The Seattle Globalist asks the Seattle Mayoral Candidates: Jessyn Farrell

jessyn farrell
Jessyn Farrell (Courtesy photo.)

The Seattle Globalist asked all the Seattle Mayoral Candidates six questions that are important to the city’s communities of color and immigrant communities. Get all the submitted answers here.

What would be the top three priorities of the Seattle Police Department during your administration?

The death of Charleena Lyles, a victim of domestic violence who had called police for protection and instead was shot in front of her children, is a tragic reminder that changing the training, culture, and oversight of SPD is a critical priority for our next Mayor. Institutionalized racial biases must end in our city. While the recent legislation passed by the City Council to continue federally mandated reforms is a sign of progress, we still have a long way to go.

Statistics show that crisis intervention and de-escalation have begun to decrease the excessive use of force, but we still have so much more work to do. We need to:

Expand and support crisis teams that integrate mental health professionals and social workers with specially trained officers. I believe it is immoral to rely upon our police to act as our first and primary contact with members of our community dealing with mental health issues.

Prioritize de-escalation. While officers are often faced with threatening situations, de-escalation and non-lethal force must be our priority. We must also provide support for our law enforcement officers as they adapt to handle these situations through a non-traditional framework.

Improve recruitment and retention of officers who live in and reflect the community they serve, in order to address systemic issues in the long term. First and foremost, that requires making Seattle affordable for all. And it means instituting innovative approaches to recruiting officers, which is why I will make it a legislative priority for the City to change state law allowing lawful permanent residents to serve their communities as police officers.

Push for changes to the unjust state law that requires prosecutors to prove that officers used deadly force “with malice.” In the State House, I supported legislation that would have changed this standard and provided resources for training officers.

Maintain and support strong civilian oversight of SPD through the CPC or similar structures that give community leaders a direct voice in policies that impact the relationships and accountability we desperately need to nurture and enforce.

What should Seattle’s strategy be in addressing housing affordability?

Seattle must be a place where everyone can afford rent, save up to buy a home, and retire on a fixed income.

The recent report on record-setting median house prices is ominous news for Seattle and the rest of the region, which has seen an unprecedented level of growth for years now. Seattle is ranked first in the nation for growth, first in price increases for the past seven months, and all while experiencing historically low levels of available homes for sale.

Our city has been one of the nation’s most attractive destinations for both employers and job-seekers, but more and more families are getting priced out of the city every day, which makes our traffic woes worse, reduces the income we can put toward groceries and other items, and cuts into the quality time we get to spend with our families.

I’ve spent my entire political career finding solutions to bring relief to our city – from pushing Sound Transit to build more affordable housing near light rail stations, to working with the City Council to bring affordable housing to high-growth areas. So many of the challenges we face are intertwined, and as your mayor, I will be committed to addressing affordability, density, and homelessness in a holistic way.

I support:
Increasing the city’s housing stock and housing options across the economic spectrum by supporting the major tenets of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA).
Supporting incentives to increase private-sector housing and to push affordability.
Providing better housing stability and economic mobility with an inventory of all surplus property in the city – whether it’s WSDOT, Sound Transit, Seattle Public Utilities – all publicly held property, and bank it as the cornerstone for a major new investment in public housing.
Building a strategic plan for the city that allows us to hold ourselves accountable, and then create programs within every single neighborhood. By setting a target of $1 billion in affordable housing and allocating affordability targets across the entire city, we can then use that in flexible ways, like creating neighborhood-based plans that use an array of affordability tools, rental vouchers so that people who are living in current housing can stay there, more accessory dwelling units, or more traditional density projects.

Is there a way for Seattle to balance upzoning and retaining affordability for existing residents and businesses, particularly in the University, Central and Chinatown/International districts? Please describe your approach.

