1) Crime is down in the city, but we’ve seen some horrible incidents with the police in recent years. How do we ensure public safety and not have those sorts of things happen in the future?
I believe the Seattle Police Department is composed of very professional officers who take pride in protecting the well-being of our residents. But recent events have shown that there are indeed some “bad apples” in the bunch. The City Council should send a strong message to the Police Department that these types of incidents will not be tolerated, and that we should continue to support and strengthen the Office of Professional Accountability Review Board’s mission. I am certain with these actions, we will continue to have a police force that our Seattle residents will be proud of, and that unfortunate incidents such as these will become a thing of the past.
2) Now that the Viaduct is coming down, what should the waterfront look like?
I personally believe that the central portion of the Viaduct should not be torn down. As shown with the Highline in New York City, a fortified Viaduct (in conjunction with a rebuilt seawall and the removal of traffic from the structure) will allow the structure to remain in use for pedestrians for many years to come. In its existing state, the structure can connect all of the major attractions that bring visitors to downtown Seattle, including access to Safeco and CenturyLink fields, Pioneer Square, the Central Business District, and a possible connection to Pike Place Market and the Waterfront Sculpture Park.
An added benefit to the Viaduct is its double decking. The top levels could be used as a park, allowing City residents and tourists (both local and others) to enjoy an unparalleled view of Seattle’s downtown core, Puget Sound, and the Olympic Mountains. The bottom level could be used as a place for local merchants, including artisans and food vendors, to sell their merchandise. The top level would act as a covering, allowing the structure to be used year- round, allowing for increased usability and access throughout the year.
The street level beneath the Viaduct could be used as an alternative route to the Waterfront Streetcar, and would allow for a (reduced) number of parking spaces. This would allow the city to take much less of a hit on parking revenues, while allowing a place for cyclists to have an enjoyable trip along their waterfront.
3) As the great recession drags on, the city budget is still hurt. What do we need to cut, what do we need to keep, and do we need to raise more money via taxation?
Due to the Great Recession, many working people and families are struggling to make ends meet, and cannot afford to pay increased taxes. I believe that we should focus our efforts and available funding toward projects that will maintain our present infrastructure, while identifying areas of city government that need improvement and developing a plan to improve them. This way, projects that will be needed in the future will already be identified and can be executed when available funding can be secured.
Services that are vital to the well-being to residents’ livelihood, such as transit, neighborhood infrastructure improvements (like sidewalks and street repairs) should be maintained at their current levels, while additions such as streetcar extensions should be postponed until funding becomes available.
4) With its budget shrunk at least until the end of the recession what should Seattle parks look like?
Despite the shrunken budgets, I believe that there is no excuse for Seattle’s park maintenance to become lax. Although it is desirable to continue to expand the park system, the current economic situation requires that we continue to maintain our parks at the same level of care that Seattle residents have come to expect over the years.
5) What is the Seattle’s role in education and public transportation given how important they are to the city, but that other agencies are tasked with them?
Seattle’s role in education, although limited, should be to provide a safe environment free of crime and intimidation. Over the last couple of years, we have heard about a disturbing trend of violent crimes being committed near some of our schools. This reduces the safety of our students and creates an atmosphere that makes both parents and students reluctant to attend school. The City should work with school administrators and Seattle Police to ensure that crime and intimidation will not be tolerated at any of our schools. By doing this, we can provide a safe, caring environment for those who are working hard to make a bright future for themselves and become productive members of our society.
Seattle’s role in public transportation is also quite pronounced. Even though Metro is not directly funded or operated by the city, it is important that the City provide decent infrastructure. I believe many of our residents are inclined to take transit and reduce vehicle trips, but are reluctant to do so when it is unsafe or inconvenient to access them. We must work to maintain our roads and arterials, which, when properly maintained, provide the foundation for all safe forms of transit, and help Seattle achieve its goal of reducing transportation’s effect on the environment.