At The Peoples Debate, we asked the people

Activist and former mayoral candidate and Nikkita Oliver (right) moderates a debate between mayoral candidates Cary Moon and Jenny Durkan (l-r). (Photo by Taylor McAvoy.)

The people attending the Peoples Debate made their voices heard — literally.

The debate, organized by the Seattle Peoples Party, was moderated by former mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver and featured the city council position 8 candidates Teresa Mosqueda and Jon Grant and mayoral candidates Cary Moon and Jenny Durkan.

During a question about homelessness and sweeps, the animated crowd grew restless as Durkan seemed to dance around the subject.

“I want to make sure I can hear what they’re saying but if y’all want to allow booing, I am all about community consensus,” Oliver said. “Let’s do it. Boo away.”

The crowd erupted in mixed boos and laughter.

“Thank you for protecting first amendment rights,” Oliver said before moving on.

Hundreds of people attended the event at Blaine Memorial United Methodist Church Sunday night.

At the end of the debate, Oliver read a list of policies, covering issues from homelessness to equity in minority communities. Moon and Durkan were invited to strike out or make revisions to the policies and promises as they saw fit but the purpose was to hold the new mayor accountable in writing to promises made to the community.

Before and after the candidates debated, we asked a few people from the community what they would ask if they had a moment with the mayoral candidates.

Here are their voices.

Louis Rodriguez

Louis Rodriguez (photo by Taylor McAvoy)

“To any candidate who wins, what are going to do with homelessness? To any candidate who wins, what are you going to do for youth black and brown folks? To any candidate who wins, what are you doing for the new youth jail?”

Farhan Ahmed

Farhan Ahmed (photo by Taylor McAvoy)

“What are (you) willing to do for the youth? If you’re not helping the youth, its not going to work. So what are you willing to do for the youth? Especially the ones that are picking up guns and drugs from a young age.”

Kirsten Harris-Talley

Kirsten Harris-Talley (photo by Taylor McAvoy)

“My question is how the mayoral candidates plan to build the scale of housing that we need at the rate it needs to be built. Especially in light of what it is to stop the sweeps and put folks on hold, waiting for shelter. Neither of them seem to have anything concrete to say. The executive branch has a lot of control over where those dollars come from. That was my main concern.”

(Editor’s note: Kirsten Harris-Talley is a Seattle City Councilmember who was appointed to Position 8, after it was vacated by Tim Burgess, the retiring city councilmember who replaced Mayor Ed Murray when he resigned. Harris-Talley is not running for her council seat, which is being contested by Teresa Mosqueda and Jon Grant.)

Terri Davis Smith

Olivia and Terri Davis Smith (photo by Taylor McAvoy)

“Today I learned about a simple thing; who they bank with. To me that speaks volumes to where their interests lie. One is with a local credit union and the other is banking with a big corporate bank. That kind of resonated with me. I have questions about why if we as a community have divested from Wells Fargo why wouldn’t you follow that lead, being a leader of this community.”

Asha Mohamed

Asha Mohamed (photo by Taylor McAvoy)

“I’m not undecided but I think every time that I come to a forum I walk away with a question. I think there is a lot of focus and a lot of talk when it comes to racial equity but everybody has their own growth. Sometimes I hear problematic answers and I’m like ‘Whoa. Where’s that coming from?’ For me, I still walk away with a question that is, there is one woman that is tested in leadership, that knows what it’s like to work in an institution. I work in an institution. There is a lot of navigating. There is a lot of negotiating that happens. There is sometimes willing power in so many ways. One of the things I struggle with in institutions that are built on inequity and institutional racism as a reality is white fragility. Especially white female fragility. That’s a question that always comes to mind. You’re talking about all these great things but how do we pass from white female fragility to action and have those actions based in racial equity. When we have those lenses everybody wins. All means all. We live in a country that we say all but we don’t see all. That is what I always walk away with. Am I listening to white fragility or am I listening to solutions?”

You can watch the debate in its entirety from the Seattle Peoples Party Facebook page:

The debate you've all been waiting for!!!

Posted by The Peoples Party on Sunday, October 29, 2017

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to acknowledge that Kirsten Harris-Talley is a current Seattle City Councilmember.

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