Seattle City Council District 7: Andrew Lewis and Jim Pugel

L-R, Andrew Lewis and Jim Pugel are running for the Seattle City City Council District 7 seat, which is being vacated by Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. (Courtesy photos)

Andrew Lewis and Jim Pugel are running for the District 7 position on the Seattle City Council, which represents Belltown, Queen Anne, Pioneer Square and parts of Chinatown-International District and South Lake Union. The seat is being vacated by Councilmember Sally Bagshaw.

Andrew Lewis

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?

First, expand Business Improvement Areas to empower small business districts to direct infrastructure improvements and coordinate services with the City. Second, push for a legacy business program similar to the one in San Francisco to provide necessary support and protection for small businesses that remain profitable, but are unable to keep up with skyrocketing costs of doing business. Finally, make the necessary investment for responsive and present law enforcement to keep small business districts safe.

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?

I support Seattle’s status as a sanctuary city. As a prosecutor, I have had witnesses and victims come forward that are very likely undocumented. I cannot know for sure because I cannot ask, which is the whole point. Almost certainly, those individuals would not have come forward if they thought their status would be reported to the federal government. Undocumented immigrants are hard working pillars of our community, and for our purposes their immigration status is irrelevant. They deserve a pathway to citizenship and dignity, and hopefully they will get that from the federal government when we finally have a new president after the 2020 election.

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?

I support the current bill making its way through the City Council to expand the definition of malicious harassment to include race, religion, and sexual orientation, among other categories. Currently, Seattle has no provision to crack down appropriately on hate crimes. Our prosecutors need new tools to make it clear these crimes will not be tolerated in Seattle.

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 give the grade “B”, because we have made great progress but still have a long way to go. Use of force by Seattle Police is way down, and mandatory de-escalation training, racial sensitivity training, and tougher accountability measures have made progress on restoring the public’s trust in Seattle Police. However, we still see high-profile cases of excessive use of force against people of color, and short comings in the last SPD contract that threaten to put us out of compliance with the federal consent decree. We are moving in the right direction, but still have a long way to go.

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

I have worked as a prosecutor to develop and implement criminal justice reforms benefitting traditionally marginalized communities by emphasizing partnership, mentorship, education, and community building as alternatives to incarceration. The Choose 180 program, for example, is a pre-file diversion program that has led to 245 in young people staying out of the criminal justice system, with only 8 reoffending. By re-envisioning how we hold each other accountable we can correct historic injustices and make our communities safer.

Andrew Lewis’ website: https://www.lewisforseattle.com/

Jim Pugel

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?

My number one action will be to prioritize affordable housing for workers in effective, pragmatic ways. Housing is the biggest expense for many lower and middle-income Seattleites and is an immense burden that city policy has yet to relieve. Investing in housing near transit hubs, utility reimbursements and rental assistance. New development, especially affordable housing, needs to be built near services and community resources such as community centers, grocery stores, child care providers and human services providers. I will work with neighborhoods and the communities directly affected to better plan our affordable housing developments.

Second will be to fight for progressive taxes and ending regressive taxes that over-burden small businesses and disproportionately hit working families and seniors living on fixed incomes. Third is the strengthening of labor standards to promote livable wages, ensure responsible benefits, and support continued education for workers. When workers are well trained and don’t have to worry about if they have enough for dinner for their kids, they will do better work — helping businesses and our economy continue to grow.

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?

Seattle must continue to be a city that works for everyone, regardless of immigration status or how long you’ve lived here. We need strong policies that stand up for our vibrant communities and defend immigrants and refugees who make this the Seattle we love. As a City Councilmember, I will work to ensure our city government is defending immigrant communities that are under assault from the federal government. We must strengthen our entire workforce’s sense of safety and cohesion. Additionally, we need to find ways to ensure immigrants do not slip through the cracks when it comes to higher education, affordable housing, childcare, and healthcare. One of the most egregious attacks is against students who are used to discriminate against them and their families. We need to make education universal, regardless of where you are from and make it clear to every officer, teacher, counselor, and public employee that school is for learning. Immigration status must have no bearing on a kid’s ability to go to school.

Our Washington has little effect on the dysfunctional and punitive policies of the other Washington, but we must still do everything in our power to keep Seattle the thriving, diverse city it is today. We can ensure that we as a city (and county) maintain our status as a sanctuary city, and make sure that all labor and wage laws applicable within the city are vigorously enforced regardless of an employee’s immigration status.

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?

This comes down to demonstrating we are serious about tackling this issue, which needs to be solved both in the short-term and the long-term. We must first categorically disavow and prosecute all hate crimes. We must make it clear that there is no excuse, no exception, and no political expediency when it comes to discrimination; if you commit a hate crime, you will be punished. We also need to take calls for help seriously and ensure vulnerable and marginalized communities have the resources and services they need. But we will continue to suffer hate crimes and discrimination until we invest in long-term solutions — real education for our children that specifically teaches about our diversity. When kids of all backgrounds learn and play together, barriers will come down and we will all learn that arbitrary divisions, who you are, skin color, sexual orientation, where you were born, what neighborhood you live in, don’t have to tear us apart. They will bring us together and make us all 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?

B – They have more or less been supportive in working with the federal monitor, the DoJ and the federal judge in ensuring that proper policies are in place to prevent implicit and explicit bias in policing and the delivery of other city services. They should have paid much more attention to the negotiations with the police union to ensure disciplinary policies they passed were retained.

This grade also reflects how far we still need to go to ensure we continue pushing for and working towards truly constitutional, equitable policing.

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

Representing different communities and working with diverse groups has been my entire career. I was a founding member and the police department executive sponsor of Seattle’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (L.E.A.D.) program. This initiative focuses on diverting low level and non-violent drug users, drug dealers and sex workers at point of arrest to social services/treatment providers instead of jail/booking. This effort has gained worldwide attention in a best practice of harm reduction and drug policy reform and aims to lower crime and incarceration among folks too often targeted by the ‘War on Drugs’ that disproportionately affects people of color and of lower socioeconomic status. I was appointed by the Governor to the Washington Partnership Committee on Juvenile Justice to reduce disproportionate minority contact and confinement in juvenile crime issues. I had the honor to serve on the East African Advisory Council where we met monthly to develop working relationships, solve mutual problems, explain police operations and further learn and engage with these diverse communities. I say this to demonstrate that working with diverse communities has been an integral part of my career working-process and made me the successful officer I was, and will be an even more integral aspect of my policymaking process once elected to the Seattle City Council.

Jim Pugel’s website: https://www.jimpugel.com/

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