another term, because she hasn’t done much and hasn’t proposed hardly any new ideas. The best she’s done is continue her predecessors’ plans. She has decided to toss herself out, and we’ll see if the next one is any better. And if they are, whether voters will reverse their tendency to toss out everybody.

  7. Why is there another mayoral forum? The MASS Coalition did one last week. Isn’t this blog part of that coalition?

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