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caption: Olympia on a winter's night.
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Olympia on a winter's night.
Credit: Flickr Photo/John (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Even Seattle Sends A Lobbyist To Olympia

State lawmakers are gathering in Olympia Monday to kick off the 2016 session. No doubt, lobbyists will be roaming the halls of the state capitol this winter. But it's not just big business and special interest pushing their agendas.

The city of Seattle is lobbying, too.

Nick Harper heads up Seattle's lobbying efforts from a little known office with a wonky title: the Office of Intergovernmental Relations. He works with the mayor and City Council to establish their top issues.

"I'd say the number one priority this year is to identify better ways we can partner with the state to address the city's needs, both with regard to homelessness and generally related to housing affordability city-wide," Harper said.

Harper said increasing funding for drug treatment would go a long way to getting people off the streets.

"Many of our homeless have fallen victim to substance abuse and just simply cannot receive the treatment and services that they need."

Harper said he's learned as a lobbyist that elected leaders don't know everything about every issue.

"They're faced with hundreds of bills a year, on a hundred different topics, and rarely do they have a depth of knowledge on all those issues," he said.

Harper said his job is to educate lawmakers on specific issues that matter to Seattleites.

When it comes to affordability and homelessness, he's optimistic about his chances in Olympia, because these issues "touch every corner of this state," not just Seattle, he said.