Why I’m the Best Candidate for South Seattle: Andrew Grant Houston

The Emerald invited top mayoral candidates to tell readers why they deserve South Seattle’s vote. Voters have until Aug. 3 to cast their vote in the primary election.

by Andrew Grant Houston

My name is Andrew Grant Houston, and I am the best candidate for South Seattle because I will take action. I’m not a lawyer or career politician, disconnected from the everyday experience of Seattleites. As a queer, Black, and Latino renter, I am the only candidate who doesn’t own a home. I ride the bus and frequent our small local businesses. We know South Seattle is ready for someone who looks like us, represents the South End, and understands the lived experiences of those most affected by our City’s policies. 

I have centered the most marginalized in my policy and organizing since day one: I still have the only unionized mayoral campaign, am the only candidate to hire and keep a Black consultant and their BIPOC staff, the only one who consistently and pointedly provides captions and alt text for increased accessibility across all of our online media, with the only platform available in multiple languages, and the only candidate who has — and pays — our youth team. To me, it’s not about professing the values, but actually living them

I grew up speaking Spanish in Texas as a transit-reliant kid in a food desert with a single mom working as a public school teacher trying to make ends meet for her three kids. So I fought for my degree in architecture to make spaces for people where none was made for me. 

But our city’s greatest challenges involve rising rents, outpaced wages, gentrification, and displacement. That’s why I’m involved in creating a Black-led development group for land acquisition to strengthen our Black and Brown communities. But the difference is, I don’t simply think about these things, I experience them. These are not talking points. They’re my reality. I am directly impacted by the policies I would enact — I am burdened by rent debts; my small business was hit hard by the pandemic. It’s not a theory or a past experience romanticized for a campaign video. It’s my experience. 

Our experiences, really. I know we don’t have time to wait for action. It should’ve been done yesterday. Why it wasn’t by some of my peers who held positions of power for years already is beyond me. But that’s why I’m running. 

People in Seattle who look like me struggle the most, are disproportionately affected by homelessness, priced out of the city, earning stagnant wages, and in constant fear of eviction in our vicious cycles. Many of us are one serious medical event or lost paycheck away from catastrophe. 

That’s why I lead with harm reduction and prevention.

From the start, I’ve advocated for land use reform. Since then, other candidates saw its popularity and pivoted their talking points. We need a leader who knows what’s right from the start with the data to back it up, not a follower. 

We also need multi-home buildings and less evictions. So I will implement a Development Displacement Mitigation Fee and end the apartment ban citywide. My vision will get rid of what redlining has left, prevent gentrification, and ensure we distribute green space equitably throughout Seattle. 

I’m also willing to bring I-200 to the courts so that we can prioritize specifically Black and Indigenous homeownership as well as funds for our most marginalized communities. 

Despite all of our communities’ calls over the years, I am still somehow the only candidate who remains committed to defunding the Seattle Police Department by 50% and reinvesting those funds into gun-free, effective public safety and prevention. We marched and organized all of 2020 for more than a hashtag. 

I am also the only candidate who has not once flipped my position on Compassion Seattle’s incredibly harmful charter amendment, calling out its inhumanity and lack of funding mechanisms since it was first introduced

We cannot continue leaving our BIPOC neighbors and unhoused, unsheltered Seattleites to face the brunt of our heatwaves, “smoke season,” or frigid temperatures in the climate crisis that’s already here. I will make sure that preparedness and support for our most marginalized is our first priority, not an afterthought. 

We need leaders who, after identifying a problem, don’t offer more studies, committees, and reports but take action for real, concrete solutions. A leader who knows exactly how to get the job done and how to pay for it. 

I am that leader. 

You know exactly who you’re getting with me: a truly bold, progressive, unapologetic climate leader centering harm reduction. I’m not about lip service or playing games. I’m not running for political expediency and popularity. 

I’m running to act.

Editors’ Note: A previous version of this article did not have hyperlinks to details of Andrew Grant Houston’s policy plans as well as a statement against Tim Burgess’ ballot measure on homelessness. This article was updated on 07/16/2021 to include hyperlinks.

📸 Featured Image by Jessica Rycheal.

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