1) Crime is down in the city, but we’ve seen some outrageous incidents involving police in recent years. How do we ensure public safety and not have those sorts of things happen in the future?
I strongly believe that the SPD has many good officers and supervisors – but regret that there have been too many high-profile incidents that have, justifiably, cast a bad light on the department. We need to rebuild mutual trust between citizens and those who work so hard to protect and make our city a safe place to live and work.
I believe that our three-cornered system of police accountability has, for the most part, served us well, but it is clear that we need to work toward improving the system. For one, I support a pilot project to evaluate the use of body cameras for on-duty officers. If the pilot is successful, this may be the wave of the future. Second, we need better police training, most especially in the area of cultural sensitivity. To this end, I support the 11-step proposal of the Public Safety and Education Committee—including enhanced hiring standards and training of officers, expedited review of potential criminal charges against officers, monthly reports of findings of sustained misconduct, and drug-testing for officers involved in the use of deadly force. However, we do need to be cognizant that some of these measures must be negotiated with the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild.
2) Now that the Viaduct is coming down, what should the waterfront look like?
The waterfront should become the city’s front door, comprising a crescent of parks, walkways, bike paths, and a boulevard that stretches from the stadium district to the Sculpture Park. There should be ample sidewalks for outdoor dining, irresistible shops and romantic restaurants, a small boat harbor, trees, shrubs and flowers, and a beach where we can meet the water. I envision a Eurostyle plaza, a children’s spray park, a space for Summer Nights’ on the Pier, perhaps an amphitheater (Shakespeare on the waterfront). New housing opportunities would allow more people to live near where they work. Small businesses would flourish as patrons come from all over to visit our waterfront. The Pike Place Market would tumble down the hill to offer fresh vegetable and flowers, fresh-baked bread and hand-made crafts. Priorities would include a passenger-friendly redevelopment of Colman Dock, an enhanced waiting area for foot ferries, and ample space for Port of Seattle harbor activities.
3) As the great recession drags on, the city budget is still hurting. What do we need to cut, what do we need to keep, and do we need to raise more money via taxation?
As Budget Chair, my top priority has been ensuring that vital human services — such as community health clinics and domestic violence programs— are prioritized. When the Mayor tried to reduce human services, neighborhood programs, and libraries I said “No way.” In addition, I worked to restore funding for community centers and long overdue improvements to our city’s roads and sidewalks. My budget priorities—public safety and human services— have remained the same during both surpluses and shortfalls. These core services need to be our top priorities as we head into the 2012 budget process.
In addition, I recently co-sponsored a resolution to increase efforts to move homeless men and women into permanent housing. We must not forget that, even during these tough economic times, securing a warm bed for those without is a top priority. For example, as chair of the Council’s Budget Committee, I worked to ensure funding for a severe winter shelter at City Hall.
Regarding raising revenue—yes, we do need to raise revenue to pay for critical public services. Unfortunately, state law severely limits the city’s ability to impose taxes to raise revenue. As discussed below, I support two ballot measures (the Families and Education Levy and the Transportation Benefit District) that, if passed, will generate needed revenue to support our education and transportation systems.
4) With its budget shrunk at least until the end of the recession what should Seattle parks look like?
Parks are of great importance to our City, especially during this lingering recession as they are a “zero cost” place for people to relax and recreate. Unfortunately, the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department has taken a large share of the budget cuts. It is to the Department’s credit that, even in these lean times, parks’ grounds are for the most part still looking good and, although somewhat reduced, parks are still offering a variety of recreational activities. I will continue stretch every dollar of revenue so that we can provide our citizens with best parks possible, while also maintaining other critical services.
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?
Although other government levels administer these services– the School Board (responsible for education) and King County and Sound Transit (public transportation), Seattle must continue to play a key role in providing the support necessary to ensure that citizens are being served in these critical areas.
Regarding education, one key role of the City is passing the Families and Education Levy this November. This levy, which the City Council doubled in size, will fund programs to improve children’s readiness for school, student’s academic achievement and reduction of the academic achievement gap, and student’s graduation from high school and preparation for college or a career.
I voted to put this levy on the ballot because of my strong belief that, especially in tough economic times, we must support our most at-risk kids (disproportionally children of color). The
Levy will support academic programs at schools with a high proportion of low-income students, as well as early-learning programs that improve academic success. To this end, even though I am in the midst of a reelection campaign, I have made sure to get out and campaign on behalf of this crucial measure. We must graduate all our students ready either for college or a career.
Regarding public transportation, I backed the Regional Transportation Committee’s move away from the rigid 40/40/20 formula for allocating Metro bus hours (under which 80% of new bus service hours were sent to the suburbs). The 40/40/20 allocation inhibited our ability to provide busses in Seattle, where demand is the highest and service is the most cost effective. I also lobbied on behalf of King County’s passage of a $20 car-tab fee in order to prevent a 17% reduction in Metro service in Seattle over the next two years.
At the same time, I voted to place on the ballot an annual Vehicle License Fee of $60 that, if approved by voters, will allow the City to make major improvements to our transit system while also providing safer roads for drivers and bicyclists, as well as safer crosswalks and sidewalks for pedestrians. It is the City’s duty to preserve and maintain the infrastructure that allows goods and services to move safely and quickly through our streets.