The Seattle Globalist asks the Seattle Mayoral Candidates: Mike McGinn

mike mcginn
Mike McGinn (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?

1. Police Reform. The tragic shooting of Charleena Lyles raises serious concerns that the DOJ reform process is not working with regard to use of force, de-escalation and bias. If elected I would work with the Community Police Commission and the Council to initiate a thorough audit of the reform process. When I negotiated the consent decree in 2011 I worked to establish a Community Police Commission because I believe reform will only work if there is strong community oversight. I appointed well-known police reform leaders from the community, including many who had called for the DOJ investigation. For three years the city has claimed reform is succeeding. At the same time, the Community Police Commission has struggled to get recognition. The time for self-congratulation is over. It is time for a realistic assessment, led by the CPC, of whether reform is working, and how to ensure it is on track. Recent legislation empowering the Community Police Commission is welcome, but the Commission deserves more authority and independence. The DOJ process has led to some reform, but we have much farther to go. Seattle should run its Police Academy with training approved by the CPC, instead of using the State Academy, to ensure our officers are getting appropriate training for Seattle.

2. Prevention and Harm Reduction. During my administration, we launched Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion downtown which gave officers the ability to connect drug users with services. We should expand that citywide. We expanded our Youth Violence Prevention Initiative to cover more at-risk youth. We launched Career Bridge to help felons returning to the community and this too should be expanded. Focusing on punishment is often the wrong answer, when we should be working to give people a better path. It is for this reason that I do not support the current plan for a youth jail. If elected, I would work to bring together city agencies, and work with other governments, to take a holistic approach to public safety where we work to address root causes.

3. Build Stronger Community Connections. People of color should have confidence they can interact safely with the police. Immigrants and refugees should have confidence they can approach the police without running afoul of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies. While the Community Police Commission works at a city-wide policy level, we need community level forums where police and community members can identify and work on obstacles to stronger trust, and to creating a safer city. We did this through our Safe Communities Initiative, and would bring it back. We also need to renew efforts to hire more police from our own communities, and hire more police with language skills. This will make for safer neighborhoods.

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

We must provide housing to meet job growth. That means working with neighborhoods on a strategy to allow more diverse housing types, including “missing middle” housing (backyard cottages, mother-in-law units, duplexes, and triplexes), congregate housing, subsidized housing for teachers and service workers, and senior housing.

I also believe the city must significantly expand public housing, and should consider taxes on our most successful large corporations, or an income tax if legal, to finance such housing. I do not support continued reliance on regressive taxes.

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.

Growth must be spread equitably across the city. If wealthier neighborhoods succeed in opposing new housing, it means the demand for new housing is even stronger in neighborhoods like the Central District, Chinatown/International District and University District. Significant new investments in public housing, paid for by large successful corporations, is so important.

Communities also deserve a voice in planning. Before zoning changes are proposed, the residents of a neighborhood should have the opportunity to express their concerns, and identify the investments that are needed in the community. This is particularly important for neighborhoods treated inequitably in the past. For example, residents of the Chinatown/International District have expressed concern about a new national chain hotel, where they would prefer more affordable housing. City government must be prepared to listen to communities in planning for the future.

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?

1. Hire or retain people from the affected communities to help with outreach. They are most likely to be able to anticipate or hear community concerns, and help develop an appropriate outreach process for specific initiatives

2. As mayor, be present in the community. I held over 100 town halls, with staff present, where I took questions and listened to concerns. That helped build relationships to help with communications when issues arose. It also let me know when city agencies were not doing a good job on outreach, so I could talk directly to department heads on what steps they could take to improve outreach.

3. Ensure that there are appropriate translation and interpretation services when doing outreach.

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

Gentrification is the displacement of low-income people, often immigrant and refugee or from communities of color, from their historic neighborhoods. To stop or reduce gentrification we need to create more housing citywide to reduce pressure on neighborhoods facing gentrification. We need to look at strategies to improve the financial position of those small businesses and community organizations that risk being displaced. That means jobs, women and minority-contracting, priority hire on city contracts, and support for business creation and growth in communities facing gentrification, particularly in historic neighborhood districts. We also need to support cultural anchors in the community.

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?

I do not support the current plan for the CFJC facility, and if elected I would work with King County to develop a facility that results in better outcomes for our youth. During my time as Mayor, I worked with King County to develop alternatives to incarceration that allowed us to cancel a proposed new city jail. I would take that same approach with regards to the youth jail. Going forward, the school district should continue its efforts to review and improve its student disciplinary processes. It’s been demonstrated that students of color are disproportionately suspended or otherwise punished. I support efforts to improve staff and teacher training, and provide additional case management resources to help students so that we can stop the school to prison pipeline.

We also need to improve how we help youth succeed. As Mayor in 2010, I launched the Youth and Family Initiative to listen to the community and identify how the city could improve its support for youth, particularly marginalized youth. We doubled the Family and Education levy and worked in partnership with the community on new programs to help our kids succeed. For example, we added health care centers to our high schools and middle schools. I also expanded the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, and expanded our youth jobs programs.

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