I’ll provide my policy thoughts below but fundamentally, this is about leadership from a Mayor who will prioritize an equitable vision for a rapidly growing City, and who is able to put forward a bold vision that will require difficult choices. I’ve demonstrated time and again in the State Legislature, that I am not only bold but that I have the strongest progressive track record of any candidate in this race of actually delivering the results. This is true from negotiations I led for affordable housing requirement and transit oriented development including with the authorization of Sound Transit 3 to my firm, effective position on oil train safety legislation and the passage of a minimum wage bill from the State House. I’m the only progressive candidate in this race with that track record. This is about progressive vision and the track record of delivering on that vision. This question is raising one of the most important issues our next Mayor will face.

Every day we’re generating only about 30-40% of the housing supply needed in Seattle to match the demand of newcomers. To keep our city affordable and inclusive, we need the right set of policies that ensure that our housing supply keeps up with demand. We should be building on HALA by taking additional steps that allow neighborhoods to choose how they accommodate growth: appropriate up-zones, reducing setbacks, streamlined design-review processes, permissive DADU and MADU policies, and transit-oriented development, among others. In addition, I would provide better housing stability and economic mobility with an inventory of all surplus property in the city – whether it’s WSDOT, Sound Transit, Seattle Public Utilities – all publicly held property, and bank it as the cornerstone for a major new investment in public housing. I have been a leader in the legislature on expanding mass transportation and affordable housing in tandem. I sponsored and shepherded into law ground-breaking legislation to provide low-income housing near transit stations. There are major urban centers we can learn from where exclusionary housing policies that manipulate incentives, like those in San Francisco, have not artificially ballooned demand and created an irreversibly unaffordable urban center. Simultaneously, we should be fighting for progressive forms of taxation like city-level income taxes, capital gains, and carbon pricing that we can invest the revenue from in expanding permanently affordable housing supply in Seattle.

Discuss three specific strategies for increasing the participation of immigrant communities/communities of color in the planning of initiatives such as the proposed Navigation Center and large-scale marches that affect neighborhoods?

This is an area where the current mayor’s office has made important strides. I will continue that work by making permanent the kinds of working groups used in the Equity and Environment Initiative. I’d put structures for community input on projects that affect immigrant communities and communities of color–not only on environmental issues, but also on others such as community centers and City initiatives like the navigation center. These structures should be built into the city’s institutional processes. Second, in addition to increasing input in the City’s decision-making process, we should require that other organizations undertaking projects that affect these communities use the City’s Racial Equity toolkit to engage the community. This would mean that, for example, groups organizing marches would open the lines of communication with the neighborhoods they will travel through. Third, we should continue to expand programs that give young people the chance to participate in community decision-making, such as designated seats on boards and advisory committees, community center positions involved in designing programming, and paid placements with partner organizations. Most importantly, we need to subject all avenues of engagement to continuing analysis for effectiveness, using a consistent feedback loop between government and community to refine these structures and make sure they are meeting the needs of the community.

How should Seattle address “gentrification?” How do you define that concept?

In addition to the steps I discussed in detail above to address the affordability crisis that is pushing people out of their homes in Seattle, the City must take a two-pronged approach to protect neighborhood diversity and historic communities. First, tenants deserve more rights, such as earlier notices of rent hikes, better access to low income housing, and general forms of economic support. Second, as mayor I will include diverse voices, especially renters and longtime small business owners, from Seattle’s historic neighborhoods in my effort to propose a new zoning plan. Some of the goals of such a plan will be to preserve existing housing, regulate new buildings, and protect Seattle’s ethnic communities.

What should the city of Seattle’s stance be — if any — on handling juvenile justice and the proposed replacement of the King County Juvenile Detention Center?

We need a safe place where children can access services. The current plan is not that.

More information:


Gary E. Brose | Casey Carlisle | Tiniell Cato | Jenny Durkan | Jessyn Farrell | Thom Gunn | Greg Hamilton | Michael Harris | Bob Hasegawa | Lewis A. Jones | Dave Kane | Harley Lever | Mary J. Martin | Mike McGinn | Cary Moon | James W. Norton, Jr. | Larry Oberto | Nikkita Oliver | Jason Roberts | Alex Tsimerman | Keith J. Whiteman