Seattle City Council District 4: Alex Pedersen and Shaun Scott

L-R, Alex Pedersen and Shaun Scott are running for Seattle City Council District 4, which is being vacated by Councilmember Abel Pacheco. (Photo courtesy campaigns.)

Alex Pedersen and Shaun Scott are running for Seattle City Council District 4 seat, currently being held by Abel Pacheco. Pacheco, who did not run for election, was appointed to the seat after Councilmember Rob Johnson vacated before his term was up. District 4 includes University District, Wallingford, Laurelhurst, and parts of Maple Leaf and Fremont.

Alex Pedersen

Seattle’s lower- and middle-income residents and small businesses feel that they are being left behind or pushed out by the city’s growing economy. What three concrete actions will you take to address those concerns?

1. Install anti-displacement measures BEFORE disrupting neighborhoods with substantial policies or projects. City Hall has done a poor job putting in place mitigants before approving disruptive upzones. We have seen how upzones can contribute to displacement in Seattle’s Central District and the University District. This is why I was an early and consistent supporter of removing The Ave from the U District upzone – because there were no meaningful measures in place to prevent displacement.

2. Preserve the affordable housing we already have. We see city policymakers pushing for new construction (which we also need), but too often that means demolishing older buildings that are home to low and middle income residents and small businesses who were able to afford them. Newer buildings charge much higher rent to pay off their construction loans.

3. Work to lower costs to residents and small businesses to make the city more affordable. In addition to increasing the supply of truly low-income housing, City Hall needs to realize that its policy directly increase the cost of living by, for example, increasing your utility bills (Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities) and your property taxes (doubling most levies). Better accountability and fiscal responsibility at City Hall should help to stem the increases in costs. More ideas to increase affordability on my website: https://electalexpedersen.org/accountability-for-affordability/

What is your stance on the city of Seattle’s “welcoming city” policies on residents’ immigrant statuses? Should any of these policies be changed, and how?

• While I’m often critical of the current City Council on other issues such as fiscal accountability and land use, they have been strong on making it clear immigrants are welcome. For example, the City has proclaimed itself a Sanctuary City, which I support.

• I look forward to continuing to support the City’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (informed by the Immigrant and Refugee Affairs Commission) as well as the City’s Office for Civil Rights.

• If the system of Neighborhood District Councils is restored to improve communications between City Hall and our communities, I would want the Department of Neighborhoods to provide the District Councils with more robust language translation tools so that everyone can access the information and communicate their thoughts.

Reports of hate crimes have been on the rise in Seattle. How will you make sure people of all backgrounds feel safe from perpetrators of hate crimes and also feel safe reporting the crimes?

• City leaders should proclaim zero tolerance for hate crimes.

• Our Seattle Police Officers (and forthcoming Community Service Officers) should receive the latest training on how to recognize and report hate crimes, how step in when the rhetoric of hate is used to incite violence, and how to protect those peacefully protesting against hate.

• I would support a refined version of Councilmember Lisa Herbold’s proposal (CB 119288) – one that increases penalties and makes it easier for the city to prosecute hate crimes while avoiding the unintended consequences of inappropriately incarcerating already marginalized communities.

• Working with our Seattle School District (I’m endorsed by School Board Director Eden Mack), we also need to go upstream, to make sure our city’s children receive lessons of love that appreciate diversity and differences that make our communities stronger.

What letter grade would you give the city on reforming race and ethnicity-based bias in law enforcement and why did you give that grade? What would you do differently, if anything?

I agree that removing bias from law enforcement is absolutely necessary for a just society. I don’t find it productive to boil down the actions of multiple agencies on complex issues to a letter grade, but I can say that there is substantial room for improvement. We need to fully implement the federal consent decree and, while the federal monitor and judge have reported substantial progress on these issues, it’s an ongoing improvement/reform and the City Council must be vigilant with its oversight and union contract negotiation duties to make sure bias is banished.

To get ahead of this, we also need to make sure we are recruiting more new police officers who are Seattle residents, women, people of color and members of other marginalized communities.

In addition, we need to support the new, un-armed Community Service Officers and the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program.

Alex Pedersen’s website: https://electalexpedersen.org

What is your track record on addressing the needs of immigrants and communities of color in your district?

• HUD: After earning a masters in government, I chose to help low-income communities by working for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) during the Clinton Administration.

• Nurse Family Partnership: As a Seattle City Council legislative aide, I led efforts to fully fund this evidence-based nursing program proven to produce positive life outcomes for children of color. NFP is helping 450 low-income moms and their babies each year within the City of Seattle the vast majority (85%) are low-income people of color.

• Preschool: To reduce persistent inequities, we followed the research and went up stream to create the evidence-based, nationally acclaimed Seattle Preschool Program. I crafted the legislation that launched this program. In its first four years, it empowered over 75% of children of color. The Seattle Preschool Program will have served approximately 18,000 children by the time this current levy is renewed.

• Magnuson Park low-income residents: I have been very supportive of efforts to provide the low-income residents of Magnuson Park with not only affordable housing but also programs that enrich their lives, such as the Magnuson Park Community Center.

• Save the Ave in the U District. I have been helping to protect this historic business district from a disruptive zoning changes in part because a recent study revealed that 65% of the small neighborhood businesses on The Ave are owned by people of color or women.

Shaun Scott

Seattle’s lower- and middle-income residents and small businesses feel that they are being left behind or pushed out by the city’s growing economy. What three concrete actions will you take to address those concerns?

