How would Seattle's mayoral candidates address structural racism?
Seattleites are voting for a new mayor this year. We're asking all the primary candidates how they would address a range of issues facing the city.
This week, we ask about structural racism.
Each Seattle mayoral candidate was asked to describe themselves and answer the same questions, with the same parameters. Follow the coverage leading up to the August primary at KUOW.org/elections.
QUESTION: Name a problem or issue related to structural racism in Seattle (unconstitutional policing, housing inequity, etc.). What’s one thing you’d do differently to address it?
"Integrity, Compassion, Wise Action. Independent Democrat."
Economic privilege in our national systems of education, justice, and governance are the primary engines of institutionalized racism and until we fix these, our society will have disparate racial outcomes on measures such as high school graduation rate, rates of arrests and imprisonment and poor representation of minority perspectives in our government. As the mayor I would work for national change, and on the local level focus our resources in Seattle’s Office of Education and Early Learning.
"Enrolled member of the Pawnee Nation, Candidate For Seattle Mayor."
We have significant structural racism in our police department. The latest contract with the Guild, negotiated by the Mayor and approved by the council, resulted in many reforms being rolled back to the point where Seattle was no longer in compliance with the consent decree. Black citizens are arrested at 6 times the rate of white citizens, the 2nd worst disparity in the nation. As Mayor, I will usher in a new Chief, a new contract and a new culture.
"A former legislator, nonprofit leader, and working mom who knows how to make progress on tough issues."
White family wealth is nearly 10x Black family wealth, largely due to decades of racist housing policies that have enabled White families to build intergenerational wealth through homeownership while excluding Black families from those same supports. As mayor, I would pass ST3 for Housing, a policy designed to build thousands of new affordable housing units with alternative pathways to homeownership for people in communities who were excluded from FHA-backed mortgages in the 20th century.
"President of the Seattle City Council and candidate for Mayor of Seattle."
Despite Seattle’s progressive nature, we are not immune to a legacy of racist policies that include redlining and exclusionary zoning. Over 60% of our residential areas are zoned for single-family homes, which creates a housing shortage that has a disproportionate impact on people of color. As Mayor I will reform our zoning laws so that we can truly be an inclusive city.
"I’m running for mayor to reset city hall, unite Seattle around our progressive values, and move our city forward."
On City Council, I led the charge on body cameras, sponsored and passed Seattle’s first anti-bias policing laws, and ensured every Seattle policy was reviewed through the lens of our Race and Social Justice Initiative. Now, I’m the only candidate promising to reform SPD at its core by changing not just the tactics – but also the culture – of the organization, working with leaders within the department to expunge racism, champion de-escalation, and fire bad cops who can’t get with the program.
Andrew Grant Houston*
“'Ace' is a queer architect of color, small business owner, activist, millennial, renter, and transit rider."
Policing is the easy answer, but really that is the response to decades of housing disenfranchisement. Decades after explicit racial land covenants and redlining, we continue the tradition through our Urban Village growth strategy, displacing hundreds of Seattleites of color for the sake of wealthy, mostly white homeowners. We won’t have housing justice until we allow apartments on every single plot of residential land in Seattle, which is what I will do differently.
"I bring a new set of skills to this position as a builder of teams and solutions."
Everyone must have the same opportunity and access no matter their skin color. Seattle must address the processes by which city resources are allocated and impact BIPOC communities. People of color deserve resources to address racial and economic inequities that have occurred in Seattle due to redlining, gentrification, imbalanced distribution of educational and medical resources and inconsistent access to government decision making. This will be a top priority in the Langlie Administration.
"I am a problem solver who will prioritize delivering results for our residents."
Current housing policy has created inequitable access to housing in many of Seattle’s neighborhoods. To address these inequities, I will organize a group of industry and neighborhood leaders with city staff to prioritize the creation of a diversity of rental and for sale housing options. This will include reviewing opportunities to create a staggered Residential Zoning where density limits are responsive to site conditions, land values and desired outcomes.
This is not a Seattle problem of structural racism. This is America’s problem. She is still young enough for the change. The Change is here. We are not the same city or country, that we were a year ago. “We The People" Are speaking now standing up for humanity first. All my life I have been an activist for Civil and Human Rights across the world. I never waited on a elective seat to do the humanity first.
To enforce and to make sure the money that's for homelessness are being used properly, because it's NOT!
*Candidates who are taking part in Seattle's Democracy Voucher Program.
Colleen Echohawk is a former KUOW board member.
Bobby Tucker submitted his answers after KUOW's deadline. His statements were added after publishing.
Candidates invited to participate in this survey but who did not respond by deadline: Henry Clay Dennison, James Donaldson, Stan Lippmann, Casey Sixkiller, Omari Tahir-Garrett.