Ensuring the most marginalized members of society can afford to live in Seattle is at the heart of my campaign. District 4 is home to the greatest income inequality in Seattle between its richest per capita neighborhood, Laurelhurst, and the neighborhood with the most people per capita that are making poverty-level wages in the University District. Many students are at or below the poverty line and are forced to choose between purchasing food or textbooks, all the while rapid gentrification and skyrocketing cost of living in Northeast Seattle has displaced countless people, many to the point of being unhoused. With this understanding, I want to work to create a livable and equitable Seattle for all– we are all better off when the needs of society’s most vulnerable are being met. In the course of our campaign, we’ve led on creating a Seattle-specific Green New Deal. This not only looks like building workforce housing so people can live close to the city core and expanding transit options, but is also about getting the revenue we need to pay for these. I am running on a platform of creating dense public and social housing, implementing a progressive tax system to redistribute wealth (e.g. reintroducing an Employee Head Tax on large corporations), and pursuing commercial rent control for our small businesses.

What is your stance on the city of Seattle’s “welcoming city” policies on residents’ immigrant statuses? Should any of these policies be changed, and how?

As part of our broader economic and social justice platform, we need to place an emphasis on immigrants in the city. I call on making Seattle an actual sanctuary city, insofar as I do not support any city collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Furthermore, I would condemn any tech companies that furnish these agencies. In attempting to hold Amazon et al accountable, we should be reprimanding any collaboration between tech companies and ICE. Additionally, I would use my position on city council to pressure the county to stop deportation flights out of Boeing field. By taking these bold stances on immigration as well as elevating other community organizing groups and organizations that have been doing work for immigrants and refugees, I hope that the public narrative around immigration can be shifted away from one of fear and anger and towards one of justice and peace.

Reports of hate crimes have been on the rise in Seattle. How will you make sure people of all backgrounds feel safe from perpetrators of hate crimes and also feel safe reporting the crimes?

On this campaign, we have relentlessly pursued a vision for Seattle free from classism, racism, ableism, misogyny, ageism, transphobia, xenophobia, and so forth. We believe it is important to call out and criticize people who and things that stand in the way of this vision in a way that does not reproduce any of these behaviors. The impacts of online harassment, bullying, doxing etc., don’t stay online. They have real life consequences like raised blood pressure, higher rates of depression, and an atmosphere of fear that disproportionately impacts those I’ll elevate and organize with as a city councilmember, specifically Black, Brown, and Indigenous peoples. Part of the Seattle DSA platform includes “an end to racial, gender, and all other forms of oppression.” That includes hate speech, misogynist language, and–I would argue–forms of communication that reproduce toxic power dynamics. We would rather lose this race by 100 points than win by straying from our principles or acting indecently. That said, we’re going to win by building a welcoming, graceful movement that welcomes the humanity of all people; offline and on, we have to fight for our right to the city.

What letter grade would you give the city on reforming race and ethnicity-based bias in law enforcement and why did you give that grade? What would you do differently, if anything?

In 2010, SPD shot and killed John T. Williams, an unarmed man of Indigenous ancestry. Seven years later, while still under federal consent decree, Seattle officers shot and killed Charleena Lyles, an expecting Black mother, here in District 4. US District Judge James Robart has given Seattle until July 15th to comply with the consent decree. My campaign has called on the mayor’s office to abort the committee it created to recently to skirt the federally-mandated police accountability process and instead adapt a thorough plan to end racist policing in Seattle. However, because we have seen no progress made on this issue, I would have to give the city an F.

To build a city devoid of systemic racism in policing, we first must stop participating in the “deadly exchange” program, where Seattle police officers go abroad to learn policing techniques from foreign armies. We must also end the school-to-prison pipeline by getting police and security firms out of our schools, ending out-of-school suspension, and funding mentorship programs like the My Brother’s Keeper initiative. Upon being elected, we would also work to decriminalize sex work and repeal municipal codes against loitering that are used as a pretext for police harassment of vulnerable communities. Finally, we would call for the reinstatement of the Community Service Officer (CSO) program, which takes the warrior mentality out of policing and redirects people in crises to services not cells.

What is your track record on addressing the needs of immigrants and communities of color in your district?

I’ve worked as an advocacy journalist and filmmaker covering issues related to affordable housing, climate justice, and race and gender equity in publications such as City Arts Magazine, The Guardian, and Jacobin. I’m a labor organizer with the Campaign Workers Guild who, in 2018, organized Pramila Jayapal’s re-election campaign, making her the first congressional incumbent with a unionized campaign staff. In 2016, I was in charge of the outreach process for the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs’ multi-million dollar renovation of King Street Station. As an activist, organizer, and filmmaker for the last plus decade, I’ve shown up for the issues impacting the most vulnerable and targeted Seattleites, many of whom are immigrants and people of color. At a time when backroom deal-making and corporate contributions hold change in city hall, we need candidates who bring an organizing background, and who know what it means to hold power accountable. As a councilperson, I will prioritize making Seattle work for the people who make it work. This means ensuring all workers, especially women, LGBTQIA+ folks, immigrants, and communities of color have access to jobs with dignity and everything the city has to offer. Our platform will materially address this by creating dense affordable housing, supporting access to free public transit, and calling upon corporations and developers to pay their fair share.

Shaun Scott’s website: https://scott2019.com/

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